View Full Version : Newbie needs advice



avongirl2
04-27-2010, 02:41 PM
My boyfriend and I tackled our first caches this weekend. We looked for six. Found two. Of course we didn't heed the advice to start with level 1 caches so that's our fault. We have a question about our GPS device. It's a Garmin ETrex Venture HC. It seems to jump around a lot and did not really take us to the caches. The reviews I read on geocache.com said it would take us to within 10 feet or so of a spot. We felt that we only found the caches because of really good hints given on the webpage. We found one cache called Pirate's Booty. The hint was that it was behind a waist high stump. The GPS took us to the general area and we walked back and forth looking behind several stumps. After we found it we "tested" the GPS. Standing right at the cache location it was telling us we were 54' away from it. Is that normal? Should I return this thing and get a better one? The second cache we found was in a cemetery close to our house. We didn't even need the GPS due to the hint that it was behind the large pine tree. Again, we tested the GPS. We could walk 20-30' away from the cache spot and it was telling us we were within 2' of the cache.

avongirl2
04-27-2010, 02:52 PM
might have just answered my own question... I just read about the Drunken Bee Dance on the list of Geocache terms. That's definately what we did.

dubord207
04-27-2010, 02:57 PM
You have a decent unit. No sense running off and getting another at this point. The more sophisticated units, like the Oregon, has the capacity to load 2000 caches with the entire cache page, the hint and the last five logs! If the game really gets its hook set into you, you'll eventually want something like that.

The accuracy varies a whole bunch as a result of a lot of factors. Dense overhead folliage can be an issue. The way the satellites are positioned overhead can be an issue and of course the way the cache placed logged the coordinates can be an issue. As you get more experienced, once you get within 20 feet or so of the cache you will find yourself putting the GPS in your pocket and letting geo-sense take over. You can also just set the unit down for a few minutes and see how far it says you are from the cache.

I'm not sure if the E Trex you have does this, but most of the Garmins have a feature to "calibrate" your compass, usually pushing a button then doing two slow circles in one direction. Check you owner's manual. You'll need to do this every time you change your batteries. Low batteries can also cause accuracy issues.

Try and read the cache description. Often times there will something that suggests how the cache may be hidden. On the right hand side of the cache listing, there's something called "attributes." Not all caches will have these, but if the cache has a snowflake, that means it's winter friendly which means it is unlikely to be on the ground.

The good news, after a hundred or so finds, you''ll start seeing some hides that you might call "typical" although even after 3000 finds they all seem different and fun to me!

pjpreb
04-27-2010, 03:00 PM
Also good to note that posted coordinates are only as accurate as the hider's GPSr is. We approach our hides from at least 3 different directions and post the average of the coordinates in an effort to be as accurate as possible.

brdad
04-27-2010, 03:08 PM
Welcome to the site and to the addiction!

There are several factors that affect accuracy at a cache site.

As far as the accuracy listed on the GPSr: If the GPSr is reading 15 foot accuracy, that means that 50% of it's calculations show you within 15 feet, and that 95% of it's calculations are within twice that, or 30 feet. I know that is hard to follow, but 15 foot accuracy does not mean you have to be within 15 feet. And if you couple that with the cache placer's error the lack of accuracy gets compounded.

It's not unusual with some units to be off in some conditions. None are perfect every day, but some do dance around more than others. Sometimes that is from lack of signal, other times it is how the GPSr averages and it's refresh rate.

I am still using an original Yellow Etrex. I understand it's quires well after 10 years. Sometimes it shows me off 25 feet but by the time I am done logging it shows 2 feet. Sometimes it is the opposite.

One good way to learn your GPS is practice. Waypoint a spot in your driveway or lawn that you have marked and try coming back to it on different days and see how much it varies at different times.

firefighterjake
04-27-2010, 03:25 PM
Welcome to geocaching.

First off, congrats . . . you are doing quite well . . . when I first started it seemed as though I would head off with a long list of caches to search for . . . and I would be lucky if I found just one or two . . . of course I did have a Magellan (insert joke here now Hiram. ;) )

I foolishly thought my GPSr would bring me right to the spot . . . not realizing as others have mentioned that there are lots of variables.

-- How accurate the GPSr on the day you're looking for the cache. Some days I'm getting great satellite coverage and I'm walking right to the cache with pin-point accuracy . . . and some days I'm wandering all over the place like a little boy who has lost his puppy . . . or in Hiram's case . . . his Garmin GPSr which is somewhere in the woods even today.

In addition to how many satellites I'm pulling in . . . another factor as Dubord mentioned is the terrain and trees. In some urban environments with tall buildings I sometimes have problems . . . and for an odd reason hemlocks always give me trouble.

-- The other aspect is how accurate are the cacher's coords . . . did he or she average them or just take the first reading they got in the first 5 minutes . . . and in my case (as TRF can attest) . . . did the cacher transcribe the numbers down right so you're not off by 100 feet . . . or in poor TRF's case . . . off by 10 miles.

In time grasshopper you will learn the way of the caching . . . and will develop geo-sense . . . the ability to know when one should stop looking at the compass and start looking at the area around them to see what would make a good hiding spot and what is not quite natural looking . . . in time you will be able to see subtle (or not so subtle) signs where cachers have formed a geo-trail leading right to the cache . . . and in time you will even learn the super secret way of the ninja caching . . . and if you're lucky Manaiac57 will teach you the super, super secret password which can only be decoded by the decoder ring found in this month's box of Lucky Charms.

;) :)

Oh yeah . . . so to answer your original question . . . I would suspect it's not the GPSr, but rather a combination of not getting a super duper great signal, the cacher maybe not having the best of coords in some cases and newbie inexperience . . . which will soon be gone if you continue on the path to true enlightenment. ;)

Welcome to geocachingmaine.org by the way.

Sabby
04-27-2010, 03:40 PM
I will mention 2 other things.

1 Use your GPS in normal mode not in battery saver mode.

2 Have WAAS enabled. It is a signal comes from a satellite near the equator and sends correction information to the GPS to improve accuracy.

dubord207
04-27-2010, 03:57 PM
Wow, what a nice bunch of helpful and enthusiastic cachers. So helpful, so enthusiastic. Hmmmmmm, what's this "Closed Thread" stuff all about? Dissension in the ranks? What ranks? Who's in charge here? Hiram 357...are there gun nuts on this site? That mapachi guy looks a little strange. Did he have some type of surgery go wrong? What makes Evil Homer "evil? And the guy that wants to know if I'm lost too? No I'm not lost but this is a confusing place.

You're not in Kansas any more, Dorothy!:)

brdad
04-27-2010, 03:59 PM
Ok, Dan - let's stay on topic. :D

I think FFJ's article "Starting out as a "newbie" . . . aka "The Mistakes I First Made (http://www.geocachingmaine.org/forum/showthread.php?t=3314)" is recommended reading!

dubord207
04-27-2010, 04:08 PM
I guess I'm not used to being home this time of day. Had to wait for the Sears guy to get here " sometime between noon and 5 PM!

Welcome Avongirl and we wish you well and hope you find this site useful.:)




Ok, Dan - let's stay on topic. :D

I think FFJ's article "Starting out as a "newbie" . . . aka "The Mistakes I First Made (http://www.geocachingmaine.org/forum/showthread.php?t=3314)" is recommended reading!

WhereRWe?
04-27-2010, 04:12 PM
Ok, Dan - let's stay on topic. :D

I think FFJ's article "Starting out as a "newbie" . . . aka "The Mistakes I First Made (http://www.geocachingmaine.org/forum/showthread.php?t=3314)" is recommended reading!

I send a welcome message to all new members, and I include a link to this article in my message. The message goes out at the same time I validate a new member, so "avongirl2" has it. :D

CARoperPhotography
04-27-2010, 06:31 PM
Wow, what a nice bunch of helpful and enthusiastic cachers. So helpful, so enthusiastic. Hmmmmmm, what's this "Closed Thread" stuff all about? Dissension in the ranks? What ranks? Who's in charge here? Hiram 357...are there gun nuts on this site? That mapachi guy looks a little strange. Did he have some type of surgery go wrong? What makes Evil Homer "evil? And the guy that wants to know if I'm lost too? No I'm not lost but this is a confusing place.

You're not in Kansas any more, Dorothy!:)

Gun nuts! I foresee a new thread soon.... carrying while caching! My kind of cachers!

avongirl2
04-27-2010, 06:35 PM
Thank you! You all do a great job of welcoming new people into the hobby! Can't wait to look for some more caches!

brdad
04-27-2010, 06:40 PM
Gun nuts! I foresee a new thread soon.... carrying while caching! My kind of cachers!

Perfect! The thread already exists, feel free to add your supporting comments: Cache and Carry (http://www.geocachingmaine.org/forum/showthread.php?t=3044)

CARoperPhotography
04-27-2010, 06:43 PM
Nice.... thanks Brdad....

benandtina
04-27-2010, 07:24 PM
Hi and welcome to the site/addiction!!

Everyone has already said pretty everything I know about GPSr accuracy (and more! Brdad's explanation of what "X feet accuracy" was totally new to me.), but I do want to add one thing. We use a Garmin Nuvi for caching, which is meant for cars. We have found that a lot of times just looking around for something suspicious helps as much as the GPSr does. I usually play with the map and coordinates while my husband looks around for things like a strange pile of sticks or leaves, a unique looking log, etc. and he usually finds the cache before I do. Pretty soon you will start to notice these things and they will help compensate for any inaccuracies in your GPS.

Anyway, have fun! And if you are free this weekend, there are events going on in Brewer, Waterville, Portland and Augusta. You'll meet tons of people willing to talk about all sorts of caching related stuff! :)

Ekidokai
04-27-2010, 09:16 PM
OK, now all the crack pots have put their nonsense in I'll give you the facts. You can trust me, I'm not like the others. I'm the only normal one here.

First off I have the exact unit you have and I love it. I may also be the only one with a degree in electronics. I can't work these things but I do know how the components operate.

I have been looking into that exact question because mine was doing the same thing yesterday. I'm finding out that the satellites and waas are getting old and some times are not as accurate as they could be, especially if upgrades or adjustments are being made which is the case I suspect yesterday. The response time on the display on these unites is too fast. While slowly walking along as we do when we get close you will see the arrow jump around. Just think about it, could the hiding place have moved or you been that far off? No. It is the unit picking up a stray signal or interference and displaying it.

When you get to within about 100 feet keep going in the general direction it was pointing you to and don't suddenly change direction when the arrow points in another direction. Most times it will come back unless you are really moving fast. Kind of average it yourself. Eventually it will start bringing you close to the cache.

Another thing I like about the unit is the map feature. When you get real close 30 feet or so you can switch it to map and zoom in. that will get you a little closer. Just remember when it jumps that doesn't mean you have to. A slow observant approach will help you.

I have never seen anyway to calibrate or the need to on this unit. That's not a component thing.

These have to be very accurate. I put out a whole bunch of caches the day after I bought it and didn't use the average feature, which is a hoax by the way, and the coordinates where right on.

firefighterjake
04-28-2010, 07:03 AM
Ok, Dan - let's stay on topic. :D

I think FFJ's article "Starting out as a "newbie" . . . aka "The Mistakes I First Made (http://www.geocachingmaine.org/forum/showthread.php?t=3314)" is recommended reading!

HehHeh . . . I think I have the on-set of early Alzheimers . . . I forgot that I wrote that article . . . in fact I read it and found myself thinking "You know, this guy is a pretty good . . . he thinks a lot like me." I even found myself laughing at some of my own jokes . . . I think I'm doomed.

In any case, I found the article pretty interesting . . . funny in places, informative . . . some information could be updated . . . such as mentioning the "new kid on the block" -- the DeLorme units as well as the Magellan and Garmin. Also, I don't know if it's fair to say that there is a dearth of caches in the North Maine woods . . .

I forgot all about my tumble and bleeding cuts in the Nevada desert until I re-read this article . . . brought back some memories.

Thanks for posting this . . . by the way, have I written anything else that is comparable to this that I have forgotten about . . . no, seriously . . . I don't remember.

brdad
04-28-2010, 07:17 AM
There is your other article, Firefighter Jake and Friends’ Excellent Adventure on the Tread Lightly Geocache Event (http://www.geocachingmaine.org/forum/showthread.php?t=1561).

firefighterjake
04-28-2010, 03:59 PM
There is your other article, Firefighter Jake and Friendsí Excellent Adventure on the Tread Lightly Geocache Event (http://www.geocachingmaine.org/forum/showthread.php?t=1561).

Huh . . . this article takes on a whole new meaning after a few years and a few changes in life.

CARoperPhotography
04-28-2010, 07:42 PM
Okay, time for my views on this GPS accuracy and such....

.... Groundspeak expects Geocaching to be a game played using technology and PRECISE GPS cords to locate a cache. Of course, no GPS will walk you directly to a cache and find it for you.... however if you know how to utilize your GPSr correctly, regardless of the type of GPSr (at least for more contemporary ones with the High Sensitivity receivers of the last few years in them) you can place a cache and have accurate enough cords to walk a cacher within 7-10 feet of it which is much better than getting you within 60 feet and having to just search and search and search aimlessly. 95% of my caches have very precise cords, as the cachers who have found them can and will attest to. I pride myself on my cords. But we all know that there are cache placers out there who have terrible cords, which happens either by accident or on purpose to make it more difficult on finders. This has been happening in my area recently with a certain cacher who's cords seem to be off by between 60 and 150 feet everytime I look for his caches. He has actually stopped placing caches because of the complaints from other cachers. There is no excuse for bad cords. Tree cover? Bad weather? It can all be remedied by lots of averaging and testing of your cords.

brdad
04-28-2010, 08:24 PM
To post a cache with intentionally wrong coords is not good for the sport IMO. There are many reasons hiders mistakenly post the wrong coords. Every so often someone will come into national chat asking about this and almost all the time and if their coords are consistently off in the E-W but the N-S is close - they have the wrong datum set in the GPSr. Other times people make mistakes and just type the wrong numbers in. And before Hiram speaks up, sometimes hiders goof and post the final coords as stage 1 coords... ;) The funniest part of that is he failed to find an ammo box while looking for a micro!

The thing is, even if the hider used a Trimble GeoXH which has accuracy in inches, the finder has one shot at getting a decent reading and can be quite a ways off If the satellites are not just right. I feel good about the coords for my caches as well, because I have visited and re-visited them and still usually check them when I maintain them. Most of the time I am fairly close, but some days I wonder how anyone finds the darn thing! I l always welcome any input on my coords and have edited a few accordingly. And sometimes, like my Old470 cache, if you are standing next to the train where the cache is, the coords are off quite a bit. But if you walk 30 feet away, it points right to it.

LaughingTerry
04-30-2010, 07:16 PM
"To post a cache with intentionally wrong coords is not good for the sport IMO."

Or you can transpose a couple numbers when publishing a cache and send everybody several miles away. LOL

CARoperPhotography
04-30-2010, 09:59 PM
"To post a cache with intentionally wrong coords is not good for the sport IMO."

Or you can transpose a couple numbers when publishing a cache and send everybody several miles away. LOL

I actually have done that ha ha.... just ask TeamHorwich about his FTF run for one of these which was my fault last winter!!!

cano
05-01-2010, 08:45 AM
I actually have done that ha ha.... just ask TeamHorwich about his FTF run for one of these which was my fault last winter!!!
I also spent hours in a swamp during last winter in 2 meter snow on FTF run thanks to EMSDanel. :(

CARoperPhotography
05-02-2010, 08:26 PM
I also spent hours in a swamp during last winter in 2 meter snow on FTF run thanks to EMSDanel. :(

What's with you Czech and Slovokian cachers? WhenEVER I go caching with Marcipanek (Czech) we end up in a swamp, taking a "short cut" based on the reasoning of him and his Garmin Colorado. The PN-40 never takes me into swamps...

hollora
05-02-2010, 08:29 PM
I also spent hours in a swamp during last winter in 2 meter snow on FTF run thanks to EMSDanel. :(

Humm - I have never had a problem with EMSDanel's coords. I know he averages and is meticulous about trying to ensure coords are correct.

He placed 5 caches, at the most in winter 2009 - 2010 year, I would call winter caches. 3 in November which were all easy finds and not far from parking and 2 in February both of which I did on my lunch hour from work with dress clothes on........I am a bit confused about this.........:confused: Perhaps it was winter 2008 - 2009? And - if coords were off I am sure it was not intentional.

LaughingTerry
05-03-2010, 06:42 AM
I am glad I am not the only one to mix up the coordinates and send people to Timbuktu. LOL The good thing was that Tandemstoker went down and placed a cache where my coordinates originally pointed to. The bad news? It's a 5 hide. <a href=http://www.geocaching.com/seek/cache_details.aspx?guid=cbbcc2af-ba46-42ac-839c-8da209490fc4> Deja deja vu</a>

firefighterjake
05-03-2010, 07:40 AM
"To post a cache with intentionally wrong coords is not good for the sport IMO."

Or you can transpose a couple numbers when publishing a cache and send everybody several miles away. LOL

HehHeh . . . yeah . . . been there, done that . . . ask poor TRF . . . I think he was looking for a cache a whole county away.

Haffy
05-04-2010, 11:08 AM
HehHeh . . . yeah . . . been there, done that . . . ask poor TRF . . . I think he was looking for a cache a whole county away.

Yeah and I was with him...lol

Ekidokai
05-04-2010, 05:49 PM
Wow, I have looked for a few the were 100 to 200 feet off. It is a little harder finding those. I'm glad the worst I can remember being off is about 30 feet.