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Thread: A couple of extremely newbie questions

  1. #11
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Unity, Maine


    Quote Originally Posted by north View Post
    First off, I bought an entry level unit, a magellan triton 200. Will this be adaquet to get started, and if so, where in the heck can I find info on how to operate it! The factory site is no help, and the documentation it came with tells me nothing.

    Second, I would like to know if I have a starting location, a bearing heading, and a distance to an object is there a program, or converter of some kind that will tell me what the ending location should be?

    I am really lost on all this, and don't litterly want to be when I'm out in the field, lol. Any advse would be greatly appreciated. Thanks a bunch.
    Pay no attention to these Garmin-loving heathen. I'm a Magellan man and I have had zero issues with my Magellan units . . . both of them . . . so far they've proven to be both reliable and accurate -- the Explorist more so than the older Meridian unit . . . although I do occasionally "boomerang" by a cache when I'm walking too fast as the Magellans tend to extrapolate positions.

    To answer your questions . . . just about any GPSr out there should work for geocaching . . . it's just that the more expensive units have more of the bells and whistles (i.e. color screens, mapping capability, ability to load more detailed maps, etc.) I should say that probably the only GPSr that wouldn't work so well would be a car-mounted GPSr . . . I mean technically it can get you close to some caches, but unless the cache is in the Walmart parking lot it will not do you much good if the closest you can get from the cache is a quarter mile away from the parking area.

    One reason I have bought two Magellans is that I have had good luck with them . . . and oftentimes you get more bang for the buck . . . especially when a new model line-up comes out. For example, when the Explorist line came out I ended up getting a sweet deal on the last year the Meridian line of GPSrs was offered up.

    One major drawback however is that the Magellan units do not provide very good manuals and the website is next to useless . . . they really seem to be more focused now on their auto-mounted GPSrs.

    Now I don't own a Triton, but I'm guessing that they probably work fairly similar to my older Magellans so here is what you can try . . .

    1. Go to and sign up as a free member. Later on if you find that you really like geocaching and want to get some of the extra perks (i.e. namely pocket queries which is useful if and when you opt to use PDAs instead of printing out copies of the cache info.

    2. All signed up? OK. Now go to the sidebar on the left-hand side of the page and select "Hide and Seek a Cache".

    3. Let's start out the easy way . . . and grab some caches close to you to start out. Look at the new page and plug in your hometown's zip code. Hint "go" and voila . . . you should have a listing of a bunch of caches in or close to your home town. Pick one . . . any one and click on the cache to open it up.

    4. Now to make things easy I've plugged in Westfield's zip code of 04787 and selected "Parks and Places #4 Westfield" by Northwoods. On this cache page you'll note that the Terrain and Difficulty are both rated 1 1/2 stars which means that it should be an easy walk and a relatively easy find . . . that said not everyone has the same idea of what is easy terrain or an easy find . . . and sometimes a supposedly "easy" find can prove quite taxing even for veteran geocachers. However, in general it's a good idea to start out with an easy cache rating . . . no sense in walking 5 miles through a swamp on a cache that has been a high difficulty rating for your very first cache.

    On this page you'll also see a description and some coordinates that are posted. There will also be a map showing you the general location of where the cache is located . . . useful if you do not have a routing or map capable GPSr. You will also see some past logs -- I like to read some of the latest of these since it a) gives me an idea of whether there are any problems such as a number of Did Not Find logs which could indicate a MIA cache or a very challenging cache and b) sometimes cachers will offer up additional clues or give you an idea of some potential problems not contained in the cache description. Finally, you'll see a hint. You may or may not wish to decrypt this hint . . . either on-line or in the field. Since I'm using those "bad" Magellans I routinely decrypt the hint.

    5. At this point if I was you I would print out the cache page . . . or simply jot down the name of the cache, the waypoint (the GC_____ combination of letters and numbers at the top of the cache page), the coords and the hint. Eventually, someday, if you get addicted to caching you will want to go the paperless route and get a PDA . . . but until you decide whether caching is for you or if this is just a passing fancy I would either stick with printing out the cache page or jotting down the info in a notebook.

    6. Now it's time to hit the highway. Once you've reached the parking area . . . which I do by using the auto-routing feature of my GPSr (it gives turn by turn directions) . . . but you can do simply by knowing where this Park is located, by checking a DeLorme or by using your GPSr compass (something you will learn how to do shortly) . . . you will start out on your first geocaching adventure.

    7. Turn the GPSr on . . . I'm assuming you've figured out how to do this. Once it is up and running and has a GPSr lock . . . most GPSr will show this by flipping screens. On my Explorist I do this by hitting the "Nav" button -- I can tell if I've got a lock by bringing up a screen that shows the coords, elevation, time/date, battery life and accuracy. I have the best luck in finding caches when the accuracy reads WAAS (very accurate -- this stands for . . . well I forget what exactly it stands for . . . but trust me, when it reads WAAS you're getting the best readings you can get) to 32 feet in accuracy. When my GPS reads "---" for accuracy it means the satellites have no lock and when I'm getting something like "250" for accuracy (it happens occasionally when you first start it up or on bad days in bad locations) then it means finding this cache will be a lot more challenging.

    8. At this point we're now going to enter a set of coords . . . specifically the coords of the "Parks and Places/Westfield" which are N 46 34.134 W 067 56.539.

    9. On my Explorist I hit the "Mark" button and it brings up a screen with a listed waypoint -- POI001 (Places of Interest #1). I will then use my joystick/controller on the GPSr to "move" up to the listed coords which then are automatically highlighted. I then click on the joystick (akin to hitting "enter" on a computer keypad) which now highlights the first number of the coord . . . which should be a 4 . . . since we're in Maine and the first set of numbers here is almost always 44 or 45 or something along these lines. Since our first number is 4 just move the joystick to the right and highlight the next number. If it's a 6 keep going until you the number listed here doesn't match the number that we want for the "P and P/Westfield" coords. Now, right now, my GPsr's second number is 5 . . . and I need it to be 6 . . . so what I want to do is use my joystick (which should still be highlighting that number) up or down to move the number up or down). Once I have a 6 there I simply move the cursor to the right and keep changing numbers until the coords listed on screen match the coords of the posted cache.

    10. So far so good? Once you've got the first set of coords entered (the North coords) hit the joystick button again (once again it's like hitting "enter") and plug in the correct coords for the West. Once the coords on this screen match the cache coords hit the joystick button again and then move down and once the "save" button is highlighted hit the joystick button again . . . I typically store this saved waypoint in the default POI file so just hit the joystick button again . . . I just realized that this probably sounds a lot more complicated than it is . . . however if it gives you any hope I'm just one step away from being a complete Luddite when it comes to technology and I was able to eventually figure this all out by trial and error . . . Magellans really aren't all that complicated contrary to what some folks think . . . they are however set up differently than a Garmin . . . not better, not worse . . . just different.

    11. Ready to go find the cache? On my Explorist I hit the "Go To" button and then select the "Point to Point" option . . . I also have the option of using Street Route since I have the aforementioned turn-by-turn street directions thanks to the software I have loaded on to this unit. I then select "My Points of Interest", click the joystick and then select "Nearest to Position", hit the joystick, highlight and click POI001. Now change your screen to the compass (again I do this by hitting the "Nav" button. At this point your compass should be pointing you towards the cache.

    12. Start walking. As you get closer you will see the distance to the cache (listed at the top of the screen over the compass) grow less and less. For myself personally when I'm within 100-150 feet I try to slow up my walking a bit to allow the GPSr to catch up with me . . . in this way it can avoid the boomerang effect.

    13. Helpful hints I wish someone had told me when I started:

    -- Stay on the trail. Usually folks place a cache near a trail . . . or you will find a trail leading to an established cache. Even if it seems like it would be a good idea to go off trail when you're a quarter mile from the cache stay on the trail . . . usually the trail will wind around and around and eventually you'll be a lot closer to the cache.

    -- Sticks in the woods don't usually fall down one on another in neatly ordered little piles . . . these geosticks are oftentimes a tell-tale sign of a cache hidden underneath. However, other popular spots include piled up rocks, stumps and of course guard rails and light poles.

    -- Don't forget to follow basic safety protocols . . . tell folks where you are going, what time you expect to be back, remember some caches involve hiking and you might want to dress and pack appropriately.

    -- Don't forget the basic tenets and rules of caching . . . if you take something from a cache you should place something of equal or greater value (and a pretty rock that you found two feet from the cache is not the same value as a $1 bill or CD ), remember to write your name in the logbook of the cache (and later on-line) and finally leave the cache in the same place and condition as you found it.

    I guess that's it for now. Hopefully this may have helped. Honestly, while this may or may not sound complicated, using a Magellan is quite simple and is easier to show in person than it is to explain in words.

    "Courage is not the absence of fear, but the realization that there is something more important than fear."

    "Death is only one of many ways to die."

  2. #12
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Brewer, Maine


    Regardless of GPS brand, one important consideration for me was the electronic compass. It adds to the price of the unit, but you can stand in one spot and keep aimed at the cache instead of having to be moving to get a compass heading to the cache.

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