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Thread: Newbie needs advice

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Chelsea, Maine
    Posts
    3

    Default Newbie needs advice

    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.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Chelsea, Maine
    Posts
    3

    Default

    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.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    So. China Maine
    Posts
    1,588

    Default E Trex

    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!
    Sometimes the road less traveled is less traveled for a reason.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Auburn, Maine
    Posts
    621

    Default

    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.
    If you want to try cross country skiing, start with a small country

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Bangor, ME
    Posts
    6,058

    Default

    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.
    Last edited by brdad; 04-27-2010 at 03:11 PM.
    DNFTT! DNFTT! DNFTT!

    "The funniest thing about this particular signature is that by the time you realize it doesn't say anything it's to late to stop reading it..."

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    Unity, Maine
    Posts
    3,866

    Default

    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.
    "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."

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    Niskayuna, NY
    Posts
    601

    Default

    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.




    A house is not a home without a cat.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    So. China Maine
    Posts
    1,588

    Default Are we sending the "right message" here?

    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!
    Sometimes the road less traveled is less traveled for a reason.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Bangor, ME
    Posts
    6,058

    Default

    Ok, Dan - let's stay on topic.

    I think FFJ's article "Starting out as a "newbie" . . . aka "The Mistakes I First Made" is recommended reading!
    Last edited by brdad; 04-27-2010 at 04:01 PM.
    DNFTT! DNFTT! DNFTT!

    "The funniest thing about this particular signature is that by the time you realize it doesn't say anything it's to late to stop reading it..."

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    So. China Maine
    Posts
    1,588

    Default I'll try!

    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.



    Quote Originally Posted by brdad View Post
    Ok, Dan - let's stay on topic.

    I think FFJ's article "Starting out as a "newbie" . . . aka "The Mistakes I First Made" is recommended reading!
    Sometimes the road less traveled is less traveled for a reason.

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