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newbie here - couple of questions
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she_wolf
Geocacher


Joined: 17 May 2008

Posts: 57

PostPosted: Sun May 18, 2008 6:00 pm    Post subject: newbie here - couple of questions Reply with quote

First one, which GPS would folks recommend, most of the topics I am finding here & on geocaching.com, all seem to end up getting side-tracked. I am not familiar with the features, so what is critical, and then nice to have. I'd like to not pay and arm & two legs, but I want to have one I don't have to upgrade in 6months once I get rolling.
If it is of any help, I do have a PC right now, & upgrading to a Mac in the next few months ~ ok don't get side-tracked on that point Wink
Thanks! Smile

Ok next question...
Does anyone ever let a newbie tag along on a couple. Just to kind of get the idea - plus kinda to show me what I am actually supposed to do and how to use the GPS. With my luck I will get so turned around that in no time I will be in IA. Just kidding no offense meant to anyone from IA. Razz

Any other advice or direction would be greatfully appreciated.
Very Happy
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minnesotabrad
Past MnGCA President


Joined: 03 Mar 2007

Posts: 1267

PostPosted: Sun May 18, 2008 6:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well I would recommend the Garmin Colorado. The paperless feature is great but it is one of the higher priced models. You can get a good deal on a Garmin 60csx now that the Colorado is the top of the Garmin line. For even lower price I use to have a Magellan 500LE that did me just fine before my Colorado. That being said, Magellan does not have the best customer service.

I would be more than happy to have a newbie go out caching with me anytime, just send me an email if you want. Also WeekNIGHT Caching that is held on Wednesday evenings is a great way to meet other cachers in the area and get some help caching. Just look under events here on the forums for where it is being held. Don't forget the Spring event up at Gooseberry Falls State Park the end of the month if you can make it.
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she_wolf
Geocacher


Joined: 17 May 2008

Posts: 57

PostPosted: Sun May 18, 2008 7:14 pm    Post subject: THANKS! Reply with quote

You mentioned emailing you, however please explain how one emails out here, I didn't see a link.

How does the Wed thing work, are they in certain areas, since I am on the east side of town ~ do I need to have my GPS to participate?

I would love to try and make Goosebery Falls, where would I get some more info ~ and would there be someone that is going that I could tag along with ~how would I figure that out too? I am generally out at one of the St Parks on weekends.

If I took your suggestion of the Garmin 60csx (which does seem to be popular one amongst the discussions, actually there seems to be alot of friendly banter between the Garmin and Magellan users - I love it Smile ). Should I buy new, or what is your thought of going to eBay... or should I try the Buy/Sell on the forum here?

Thanks Again!
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Pear Head
Past MnGCA President


Joined: 04 Apr 2004

Posts: 5700

PostPosted: Sun May 18, 2008 7:35 pm    Post subject: Re: THANKS! Reply with quote

she_wolf wrote:
You mentioned emailing you, however please explain how one emails out here, I didn't see a link.


The best way is to go to geocaching.com, my account, find another player, and email from there. You can also send a PM (private message) through the forums here (click on "you have no new messages" at the top).

Quote:
How does the Wed thing work, are they in certain areas, since I am on the east side of town ~ do I need to have my GPS to participate?


There is normally a thread posted early in the week with the details. They are posted in the events area:

http://www.mngca.org/forum/viewforum.php?f=13

You shouldn't need a GPS to participate, although you'd want to bring one along if you had it.

Quote:
I would love to try and make Goosebery Falls, where would I get some more info ~ and would there be someone that is going that I could tag along with ~how would I figure that out too? I am generally out at one of the St Parks on weekends.


Check out this thread:

http://www.mngca.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=3651

There's a link to the cache page on geocaching.com as well there. If you wanted to tag along with someone I would suggest posting that information to that thread and/or post a note on the cache page at geocaching.com.

Quote:
If I took your suggestion of the Garmin 60csx (which does seem to be popular one amongst the discussions, actually there seems to be alot of friendly banter between the Garmin and Magellan users - I love it Smile ). Should I buy new, or what is your thought of going to eBay... or should I try the Buy/Sell on the forum here?


I think this is more about personal preference than anything. One thing to keep in mind is that GPS devices are electronics that are used in often less-than-ideal situations. My personal preference has been to buy new, but it's really up to you.
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minnesotabrad
Past MnGCA President


Joined: 03 Mar 2007

Posts: 1267

PostPosted: Sun May 18, 2008 9:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would agree with PearHead and buy new unless a used product is from someone you know and trust. Ebay can be okay for deals, that is where I got my Explorist 500LE, but can be a headache if you have issues after you buy it. I like REI because of their return policy.
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MN_Cavepeople
Geocacher


Joined: 02 Feb 2005

Posts: 369

PostPosted: Mon May 19, 2008 7:07 am    Post subject: Re: THANKS! Reply with quote

Pear Head wrote:
she_wolf wrote:
How does the Wed thing work, are they in certain areas, since I am on the east side of town ~ do I need to have my GPS to participate?


There is normally a thread posted early in the week with the details. They are posted in the events area:

http://www.mngca.org/forum/viewforum.php?f=13

You shouldn't need a GPS to participate, although you'd want to bring one along if you had it.



If you look at some of the past WeekNIGHT postings you see that the location each week ranges all around the metro area. However, the East side (Maplewood, Oakdale, Woodbury, etc.) tends to be a popular choice.
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sir_zman
Past MnGCA Board


Joined: 30 Jun 2005

Posts: 1763

PostPosted: Mon May 19, 2008 9:52 am    Post subject: Re: THANKS! Reply with quote

MN_Cavepeople wrote:
However, the East side (Maplewood, Oakdale, Woodbury, etc.) tends to be a popular choice.


Sorry, thats my fault.... Wink

Send me an email (or Private Message - there should be a link under this post that says PM) and let me know if you are going to join us for a WeekNIGHT outting and I'll bring my wife's GPS with me, you can use that and see if you like it.
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Bus&Betty
Geocacher


Joined: 07 Sep 2007

Posts: 328

PostPosted: Mon May 19, 2008 1:41 pm    Post subject: Re: newbie here - couple of questions Reply with quote

she_wolf wrote:
First one, which GPS would folks recommend, most of the topics I am finding here & on geocaching.com, all seem to end up getting side-tracked.


We are a Garmin family. Have the Nuvi 350 for the car. I have the 60CSX and Bus has the Colorado 400T. We tend to buy new, and purchase a service plan. We also have a Pocket PC ipac HX2795B. Even with the logs on the Colorado, the Pocket PC still provides functionality that we use all the time.

she_wolf wrote:

Does anyone ever let a newbie tag along on a couple.

You can tag along with me during this Wednesday's WeekNIGHT caching or at Gooseberry Falls in two weeks.
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casinoman
Geocacher


Joined: 26 Mar 2008

Posts: 383

PostPosted: Mon May 19, 2008 2:23 pm    Post subject: Re: newbie here - couple of questions Reply with quote

she_wolf wrote:
First one, which GPS would folks recommend, most of the topics I am finding here & on geocaching.com, all seem to end up getting side-tracked. Very Happy


Yes we are all very loving of our personal GPS units. We all have favorites. I love my Magellen 300 and my Magellen explorist 500Le
they both seem to get me were I need and want to be.
I think that we would all agree that this is a very big personal desion.

My first GPS was the 300 and I still use it and love how it works. it dose not have the down load feature but putting in a POI is very easy.
Now my 500 dose have the down load feature and it works great. But I just can't put my first toy away it would be like loosing a old friend.

I think that the best Idea is the one you had tag along with some others and see which one works best for you then buy.
Good luck and welcome to the fun sport.
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dornole
Geocacher


Joined: 03 Apr 2006

Posts: 462

PostPosted: Tue May 20, 2008 7:50 am    Post subject: Answer from a non-techie Reply with quote

There is definitely a lot of tech-love in the geocaching community particularly in the Y chromosome members. : ) For myself, non-tech chick, the $90 entry level yellow Garmin worked just fine for my first 3 years of geocaching. Then I upgraded to a $200ish green Garmin (Explorist I think) but mostly so I could give my old GPS to my sister. Here are some of the differences and things that might matter to a non-techie.

--Get WAAS capable, better signal. I think all the new ones may have this now but my old one didn't. Could be an issue if you buy used.

--My upgraded one tracks my mileage, speed etc. which is sort of fun from an exercise standpoint.

--My upgraded one can "go paperless" which I thought would be great but I haven't taken time to figure it out and hook it up to the computer. So I still print out cache pages anyway.

--The upgraded one is a little bit easier to enter coordinates with the controls.

So basically not a lot of difference. The Garmin customer service has been excellent.

Going to Weeknight or the Gooseberry event would be great, look at everyone's GPS and see. Or go to REI and try some out there is a cache in the parking lot there, or was.

Good luck!
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RonGerth
Geocacher


Joined: 25 Apr 2008

Posts: 103

PostPosted: Tue May 20, 2008 9:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think that an excellent GPS unit for starting out would be a Legend HCx from Garmin. It has a great screen, can store lots of caches (1000), has the high sensitivity antenna system in it so it works great in the trees and the urban canyons. It starts in the low to mid $200 range so that is nice too. You will also need to get a Palm Pilot, handheld computer or even some cell phones now do it too, to be able to get the paperless thing going. You can get GSAK for about $25 (or $30 now?) and cachemate for $8 and be off and running. There is a bit of effort going into it on the front end as far as getting the software installed and all set up but it pretty well does it by it self and once it is working it is great. I had an old Z22 palm that I used for awhile before I upgraded so you don't even need a big palm to run it. It has enough of the bells and whistles that it will last for as long as you want it to.

I own a Colorado and if you are thinking about spending the money (around $600) it is most definitely worth it. I have had mine out several times and really like it but with the unit being $600, CityNav being $100, GSAK being $30 you will need to spend some money upfront to get it into "smooth geocaching shape".

As far as getting started goes, look up a local cache or 2 in a park and load them onto your unit and then go out and play with it. They are user friendly and pretty simple to use. IF YOU DO GET A COLORADO, VISTA, 60CSx OR THE LIKES BE SURE TO SHUT OFF YOUR ELECTRONIC COMPASS...................... I put that in caps on purpose. THe compass is a total buzz kill for geocaching as it really screws up the tracking and hunting process. Remember that your GPS is going to tell you how close you are to a set of coordinates that have been posted by a person who might or might not have had a good unit, might or might not have had a good fix on the satellites and might or might not have turned around a number or 2 when they put it in so read the logs to see if there is anything funny going on. Your unit will tell you when you are inside of a circle containing the coordinates so the smaller the circle (the error reading on the unit gives you the radius of the circle) the better your chances are.

ALSO........ SAFETY........ I AM FROM WYOMING (THE STATE, NOT THE TOWN) AND IT IS EASY TO WALK OFF A CLIFF HERE WHILE CACHING SO KEEP ONE EYE ON THE UNIT AND ONE EYE ON THE TERRAIN. There is nothing like falling down a hillside, into a creek or river or walking into a tree while caching.

Have fun and happy caching,

RonGerth
Douglas WY
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Pear Head
Past MnGCA President


Joined: 04 Apr 2004

Posts: 5700

PostPosted: Tue May 20, 2008 9:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have never been impressed with WAAS to the point that I I leave it disabled on units that have it.

I would highly suggest that if you go with Garmin that you get a unit with a "x" in the model name - these units have the better receivers in them.

For a beginner I wouldn't worry too much about the palm stuff and paperless caching. I started out caching years ago by carrying around a stack of cache printouts as I think a lot of people did. There are also other options for paperless caching besides the Palm (and even the Colorado). Start simple and work up.

You can always add more gear as you go along. The only exception to that is your GPSr - there I would suggest getting the right one the first time unless you are independently wealthy. Wink
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RonGerth
Geocacher


Joined: 25 Apr 2008

Posts: 103

PostPosted: Tue May 20, 2008 10:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree about the whole paperless caching thing. I used to print off maps and cache sheets for caches and then go hunting. I always hated to have to print off a bunch of cache sheets on the chance that I might get to them or when I decided not to print them off and then tried the cache and came home and realized that it was a virtual and that I had leaned against the sign a couple of times, read it but not close enough and did not log it.

I would recommend paperless caching just to save frustration. I think it can also be loaded onto an ipod some how but am not sure how.

Definitely get the unit with the H in it, that has the high sensitivity antenna system in it. The "x" means that the unit has a slot in it to be able to expand the amount of info it can hold which is great for loading large areas of maps and stuff like that. I have several friends with the 60Cx and they all swear by it so that is an option too. Look at what you are going to do with the unit, if you are going back country hiking and camping in Wyoming or Montana you will want different things (compass and altimeter) on your unit than if you are going geocaching or using it to find your way around town. You can spend lots of money on a unit, get lots of extra bells and whistles just to have them, spend lots on maps and etc and then not have money left over for gas for your car to go caching. Bigger is not always better but going too small is also a bad deal.

One note, look at the screen on the unit. I have had problems with the screen visibility on both the Colorado and the 76CSx in bright sunlight or when I am in the shadows. I have a VistaCx which has the same screen as the LegendHCx and that is very visible and easy to read even if it is a little bit smaller. Go to a store and compare them to see which you like better and can live with.

Ron
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Marsha and Silent Bob
Past MnGCA President


Joined: 02 Sep 2003

Posts: 6261

PostPosted: Tue May 20, 2008 11:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I can't say that any of us were all that impressed with the Colorado when we saw it in (in)action this past weekend. The paperless caching piece was a nice addition but I didn't see that advantage as making up for its seemingly diminished reception (compared to the 76CSx that was stomping all over it).

Personally, I think you're better off paying $100 less and using something to put the minimalistic information about the caches into the note section of each waypoint via some sort of software like GPSBabel or, God forbid, that overpriced and overbloated piece of waypoint management software I wish to remain unnamed.

YMMV.
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sir_zman
Past MnGCA Board


Joined: 30 Jun 2005

Posts: 1763

PostPosted: Tue May 20, 2008 11:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Marsha and Silent Bob wrote:
overpriced and overbloated piece of waypoint management software I wish to remain unnamed.



I don't think it's overpriced, I have gotten so much use out of the "unnamed" software, between several of the macros, the ability to easily ship specific caches to my Palm, and all the other features, I have more than gotten the $35 I paid for it.
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