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mapguy
WGA Member



Joined: 2006-02-25
Posts: 4
Location: McFarland, WI

PostPosted: Sat Feb 25, 2006 8:03 am Reply with quote Back to top

Hi All-

Okay, I'll admit this is the classic newbie FAQ, but I'll take my lashes: I'm ready to plunk down the $$ for a new GPSr (just getting started), and have two basic questions:

1. How critical is mapping capability for a GPS receiver? Seems like many of the built-in maps, and even the pricey add-on maps (e.g., Garmin) are not detailed enough to be very useful at large scales. My main use will be geocaching. Is this one of those religious questions where you ask 10 people and get 15 opinions??

2. Similarly, how critical is an electronic compass? Logically, it seems like a regular compass in hand with GPSr is a good way to save some $$.

Thanks for your input!

Jim
 
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Trudy and the beast
WGA Member



Joined: 2002-07-26
Posts: 2375
Location: Milwaukee, WI, USA

PostPosted: Sat Feb 25, 2006 8:56 am Reply with quote Back to top

quote:
Originally posted by mapguy:

1. How critical is mapping capability for a GPS receiver?
2. Similarly, how critical is an electronic compass? Logically, it seems like a regular compass in hand with GPSr is a good way to save some $$.

Jim



Welcome aboard Jim,

These are very good questions to ask before purchasing a GPSr.

How critical is mapping capability for a GPS receiver?
it is not crical at all. but this is one feature we have really enjoyed having. We found our first caches with a Garmin 12 [no maps] and switched to a Garmin Map76 after a couple of years. While the maps are rapidly dated and lack the detail of a good street atlas, whe found them very helpful in navigating to the cache. It really helps to know when a round-about approach is required because there are no roads between here and there. Without the maps, you may find yourself bushwacking for several hundred yards while there may be a road right on the other side of the cache.

Similarly, how critical is an electronic compass? Logically, it seems like a regular compass in hand with GPSr is a good way to save some $$.
We briefly used a hand held electronic compass and found the regular compass is a lot more convienient and less expensive. a regular compass does not consume battery power and does not require recalibration when batteries are changed. You can find some very nice hand held compasses that cost a lot less than the bump in GPSr price for this added electronic feature.
~tb



[This message has been edited by Trudy & the beast (edited 02-25-2006).]
 
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GeoPink
WGA Member



Joined: 2003-11-01
Posts: 1682
Location: Manitowoc, WI

PostPosted: Sat Feb 25, 2006 9:06 am Reply with quote Back to top

Hi mapguy!

Welcome to the WGA Boards. You are probably right on as far as 10 folks having 15 opinions. GPSr's are like Pizza's. Everyone like their own set of "toppings" to carry along with them into the woods.

The general suggestion is usually for newbies to "buy the best GPSr you can reasonably afford". I'd say this holds true to the mapping as well. I use the mapping on mine all the time. I have TOPO maps loaded as well and admittedly they are not as detailed or accurate as they could be. I have a simple Magellan SporTrak (for now, screen cracked & need replacement). The pricier units take mapping to a whole new level, displaying reccomended routes and talking you through, turn by turn. Personally, as long as the roads are there, that's all I need, but that's just my pizza.

As far as the electronic compass, well, that's the pineapple pizza topping. It's OK on the "pizza" but rarely adds any value to it. If you want pineapple chunks, go buy a can from your local grocer.

Hope that helps! See you on the trails!


------------------
Team GeoPink - Co-conspirators to make the world a better place...
- Jeff Rahmlow
WGA President
geopink at wi dash geocaching dit com

The comments and opinions above are those solely of Team GeoPink (arcangl7) and are not those of the WGA, the WGA board, or its other fine members.
 
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Cathunter




Joined: 2003-09-10
Posts: 1263
Location: Bristol WI

PostPosted: Sat Feb 25, 2006 10:38 am Reply with quote Back to top

I would have never made it to many cache sites without using detailed maps in my Garmin. When I jump into a city I have no knowlege of, and can drive exactly to where I want to go, it is very empowering.
I don't do paper.

I'm not sure what the talk about lack of detail is. Garmin's maps go right down to showing the logging roads in the state and county forests. In areas of newer construction, naturally some things will be missing. The maps were made based off USGS topo maps.

I do without an electronic compass. They eat batteries and need to be calibrated often. Most are also sensitive to being held level. The arrow pointer on non-electronic units is calculated through your movement in relation to the position of the satellites. Very accurate if you are not under heavy tree cover.
 
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mapguy
WGA Member



Joined: 2006-02-25
Posts: 4
Location: McFarland, WI

PostPosted: Sat Feb 25, 2006 2:13 pm Reply with quote Back to top

Thanks for all the great advice. This seems like the right group to ask a more specific question. Amazon is currently having a "sale" on the Garmin GPSMAP 60C for $250 (after a rebate). Great price, but it's at the upper end of what I can see spending.

Anyone have some suggestions for a receiver more in the $150 range? From what I see, that means a greyscale screen, and basic mapping capability (if at all).

I'm open to ideas!


[This message has been edited by mapguy (edited 02-25-2006).]
 
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Cathunter




Joined: 2003-09-10
Posts: 1263
Location: Bristol WI

PostPosted: Sat Feb 25, 2006 7:33 pm Reply with quote Back to top

Garmin Etrex Legend offers great functionality in the $150 range. Of course, the detailed maps come at an additional price. I have seen the unit packaged with the topo map CD for $199.

If you don't mind spending the extra money, stepping up to the color model also gets you increased battery life. Color is nice, but does nothing to help you find caches.
 
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djwini
WGA Member



Joined: 2004-03-31
Posts: 487
Location: Hales Corners, WI, United States

PostPosted: Sun Feb 26, 2006 3:19 pm Reply with quote Back to top

i started with the yellow e-trex. but within 2 months i upgraded to the garmin 60c. i love my 60c. i did buy the mapsource cd that goes with it to get more than the base maps. i tried going without them, but there were just too many roads that didn't show up, and i get lost easily. the compass on the 60cs, i found to be pretty useless. i very rarely use a compass, but i do carry one just in case. the legend is ok, but $250 for a new 60c is a great price. but i like the hi-tech toys and at this stage of my life i can spend a little extra for what i want.
 
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GeoPink
WGA Member



Joined: 2003-11-01
Posts: 1682
Location: Manitowoc, WI

PostPosted: Sun Feb 26, 2006 4:45 pm Reply with quote Back to top

Took care of those multi-posts for you djwini! Image

------------------
Team GeoPink - Co-conspirators to make the world a better place...
- Jeff Rahmlow
WGA President
geopink at wi dash geocaching dit com

The comments and opinions above are those solely of Team GeoPink (arcangl7) and are not those of the WGA, the WGA board, or its other fine members.
 
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hogrod
WGA Member



Joined: 2005-07-24
Posts: 639
Location: New glarus, WI

PostPosted: Sun Feb 26, 2006 6:42 pm Reply with quote Back to top

I will throw the explorist 210 out there as an option. we had one for a few weeks and it was a great unit for the price. it has magellans geocache manager software and a USB connection to the computer. it also has 22mb of storage for detail maps.

If I had to choose between the etrex legend(grey scale) and the explorist 210, I would choose the 210 every time. the main reason is the newer receiver is way better under heavy tree cover.

I do also have to add I like our legendC better than the explorist 210, and its only about $50 more for the legendC.
 
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4hunting
WGA Member



Joined: 2006-02-15
Posts: 2
Location: Lake Geneva, Wi USA

PostPosted: Mon Feb 27, 2006 8:01 am Reply with quote Back to top

I just recently started geocaching so take my 2cents worth with a grain of salt. I just purchased a Magellan explorist 600 this is a fairly expensive unit but i wanted the ability to expand the memory for larger detailed base maps and topo, that way i can navigate on street maps getting there and topo once your in the woods. I went caching for the first time this weekend and used the electronic compass to do the gross navigation to the area of the cache and then the detailed location screen to zero in on the cache. the Magellans set pointer to track your goto point on the compass which allows you to follow a trail or easier route until the the cache is right next to you which can "somtimes" eliminate some bushwacking. Enjoy you'll have a great time whatever unit you choose.

------------------
I'm too old to "Grow Up"
 
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EnergySaver
WGA Member



Joined: 2004-05-28
Posts: 1440
Location: Ozaukee County

PostPosted: Mon Feb 27, 2006 9:15 am Reply with quote Back to top

Welcome aboard!

My 2 cents ...

Having the maps is nice. In your pre-geocaching life you may think you didn't need electronic maps. But you MAY find that now that your geocaching, the ability to find roads will be handy. It's not directly needed for finding geocaches, but will help you drive/park your car.

I see no advantage to an electronic compass. Myself, each of our GPSrs has a little $8 compass (very small, about the size of a watch battery) hanging on the GPSr. When I can't figure out which way is north, I just look at it.
 
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GrouseTales
WGA Member



Joined: 2002-02-18
Posts: 3399
Location: West Allis, Wi

PostPosted: Mon Feb 27, 2006 9:33 am Reply with quote Back to top

I would definately say get a GPS with mapping. You'll be glad you did. For a few extra bucks, a mapping GPS will help you find you way driving even when you're not geocaching. You can get a yellow Etrex for under $100, but you'll soon outgrow it. Now, for about $140-$160, you could get a Garmin Legend that has mapping and everything you'll need for geocaching. I'm not suggesting the Legend, just showing you what a few extra bucks can get you.

Mapping should be an automatic "yes" in my opinion. The question would be, do you want color or auto-routing. Both features are excellent, but might not be worth the extra money for a newby.

Forget the electronic compass. Get yourself a nicer real compass. You won't have to flip screens to see it, and the batteries will never run out on you. In my opinion, you shouldn't be in the woods without a real compass.

On a side note, I've literally handled 100's of GPS units at some of our events. The Garmins interface with computers the best and are easy to find accessories for. I've owned 3 Magellens, 3 Lowrance, and 3 Garmins. I'll only recommend Garmins to my friends and family Image



------------------
"There are two kinds of hunting: ordinary hunting and grouse hunting."
-Aldo Leopold, A sand county Almanac


Brian
WGA Vice-President
Grousetales at wi-geocaching dot com
KC9GMW
 
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CB&MB
WGA Member



Joined: 2005-02-24
Posts: 385
Location: Silver Lake, WI

PostPosted: Mon Feb 27, 2006 10:29 am Reply with quote Back to top

quote:
Originally posted by GrouseTales:
Mapping should be an automatic "yes" in my opinion. The question would be, do you want color or auto-routing. Both features are excellent, but might not be worth the extra money for a newby.


Newbie or not, if Geocaching and/or just driving around are something you plan to do often, why not spend the extra $50 now and get turn-by-turn capabilities?! You can always wait to buy that software for a while. Places like Gander Mountain and Best Buy often have package deals on GPSR's. (A couple of weeks ago we took Team Little Bug shopping for a GPSR. He ended up getting a Garmin eTrex Legend C for a great price...right around $200. Since it was a package, he also got a computer cable, a lighter plug, Mapsource Topo, a carrying case and a bike mount. Then he talked the MGR into a discount on a car mount.) So...the deals are out there. You only need to take some time to find them.

One thing you may want to think about doing is going to an event. There are several coming up (in fact, one will be hosted by Team Little Bug on March 11th). You can talk to different cachers and play with their GPSR's. You would most likely be able to hook up with a group for the day and gain some hands-on experience before making your purchase. It could help you decide which unit you like better.

Bottom line for me is, compass...good-but not necessary (use a hand held), mapping...important-but not absolutely necessary, turn-by-turn directions...WONDERFUL-but not an absolute. (oh...did anyone mention that the software allowing turn-by-turn also has info such as hotels, restaurants, points of interest, etc. on it? BONUS!)

Good luck to you!

MajorBrat

 
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mapguy
WGA Member



Joined: 2006-02-25
Posts: 4
Location: McFarland, WI

PostPosted: Mon Feb 27, 2006 8:57 pm Reply with quote Back to top

Thanks again everyone for all the advice. I decided to throw caution to the wind and get the GPSMAP 60C. Hey, it's only money! I'll go with the built-in maps for awhile, but I'm sure I'll upgrade to the mapsource stuff eventually.

I do mapping-related work for a living, so I'm looking forward to playing with my new "toy." Not to mention getting outdoors with the kids when the weather warms up!

Thanks again,
Jim
 
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mapguy
WGA Member



Joined: 2006-02-25
Posts: 4
Location: McFarland, WI

PostPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2006 9:05 pm Reply with quote Back to top

quote:


I do mapping-related work for a living, so I'm looking forward to playing with my new "toy." Not to mention getting outdoors with the kids when the weather warms up!



Just for giggles, check out two GPS articles I wrote for a mapping-related publication I edit:
http://www.sco.wisc.edu/pubs/bulletin/b_article.php?id=235

and
http://www.sco.wisc.edu/pubs/bulletin/b_article.php?id=232
 
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