Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0

GPS or Smartphone?

28 posts in this topic

Posted · Report post

I have a slight bit of geocaching experience from circa 2003 or so, and have memories of interesting places it led us to. Last week while my car was in the shop, I suddenly realized my smartphone might suffice for a bit of local geocaching, so I tried it and had a good time. So then I dug up the little yellow eTrex handheld GPS I still have from a decade back, loaded batteries, fired it up. Not too impressive.

 

With a smartphone (G3 in my case), I simply turn it on, tap up C:geo, and I'm in the game. But with the GPS, I first must remember to bring it, then after powering it on must wait five minutes for it to find its bearings (seems to take forever to acquire the satellites), and then must load, or have loaded, the coordinates as waypoints, and then make sure the sky above is unobstructed, and then ... well, you get the idea. Smartphone seems a no-brainer, why would anyone want to use a GPS and futz with one tedious detail after another?

 

In town, I mean. I can see where the GPS might be preferable in less urban environs where cell towers don't sprout like weeds. Please also note that my experience with GPS devices is actually limited to this one unit, as described above. No, seriously, I have never used any other. Is it possible I have a seriously ancient unit that's best put out to pasture?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

I have used my yellow etrex for all but about 1000 of my 5500 plus finds. It does its job with no problem in my book. I write down all my caches coords that I plan on doing then plug them into the etrex as I go

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

While that IS an ancient GPS, it does the trick.  There are much newer, fancier ones now.  Come to an event and check some out.  That said, plenty of people cache only with their smartphones.  Great for finding, but not so much for placing.

TexasWriter likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

I started with the yellow eTrex and was so familiar with its operation that I could move around the screens with one hand. I used it so much that the rubber button bandaid came off while caching at night. SInce it was black and white it used very little power. Using my iPhone the use of the GPS uses up the battery really fast. The phone actually gets warm to hot. That is why I don;t use a smartphone for caching unless it is just for a few. Also I only use the free app and it is now very limited and the moving around the app is a bit flaky and non-intuitive.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

Depends on location. Both have pros and cons. Can't always get a good cell signal or a goog satelite lock.

I use my gpsmap 62s mainly cause the batteries last a lot longer than my cell.

The garmin also seems to be more accurate tham my phone.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

I have used my yellow etrex for all but about 1000 of my 5500 plus finds. It does its job with no problem in my book. I write down all my caches coords that I plan on doing then plug them into the etrex as I go

The downside is miss entering the numbers. Also unless you have the special cable all the caches have to be entered one at a time versus uploading them from the web.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

I just plug in one cache at a time. Find it then plug the next in. Sometimes I find the cache on my phone app plug coords in the gps and log on the phone. Depends on how many I plan on finding

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

I almost exclusively use the GPSr.  The phone just chews through the battery life too quickly, plus it's a bit hard to see the screen in bright daylight.  The accuracy seems better on my Garmin 62S when bushwhacking through thick woods and it's nice to have a rugged, waterproof unit on a lanyard around my neck rather than trying to handle a phone in the field.  I download pocket queries of the Houston area, filter out missing caches, then load about 4000 of them into the unit in 15 seconds and off I go.  I also have a Garmin Montana I use for in-the-car navigation (and occasionally for caching in the field) that holds up to 15,000 caches, so I can cover all of SETX with it, for the most part.

 

Besides, I'm too busy using my phone for Munzee's, Facebook and the Untappd Beer app! :laugh:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

The eTrex line has been updated a few times since 2003. The yellow circa 2003 eTrex is quite a bit slower and not as sensitive.

The newer yellow eTrex that looks identical has a newer GPS hardware which is far more sensitive and has a usb connection vs. serial.

The eTrex has since been redesigned with even newer hardware and different housing.

 

Honestly. Since you're just starting out / getting back into it continue with your cell phone. It's way better than your yellow etrex of yesteryear. Just be mindful of your battery usage.

 

If you find that you're caching under the tall pines of East Texas on a 10 mile loop in the middle of nowhere a handheld weather-proof GPSr would be prudent.

 

c:geo can use static/offline maps and store a database of caches locally. This will negate any need for cell coverage.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

We use our GPSr's most of the time, and any time it's not a typical urban P&G type cache. I make sure any puzzle caches we are attempting to find have the updated coordinates entered on the cache page, then run and download the pocket quarries to the GPSr's.

 

We use the iPad with the geocaching.com full app installed while in the truck to help with navigation to a specific cache location or to check past logs and stuff if needed. If we are strictly on a P&G run, which we'll do well after dark on some weekends, we'll use the iPad instead of GPSr's because of mapping, you pretty much can tell which LP that LPC is hiding under on the iPad. Also use the iPad for logging finds, DNF's and such from the field (back in the truck), but you have to keep it plugged in because that app really sucks the battery life. I also use my iPhone with the full app for daily finds to or from work, as most of these are going to be a P&G type cache, and will also use the iPhone out on trails if we need to read past logs, as long as ATT has service in the area anyway. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

I do what HC does because he's my hero.  :angel:

Take it easy on HC as the shareholders just voted for a 30% pay cut for him and his fellow execs. :D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

 

I do what HC does because he's my hero.  :angel:

Take it easy on HC as the shareholders just voted for a 30% pay cut for him and his fellow execs. :D

 

Darn.  There went my Golden Parachute!

 

I will use the phone for impromptu caching and it usually serves me well.  I'll also pull it out when I need a satellite view of the area, or need to read past logs on a cache that go back further than the 5 or so I have in my GPSr.  I was doing some power caching last year with some of the top cachers in the Houston area and had to resort to the phone when we ended up in an area outside of the PQ I had in my 62S.  We were finding them faster than I could pull them up and log them using the phone app!

CANINE QUEEN likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

I use an older Garmin Vista Hcx and log my finds, view previous finds, check hints, etc on my Pocket PC.

Maybe old school, but it works for me. Besides, it seems like my phone battery would not last that long.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

I just Googled 'Garmin 62S', came up with a street price of $759, dangnear had a coronary paroxysm. Jumpin jiminy, I was thinking 1 BTU* was a lotta moolah! Good heavens, guess that answers my question ... ancient eTrex =   :disappoint: , new GPSr =  :startled: , smartphone =  :yoman:

 

 

 

 

 

* BTU = Basic Toy Unit, or $100.00.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

You can get a 62S for $300-$350, check REI, Cabela's, someplace like that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

If you want a great unit, the Oregons are really nice.  Get an older one like the 450 that still has paperless caching (has full cache pages, hints, some logs, etc.), does Wherigos, and other stuff you'll likely never need.  Much more reasonable than current models.

 

That said, that seems a bit high.  But definitely won't be 450 prices.  I've seen 450s on sale well below 2 BTUs.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

Amazon has the 62s for $230.

GPSCITY $300.

 

There are other brands too that have Geocaching features. The Magellan eXplorist MSRP is $159.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

Whew - that sounds more like it! Guess maybe I ought to have been asking about recommendations for budget priced GPSr's that are suitable for geocaching since it's obvious my Googling skills are the pits. Are there bargains on older-but-still-worthwhile units on eBay, or is that a wasteland of frustration for this sorta stuff?

 

Keep those cards and letters coming, folks!

CANINE QUEEN likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited) · Report post

*BTU -- I like that!

 

I bought my 62S from REI a couple of years ago, brand new in the box for $279.  That was a great price at the time.  I've seen them at Academy over the holidays for $199.  If I were in the market for a new unit right now, I'd look hard at the Oregons... but not sure which one I'd go with.

 

Most of the "geocaching friendly" units -- that support "paperless" caching (ie you can read cache descriptions, hints and logs right on the unit) have a "field notes" function.  It remembers which caches you found during the day, along with any notes you made about the find.  You then connect the GPSr to your computer at the end of the day and upload the notes to GC.com.  They show up on your account as Field Notes.  You still have to go through and complete the logs for each cache and submit them, but it makes keeping track of your finds much easier.  Some power cachers will upload their field notes to GSAK (Geocaching Swiss Army Knife -- a geocaching database program) and use a macro on there to auto-publish all their logs.  Easy-peasy!

 

Bottom line is, things have evolved quite a bit since the early Etrex days!

Edited by HoustonControl

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

Other members will often almost give a GPSr away when they upgrade, so keep your eyes peeled on this Board and on SETX facebook page.  Note that the two most popular GPSr units are a bit different in operation.  The Garmin 60/62's use buttons and the Oregon/Montana's are touch screen.  Both are very accurate with maybe the 60/62's being better due to their larger antenna's?  When caching with the folks that use the older style 60/62's, it appears if there is a disagreement in where the coords are pointing, I've found that when my Oregon is off from what the group sees, it's the Oregon that is inaccurate slightly more than the 60/62's.  Usually, they are in perfect agreement.
 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

Take what HoustonControl said about Field Notes as gospel and if by chance, you do not have the geocache loaded into your GPSr when you find one, log it in the field with your smartphone and it will appear as found when you log into GC.com.  This way you don't lose track of what you found and by golly, its easy to do and all of us have done it. 

 

I upload my field notes when I come in from caching and log them properly adding any notes I made in the field, etc, which incidentally show up with the Field note log, then I add any photos I took and submit it.  After I'm done with logging what my field notes showed, I go back and edit the logs I submitted with my phone - SLTFTC More later - left when I logged it in the field. 

 

I try to never leave a log that reflects that the cache wasn't worth a proper log.  TFTC  SLTFTC  TNLNTFTC

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

 - SLTFTC More later - left when I logged it in the field. 

 

I try to never leave a log that reflects that the cache wasn't worth a proper log.  TFTC  SLTFTC  TNLNTFTC

 

I was doing a fair job of keeping up when we hit this stretch of road. I try to do my homework like a good boy, but didn't find the decoder ring in either acronym/glossary page I am aware of. I have even studied Egyptian hieroglyphs, and it didn't help. No decrypt button, nothing. I'm going to end up in a bar over this, can see it coming...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

- SLTFTC More later - left when I logged it in the field.

I try to never leave a log that reflects that the cache wasn't worth a proper log. TFTC SLTFTC TNLNTFTC

I was doing a fair job of keeping up when we hit this stretch of road. I try to do my homework like a good boy, but didn't find the decoder ring in either acronym/glossary page I am aware of. I have even studied Egyptian hieroglyphs, and it didn't help. No decrypt button, nothing. I'm going to end up in a bar over this, can see it coming...

This should help.

http://geolex.locusprime.net/

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0