KeyResults

Garmin 64S on sale $199

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KeyResults    604

Bass Pro mailer today has Garmin GPSMAP 64S at $199.00 in Greater Houston area which is $100.00 off reg price. 

The 64S is a very good product for anyone thinking about upgrading or buying a handheld for Geocaching. I personally believe it is the best consumer handheld GPS unit available right now, especially for Urban Caching, and matched with a good smartphone for satellite images, is about as good as it gets right now IMO.

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This might be a good stocking stuffer for christmas. We've had some trouble using our phone's gps when searching in large wooded areas/forest geocaches. Thanks for pointing this one out. 

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Thot    57

Well, that sale's gone but Amazon sells the 64 regularly for $200 & the 64s for $217

Several people seem to love the compass in the 64s.  I hated the compass in my 60CSx.  Why do people like the compass in this unit and most importantly, what do they use it for??? I never use the compass in the 62s.

I'm thinking of getting a 64 or 64s, but I don't understand why people want the barometer or the compass.

Edited by Thot

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TheNorman    132

I visit.  I just have nothing to say with respect to Bluetooth Antenna.  I expected Key Results to comment.

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KeyResults    604

Hi all. Sorry, I decided to shut off all digital communication for a few badly needed days of unpluggedness. 

THOT:

Re: The Digital Compass

The digital compass has progressed rather nicely and has improved substantially since the 60 series Garmin handheld receivers. For one thing, they became triaxial, which meant it no longer needed to be held flat to render an accurate bearing. To render an accurate direction, however, it requires regular calibration. The chip used for this triaxial compass has improved substantially in performance and lower cost thanks to cellular smartphones and automobile navigation systems that also use the technology. Garmin uses a very sensitive device in its handheld GPSr units. I believe I described the compass in some detail previously on the board. In a nutshell, if you wish to use the digital compass, in ANY handheld device, and you wish for it to function properly, you must calibrate it regularly. Yes, that includes smartphones too. This is especially true in Garmin 62 and 64 series units because of the rechargeable batteries. Each type of battery affects the sensitive digital compass. Software compensates for the various chemistries. That is why it is important to select the correct battery type in the user configuration settings of the GPSr. It's good practice to then calibrate your unit's compass after changing the batteries out. Also, because of geological differences, it's a good practice to recalibrate the compass when you travel to a different location. Sometimes that calibration process can be a little wonky, but if you do it regularly, it becomes second nature, and it only takes a minute.

Muddy Buddies, Stan, by all accounts a very experienced and exceptional geocacher, has told me that he really doesn't care about the compass, at least in the past. And, I agree that, as long as you are moving, and have good satellite lock, you do not need the compass for a reasonably accurate COG and you should probably ignore the compass screen altogether. I counter, that the calibrated compass can be very helpful when you are standing still and you want to know which direction you are facing. The "assist" that a calibrated compass affords the geocacher is considerable in my opinion, so why not use it?

Re: Bluetooth

The Bluetooth wireless functionality built into the Garmin 64 family have so much potential in my opinion, for wireless connectivity to smartphones in the field, and connections wirelessly to the PC for logging and file exchange. Thus far, to my knowledge, this hasn't happened. So as far as I am concerned the BT doesn't bring much to the party. However, the 64 family of GPSr units are by far the best of the button type handheld receivers yet produced by Garmin. Why? (1) The GGZ file format replacing the GPX format, which allows efficient storage of unlimited geocaches. (2) GLONASS support.  The addition of the GLONASS satellites network of 24 "birds" provide for much faster satellite position upon power on, and substantially better fix in Urban geocaching scenarios because there are more points in the sky at any given location. Two satellites are simply better than just one! This has benefitted many newer smartphones too, by the way. (3) Mature software is the product of all that Garmin has gleaned from the previous GPSr units. The 64 series is now a mature and stable platform which performs really well for the price. The accessories are all backwards compatible with the 62 series too which makes the upgrade easier on the pocket book if you have handlebar mounts and stuff like that.

My recommendation: Get a 64s and use it with your modern smartphone. The Garmin gets great battery life, is rain resistant, tough, and is excellent in most situations. The smartphone allows detailed logging (I prefer dictating my logs), satellite views in real-time when and can be really helpful. 

I hope this helps.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year fellow cachers!

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KeyResults    604

I just realized nobody answered Thot's question about the usefulness of the Barometer in the 64s and 64st models.

My take is that many mountain terrain hikers and backpackers use the GPSMap family of handhelds to assist in tracking elevation, and also for weather changes. The Altimeter function of the unit has several modes that determine how you might use it. Essentially, in auto mode, the altimeter self-calibrates to current ambient temperature and barometric pressure. This sensor data can now aid in the tracking of elevation changes coupled with GPS position fixes for a fairly reliable elevation. In barometer mode, assuming a fixed position, one can monitor for pressure changes that may signal a storm coming (drastic pressure drop) or clearing weather (sharp pressure rise). I sometimes fly fish in some steep canyons, like the Black Canyon on the Gunnison River in Colorado. It takes a good amount of time and effort to hike down into the fishable water. It can be dangerous when a storm passes, raising the water level rapidly. The only warning you have in these cases is to monitor barometric pressure, calibrating it after you get down to the water. It turns out that the pressure drop usually happens ahead of the storm, affording the fisherman plenty of time to hike back up to a safe area.

I have used the altimeter function once on a geocache, an Earthcache I think. It was handy then too, but I haven't personally seen any other geocaches like that since.

To be honest, I don't really think it's THE reason to buy the Garmin GPSr. It's just another goodie that might prove useful somehow in your travels. For me personally, my watch has the barometer I actively use when fishing (hiking) in the Rockies, or any place else where the horizon is blocked from view. When I cannot see an approaching t-storm in the distance, my watch does through pressure drop detection. Could my Garmin do that for me, yes, but my watch is more convenient when I'm fishing, ;) so the Garmin stays in the caching pack.

One last thing, hikers that are using USGS maps, paper or digital, may use contour elevations that are really helpful at pinpointing a position when coupled with a compass and barometer. It's old school, but tried and true to be sure. Most Serious Alpine hikers wouldn't be caught without a good mechanical compass and barometer along with a detailed contour map of their area. Digital GPS units are fairly useless in subzero temps on glaciers for days at a time. 

 

Edited by KeyResults
incomplete thought edit

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Thot    57
On 12/26/2016 at 11:58 AM, KeyResults said:

I counter, that the calibrated compass can be very helpful when you are standing still and you want to know which direction you are facing. The "assist" that a calibrated compass affords the geocacher is considerable in my opinion, so why not use it?

Does this mean the hollow arrowhead on the 62s map screen I've always assumed points north, really doesn't?  If it does, that's about all the standing still compass I need. 

Edited by Thot

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Thot    57

I'll start by saying, I don't have a smartphone, so all the synergisticness is not meaningful to me, and the terrible screen on the 62s is not improved.  I can't read the damn thing a lot of the time unless it's in direct sunlight.  Of all the additional features the 64s has my 62s doesn't almost none are meaningful to me.  The 62s holds all the caches I ever want plus their logs, so the major jump in storage ability isn't useful to me.  I suppose the more accurate coordinates could be useful, but most of the time the hiders error is the greater error so having a more accurate fix on their inaccurate coordinates isn't much help.  But, one thing I read you say somewhere KeyResults is that the location doesn't jump around. 

The one aspect of Garmin units I absolutely hate is their jumping around.  As I walk towards a cache the map pointer can swing widely.  I often see it jump between 45 degrees to the left of my heading to 45 degrees to the right.  This drives me nuts.  Before the 60CSx, my GPSr was a Magellan.  After it homed in on a cache it continued to point in roughly the same direction, none of this jumping 90 degrees from left to right both of my Garmins do.  The downside was, when you got near GZ you had to stop and let it settle down, and if you weren't careful you'd be past it and have to backtrack.  But, that's much better than zigzagging all over the place or trying to mentally guess the average direction it's pointing.

So, all that drivel said, is it true the 64 doesn't swing widely like the 62?

Given what I've said about my needs, are there any other reasons I should upgrade from my 62s to a 64?

Edited by Thot
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KeyResults    604

Thot: Given all your personal criteria listed above, I'd say keep your 62s as long as it's functioning and be sure to calibrate the compass often, at least with each battery charge/change. $200 is $200, and it doesn't sound like you'll get enough value to justify the upgrade IMO. 

FWIW I LIKE THE DISPLAY
I'm surprised you find the display unsatisfactory, I consider it to be pretty darn good, in daylight especially. I trust you've been able to mess with the brightness settings in various conditions, as well as the backlight settings in low light. To get great battery life, compromises have to be made. I think Garmin has done a good job here. I do not think they've gone far enough on the Montana, and other large touch screen models using lithium rechargeables. Screen resolution should, at least, equal good smartphone screen resolutions IMO.

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Thot    57

Sorry, I didn't get back sooner, but I don't get reply notices from this site.  You didn't address whether the 64 stops the wide jumping around.  Also, does the hollow arrowhead on the map screen point north independent of the compass and it's calibration state?  I've always assumed it did.

553.jpg

Edited by Thot
typo

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KeyResults    604

Thot~

I am uncertain about the "wide jumping around" thing. I do not generally experience anything of the sort. That's not to say that when my calibration is off, or when I am standing under high power transmission lines, or other sources of geomagnetic interference, that my Garmin 64s won't jump around on me. It will. As a rule, it is very stable.

 

As far as the hollow arrowhead indicator on the map screen, it is indeed tied to the internal electronic compass.

When the compass is switched off in the Garmin GPSMAP system settings, you'll note that it ceases to function in any useful way while standing still.

When you switch on the compass in settings, the pointer will reflect either magnetic or true north reliably according to settings, assuming, of course, the unit is calibrated correctly. The compass pointer will point to north regardless of the GPS target indicator being used while it is turned on. The compass settings are found in the SYSTEM > HEADING menu page. The two options are Auto or Off.

As far as I know, the triaxial digital compass in the 62s is identical to the one in the 64s. They should behave the same in either unit. They can, and do fail, but as a rule, they are fairly hardy and reliable components. After all, the digital compass in these units should be treated just as gingerly as any mechanical magnetic compass would be. At the end of the day, they are sensitive magnetic devices. You should do your best to avoid putting your GPSr in close proximity to electronics or magnetic objects as they surely will affect the performance.

I hope this helps.

K

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Thot    57

I tried to calibrate the compass 3 times and got 3 failures.  Each time it succeeded in yaw, and roll then failed in pitch.  The first time I tried it, it completed in yaw before I moved it, which made me suspicious of the process.

Edited by Thot

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KeyResults    604

You now know why your compass jumps around. 

My calibration is smooth and quick. I'd consider calling tech support and let them decide if your unit is defective. 

 

The calibration process isn't normally very difficult Jim. I just did mine in first pass, in 35 seconds, beginning to end. 

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Thot    57
On 1/7/2017 at 9:19 PM, KeyResults said:

You now know why your compass jumps around.

I'm not sure I understand that.  The jumping around I'm referring to it the cache direction pointer on the map screen.  Unless something's very different on the 62 than the 60 this has nothing to do with the compass.

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HoustonControl    1,046

I think Kenny is right.  If the electronic compass is turned on and isn't calibrated properly, it will cause the cache direction pointer on the map screen to swing wildly when walking to a cache.  As you are moving, the unit used the changes in GPS position to determine your direction of travel.  As you slow a bit, the compass takes over and, if it needs calibration, can cause it to suddenly point the other way.  I had trouble with this on my 64s when I first got it and had to recalibrate several times a day and it drove me nuts.  Finally, they did a firmware upgrade that seemed to fix it, for the most part.  I still try to recalibrate whenever I change batteries.

Additionally, when recalibrating, make sure you are out in the open and away from any metal objects.  Mine always fails on the pitch axis if I try to calibrate it in the house or while sitting in my truck.

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Thot    57

To whom it may concern:

Kenny solved my direction pointer swinging around.  Turning the compass off fixed it.  I guess I should have taken the hint from HC's point about it swinging widely when the compass was uncalibrated, but I mistakenly thought when the compass screen was hidden the compass was turned off, but it isn't.

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