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Old 09-22-2004, 08:28 PM   #1
Neil
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GPS's

I was thinking about buying a GPS unit (so I could follow the trail to Mt. Marcy) but I hear they may not be all that effective under forest cover. Since these are the conditions under which I would want to use a GPS can anyone set me straight on that? Furthermore I don't want to spend much, less than $200 CDN.. I don't need a map of every N. American city complete with the nearest massage parlour
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Old 09-22-2004, 08:44 PM   #2
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I have a garmin Rino 110. I have no problem under the canopy.

Cost is around $180

It lists the massage parlors but most of them rub me the wrong way!
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Old 09-22-2004, 08:51 PM   #3
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Redhawk, I noticed that a total of 16 minutes elapsed between my info request and your reply. What took you so long?
Does your unit give you elevation and if so, is it accurate?
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Old 09-22-2004, 08:56 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Neil
Redhawk, I noticed that a total of 16 minutes elapsed between my info request and your reply. What took you so long?
Does your unit give you elevation and if so, is it accurate?
I always read the stuff by the Americans first!

Yes it gives elevation and it's accurate.

Go to Garmin.com and check out the Rino's. lots of neat features. I can up/download waypoints and routes to mine but not maps. The next one up takes maps (nice but not necessary).

I've been out wit people with some other units, Garmin and magellans. I am very happy with my choice. In fact, if I can swing it I will probably get the new `130.
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Old 09-22-2004, 09:11 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by redhawk
I have a garmin Rino 110.
What would be a non radio equivalent?
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Old 09-22-2004, 10:03 PM   #6
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I've got a Garmin Etrax Legend, 160 bucks... it works well in light woods but gets shaky under heavy cover. Up around Cranberry lake it maintained a lock maybe 50% of the time.
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Old 09-22-2004, 10:48 PM   #7
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I have the eTrex Vista, it's a Legend with WAAS and a altimeter. Mine works everywhere in the DAKS and quite well. We are blessed with good sat. coverage (at least in the High Peaks).

I've only occasionally lose signal, but if I stop for a few minutes (a great excuse to break ) I'll pick it right up. I've been DEEP under cover and OFF Trail and found it still works like a champ.

Coverage is not as good in some areas, such as those mountains to the east if us (I understand from others that coverage is not as dependable), but here in NY, I never have had a problem with my unit..
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Old 09-22-2004, 11:57 PM   #8
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Sames as Tim, I've had good experience with my Garmin eTrex Summit (about $190 retail) [formerly Alpinesummit's GPS unit].

It holds a decent signal, but found that if it's not held upright it loses track easier. This tells me the antenna is on the top of the unit and it doesn't take much between the satellite and unit to block the signal. If I leave it dangling around my neck and hike for a while, I'll come back to it and it's "lost" and has to retrack for my current coordinate. This is because the unit itself (screen and batteries, etc) are coming between the antenna and the satellite above. The key though, as Tim said, is that it always seems to find a signal no matter where I am. Worse accuracy I've had is 100 feet, best about 20.
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Old 09-23-2004, 12:17 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Neil
What would be a non radio equivalent?
I don't know but I like the radio especially when i bushwhack with friends who have a RINO also.

You can set it so whenever you key the mike it sends your location to other Rinos. You can also upload a waypoint to someone via the radio.

And it works with any of the other FRS GMRS Radios.


And I would guess that I have satelitle lock 98% of the time or better, anywhere in the Dacks. I have been under canopy at low elevations for long periods of times and held signal.

It's the most reliable I have come across so far.
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Old 09-23-2004, 02:40 AM   #10
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I have a Geko 301 and think it's just adequate - it does lose the signal more often than I'd like while in the trees out west (haven't tried it in the Adirondacks yet). I like the built-in electronic compass and barometric altimeter, and I like that it's so light (just a few ounces) and small. It's WAAS compatible, and as long as it has a good lock, is fast and accurate, but it supports no mapping at all - just waypoints and tracks.

I'm looking to upgrade to the GPSMAP 76cs or something along those lines (color screen, topo mapping) but am in no rush for the moment.
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Old 09-23-2004, 10:26 AM   #11
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True story

I was sitting atop the summit of Wright a few weeks back when another hiker climbed to where I was sitting and asked "Is this the summit?" I replied and noticed all the while he was staring at his GPS. His response was "Hmph. This has an altimeter on it. Wright is supposed to be 4580, but I have 4470. This altimeter is accurate within 6 inches so.....they must have measured the mountain wrong." I nearly fell over

I guess my point (if I have one) is that technology can be great, assuming the person operating it has a clue. Granted, I don't have any of the new toys but I would hope if I did, I'd now how to use it before I went anywhere...

Sorry if I'm a bit OT here.
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Old 09-23-2004, 11:22 AM   #12
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When I had 50% connection around Cranberry it was with the unit around my neck (antenna down). The Legend also has WAAS (but no built in compass or barometric altimiter, you have to be moving to get a compass reading and have a signal to get altitude). Best accuracy I've seen is 11 feet, worse about 50.
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Old 09-23-2004, 11:36 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NukedRocket
they must have measured the mountain wrong."


I've started hiking with a GPS only this summer and have found the device to be somewhat useful, but I would never go so far as to trust it over a known altitude position. The most inaccurate reading I've found thus far was 4210' for Donaldson's summit (70' too high). Oddly enough, it read 50' too high for Emmons and only 10' too high upon my return to Donaldson...I guess you really can't climb the same mountain twice!
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Old 09-23-2004, 12:17 PM   #14
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After a quick perusal of Garmin's website the Gecko 201 seems to fit the bill for me. I noticed that the Etrex series is heavier and has longer battery life. Can anyone tell me performance-wise the differences between the Gecko and Etrex series?
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Old 09-23-2004, 03:37 PM   #15
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I have a friend who has the Gecko 201. When we bushwhacked into Hell devil Dam in the Silver Lake Wilderness, he had signal only about 45% of the time. My RINO had signal continously. The Rino also had more features and options then the Geico (and most of the etrex series) and is much easier to use with one hand.

To make a long story longer. He Bought a RINO 120 and sold his Geiko. Hows that for an endorsement?

One thing to remember about any gps with a barometic altimeter, they are affected by barometric pressure and temperature.
As far as what Nuked Rocket said, I agree. One has to learn how to use them. The thing is, the basics entering, marking, gointg to wayopoints, tracks, can all be piced up pretty easily. However, over a period of time and use, you will find more and more features in the GPS and learn how to apply them.

I'm still finding things out with the RINO and I've had it for over a year. The GPS I had before this had just the minimum of functions.
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Old 09-23-2004, 03:51 PM   #16
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sigh...I'm wondering if for less than $200 CDN there's any point to getting involved with these little beasties.
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Old 09-23-2004, 04:06 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NukedRocket
I was sitting atop the summit of Wright a few weeks back when another hiker climbed to where I was sitting and asked "Is this the summit?" I replied and noticed all the while he was staring at his GPS. His response was "Hmph. This has an altimeter on it. Wright is supposed to be 4580, but I have 4470. This altimeter is accurate within 6 inches so.....they must have measured the mountain wrong." I nearly fell over .
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gandalf
I would never go so far as to trust it over a known altitude position. The most inaccurate reading I've found thus far was 4210' for Donaldson's summit (70' too high). Oddly enough, it read 50' too high for Emmons and only 10' too high upon my return to Donaldson...I guess you really can't climb the same mountain twice!


this is very true of both vertical and horizontal "accuracies" of GPS.
obviously the vertical is much worse, but the fact is that you still have to take whatever accuracy the unit tells you with a grain of salt.

if your unit is reading 11 feet accuracy it is basically lying. code only gps units can never get better than 20something feet horizontally. vertically is a little worse.

if you want better accuracy you have to use a code and phase unit. these units are much more expensive and not generally used by the public.

if you want accuracy better than a few feet you have to use survey quality, differential gps.
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Old 09-23-2004, 05:21 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sacco
if your unit is reading 11 feet accuracy it is basically lying. code only gps units can never get better than 20something feet horizontally. vertically is a little worse.

if you want better accuracy you have to use a code and phase unit. these units are much more expensive and not generally used by the public.

if you want accuracy better than a few feet you have to use survey quality, differential gps.
If you need accuracy better then 50 feet, don't get a GPS, get a seeing eye dog!!

But to answer your question Neil, it depends on what you do and what you want. If you are always on trails, then the gps is good for telling you how faryou have traveled (real time) or how far to the next waypoint (as the crow flies). if you want to stash something and come back for it laer, you can mark it.

However where the GPS really is worth it's price is when you bushwhack. Especially here in the dacks, With the canop[y and density of the forest, it is often difficult if not impossible to see a landmark to take a bearing or triangulate to find your location.

ALthough I am quite skilled with a compass and map and even navigating without them, I consider a GPS as one of my basic pieces of equipment. It is always on when I am in the woods and i use it for everything from planning trips, to logging my trips into my topo software.

Let me give you one instance of where the GPS is invaluble.

When I bushwhack i always map out my route before leaving using my topo maps and software. I am able to pick the waypoints where my route changes to get between or around mountains, skirt blogs, get around lakes, ponds etc. By setting up my waypoints at each place I need to change my route all i have to do is follow the bearing needle on my gps. I don't have to constantly stop and take bearings with my compass every time I have to change course.

Also when just randomly bushwhacking an area, the tracks allows me to track back to my start and also to mark any places of interest I might want to get back to again.

Hope that helps.
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Old 09-23-2004, 07:04 PM   #19
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I have a Garmin Legend and it has good reception under canopy. I've never noticed even heavy tree coverage to have any effect. One place I have had trouble though is right at the gates at AMR. I think probably because I was nestled in between the peaks there wasn't 3 satalites in view at that time of day. I like to take it for the guided tour. The guide book says that you will pass the lean-to or whatever at 2.3 miles and the GPS lets you know when you are getting close. It is not good to look at it after climbing for hours and find your not even half way.
I have a cell phone holder on the shoulder strap of my day pack for it. That way the antenna is never obstructed.

Anyone Geocache with theirs?
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Old 09-23-2004, 07:16 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by redhawk
If you need accuracy better then 50 feet, don't get a GPS, get a seeing eye dog!!

i agree.
i was just making a point/agreeing with the wizard and rocketman about the folly of taking the unit's accuracy reading too seriously.

sometimes real life problems do occur because many people believe these false accuracies their little screen is telling them.

one serious [non-hiking related] problem is that people are now seeing these $200 units tell them they can get within a few feet, and so some people are trying to set their own property lines, rather than pay for a surveyor.
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