A GPS receiver for our purposes is a small, hand-held electronics device used to receive multiple satellite signals to determine our position pratically anywhere on the globe. Further detail Accurancy of GPS receivers vary depending on a number of factors including time of day, weather, satellite geometry, WAAS signals, and more. Many geocachers allow the GPS to get them close and then use The Force to guide them the rest of the way.
Units prices can range from a little under $100 (and falling) to more that $500.
Selecting a GPS for Geocaching
The bare essentials a GPS unit, or GPSr, will need for succesfull use in order to hunt a cache is the ability to input and display user coordinates to three decimal places for the minutes and use WGS-84 (NAD-83) datum. While some have successfully hunted caches with units that don't meet these minimums they do have some difficulties. All consumer grade units sold in the last few years will meet these minimums.
Can't Live Without
Be careful of the most inexpensive units because they do not include a data cable that hooks up to your computer. You will want a data cable to reduce time entering coordinates and errors inputing them manually. Many a new cacher, and even expereinced, has been frustrated when inadvertantly entering the wrong coordinates.
Another nice feature is mapping screen. The map will give you an overhead map that helps you get your bearings. Most modern units will have some sort of mapping screen. This is not to be confused with a mapping unit which will have detailed real-world maps includes roads, rivers, and more.
Most mid to higher end GPS units allow you to add real-world maps of different flavors to your units. The types of maps can be detailed roads and streets, topo maps with detailed topographical features, or both. The area your unit can hold is determined by the amount of data that will fit in the unit's memory. Some units have removable memory so you can use large data sets or swap smaller ones out for others.
Autorouting units will give you turn-by-turn directions from the present position to a destination you select. This can be extremely helpful in geocaching to go you from the parking area of your last find to your next.
Because units that don't have a built-in compass relies on movement of the unit to deterimine which way it is headed, when you are sitting still it will have no clue. When you stop and turn in any direction, the unit can not tell you which way to proceed until you start moving again. An electronic compass will tell you which way the unit pointed regardless of speed. Some cacher forego the electronic compass for a good magnetic compass because the option many times is more expensive than a good old-fashioned magnetic compass. Beside many consider a manual compass good advise to have as back up anyway just in case the GPS fails.
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