May 30, 2004 | Comments Off

On Friday I decided it was time to jump into the venerable world of GPS and GeoCaching. I went to Circuit City intending to buy a Garmin ETrex (base model) but they didn’t have the PC cable for the base model. Instead they had the “Legend” model which included the PC cable so I opted for that instead.

Overall I’m impressed with the unit. I broke it in by geocaching yesterday and today. Both days looking for the same cache. I could easily blame the GPS unit for my trouble finding the cache but mostly it got us very close to it. Mostly, we just didn’t spot it for a long time. It took three visits to find the desired cache.

I also managed to hook it up to the laptop and get it working with my mapping software. Pretty straight forward. However, the PC cables for GPS devices seem to be stuck in the 90s and generally come as Serial. There are Serial->USB converters but they are surprisingly expensive (minimal searching, ~$30-40).

The device itself feels very sturdy and the screen resolution is quite good. It has a backlight and the reception is decent although I have nothing to compare it to. It also has maps of all the major roads in the area, although it is incapable of calculating any route other than as the crow flies (but this is why I have mapping software). It also has a surprising amount of information it can calculate it, I could definately see its usefulness for real outdoorsmen (of which I am obviously not one).

As a side not, Leigha intends to use it to track her daily walks, since it’s well suited for this purpose. It has a screen that displays distance, time, avg speed, which are helpful to know in this case.

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