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Which GPS Do You Use?


#1

Considering being more active as an Activator and although I swear by a map and compass 1:25000 only, I would also like to purchase a handheld GPS to allow quicker checks to be carried out on the move and in poor WX. Problem is, which one to purchase?
I’m looking for one that you can insert an 8 figure Grid Reference in for your way points and a back-track feature in case of inclement weather,electric compass feature is obvious but don’t require much more than that. Can anyone suggest the right one to buy, based on their useage for SOTA? Pointless buying one for £350 when one at £90 would suffice.

Ian
2E0EDX


#2

In reply to M3EDX:

Hi Ian, I use a Garmin etrex Venture CX. It certainly fits the bill and is very water resistant.
The screen is colour and very clear to read.

73 Mike


#3

In reply to M3EDX:
I have had a Garmin GPS12 for lots of years…It does everything I want without being too flashy. I wouldn’t be too keen on an electronic compass, they’re not that good and eat up the batteries.

If I was in the market again (and I have been looking) I’d be after a Geko 201.
If I was looking for a mapping handheld, the 60cx looks best. In Garmin speak, c,s & x after the model number stand for colour, sensors (compass & barometer/altimeter) & external memory card…a must if you want to use mapping. I have a spare electronic compass that I don’t want…you can have it. A simple Silva typa is more reliable,versatile,accurate & easier to use…and you can get them in Aldi for 2/3 quid or so.

Having had years of good service…and heard lots of good stories, I wouldn’t consider anything but Garmin, maybe someone else can fill you in on other manufacturers.

Hope this helps,
Dick.


#4

In reply to M3EDX:
+1 on the garmin advice, been using them for years and they are really reliable and weatherproof. I use the Vista CX, great little tool, and as the new version has come out (not much difference really) you can pick the CX up for about £130 - £150 new !!

Lee
MØLMP


#5

In reply to M3EDX:
Hi Ian
I also used a Garmin 12 for a number of years - it ate batteries.
I now use a basic Garmin Etrex (the yellow one) reliable,cheap and weatherproof.
I.E just right for your requirements above.

Roger G4OWG


#6

In reply to M3EDX:
I use the Garmin Fortrex 101 wrist GPS.

This particular model uses normal AAA batteries.

Not as accurate as some of the more expensive models but it does the task it was designed for.

MYKE


#7

I use a Garmin Geko 301. It seems to be very accurate. I’m always getting “co-ordinates spot on” in my e-mails for my geocache finds. (www.summitcaching.org.uk) It also has an altimeter and a compass.
from Charlie


#8

In reply to M3EDX:

Hi Ian,

Like Roger I use the cheap Garmin eTrex yellow unit. It generally displays an accuracy on the ground of around 5 to 10m depending on the satellites it can see, which is sufficient for most purposes. In wooded areas it gets patchy and that really is my only complaint. It does take time to locate satellites and can’t read them indoors (unlike my TomTom, which admittedly is far less accurate and has an entirely different purpose).

It always has to be borne in mind that these devices are to help and not a first port of call as to your position. Use wisely whatever you purchase! I’m sure that you will.

73, Gerald

P.S. They are great for giving current height (useful for checking position against contours on a map) and for confirming that you are in the activation zone and at the correct summit if there are multiple summits on a hill.


#9

In reply to G4OIG:

P.S. They are great for giving current height (useful for checking
position against contours on a map) and for confirming that you are in
the activation zone and at the correct summit if there are multiple
summits on a hill.

Gerald

A standard GPS does not have sufficient vertical accuracy to directly confirm you are inside the summit activation zone. I am sure I have mentioned this on here before and I think Richard G3CWI has also made the point.

The best way is to use the horizontal position and plot that on the map to determine the height. Of course everyone take a map and a compass with them and does not totally rely on the GPS for navigation.

The GPS units with barometric altitude, eg the eTrex Summit, are better but the above is the safest method.

73 John GW4BVE


#10

In reply to GW4BVE:
I suppose you dont really need a gps to confirm you are in the activation zone, you could do what others have tried and just sit in the car and “pretend” you have been to the summit, eat your butties before going home and tell the wife/mother it was tough, but you enjoyed the fresh air !!!

HI

Lee
MØLMP


#11

In reply to GW4BVE:

A standard GPS does not have sufficient vertical accuracy to directly
confirm you are inside the summit activation zone. I am sure I have
mentioned this on here before and I think Richard G3CWI has also made
the point.

This has been mentioned numerous times and there are obviously reasons for quoting this but I use a Garmin etrex Venture Cx and the kids have a basic Garmin etrex for Geocaching and whenever we have been stood on a trig point the height on both GPSs has matched what it said on the OS map exactly! Surely accurate enough to establish you are in the activation zone when used with a map and eyes. I would never be without a compass and a map or spare batteries for that matter.

Steve GW7AAV


#12

There’s a newer model Mick, much younger, and more aesthetically pleasing, powered by Lobster & Sausage soup. It also works just as well as a GPS, when combined with an OS 1:25000 sheet.


#13

In reply to GW7AAV:

a basic Garmin etrex for Geocaching and whenever we have been stood on
a trig point the height on both GPSs has matched what it said on the
OS map exactly! Surely accurate enough to establish you are in the

My APRS packets (Garmin 60CS + OT1x) give the height of the summit within 2 - 3 m from the nominal on the map. For example (if the data is still there)

http://www.findu.com/cgi-bin/find.cgi?call=F5VGL-7&units=metric

was 2315 m while the Pointe de Merdassier is at 2313 m ASL. Same for all the other summits where I have been with APRS. The France manual has some small mistakes in the summit positions, but the altitude really gives a unique summit in Alps. That is simply the highest point you can reach (the mountains are quite steep here).

73, Jaakko OH7BF/F5VGL


#14

In reply to GW4BVE:

A standard GPS does not have sufficient vertical accuracy to directly
confirm you are inside the summit activation zone. I am sure I have
mentioned this on here before and I think Richard G3CWI has also made
the point.

I totally agree John, but there is certainly sufficient accuracy when you combine the reading you get with a reasonable tolerance, say something like 10m vertical height. How many of us operate precisely on the edge of the activation zone?

Like Steve AAV, my unit reads within a metre or two of the given height when at a summit, often spot on. Fluke maybe, but it must be a recurring fluke if it is.

73, Gerald


#15

In reply to G4OIG:

Same here Gerald, Mine has always agreed with the summit info page every time, or close enough not to matter, but maybe just pure luck.

John is actually 100% correct in what he says though re: non-barometric devices.


#16

In reply to All:

Many thanks to all those who replied to the question posed.

A number of points were raised and some excellent, experienced, hands-on information given.
In my own opinion there is no substitute for a 1:25000 map, prismatic compass and a protractor of which A to B bearings + Magnetic Variation and distance, have been worked out prior to setting out, I have used this method for many years. Whatever GPS system I purchase, it will be used as a secondary checking tool, navigation aid only, however, the back track facility could prove dividends in extreme WX conditions or for safety reasons, I’m sure a major consideration for all SOTA activators.
Judging by all responses, varying types/makes/prices have been made reference too. As I said at the beginning, only interested in marking in Grid References as Way Points between car park & summit activation area, direction indicator and the Back-Track facility. Vertical height accuracy through barometric altitude is a good feature but easily established through contour lines on the map and other linear features, therefore is not a necessity, we just keep going till we reach the summit.
Two or three responses make mention to the basic Garmin Etrex (the yellow one) and describe as reliable, cheap and weatherproof, basically does the business and fits the requirements for an activation, so therefore may bounce this way.
Again many thanks to all for their responses………….

Ian
2E0EDX


#17

In reply to GW0DSP:

John is actually 100% correct in what he says though re:non-barometric devices.

Even a barometric device is only accurate if set at true sea level and used while the air pressure remains constant. Sharp drops or rises in air pressure cause inaccuracies to be amplified. One of the reasons so many aeroplanes have flown into mountain sides over the years has been the inaccuracy of barometric altimeters caused by either poor calibration or fluctuating air pressures. When did anyone go to sea level to calibrate their device before climbing a mountain? Even if you were using a big ruler to measure the height of a mountain the measurement would vary due to the temperature and expansion/contraction of the big ruler.

Unless you are surrounded by trees or buildings a GPS is near enough for our purposes so long as you are not trying to operate with one foot in the activation zone.

Steve GW7AAV