A walk in the woods – 60CSx vs GeOrg

On tuesday we finished work early for a short (4km/2.5mi) geocaching hike. The weather was fine, it was sunny and there’s a small woody mountain range called Deister (N52 15.400 E9 30.200) a few miles south from where we live with a massive amount of nice caches.

xel took our good old Garmin 60CSx, while I went with GeOrg on our G1. We did a multicache and 2 mysteries, of course we had solved those at home.

In preparation for our trip I downloaded the OpenStreetMap of the area the caches were in with TrekBuddy Atlas Creator. That area of the Deister has a lot of old quarries and you often lose network-connection. With the new offline maps I figured I’d be save in that respect.

I also did a small pocket query, just in case the multi would lead us to any traditionals along our way. Groundspeak was pretty quick this time and I imported the zipped GPX from the attachment directly on the G1.

The coordinates for the mysteries were quickly entered in the waypoint list and I was ready to go.

For our 60CSx I had to convert the pocket query to gdb-format which I always do with GSAK. Not as easy as importing a GPX-file with GeOrg, but at least it features a topographic map that doesn’t have to be prepared for each trip

Also I entered the mystery coordinates into MapSource rather than on the device, since that’s quite a hassle without a touchscreen.

While driving to the start-coordinate of the multi-cache I had GeOrg and the 60CSx both calculate and display the route. No surprises here, of course if I didn’t have connection to the routing service with my G1 the 60CSx (with CityNavigator) would have been superior here, but then again CityNavigator is quite expensive…

One thing the G1 is quite better at than the 60CSx is the time to first fix. We own a Peugeot 307 which has one of those GPS-hostile windshields. Both devices were placed at the windshield. The G1 had its fix a few seconds after we left the garage we parked at. The 60CSx struggled for nearly 10 minutes until it got the fix as we stood at a traffic light (standing still seems to help the 60CSx quite a lot under bad reception circumstances).

We safely arrived at Völksen, starting point of our hike. As we went into the woods, we compared our bearings and distances at nearly every waypoint. In sum we found 3 caches with a total amount of 6 waypoints, at 5 of them we compared our results:

  • At one of the waypoints (open area, a lot of foliage though), the 60CSx and G1 agreed about the cache location.
  • Once they were both off – that was in a deep and narrow quarry, lots of multipathing for sure.
  • Three times, though, the 60CSx came out with better results than the G1, each time in open areas with huge trees and foliage above us. Usually xel would say something like “8m/26ft” while the G1 told me the cache was still 20-30m(65-100ft) away. :-(

Often it seemed as if the G1 was in some kind of time-shift, always displaying the position we were at some moments ago. I’ll test this some more, especially as I’m already a little suspicous about the device doing some kind of filtering before handing out GPS-data to applications (see the new Waypoint averaging documentation)

Not to forget – we also had to do a waypoint projection at one of the mysteries. No problem with the new waypoint projection-option in GeOrg. Only problem was of course the sat-reception at that point. That time when I stood at the cache, the G1 still pointed 15m/50ft away. This in an area with dense foliage. We didn’t compare with the 60CSx at that point

As we went from waypoint to waypoint, xel had to enter all coordinates with the 60CSx’s “virtual keyboard” (if you don’t know it, think of entering your name into the highscore-list of some old video-game with a joystick), while I could enter the next target directly from the CompassPage (thanks to salmunya for that idea) with the touchscreen. Much easier and faster.

As always, when I’m geocaching I got my hands all dirty. The G1 was stowed away safely in a padded belt-bag, but as the hike went on, I became more and more reluctant to get it out and touch it. Something I just don’t care about when using the 60CSx. But that disadvantage was obvious to me before we even started 😉

Another disadvantage of the G1, its display when used in bright environments, was no big nuissance this time, since we were always moving beneath tree-foliage in the shadows. I could run the device at a very low brightness percentage. I’m sure, if we were geocaching in the sun, I’d have had much more problems with the G1, but the 60CSx screen is really hard to top.

During the 2 hours of our trip, GeOrg sucked up 25% of the battery. I constantly checked our position, but always made sure to shut down the display afterwards. Also I used the “Show compass on map”-setting which results in a lot more screen redraws than the non-directional icon you get without that setting. The 60CSx didn’t even lose one of it 20% bars during the whole trip.

To sum it all up

I’m a little bit disappointed with the G1’s GPS-performance in the field. And I’m quite curious about how tracklogs will differ as soon as I got them implemented in GeOrg :-).
The time to first fix on the other hand is perfect. Quick and reliable enough for starting traffic navigation. That’s a big plus for the G1, especially in our car 😉

Apart from that everything worked as expected. The G1 simply isn’t an outdoor device, but it’s still usable in those environments if you handle it with care, take some backup power-source with you or – and that’s what we are doing most of the time – use it only as a datasource and do the navigation with a dedicated GPSr.

But – if you’re more into traditionals, preferably only in short walking distance to your car, the G1 (with the right software ;)) may very well be the only device you’ll need.

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