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Thread: Take Me To GPS School

  1. #1
    Senior Member BISCUT's Avatar
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    Take Me To GPS School

    Assuming I know ZERO about GPS and how it works......If a guy (or gal) came to those of you in the know and said:

    "Where do I go to begin to learn how GPS works?" Garmin Montana 680. Not sure if I will keep it. Don't have a clue of its capabilities or if I want it. Very much euphoric and willing to learn but not so sure it's for me. I will wait and see. It is kinda heavy....But I wanna learn.

    Any tutorials you can recommend? Basics thru more complex. Manual isn't so clear when you are starting from ground zero.

  2. #2
    Senior Member maineguy's Avatar
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    I bought a book some time ago: GPS Land Navigation by Michael Ferguson.

    If you are looking for the theory of how the system works, it is a good book. It is for those who want to know the "magic". It was written before the gps units had screens with maps on them to make them easy to use. You used to just get lat/long/elev so you had to know how to actually read a map.

    However, it is a good resource for the overall theory of the system. You will need to read your individual gps manual for any actual operating instructions.

    Hope this helps

  3. #3
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    I find the concept of GPS simple but as maineguy noted its figuring out how to use the specific features in each individual GPS unit that is far more difficult. Add in the capability to import various external data and files and that's where it gets even more complicated for a casual user. I rarely use mine and when I do I just use pretty basic functions as I haven't used the advanced functions often enough to rely on them. As long as I can load point in advance and mark points in the field and then be able to navigate between them possibly with a topo basemap on the screen and be able to retrieve the points to load it in my mapping program, it works well enough for me.

  4. #4
    Senior Member BISCUT's Avatar
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    I just started playing around with it (Garmin Montana) and it's pretty intuitive so far. Kinda a GPS for dummies I booked my flight to start CO 14ers mid-September so I wanted to give GPS another chance and see if it's for me. I'm looking to lessen weight on the trail not add so that is a big factor for me. Very undecided on this so I wanted to make sure I learn it and make a pretty educated decision before I keep or return.

  5. #5
    Senior Member wardsgirl's Avatar
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    I am pretty much in the same position as BISCUT.

    I hiked with someone who owned a Garmin 60CSX for many years, but I never learned how to use it.

    The only thing I ever would use the GPS for was to answer the age-old question, "How much farther?"

    On the 60CSX, I could press a button and a white arrow would appear on the screen. I could then use the directional arrows to make the white arrow 'float' to a location on the map. In the upper right hand corner of the screen, a measurement would appear. This measurement was roughly the distance from my location (the black triangle) to the location designated by the white arrow. This is the only thing I would ever want out of a GPS. I never want to have the need to attach it to a computer or set a waypoint or print a map or create a track or plan a route or download anything, etc.

    I miss being able to tell how much farther, so after much procrastination, I bought a Garmin MAP64S and the 24K NE chip. (I had dividend to burn ) It will be here on Monday. The only thing I need the GPS to do is tell me "how much farther" when I press a button for the white arrow to appear and float it to where I want to go. No one at REI could answer my question about whether the 64S would do this. I don't understand why it is so complicated. I guess time will tell whether it will do what I want it to do.

    Thank God I'm good with a map and compass.
    AMC Adopt-A-Trail Program Region Leader Emeritus: Pemigewasset 1993-2005 Southern Presidentials 2005-2017
    Trail Adopter: Webster Cliff Trail

  6. #6
    Senior Member Trail Boss's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wardsgirl View Post
    ... to answer the age-old question, "How much farther?"
    On the 60CSX, ...make the white arrow 'float' to a location on the map. ... a measurement would appear.
    Manual for Garmin GPSMAP 64st: https://support.garmin.com/support/m...=en&country=US

    From page 3:
    Measuring Distance on the Map
    1. From the map, select a location.
    2. Select MENU > Measure Distance
    3. Move the pin to another location on the map.



    I realize you don't use routes but for those that do, the Trip Computer page reports the distance to the next waypoint (and many other things).

  7. #7
    Senior Member sierra's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BISCUT View Post
    I just started playing around with it (Garmin Montana) and it's pretty intuitive so far. Kinda a GPS for dummies I booked my flight to start CO 14ers mid-September so I wanted to give GPS another chance and see if it's for me. I'm looking to lessen weight on the trail not add so that is a big factor for me. Very undecided on this so I wanted to make sure I learn it and make a pretty educated decision before I keep or return.
    I've never held a GPS in my hands, so I'm zero help in that regard. That being said, I was curious if you had certain 14ers in your sights? If you don't want to respond here shoot me a PM, maybe I can offer some insight. Ill be out there in July.

  8. #8
    Senior Member hikerbrian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wardsgirl View Post
    The only thing I need the GPS to do is tell me "how much farther" when I press a button for the white arrow to appear and float it to where I want to go. No one at REI could answer my question about whether the 64S would do this. I don't understand why it is so complicated. I guess time will tell whether it will do what I want it to do.

    Thank God I'm good with a map and compass.
    Ha, right on with your last sentence!! FYI, the 64S works exactly this way. When you're looking at the map, just push one of the arrow keys and a little white arrow will appear. Put it where you want, and then you can see the distance between where you are and where you've placed the white arrow. Definitely useful. Although a couple of weeks ago, I was at the end of a long day hiking in the dark, I used that function and determined I only had 0.35 mi to go. GREAT! I hiked for what seemed like ages, performed the same task and figured out I had...0.31 mi to go!!! That amounts to me asking myself, in whiney little kid voice, Are we there yet??? every 5 min.

    And yes, no one at REI has any idea how the GPS's work.
    Sure. Why not.

  9. #9
    Senior Member DayTrip's Avatar
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    I got my first GPS a few years back and had zero knowledge as well. The manuals are basic but I was able to learn a lot as I went. The most productive thing I ever did with mine was to take it to an area I knew pretty well, walk the perimeter trails and make a bunch of way points and then just start bushwhacking around trying features and attempting to get to the waypoints and duplicating what I was trying to do on the GPS with my compass as well. It made it easier (for me at least) to understand what the GPS was saying and doing when I knew where I was physically and what the compass bearings were. And I did in fact discover a lot of things I thought I knew about the GPS that were incorrect. That may have been because I never owned a GPS and didn't properly understand the terminology but it paid off doing it. I have a much better understanding of how I can utilize the GPS when I need the features. Highly recommend trying that out once you have found many of the features and settings on your unit.

    Another very productive thing I did was rereading the map and compass navigation section in the Mountaineering Handbook. This chapter is a great primer on what a compass and map can do and how to do it. Then I would figure out how to do these things on the GPS. Doing the same "task" both ways at the same time taught me a lot about the features in my GPS, many of which I didn't realize were there.
    “Sometimes when you’ve lost something in your life that matters, the only thing left to do is go and find it.” Renan Ozturk

  10. #10
    Senior Member richard's Avatar
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    Many of the gps manufacturers offer an optional instruction video for their specific models. Check them out on the internet. I got one for mine & it helps o lot. I got mine used on EBAY for much less cost.

  11. #11
    Senior Member BISCUT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trail Boss View Post
    Manual for Garmin GPSMAP 64st: https://support.garmin.com/support/m...=en&country=US

    From page 3:
    Measuring Distance on the Map
    1. From the map, select a location.
    2. Select MENU > Measure Distance
    3. Move the pin to another location on the map.



    I realize you don't use routes but for those that do, the Trip Computer page reports the distance to the next waypoint (and many other things).
    I'll hit you up on PM. I have 6 mts. off 2 trail heads in mine. Starting off real easy to get my bearings. Hoping to get there 2xs a year after this initial trip.

  12. #12
    Senior Member BISCUT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sierra View Post
    I've never held a GPS in my hands, so I'm zero help in that regard. That being said, I was curious if you had certain 14ers in your sights? If you don't want to respond here shoot me a PM, maybe I can offer some insight. Ill be out there in July.
    Sorry, quoted incorrectly.

    I'll hit you on PM over the next few days. Would love your advice.

  13. #13
    Senior Member sierra's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BISCUT View Post
    Sorry, quoted incorrectly.

    I'll hit you on PM over the next few days. Would love your advice.
    Sounds good, I love those mountains.

  14. #14
    Senior Member wardsgirl's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the reassurance and advice, Trail Boss, Brian, and Richard!

    And thanks for starting this thread, BISCUT. I hope you have a great trip to CO!
    AMC Adopt-A-Trail Program Region Leader Emeritus: Pemigewasset 1993-2005 Southern Presidentials 2005-2017
    Trail Adopter: Webster Cliff Trail

  15. #15
    Senior Member TCD's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sierra View Post
    I've never held a GPS in my hands...
    Sweet. Purity.

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