May 5, 2013

Geocaching with the Garmin 800 Cycling Computer

The Garmin 800 is a wonderful cycling computer.  The Garmin 800 is a terrible geocaching GPS!  But it works.  For those just looking for how to “make it work” with the 800, you’ve got two options:

  1. Manually enter the GPS coordinates.1. The 800 does allow manual entries.  It’s slow, and even though it encroaches on your modern senses, it’s probably fastest to just type the coords in and be done with it.  Write down all your caches on paper using your preferred datalogging utensil (sorry, keyboard is not an option), and be on your way. 1. Click Menu->Where To?->Locations->(select any location.  I select ‘Coordinates’
  2. Click the title, i.e. “Coordinates,” in the top of the new screen
  3. Click the pencil button to edit the location
  4. Select ‘Change Location”
  5. Using the on-screen arrows and interface, update the coordinates to your next cache!
  6. Click the checkbox, and you should be locked on to your destination!
  7. Convert to GPS .gpx routes 1. You’re thinking, “huh? A geocache isn’t a route!”  No–it sure isn’t.  If you don’t know what a route is in GPS-speak, it’s effectively a series of points that maps a path on your GPS, instead of just a fixed point.  Nothing complicated.  It’s just as you expected it to be! Waypoints do not exist on the 800 and .loc files aren’t add-able to any “Where To?” submenu.  It’s very obnoxious!  Converting to a .gpx route is the only way to navigate to a destination if you desire no manual entry! 1. Download a .loc (or other) file from geocaching .com.
  8. Visit our friends over at GPSies and click the “Choose File” button.  Select the .loc file.
  9. In the “convert to” box below, select GPS Route
  10. Click convert and save the .gpx.
  11. Plug in your garmin, if you haven’t done so already.  Find the “NewFiles” directory, and place your .gpx file in it.
  12. Safely remove/eject the garmin and power it on.
  13. In the “Courses” menu, you should see your cache!  Click it.

A few notes:

  1. You can still only get down to 20ft accuracy while in route mode.  This is the fully zoomed in state.  There is no handy compass screen as with other garmin units.  I miss that big ol’ compass.
  2. I tried to load multiple .gpxs at once.  It worked one time, but not another.  If it fails, the files that don’t get loaded disappear!  I loaded 4x .gpx files, but only one took.  I had to grab the other three back out of my computer’s trash can, and retry one by one.  It may have been due to funky characters in the file name or perhaps very long filenames.  I do admit that they were less than desirable file names (i.e. gpx39_t3 – 342 – super long name but nothin TOO weird.gpx).

In the “About Edge” screen in the unit, I am running Software version 2.50 & GPS Software Version 2.86.

Sorry Edge users.  I know you are desperately clicking around for someone to say “THIS IS THE EASY WAY TO DO IT.”  Unfortunately, there is no “easy way.”  Look @the bright side–at least you’re goin’ cachin!  Look out for us in cache-land.  Our handle is “RIGGS!”  The exclamation is present in the real handle, and is a tribute to one of our favorite film series, Lethal Weapon.  If you haven’t seen it, cut that treasure hunting day short and go pick up/rent/download/etc a copy!

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