CacheCrazy.Com: Tools of the Trade: My PN-40

Friday, December 9, 2011

Tools of the Trade: My PN-40

I first read about geocaching in July of 2009.  Being the geek that I am, I was drooling at the thought of combining two of my favorite things, nature and nerdy gadgets.  The more I read about it, the more I wanted to go out and search for a geocache.  I had one problem:  I didn't have a GPS unit.

Back then, I had what I'd call a quasi-smartphone.  It did more than your conventional flip phone, yet it wasn't an iPhone.  It took me some searching to find a program which was capable of running on The Little Phone That Could.  I ended up finding a program called BasicGPS for Geocaching.  It was free, and compatible with Windows Mobile.  Works for me!  I was so excited, now I could finally get out there and hunt some caches!

BasicGPS screen shot. 

In all fairness, BasicGPS worked very well for what it was.  There weren't any bells & whistles, as you seen in the current geocaching smartphone apps.  It allowed me to search for a cache, get me within a few feet (or meters, as I could never figure out how to switch the measurements) of the cache, and let me build up my geosenses in making my first few dozen finds.  There were quite a few drawbacks, as I'd find soon out.  There was no mapping feature.  All you had was a compass and a directional arrow.  I had to load caches one at a time, as the program didn't understand pocket queries.  Multi-caches were out of the question, because it didn't allow you to add or enter waypoints.  Lastly, and most importantly, it was an OK program on an otherwise lousy phone.  I soon came to the realization that I wouldn't want to be stuck out in the woods with this thing.  It was time for an upgrade.


Enter the Delorme PN-40.  I decided to break down and buy a PN-40, used, off of eBay.  The unit was opened, but never used.  Immediately I could tell I've been missing out.  I built my first pocket query, and loaded up the unit.  The painstaking work of having to individually load caches was a thing of the past.  A click here, a click there, and I had 500 geocaches in my PN-40, ready to be found!  At the time, I marveled at the mapping feature.  I'd used GPS units at work before, but never one with a map.  And, what's this?  It's tracking my route?  Now I'm guaranteed to never get lost in the woods!  (/sarcasm)  I soon tried, and found, my first multi-cache, as well as puzzle cache.  I was even able to hide my first cache, as I learned how to mark and average a waypoint.  Not to mention, the sucker is durable!  I've dropped it out of a tree, into a stream, on to concrete, and it still works like a charm.  Take that, Timex!

My traveling companion, the PN-40.

I still have my PN-40.  Perhaps one day I'll trade her in for a newer model, but for now, she's the cat's meow!  What do you use to sniff out those caches?  Have you had a similar experience?


Kim@Snug Harbor said...

I have the Garmin 450, which works really well and I have a Garmin Nuvi 1200 which has NO bells and whistles, just the GPS features, but it's really accurate for finding caches.

Big_Dog1970 said...

I started out using a cheep gps unit that I bought for traveling. A Navman f-15 from Radio Shack. It had no option to just punch in a waypoint. I had to use a mini usb cable and use my computer to install an unlock program to be able to see it. Then I had to teach myself how to work with XML code to enter each cache one at a time. I tried typing up a whole page of code to load several caches at a time but for some reason it wouldn't work like that. Christmas came a couple of months later and Santa brought me a sweet little Garmin E-Trex Venture HC. The only thing I see wrong with it is that it doesn't really have street maps in it. The arrow points in the direction of your destination and tells you how far away it is. I do love my e]trex though and I am still using using it today.

DctrSpott said...

Oh god. Upgrayed. That movie is hilarious.


Ha, ha I was using my Nuvi from the car for my first few on my own. What a joke. I'm really surprised I didn't just warp it up and call it quits. I did a little research and decided on the Garmin Venture HC. I love this GPS unit so much that even with the ease and accuracy of my Droid, I still prefer the GPSr. I like the way it feels in my hand. Kind of like a good fly rod, it works for me.
Nice job on the post!

BigAl said...

When I got started I bought a Garmin etrex Vista HCX. I love this little GPSr. It is not the best at paperless caching, but it does a great job at everything else. Someday I'd like to upgrade to a more paperless type, but I'll stick with this one until then.

Dodger said...

I use the eTrex Vista hCx. I say it is the best. If the Vista ever broke or I lost it, I'd either go with the new eTrex series that just came out or I'd go with the DeLorme. I think the PN-40 is pretty snappy.

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