Our GPS history and why we still use them along with our phones

We have been using a GPS since we started Geocaching way back in 2010. Our first GPS was the eTrex 10 with no maps, we just ‘followed the arrow’, it did however support downloading Geocaching GPX files via USB which made it ideal for Geocaching. A testament to the eTrex’s toughness and simple design is that this model, although revised is still available today. It was bomb proof had no touch screen just a thumb-operated joystick, monochrome display and a pointer to where the destination was, and how far away it was. The eTrex has exceptional battery life but was slow to get a signal and its accuracy was truly hit or miss under tree canopies. This little unit spawned many adventures for us.

Garmin eTrex 10 Patche99z, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

After a few years of finding ourselves on the wrong side of a river or having to make a long hike due to a dual carriageway or some other obstacle blocking our progress we decided on the Oregon 450T which had Ordnance Survey maps 1:50 k. This was a revelation and for the first time allowed us to see a map which allowed us to plot a route unhindered by obstructions. The Oregon 450t had a touch screen, a SD card slot for maps and extra data, an electronic compass, a barometric altimeter and could store thousands of Geocaches. We got about 6 years of use and abuse out of these units. Maintenance, mainly due to rough handling, resulted in screens being replaced, buttons fixed and other sundry parts replaced until they both were beyond repair. I recycled parts from both and with some bits off a Russian GPS breaker on eBay, a ‘Frankenstein’ Oregon 550 GPS was created, this had all the same features as the 450T it now sported a 3.2 megapixel geotagging camera. Although this unit has now slightly out of date OS maps it is still fully functional and in constant use to this day.

By Garmin - garmin.com, CC BY-SA 3.0,
Garmin 450T By Garmin – garmin.com, CC BY-SA 3.0,

I personally own a Garmin GPSMAP 64s now, I never liked the touchscreen which with my big hands didn’t work so well for me, I love the buttons and simple menu system. The unit has a good sized display that can be read in bright sunlight which was always a problem with the older models and mobile phones. The reception is great even under trees, and the unit is quick to get a GPS lock. The 64s uses GPS + GLONASS + WAAS although not Galileo. I also 3D printed a simple mod that allows rechargeable batteries to be used and charged in the unit whilst connected to USB. Bluetooth is available and in reality only useful for transferring Geocaches to another compatible unit, it’s a battery killing extra I don’t need and is designed for external sensors like heart rate, therefore remains switched off.

Garmin GSMAP 64S By Virgilinojuca – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

So why do we still use this old tech? We get at least a couple of days battery life out of both the 550 and 64s which is a lot more than our mobile phones. If the battery runs out we just pop in another couple of AA batteries and off we go. They survive rough treatment much better than mobile phones. Detailed maps can be downloaded from sites like Open Street Maps and preloaded on SD Cards, these are always available even when there is no phone signal, this is also great for caching abroad where maps can be preloaded. They accurately track our route which can be examined in Garmin’s Basecamp software when we get home. I’m not saying GPS units are more useful than mobiles, but a phone with apps like Geocaching, C:geo, Looking 4 Cache is a perfect compliment to a GPS.

New Caches

We have 16 new caches this week, of which two are on Anglesey to ruin Gwyns map!
GC9FB3E Pont Ffatri Cymunod Bryngwran by TegwenEdwards Traditional D1.5/T1.5
GC9FB4H Water Pump Bryngwran by TegwenEdwards Traditional D1.5/T1.5

This series is an extension to the Slate Trail and guides you around the old slate workings at Aberllefenni.
GC9F3VH Miners’ Trail 1 by Oldquincepie Traditional D2.5/T1.5
GC9F3T4 Miners’ Trail 2 by Oldquincepie Traditional D2.5/T1.5
GC9F3TC Miners’ Trail 3 by Oldquincepie Traditional D2/T1.5
GC9F3TG Miners’ Trail 4 by Oldquincepie Traditional D2/T1.5
GC9F3TN Miners’ Trail 5 by Oldquincepie Traditional D3/T1.5
GC9F3TQ Miners’ Trail 6 by Oldquincepie Traditional D2/T1.5
GC9F3TV Miners’ Trail 7 by Oldquincepie Traditional D2/T1.5
GC9F3TZ Miners’ Trail 8 by Oldquinciepie Traditional D2/T1.5
GC9F3V0 Miners’ Trail 9 by Oldquinciepie Traditional D3/T1.5
GC9FDG6 Miners’ Trail 10 by Oldquinciepie Traditional D2/T1.5
GC9F3V4 Miners’ Trail 11 by Oldquinciepie Traditional D2/T1.5
GC9FDGA Miners’ Trail 12 by Oldquinciepie Traditional D3/T1.5
GC9F3TC Miners’ Trail 13 by Oldquinciepie Traditional D2/T1.5
GC9F3VB Miners’ Trail 14 by Oldquinciepie Traditional D2/T1.5

Nosh & Natter Reminder

GC9EXTX 9 Usual Suspect – Nosh & Natter 40

When: Tuesday 31st August
Where: Anglesey Arms, Harbour Front, Caernarfon LL55 1SG
Time: 7pm to 9pm or when the last person leaves

Our first N&N since February 2020! Let’s hope for a nice evening so that we can sit outside and watch the sunset while enjoying a beer or two. Please could the first ones to arrive ‘grab’ some tables as the pub does not take bookings on outside tables. All Welcome.

International Geocaching Day 2021

On Saturday 21st August, the 9 Usual Suspects celebrated 10th International Geocaching Day. The event was hosted by Bess’s Friends at Rocklands in Caergeiliog and despite the Met offices gloomy forecasts the rain held off. There was a great turnout with lots of the Usual Suspects along with some new faces. With the Geochat and food, of course, there were games this time organised by Bess’s Friends. The two teams were picked at random from a ‘hat’ with Bob and Steve being the first people out of the hat and therefore were nominated as team leaders. A treasure hunt was the first event and a great success for ‘Team Steve’, there was also a new throwing game donated by Team Marzipan which was successfully trialled, Elaine, Jude and Dawn were the only players to get a point, I think this says more about our collective dexterity than the game itself. ‘Team Bob’ fought back in subsequent games to win the competition by a narrow margin. Ray manned the BBQ and cooked the contributions bought by all, keeping up a regular supply of hot food for the afternoon. There also was a selection of home made cakes & puddings including a trifle from Sion, which complemented the great spread put on by Ray and Julie. The annual raffle was drawn, this one spanning 2 years due to covid with all the prizes being collected or posted to the winners. As part of the celebrations the 2021 TB Race was also started and the TBs embarked on their travels. The race can be tracked here as it unfolds over the coming year.

A huge thank you from all of us to Ray and Julie for their hard work in putting this event together.

New Caches

Five new caches this week, two of which are Premium Member Only.

GC9EZHE Holyhead View Bryngwran by TegwenEdwards Traditional D1.5/T1.5
GC9F3XC Penrhiw Bryngwran by TegwenEdwards Traditional D1.5/T1.5
GC9F5J2 Boys Treasure by noacairhys Traditional D2/T1.5

Premium Member Only
GC9F7N0 Sun, sand, sea and a lot of wind… by seanx90 Traditional D3/T1
GC9F3WP Mighty Moderators by TaffyLewis Traditional D2/T1.5

Reminder for Saturday

GC8QABW Let’s Celebrate International Geocaching Day by 9 Usual Suspects 21st August 2pm – 6pm Julie & Ray’s (Bess’s Friends), Caergeiliog.

A great way to spend a summers Saturday afternoon, with games, a BBQ and plenty of geochat. All we ask is that someone could bring the sunshine…….. but just in case the tents will be up!

By attending this event you will receive the International Geocaching Day 2021 souvenir, 2020 Community Celebration souvenir and Community Celebration icon.

CITO 14th August 2021

This CITO (Cache in Trash Out) was our first post-covid lockdown official geocaching event since 14 March 2020 and a chance to restore some normality. The weather forecast was iffy so kudos to all who defied the Met Office forecasts and turned out, as on the day, we had only the occasional light shower to contend with. This location was selected because: we have picked here before and know the location, it is fairly child friendly, and above all there was some litter to be picked. It was great to catch up with friends some of whom came from as far as Macklesfield and Oldham. It was also great to see some new faces and junior cachers who made a great contribution. In all 23 assisted with the litter pick including Diapason16 who happened to be in the area looking for a cache, he rolled up his sleeves and mucked in, unlike his daughter, who like a stereotypical teenager rolled her eyes and sat on the wall with her mobile phone :-). We cleared from Penygroes to Groeslon and collected about 12 bags of rubbish from the cycle path. The litter was sorted and taken to Rhwngddwyryd, Garndolbenmaen Recycling Center for disposal.

Many thanks to Inigo Jones Slate Works for letting us use their car park as a base for the CITO

New Caches

Just one new cache this week:

GC9EZF5 A55 Bryngwran by TegwenEdwards Traditional T1.5/D1.5


This month sees the return of local events

GC9DYQ6 CITO Season 1 by 9 Usual Suspects 14th August 11am – 1pm Inigo Jones, Groeslon.
9 Usual Suspects first event since 14.3.2020! By attending this event your efforts will be rewarded with CITO Season 1 2021 Souvenir.

GC8QABW Let’s Celebrate International Geocaching Day by 9 Usual Suspects 21st August 2pm – 6pm Julie & Ray’s (Bess’s Friends), Caergeiliog.
A great way to spend a Saturday afternoon with games, a BBQ and plenty of geochat. We will be drawing the long standing Geocoin/TB raffle and launching our new TB Race. To enter the TB Race either post your trackable number in the comments on the race page or fill the entry form in at the event.
To enable us to plan the day please say in your ‘will attend’ logs number of attendees and any contributions to the BBQ you intend to bring.
By attending this event you will receive the International Geocaching Day 2021 souvenir, 2020 Community Celebration souvenir and Community Celebration icon.

GC9EXTX 9 Usual Suspects – Nosh & Natter 40 31st August 7-9pm, Anglesey Arms, Caernarfon.

Next Years UK Mega

We are very excited to announce that next year’s Mega will be held at UTTOXETER RACECOURSE.

GC9D1HX West Midlands UK Mega 2022 Saturday 6th August, 10am – 4pm.
There will be access to the Racecourse Grandstand Exhibition Hall, where there will be stalls of various vendors, trade stands and other Geocaching related activities.
Camping is being made available at the racecourse from Monday 1st August until Monday 8th August, the whole racecourse will be at our disposal, and our sole use. On site food vendors will be open during the week for anyone not wishing to cook.

Pitches will be available with or without electrical hook up, depending on your requirements. There will be plenty of toilet, washing and shower facilities for all campers who stay with us.”

New Caches

Only one new cache this week in the local area:

GC9EFMP Felin Plas Bryngwran by TegwenEdwards Traditional D1.5/T1.5

Postcard from Piratemania

Half of the crew ready to explore new lands

4 of the 9 Usual Suspects sallied forth to plunder and party at Piratemainina 13 which this year was set in the wilds of Linconshire. The elements were kind with just an occasional thunderstorm to liven up the proceedings, but on the whole the weather was clement. The county of Lincolnshire is uncannily flat with not a hill or mountain in sight, but we soon overcame our initial agoraphobia under the big skies. Quality grog was readily available on site with the local ale being surprisingly quaffable. There was the usual fun and games that is Piratemainia’s hall mark and the team retired on Sunday night tired but happy after increasing their cache numbers significantly especially with some ‘easy’ high terrain caches in their treasure chests.

Picture taken by our Junior reporter Moseley_Bach