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Me First! Before you post read this.

#1 User is offline   UNK1 

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Posted 07 November 2005 - 06:29 PM

This thread is intended as a starter thread to help you get going with benchmark hunting. You may read through all the posts in order or click on 1 of the 8 links below and go directly to the one you need.

1) Welcome
2) Can't find disk
3) Help available
4) PIDs & designations
5) Useful Links
6) Misc. - tools needed
7) Scaled versus adjusted
8) County downloads

This post has been edited by UNK1: 07 November 2005 - 06:57 PM


#2 User is offline   UNK1 

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Posted 07 November 2005 - 06:30 PM

1) This thread is to Welcome you to the fun and excitement of hunting Benchmarks. Welcome!

We will attempt to answer some of the most common questions about benchmark hunting. (or at least point you to the right place.)

Things like "I found a disk not in the database, now what?", "Can I do GPX/Pocket Queries for benchmarks?", Helpful hints, Etc.

Everybody starts out as a newbie and needs to ask questions to learn. To get the best help from this forum we ask you to help us help you. Please give us as much information about the benchmark as possible. For instance the stamping on the disk, or the coordinates & general location of the disk all help us to find information on that particular disk.

Remember, there are no dumb questions - dumb answers maybe, but not dumb questions! Most of the regulars here in the forums have heard and answered most questions numerous times, but we still enjoy helping others learn about benchmark hunting.

#3 User is offline   UNK1 

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Posted 07 November 2005 - 06:31 PM

2) We found a disk not listed on GC.com, now what?

Please check here - FAQ - for the first answer. If you do not find what you are looking for please start a new thread in the forums with as much detail about your benchmark as possible (the stamping on the disk, the location, and even a picture.) and let us know what type of info you're looking for. There are so many different agencies that set benchmarks that Geocaching couldn't afford the servers needed to house all those databases, so they chose to use the database of the most prestigious (Boy, will I hear about this!) agency for our benefit. We use the NGS database, but it is several years old now and there are newer benchmarks that can be found on their site. More on searching their site later.

If you find a benchmark that is NOT listed here you may still be able to log it on GC.com by going to Waymarking.com - waymarking.com - and checking their list. Waymarking is just getting started so you may be the first to create a Waymark for your benchmark.

Just remember, if you don't ask, you will not find the answers.

This post has been edited by UNK1: 07 November 2005 - 06:47 PM


#4 User is offline   UNK1 

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Posted 07 November 2005 - 06:32 PM

3) Help is available

No matter what you need help with in regards to benchmark hunting and logging, you will have a high success rate getting your questions answered here in these forums. We have folks who have been finding these things for so long, they don't dream in full color anymore, only black & white & bronze! We have professional surveyors who read these forums. There are even some NGS personnel who will answer questions about the NGS aspects of this hobby.

One of the nice things about these forums is it doesn't matter if the question has been asked 500 times before, someone will still give you a straight answer! It may be an old timer or it may be a "newbie" who recently learned about what you want to know.

WARNING - some of the folks on this forum really like to show off their sense of humor, so be prepared for the unusual answers you MAY get.

If for ANY reason you do not want to post a question in the forums, you may PM or e-mail any of the people you see on these forums and they will gladly respond. (Everyone likes to show how smart they are! ;-) )

#5 User is offline   UNK1 

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Posted 07 November 2005 - 06:33 PM

4) PID#s & Designations

Consider the PID number as the name of the file in the NGS database.
PID numbers are more useful after you have done a search by designation, since the disk does NOT have the PID# on it. They are especially handy if you wish to use the NGS database for looking up the current datasheet for a particular benchmark.

Just think of the designation as the name for that disk.
When you find a benchmark you see some letters and/or numbers stamped on the disk (NGS calls this the Stamping) and it is Usually the designation of that disk. You can do a search on GC.com using the Designation to get to the correct page to log that benchmark.

#6 User is offline   UNK1 

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Posted 07 November 2005 - 06:34 PM

5) Here is a list of the more useful links for benchmark hunting.

For pictures of different types of benchmarks

Map showing PIDs

FAQ & PID search page on GC.com

Other types of searches - designation - coordinates - ZIP codes

For county downloads from the NGS

BMGPX conversion program

GSAK

The new Waymarking site

The NGS forum

This post has been edited by UNK1: 07 November 2005 - 07:05 PM


#7 User is offline   UNK1 

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Posted 07 November 2005 - 06:37 PM

6) Misc Tools

There are just a few tools the you will want and/or need to enjoy this hobby.

Of course the first is a GPSr, so you can update the coordinates on "scaled benchmarks". Then a camera (A digital would be nice) will come in handy (NOT required), a rag to wipe off the disk so it can be read, a tape measure and finally a compass. If you get addicted to this hobby you will start adding other things like a shovel and a probe and etc.

#8 User is offline   UNK1 

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Posted 07 November 2005 - 06:38 PM

7) Scaled versus Adjusted coordinates

On the benchmark page it will tell you if the coordinates are "scaled" or "adjusted". This means - How accurate are the coordinates for getting you to the right spot?

Adjusted coordinates are more precise than your handheld GPSr can read. They will take you right to the benchmark (IF the GPSr error is low enough :rolleyes: ) Most of the time our GPSr will show 1 to 3 feet to go when we are at an adjusted benchmark. Very rarely will they be off.

Scaled coordinates can be off more than a quarter mile. They are determined by someone reading the description on the benchmark page and then plotting where they think it will be on the map they are using!

Use the coordinates to get you to the general area then follow the description to find the benchmark.

#9 User is offline   UNK1 

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Posted 07 November 2005 - 06:45 PM

8) County Downloads

Once you are hooked on this hobby, you will want to do a "Pocket Query" like for caching. We're sorry but that is not available from GC.com at this time. There is an alternative that we use and it involves using a couple of other helpful programs and going to the NGS site to retrieve their latest county archive.

If you click here, NGS - it will take you to the NGS site. Just select the state, click Get County Archives, select the county and choose the file format (zipped if you are on dial-up internet) then click Download. Save this file to your hard drive.

You will need to download BMGPX to convert the downloaded file into a GPX format for use with other programs. You can get BMGPX here. BMGPX

Once you have installed BMGPX on your computer all you need to do is drag and drop the county file (unzipped) onto the BMGPX "icon" and it will spit out a gpx file ready to use.

We just drag and drop the newly created file onto GSAK and it will open the database and show the available benchmarks in the selected county. You can then manipulate that info as needed. You can get GSAK here GSAK . It is free for several weeks then you will get a nag screen after the trial period. The cost is only about $25 US.

There are a couple of threads that explain how to use some of the features for benchmark hunting. Sorting with GSAK Thread
AN early thread when GSAK was just getting set up for benchmarks.

#10 User is offline   UNK1 

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Posted 07 November 2005 - 06:57 PM

9) If you need more assistance to have fun just let us know!

#11 User is offline   2oldfarts (the rockhounders) 

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Posted 09 November 2005 - 01:41 PM

UNK1, on Nov 7 2005, 07:37 PM, said:

6) Misc Tools

There are just a few tools the you will want and/or need to enjoy this hobby.

Of course the first is a GPSr, so you can update the coordinates on "scaled benchmarks". Then a camera (A digital would be nice) will come in handy (NOT required), a rag to wipe off the disk so it can be read, a tape measure and finally a compass. If you get addicted to this hobby you will start adding other things like a shovel and a probe and etc.


We would like to add this list of 'tools' we posted some time ago and you might find helpful.



Some of the things we have in the truck all the time.

shovel
metal probe (pointed rod for poking into the sand and dirt) (updated to a BIG screwdriver because it has a decent handle)
metal detector (for known buried benchmarks)
water (warm weather only) (for cleaning off the disks so they can be read)
Gojo (hand cleaner)
paper towels (for wiping the mud off the disks)
100 foot tape measure
small broom/brush (whisk type broom)
AA battery charger that has a DC adapter (nice to have freshly charged batteries)
flashlight or 2 or 3 (and extra batteries)

Stuff we keep in the house and cart back and forth.

GPSr
compass
camera (ours is a digital camera)
extra batteries
laptop computer and power adapter
special maps if needed

Many of the items in the truck do double duty and get used for other activities, also.

Just start out light and add items as you find that they would be handy to have along. If you're going to be doing 'intersection stations' then a shovel and probe are not needed for that excursion. If the weather has been dry, then a small broom to clean off the benchmark should suffice for getting a good picture. As you find more benchmarks you will see a pattern to the items that help and those that just take up space.


John & Shirley

#12 User is offline   critterkeeper 

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Posted 06 April 2006 - 02:54 PM

As a new cacher just starting to explore the forums, may I suggest you add a topic 0) What is Benchmark hunting? It's not exactly clear what you're talking about here. Remember, you too asked that question at some point!

#13 User is offline   seventhings 

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Posted 07 April 2006 - 03:19 PM

critterkeeper -

Welcome to benchmark hunting.

See the FAQ at Find a Benchmark/FAQ for your suggested topic 0).

#14 User is offline   Team Gryarvold 

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Posted 02 August 2006 - 11:25 AM

View PostUNK1, on Nov 7 2005, 06:45 PM, said:

8) County Downloads

Once you are hooked on this hobby, you will want to do a "Pocket Query" like for caching. We're sorry but that is not available from GC.com at this time. There is an alternative that we use and it involves using a couple of other helpful programs and going to the NGS site to retrieve their latest county archive.

If you click here, NGS - it will take you to the NGS site. Just select the state, click Get County Archives, select the county and choose the file format (zipped if you are on dial-up internet) then click Download. Save this file to your hard drive.

You will need to download BMGPX to convert the downloaded file into a GPX format for use with other programs. You can get BMGPX here. BMGPX

Once you have installed BMGPX on your computer all you need to do is drag and drop the county file (unzipped) onto the BMGPX "icon" and it will spit out a gpx file ready to use.

We just drag and drop the newly created file onto GSAK and it will open the database and show the available benchmarks in the selected county. You can then manipulate that info as needed. You can get GSAK here GSAK . It is free for several weeks then you will get a nag screen after the trial period. The cost is only about $25 US.

There are a couple of threads that explain how to use some of the features for benchmark hunting. Sorting with GSAK Thread
AN early thread when GSAK was just getting set up for benchmarks.






Tried this today and it worked like a charm. Thanks bunches for the tutorial. It sure helped alot. Once I did this I could then export into Delorme and get a peak of things on the map. Worked great.

#15 User is offline   biosearch 

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Posted 09 August 2006 - 09:12 PM

Well, I've decided to start benchmark hunting. I've followed everyones help and downloaded bmgpx, watcher, the dat files and used the above to create a gpx file. I have a magellan eXplorist, so I use the magellan geocaching software to create a gs file (the magellan geocaching file type). Everything good up until this point. Then uploading the gs file to the gps comes up with an error. Does anyone have an eXplorist who might have a hint or two concerning this issue? Appreciate all of the help up until this point and will definantly appreciate any suggests that follow.

#16 User is offline   GeoStrikers 

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Posted 14 September 2006 - 07:24 PM

View Postbiosearch, on Aug 9 2006, 10:12 PM, said:

Well, I've decided to start benchmark hunting. I've followed everyones help and downloaded bmgpx, watcher, the dat files and used the above to create a gpx file. I have a magellan eXplorist, so I use the magellan geocaching software to create a gs file (the magellan geocaching file type). Everything good up until this point. Then uploading the gs file to the gps comes up with an error. Does anyone have an eXplorist who might have a hint or two concerning this issue? Appreciate all of the help up until this point and will definantly appreciate any suggests that follow.

make sure that your benchmark files are less then 200 each.

#17 User is offline   Bear hunter 

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Posted 30 September 2006 - 08:00 PM

Hi. I was out geocaching today as well as walking my dogs when I found what I thought was a bench mark. It was right on the sidewalk by a fire hydrant. I am not sure it is what everyone is talking about, but maybe someone can help me figure out what it is.

It is a metal disk that was even with the cement of the sidewalk. It says around the circle, "Benchmark Corps of Engineers U.S. Army" At the bottom is says "Survey Mark." In the middle is says "B C M17 year 1956."

Is this a benchmark like the ones that are being logged, or is this some other type of survey mark?

#18 User is offline   UNK1 

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Posted 01 October 2006 - 11:33 AM

View PostBear hunter, on Sep 30 2006, 09:00 PM, said:

Hi. I was out geocaching today as well as walking my dogs when I found what I thought was a bench mark. It was right on the sidewalk by a fire hydrant. I am not sure it is what everyone is talking about, but maybe someone can help me figure out what it is.

It is a metal disk that was even with the cement of the sidewalk. It says around the circle, "Benchmark Corps of Engineers U.S. Army" At the bottom is says "Survey Mark." In the middle is says "B C M17 year 1956."

Is this a benchmark like the ones that are being logged, or is this some other type of survey mark?


Greetings Bear hunter - There is a plethora of different benchmark types as shown in this thread about the logos found on them.

It is a benchmark, but whether it in listed on the NGS/GeoCaching database is another question. Please post a picture of the disk in a new thread in the regular benchmark forum. This way all those who read these forums will be able to better answer your questions.



Please use this thread for adding information that those who are new to benchmark hunting will find helpful. Of course some of the old dogs can still learn a few new things now and then. :)

Thank you,

UNK1

#19 User is offline   2oldfarts (the rockhounders) 

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Posted 07 October 2006 - 08:26 PM

This is to help those that would like to know how to upload pictures for the forums.

The picture needs to be on your computer first, of course. Then you need to move it to the Geocaching servers. Once it is on the GC server you just link to it and post the link in your forum reply.

Step 1 is to decide where on GC to store the image. Since we have several "archived" caches we use those for uploading the pictures to the GC server. If you do not have an "archived" cache, then you need to go to your "My Account" page. Then select "Edit My Profile". Scroll part way down the page until you find "Virtual You". Click on the change/edit link under "Your Photo". Then you will click on "upload a new image".

Now that you have uploaded the picture you want to use in your forum reply, just double click on the thumbnail image of the picture you just uploaded. This should open the image file and have only the full size image on the new page. Look at the address bar at the top of the screen. You will see the address (http://----- ) for your picture. Highlight the address and right click on the highlighted area. Select "copy". You now have the address on your "clipboard" and ready for posting in the forum.

When you get to the part in your forum post where you would like the picture to appear you just click on the image Icon and paste the address in the little box that opens. Click "OK" and finish your post. The little icon (above the red arrow) that looks like a tree is where you click to add the picture address. (see picture below)

Posted Image

Be sure to click on the "Preview Post" button before you click on the "Add Reply" button. If you don't see your image in your post you may have put the wrong address in the box or you may have made an error when you copied the address.

If you need more help, please start a new thread in the regular benchmark hunting forum below or PM or e-mail one of the regulars. We will be glad to help you with your problem.


John

#20 User is offline   UNK1 

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Posted 15 October 2006 - 03:36 PM

Please Note that this thread is for offering helpful information to others.
It is NOT intended for asking questions about specific benchmarks.


Please use a new thread for questions about benchmarks you have found.

Thank You, UNK1

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