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Alternative caching electronics.


swizzle
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I'm curious about different type of interactive electronics that could make geocaching more fun. For instance the simple electronic key finder. How about the blinking light for night caches? Where do you get those and is it possible to set up a small red LED to a solar panel? I'm looking for something that might be able to run continiously every night for over a year. I can't see where a small red blinking LED takes up a lot of energy. Maybe tear apart one of those solar lawn lights and then add a fair sized battery. Any gadget hacks in here? Surely someone can create something for a deep woods night cache. What about the device that you whistle and the alarm goes off to find your keys? What can be done with laser pointers. ect.. ect... Please add your own spin on this and what you've seen done or are working on. Swizzle

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Any home improvement store sells those solar powered sidewalk lights, usually 4 to a set.

 

They can easily be canibalized for your solar powered geocache.

 

Inside you'll find a 3 volt solar panel, a 3 volt rechargeable battery pack and some leds's. The solar panel doubles as a switch that turns the leds on at night and off at sunrise.

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What would be cool is setting up a inferred led on the cache then you use a camcorder with night shot to find it. you should be able to do that for an urbin hide and being inferred you wouldn't see it with the naked eye. good for day or night. it's like pointing a t.v. remote at the camera with night shot.

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What would be cool is setting up a inferred led on the cache then you use a camcorder with night shot to find it. you should be able to do that for an urbin hide and being inferred you wouldn't see it with the naked eye. good for day or night. it's like pointing a t.v. remote at the camera with night shot.

 

You mean like this cache?

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If you could waterproof a walkway solar light and sink it into 10 feet of water would the rays of the sun still be strong enough to fully charge the battery? I figured that 10 feet would keep you from seeing it from a distance and still allow you to see it when you get close. Underwater, multi-night cache? hmmm......Sounds like something that may not have been done yet. Swizzle

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Well I destroyed one solar light and with a snip snip here and some straping tape there. I slid it into a glass jar and placed it outside in the rain to see how it works. If that works good then it's time to seal it with some hot glue and duct tape and then the submersion test. I figure 1 year in a 5 gallon bucket of water should do the trick. If it last the whole year then its time to put it in the field. I figured I could place it in an onion bag or a similar type mesh bag and place the cache container below it. The jar holds enough air to make the solar panel, battery and light float and the cache will be the anchor. I just need to make a line adjustment to keep the cache at or around 6 to 10 feet deep. I'll need to spend a weekend at the lake to make sure everything will work all right. The depth will depend on water clarity and above water visual distance. This one is going to take some time. Anyone have any ideas on how to make something like this work? Swizzle

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Swizzle, I'm not an engineer, nor am I handy with high tech gadgets, so I could be way off base here. Take it for what it's worth;

I don't think a solar panel would gather enough energy under water to illuminate anything. I think any depth of water sufficient to prevent muggles from seeing the device, would also difuse the light too much. Maybe not? Either way, I'd like to hear how it goes. I think if I was gonna do something like this I'd have a larger battery for the panels to charge than what are found in a yard light. Then I'd hide both the charging panels and the power supply way up a tree. Connect that to your light using a hidden wire.

 

Hmmm.... An idea is brewing....

 

How 'bout a night cache with a series of reflectors leading cachers to a lake. In the depths of the lake, place a panel with a bunch of LED's in the shape of an arrow. The LED panel is powered by the solar panels. The arrow points to the submerged cache?

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i read about a cache were you had to call an 800 number to get further info to the cache. i like that idea but i am altering it a little. the coords will lead them to a stop sign at the base of a hill. i will use a bar code that contains a phone number that they have to find (not knowing more than they are looking for a code, which is the phone number and the name of the cache is "give me a call") and call to hear a message with the final coords which are going to be at the top of the hill which is probably less than a ten minute hike. at the top of the hill is a great view of the city. i plan to use a free upc code maker and make a upc bar code containing a phone number. the phone number they will call is free from http://www.k7.net the other phone call one was paying to have an 800 number. the number i have is an out of state number but almost every one i know has free long distance. (maybe) part of getting credit for the find will be leaving a message on the voicemail box. this is a good way of getting to hear cachers as they are at the cache site. the voicemail is then sent to me via email with the voice message attached and i can save and maybe upload to a website or some thing. does any one think this would be a good cache? :angry:

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I think you're right about the solar light not getting enough sun to make it work. There are a lot of variables with this type of cache. Light diffraction, water clarity, the depth of the water and how much that varies throughout the year, and ice. What if it did work? I spend a year getting it all set up and then 3 days after I set it up the battery dies or cloud cover prevents the battery from charging. I still want to do an underwater multi but I'm gonna try something different. Make the coordinates out of fire tacks and sink them into 10 to 15 feet of water. Make the numbers large enough to be seen from a boat or through an ice hole. Then once a year bring new fire tacks or with a magnet fish out each stage and clean up the fire tacks. It will be done it will just take a while. Swizzle

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Hey Swizzle,

 

I don't know what fire tacks are but they sound cool. nayhow what about sediment and alge in the central valley here in Ca. all the lakes and rivers usally get som amount of alge and dirt sediment maybe only a week and it might be covered up. just a thought. also fish Poop my aquatic turtles make me change the water every saturday even with a filter.

 

Greg

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Firetacks are basically thumbtacks with a reflective paint on them. They really shine when you put a flashlight on them. Looks almost like critters eyeballs in the headlights. Using a headlamp or placing the flashlight next to your head will make them brighter. Its a more direct path of light, straight to the firetack and back to your eye. Wally world has them in the hunting aisle. It's $2 and change for a box of 50. See if you can get the square ones they are definately brighter and can be seen for greater distances. Water clarity will always be an issue. I'm thinking about placing the firetack holder at a 45 to 60 degree angle to reduce the amount of silt and bassturds. That way it will be somewhat easy to see from the shoreline and a boat won't be needed. It may still be a problem and need constant maintance. I hope not but its still just in the experimental stages. Swizzle

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Firetacks are basically thumbtacks with a reflective paint on them. They really shine when you put a flashlight on them. Looks almost like critters eyeballs in the headlights. Using a headlamp or placing the flashlight next to your head will make them brighter. Its a more direct path of light, straight to the firetack and back to your eye. Wally world has them in the hunting aisle. It's $2 and change for a box of 50. See if you can get the square ones they are definately brighter and can be seen for greater distances. Water clarity will always be an issue. I'm thinking about placing the firetack holder at a 45 to 60 degree angle to reduce the amount of silt and bassturds. That way it will be somewhat easy to see from the shoreline and a boat won't be needed. It may still be a problem and need constant maintance. I hope not but its still just in the experimental stages. Swizzle

 

Actually the "square ones" sold at Walmart are Garbage. I tried them, along side the round "Trail Tacks." The Trail Tacks were visible at a far greater distance than the square "Bright Eyes." brand.

 

Placing reflective material underwater is an excersise in futility. You'll soon find out, that it won't work. Even Crystal clear streams have a light scum layer on all the rocks, glass, lures, etc, found on the bottom. Lake scum will quickly cover the reflective material. The water will also diffuse the light from flashlights, reducing their effective range.

Edited by Kit Fox
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I thought the square ones were much brighter as far as my side by side comparison went. Maybe the big round ones that I got weren't true bright eyes? It's possible that the reflective coatings will vary from day to day production and can vary greatly in a years time. It's possible that I got poor batch but the square ones advertised that they are (if memory serves me correctly) 7.5% brighter then other reflective fire tacks. I placed 2 tacks side by side in my backyard and checked it out before the moon came up and the square ones that I have are definately brighter. I would have to agree with you that placing firetacks under water would end up being a fruitless effort. I do have one more thing that I may try. Since the light will reflect off of the water then maybe something placed close to the water and facing the water may actually reflect in the water when a light is shined on it. It's worth a shot. Hopefully it'll work out. Won't know until I try. It would be kinda neat reading numbers on the surface of a pool. Swizzle

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Because light-reflective objects usually work by reflecting the light back through small clear spheres, I believe that immersing them in water will make the spheres optically flat and therefore render the reflective quality null and void. You may wish to experiment before you put much more effort into a design which may well prove unworkable.

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I will be doing several experiments before I finally decide to hike 3 miles back in just to find out that it doesn't work or better yet it works for a few weeks and then needs maintence. My under water fire tack idea I do believe is a waste of time. I will be doing some type of testing on it but not much. I think I'm better off abandoning that idea and trying something else. One of the main problems that I'll be facing is the simple fact that water in ny freezes and makes underwater caches impossible. The same holds true for the reflection idea as well. It will more then likely shine very nicely of the surface of the water at night but not off of snow and ice. Another idea that I might try is a remote and a servo hooked up to a stick. Using the remote will make the stick wave back and forth giving up the location of the cache or a stage of a cache. Any thoughts on waterproofing a servo? Not for underwater use but just for rain protection. Swizzle

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Here is a link for a solar powered flasher I made over 10 years ago. I got a resin mold at hobby lobby and encased the circuit in resin. It has ben flashing for about 10 years. The LED is not super bright but can be seen at night.

 

This circuit does not use batteries and as I said it is sealed in resin. I am wondering how long mine will last!

 

 

www.tripoint.org/kevtris/Projects/led/flasher.html

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You may be able to modify a LED Throwie to do the job. (Basically flashing LED + Battery + Magnet):

http://www.instructables.com/id/E9D2ZJ3FG0EP286JEJ/

 

Swap out the battery for a rechargeable one with solar panel.

http://www.instructables.com/id/ET4B0SCALBEV1BET66/

 

If a submerged panel won't work, perhaps one could be camouflaged and hidden near the shore / edge, with wires similiarly hidden supplying the flasher.

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