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What exactly is a PQ?


oldskoolboarder
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When you set up your first PQs, keep each one simple. Here is how I set up one section of the PQ form:

 

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Don't select any Attributes, and don't use the "Home Coordinate" option. It is better to use the GC code for a nearby cache, or enter the coordinates by hand.

 

After filling out the form, Preview it first to make sure you are getting the results you expect. Then chose the current day for it to run. You should get it in your email InBox in just a few minutes.

 

Although there are other programs that work for handling all that data, many people end up using GSAK (Geocaching Swiss Army Knife). If you have a PDA, you might check out the options on Cachemate so you can cache "paperless." :D

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Ah, so if I'm looking for easy caches near my house and I determine the easy terrain/difficulty, cache size, and location radius. Then rather than hand picking each one (which I do now), I can batch them. Right?

What I do is get all the caches in my PQs, except for the "Unknowns" and "Webcams." The "Unknowns" get their own PQ and they "live" in their own "Puzzle" database in GSAK until I have "Coorected Coordinates." Only then do I move them to the Default database.

 

In GSAK, I can filter for easy, Terrain '1' caches, or filter for only the "hiking" caches, depending on what sort of caching day I am planning. Or I can put all the caches in the GPS unit and filter the ones I want to look for as I drive around. :D

 

If I am traveling, and getting a "Caches Along A Route" PQ, then I might limit those to Terrain under '2' and Difficulty under '2' since I won't have time for any hikes and I'm not interested in looking for difficult, cleverly-cammoed caches if I am trying to cover some miles on the trip.

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Neither, but the server seems to be down. Here's some of the introductory text...

 

Pocket Queries are just one example of the benefits of subscribing as a premium member of Geocaching.com. Becoming a premium member helps defray the cost of the servers and maintenance (and development) for the Geocaching.com database, but there are perks to being a premium member as well. As quoted on the site:
Premium Member Services
  • You now have the ability to create Pocket Queries. A Pocket Query allows you to have a list of caches from a customized search, generate a waypoint file for loading into your GPS. If you haven't already, visit the Pocket Query Generator to learn more.
  • You can customize your title to whatever you want in the forums. Your title is listed below your name when you post a message to the forums.

 

So - Pocket Queries allow you to get a subset of caches e-mailed directly to you. For example, do you like only traditional caches and don't really care about Virtual Caches? Pocket queries can e-mail you you a set of traditional caches that you haven't found within 100 miles from your home coordinates in one of two formats readable by EasyGPS or ExpertGPS or various other home grown software. These computer files can then be loaded directly into your GPS via a connecting cable. You can search by proximity to a set of coordinates (your home?) or for caches within a geographical boundary (your state/country).

 

You mention various formats? What formats can I receive this data in?

  • The first is a LOC file (a file with the extension LOC on the end). This is currently the default file type that Geocaching.com uses when exporting information from the website into a format that can be directly loaded to your GPS. All you need is some software that can read LOC files (EasyGPS (free) or ExpertGPS (fee) are two) and a cable from your computer to your GPS.
  • The second is a GPX file. This is similar to a LOC file, but the file contains much more information, including some information about the logs on the cache, whether or not there's a travel bug, etc. GPX files can also be run with the most current versions of EasyGPS or ExpertGPS, but there's also an abundance of new software being written by cachers to interpret these files.

Do I need a Palm device to use this feature?

Definitely not. The GPX and LOC are for use with software and your GPS. And you can use software like GPXSpinner and Plucker to create files that are viewable on handheld devices.

 

How often can I get the cache lists e-mailed to me?

Once daily, and up to every day of the week if you so desire (or only on specific days). This reduces the load on the Geocaching.com servers, especially since the program to create these files is run in the middle of the night in the US, when the servers see their least amount of traffic.

 

How many different queries can I have?

You can save 40 separate sets of criteria, but you can only set 5 of them to be mailed to you on each calendar day (per premium membership).

 

Is there a maximum number of caches on the list, or could I just query the entire US?

Each query will return a maximum number of 500 caches. This is also typically the maximum number of waypoints that a GPS will store.

 

Examples of Uses of Pocket Queries

  • Providing a list of caches that you have not found within 100 miles of home.
  • Providing a list of inactive caches near you.
  • Providing a list of caches in your state that have never been found.
  • Providing a list of caches near you (found or not) that have Travel Bugs in them.
  • Having separate pocket queries for Traditional and Virtual caches so that you can change the waypoint on virtuals to VC#### instead of GC#### before they go into your GPS
  • Providing a list of caches near where you'll be staying for a business trip.

the list goes on and on and on...

 

Where can I get a list of the various "home grown" computer programs that extract the data from GPX or LOC files?

You can start off with Geocaching.com's list of software. On that page are links to several pieces of software that will manage and assist you in using GPX and LOC files. One favorite is ClayJar's program - Watcher. It is available at ClayJar's website (look for the largest number). The other one that is an extremely powerful database manager is GSAK (Geocaching Swiss Army Knife). If neither of those suit your fancy, ask for suggestions in the GPS Units and Software forum.

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What I do is get all the caches in my PQs, except for the "Unknowns" and "Webcams." The "Unknowns" get their own PQ and they "live" in their own "Puzzle" database in GSAK until I have "Coorected Coordinates." Only then do I move them to the Default database.

 

In GSAK, I can filter for easy, Terrain '1' caches, or filter for only the "hiking" caches, depending on what sort of caching day I am planning. Or I can put all the caches in the GPS unit and filter the ones I want to look for as I drive around. :D

 

If I am traveling, and getting a "Caches Along A Route" PQ, then I might limit those to Terrain under '2' and Difficulty under '2' since I won't have time for any hikes and I'm not interested in looking for difficult, cleverly-cammoed caches if I am trying to cover some miles on the trip.

 

I do essentially the same for Puzzle caches with GSAK. However, sometimes caches are labeled as multi-caches, where the initial stage(s) are essentially virtual caches that contain information needed to determine the final coordinates. For example, counting items or reading numbers off a sign near the published coordinates.

 

The use of Cachemate with Palm devices was mentioned. I have a Blackberry Pearl and use the "Mobi" GSAK macro to produce complete listings in the "mobi" reader format. Each mobi file has multiple indexes so that caches can be looked up by name, waypoint, proximity to a center point, and for each cache listing it includes the nearest five caches.

 

In the area where live there are many clusters of caches located in and around small (and some medium sized) cities. I create separate PQs and store the results of each in a separate database and produce separate mobi files for each area. I have found all but 3 caches within a 10 mile radius from where I live so I tend to go to areas that might be 20-30 miles from where I live but 50 or so miles from the closest cluster.

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