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favorite paperless tool


buteo
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Favourite paperless tool? My brain - always running, lots of info and no batteries (although it does require large doses of caffeine) :blink:

 

That said, our nuvi 260W works as a paperless tool, with the right macro running on GSAK. Trouble is, it has to stay in the car; I've taken it on the walk a couple of times, and I worry so much about breaking it that I'm too distracted to enjoy the walk.

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For me this one is a no brainer. I love my Delorme PN-40 GPSr and it's not only 100% truely paperless, but it also comes with free maps. For the same price point I don't think it can be beat. You won't hear it recommended as frequently as the Garmin brands, but that doesn't mean it's worse it just means that people haven't had a chance to experience it yet. The day I switched from using a Garmin Vista HCx to a Delorme PN-40 was the best day of my caching life. By the way with the Delorme PN series you can load aerial and satellite imagery directly onto your GPSr so on the screen the cache symbols are placed on what looks like a view from Google Earth or something similar. Garmin can't do that. Right now Delorme is kind of the underdog, but I have no doubt that because of their superior product within 10 years you'll see them giving Garmin a real run for their money! :blink:

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Earlier this year I was one who printed off the cache pages. I addressed a change in the way these pages printed when Geocaching.com made a change in the website. I received a lot of criticism for not using some electronic means. So, I, being an opened minded person, took the advice of one of the responders to my post, and purchased a used PDA on Amazon.com. It is a Sony Clie (pronounced clee yah). It has a mono chrome display which I absolutely love. I can actually read the display even in sunny conditions which I have found almost impossible with my color led cell phone, digital camera and sometimes my GPS display. I paid $35 for the PDA and $15 for an older style memory stick for the Clie that isn't marketed any longer. So, my advice it to look for a used electronic device on Amazon or eBay. Another thing is if I drop or lose it while caching, I'm not out a lot of money. :blink:

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I bought a used handheld HP computer, a PPC. It holds the cache page data in it's entirety (5 logs) and has served well fro about five years . . . i have to replace the pick, though, as I lose it in the woods.

 

It also holds my PAF listing, in a spreadsheet, for the areas I cache most often . . . can save a return on a mile round trip woods bushwhack - whew!

Edited by GRANPA ALEX
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I've been intending on buying a PDA for paperless caching too,

 

So this is a very pertinent question for me too.

 

I want a PDA, I don't want to have to get an iphone or blackberry that i have to pay monthy internet charges whether I use it or not.

 

I want a cheap PDA. I ruined my Garmin GPSr two weekends ago in the rain. I certainly don't want a repeat with anything expensive for storing caches.

 

What have people used for inexpensive PDA's that take memory that is currently made?

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I use a Palm Vx. I don't recommend it because (a) many desktops and practically all laptops don't come with serial ports, and USB to serial adapters can be tricky, and (:laughing: RS-232 is very, very, slow. But I have one sitting around, so...

 

BTW, I've read somewhere here that the older Palms with USB interface will not work with Vista 64 bit (and I presume that means it won't work with Windows 7 64 bit as well). Any suggestion on what's a good alternative for 64 bit Windows?

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I use a Palm Vx. I don't recommend it because (a) many desktops and practically all laptops don't come with serial ports, and USB to serial adapters can be tricky, and (:laughing: RS-232 is very, very, slow. But I have one sitting around, so...

 

I found a cache yesterday that had a RS-232 to USB cable in it as a swag item.

 

I use an iPhone + geocaching app. What I like about it most is that I can pull in cache listing from just about anywhere (assuming I have service) and don't need to preload them. That has saved me a few times when I was in an area where I didn't have waypoints downloaded into my GPS (like a week ago when I went to look for "The Spot" (GC3) and had created a PQ for the area but forgot to download the waypoints to my GPS before I left the house.

 

When I had a Blackberry I use to use the Mobi GSAK macro to download complete listings (including a robust crossreference index) to my Blackberry.

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Favourite paperless tool? My brain - always running, lots of info and no batteries (although it does require large doses of caffeine) ;)

 

That said, our nuvi 260W works as a paperless tool, with the right macro running on GSAK. Trouble is, it has to stay in the car; I've taken it on the walk a couple of times, and I worry so much about breaking it that I'm too distracted to enjoy the walk.

 

That's why I bought two Palm VIIx's off of eBay for $25, total. I sat on the first one and smashed it. The only drawback is the old serial connection. The Cachemate download can get rather slow.

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My only caching device is the Nuvi 255w. Huge capacity (I have 2800 POIs on it right now), the entire cache sheet, recent logs, proximity alerts, automatic clue decoding, and the ability to navigate both on and off road.

 

It lacks a good compass screen, but if you have a widescreen version, you can read the coordinates on the satellite screen. And, if I zoom all the way in on the track-up screen, I have a pretty good sense of when I'm nearing GZ.

 

It doesn't have the best accuracy under tree cover, but I'm learning to work around that with some extra care and good sense. Basically, I try to develop a good idea of the cache location before leaving the trail... and look a little harder for geotrails then I might if I had a high-sensitivity receiver.

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I'm surprised nobody has yet mentioned the Nuvi. It not helps me drive to the general area, but using a free GSAK macro, I have the full cache page and five logs available.
Ditto, and I don't even use a macro. In addition to the *.OV2 POI files that show all of the caches on the map as you go, and allow navigation to them, GSAK is fully able to export a full set of HTML that the TomTom's mini-browser can read just fine. Most TT users don't realize that for all of the 7xx and 9xx models, you can create a folder in the root directory called 'text' and dump text or html data, and the HTML index that GSAK creates for it works, too. That's one thing I like about that brand - open architecture. The whole file system is there when you plug in the USB cable to a PC. It's easy to add/delete and slide things around, and unlike my Garmin, doesn't restrict how I use the memory I've got! If the gc.com PQ would allow it, I could keep the data for all 900,000 active caches on it!

 

Another thing it allows is transparent map overlays. I can slide in topo or other maps with the coordinates of the upper left and lower right corners defined, and it will use those maps as the background under the street map. Can be useful when caching on forest service roads that "don't exist" on regular gps maps.

 

That said, I don't pull it out and take it with me to cache sites - I just read it before getting out of the car if I don't have paper in hand. If I get really stuck on site, and need the hint, I'll pull up the log page at gc.com using a copy of Opera Mini that I loaded onto my little Motorola V950 cell phone. You wouldn't want to do all of your web browsing this way, but it's good in a pinch.

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I end up using what is really a huge array of tools, but then, part of the hobby for me is monkeying with the tools. Geocaching combines my deep love for the outdoors, my passion for navigation and cartography, my professional background in GPS deployment, and my interest in high-tech gadgetry. I will try to give a pretty detailed assessment of the pros and cons of each tool I use or have tried:

  • I use a Blackberry 8330 Curve. On this, I have:
    • Trimble Geocache Navigator - LOVE this tool. real-time, rather than PQ-based access to cache data. The bad: You have to be in coverage, it accesses a DB back at Trimble, not on the device--so wilderness use is limited. The Good: Live, up-to-date data, great maps/images... Best of all, the built-in GPSr in the Blackberry, while flakey, is pretty accurate for an embedded device... and when you are in good coverage, and augmented by the cell-based AGPS, it is very accurate. Trimble Navigator lets you leave yourself found/not found field notes, but no text notes to go along with them.
    • Cacheberry. Have to load it up from a GSAK export, and the import into cacheberry is wicked slow, so I have only used this once or twice when I am going out of my usual footprint, and then only a few hundred caches at a time. I rarely use it.
    • Built-in Web Browser: I use Opera (free) on it as my prefered browser, but it comes with its own web browser built-in too. Using either web-browser, I have access to:
      • The geocaching.com website - mostly use it to look up new caches that won't be in my pocket queries yet.
      • The geocaching.com WAP site - Nice idea, lean and mean for phone browsers, but I rarely use it.
      • www.bcaching.com - I love this tool but you have to keep pumping your pocket queries into it to keep it updated. Their license agreement with Groundspeak only allows them to store PQs that you have submitted within the last 30 days. Still playing around with this, but I don't really need it because of other tools I have. Great idea though.

      [*]Mail access: I get all my notifications--new caches, logs on my caches, and my watchlists, on my Blackberry in real time. Makes running for FTFs, or knowing when my caches need maintenance a snap.

      [*]SMS: I have just started using textmarks to enter my logs and notes right at the cache location into my field notes. LOVE this.

    [*]I have a Nuvi 200w. As knowschad mentioned, this can be a wickedly powerful tool. I use pilotsnipe's amazing Nuvi macro, so in my Nuvi I have 13,000 caches that I update a few times a week. On the Nuvi I have the full description, ALL the logs that I have in GSAK no matter how far back, and the hint. I also dabbled with another derivation of piltosnipe's that breaks all the caches into categories, but actually ended up back at piltosnipe's for simplicity. As with others, I have a padded belt pack pouch and ziploc that I keep this in and take it out with me to the field, fully aware that it wasn't made for this wear and tear, but it has held up well. I baby it as best I can.

    [*]I have a Garmin GPS 60CSx, which I load the with the exact same 13,000 cache DB that is in my Nuvi. I use a GSAK macro for this and it works great. No logs or description, but I have those on my Nuvi. But it does give me the hider, last four results, the hint, and the date last found--all useful in the field. I have the Garmin City Navigator maps on it. I also own the topo maps but because I did the download purchases and not the CDs, I can't combine these onto one SD card. ;) I carry my Nuvi all the time now so I may switch the 60CSx over to the topo map card full-time.

    [*]I also have an HP netbook that has wireless broadband. If I am going out on a full-day caching raid, I *might* use this, but that has only been 2-3 times. The ability to see large cache clusters on the geocaching.com site's maps is a great feature, but hasn't justified carrying it that often. I have a padded backpack but I am yet to actually take it to the field on foot. I will sometime, just to try it.

So, if I am just making a quick run between meetings, with nothing but my Blackberry, it has everything I need for quick hits. If I am going to the woods for a few hours, I have my 60CSx and my Blackberry with me. If I am on a half day outing, my netbook is in my car (rarely used)... I use the Nuvi to navigate while driving, then put it in my pack and carry it. The Blackberry is my phone so I always carry it anyway. (though I have not yet ever used it for PAF.) And my 60CSx is in my hand and leads the way once I am on foot. If I need the full notes I peek at the Nuvi. If I need to cross-check my GPS fix I use the Blackberry. If I need to check real-time data for changes, or see a satelleite image, I use the Blackberry.

 

As you can see, in my three devices I carry a HUGE array of tools. Those that require a lot of data loading over time, like bcaching and cacheberry have fallen by the wayside for me. I do still load my Nuvi and 60CSx at least 2-4 times a week.

 

So I rely on my Blackberry, Nuvi, and 60CSx, and if I HAD to pick only one, it would still have to be the Blackberry because the Trimble Navigator and built-n GPS make it an all-in-one device. I can look up, find, log, and even photograph caches with just one tool, and it's the same tool that has my phone, e-mail, and browser on it.

 

I travel over a large footprint every week because of a long term consulting gig I am doing. I go from the Twin Cities in Minnesota, through NE Iowa, to the Cedar Rapids area. If you make a long oval from St. Cloud MN, widens around the Twin cities, then widens further to include Mason City IA, and Rochester MN, and Cedar Falls/Waterloo IA... and then tapers down to Iowa City, IA... That oval includes roughly 13,000 caches that are my "play ground", so my data needs are very, very different than most. It took me a while to find the perfect way to get all those caches into Pocket Queries with no overlap, but it works great.

 

If anyone needs advice on any of these tools, the pros and cons, let me know. I hope the excessive details above help.

Edited by Sky King 36
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[*]Cacheberry. Have to load it up from a GSAK export, and the import into cacheberry is wicked slow, so I have only used this once or twice when I am going out of my usual footprint, and then only a few hundred caches at a time. I rarely use it.

[*]www.bcaching.com - I love this tool but you have to keep pumping your pocket queries into it to keep it updated. Their license agreement with Groundspeak only allows them to store PQs that you have submitted within the last 30 days. Still playing around with this, but I don't really need it because of other tools I have. Great idea though.

 

Have you tried using BlackStar Nav with bcaching.com? It has some of the same features as Cacheberry but seems to be less polished. If you have data access BlackStar can pull a PQ of the 20 nearest caches from bcaching.com.

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I use a Palm Vx. I don't recommend it because (a) many desktops and practically all laptops don't come with serial ports, and USB to serial adapters can be tricky, and (B) RS-232 is very, very, slow. But I have one sitting around, so...

 

BTW, I've read somewhere here that the older Palms with USB interface will not work with Vista 64 bit (and I presume that means it won't work with Windows 7 64 bit as well). Any suggestion on what's a good alternative for 64 bit Windows?

 

Yeah it is true that anything with a palm based OS won't sync with a 64 bit system (no drivers). I just ran into this problem last night trying to set up my clie to do paperless. I bought it in college and haven't used it since so I figured this would be a good use.

 

I had to work around the 64 bit thing. I used my work computer to get cachemate on the PDA and I will be using the memory stick slot to actually load databases.

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I used to use a Palm Tx, but since I got my Android powered MyTouch 3g, and downloaded Geobeagle, I no longer need to carry my 60CSx. The phone does everything. Store caches on the sd card, and I can find them even when I don't have data signal!

 

Only drawbacks, the phone is not as rugged as the GPS, so I have to be very careful with it, and I have to make sure I keep the battery charged whenever I get the chance. Battery life while caching is about 7 hours...running screen 100%, GPS 100%, and occasionally logging wirelessly. Oh yeah, the flashlight app is pretty handy, too.

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BCaching.com - although as the developer I'm a little biased, and granted it's not too useful without a mobile data plan and decent coverage...

  • We have 2 automated daily PQs running on geocaching.com for our most-cached areas that are sent directly to our bcaching email account so our paperless data is always very nearly up-to-date with no manual intervention and cache logs are cumulative which usually gives much more than just the last 5. The pages are relatively small and compressed for quick loading but there are also links to gc.com pages for the absolute latest and complete data including the gc "print view" which loads quickly and more cleanly on mobile devices than the regular gc.com details page. As mentioned in an earlier post, PQs must be uploaded regularly since you only can view caches you've uploaded in the past 30 days, but with the automation you can mostly "set it and forget it".
     
  • We use it for all our field notes (found, dnf & write note) which we upload to geocaching.com at the end of the day from the web site on a desktop computer (no need to hook up the phone to the computer since it's all stored on the web site). It also keeps track of our find count and adds the find# into "found" notes automatically. After a field note is posted the nearest caches to the previous one are shown.
     
  • We use it to keep track of our TB inventory - tb# pick ups are added to our bcaching inventory, then entering a find allows us to select tb#s out of our inventory and those are included in our uploaded field notes.
     
  • We use the desktop maps view (a google mashup) for any preliminary research where we can also add private notes (not uploaded to gc.com), and additional waypoints (with the upcoming release currently in test).
     
  • Since we still rely on our trusty 60Csx for most road routing and last mile navigation, we use the desktop maps view to load the Garmin directly - using the Garmin communicator plugin like on gc.com but for up to 1000 waypoints at a time which also includes custom icons to show traditionals vs multis, puzzles, etc. and includes terrain, difficulty, and container.
     
  • On the blackberry you can download the 20 nearest hides into Blackstar Navigator (direct) or Cacheberry (by GPX download). It also provides links for individual caches to BB Maps or Google Maps. With the upcoming release the Maps link also works on Android for Google Maps/Geobeagle and Windows Mobile 5+ Google Maps (haven't tried iphone yet).

Edited by m_and_w
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...The pages are relatively small and compressed for quick loading...
No kiddin! I have used bcaching for about a month and the page loads are a ROCKET on my Blackberry when I am in good coverage. I am afraid that talking about it here will increase its popularity and slow me down!

 

...We use it for all our field notes (found, dnf & write note)...(snip)...After a field note is posted the nearest caches to the previous one are shown... (snip)...We use it to keep track of our TB inventory - tb# pick ups are added to our bcaching inventory, then entering a find allows us to select tb#s out of our inventory and those are included in our uploaded field notes.
I haven't done this yet, I have been using textmarks, and dabbled with the GC WAP site, but this sounds really slick, I gotta play with this a little.

 

Fair disclosure: I am in no way connected to, or benefit from bcaching, and I can say that it is a very slick tool. Each cacher has very different needs, depending on where they cache, how they cache, how often they cache... and whether their geography/device/rate plan makes wireless data in the field possible. Without wireless data access, you have to look only at GSAK macros, PDA-based solutions like cacheberry or cachemate... but if you have wireless data in the field, bcaching requires a serious look.

Edited by Sky King 36
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