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Geostrategist

When did Geocaching get so difficult?

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I've been geocaching on off for several years, and have become frustrated at how difficult it is to  accomplish these days. i don't mean the level of difficulty or lack of caches, just the amount of hurdles I have to cross before getting out and about and actually geocaching.

 

Before, I used to either plan a day out, and download the caches to my Garmin etrex; or if I was out somewhere and has time for a quick cache, us my iPhone and see what was around. All quite simple, and not difficult to set up.

 

Now, I can't download caches to my etrex, as it needs a Garmin communicator add-on to be applied. This isn't supported by Firefox; or Chrome. It is with Internet Explorer 10, but I have windows 10 with Microsoft Edge, which isn't supported. I can't download IE10. It looks like I might have to get a new GPS, (but not a Garmin), or a new computer (probably a Mac).

 

The new iPhone app isn't as easy to use as the old one, burns through the battery and data on my 5S, enough to really limit what I can do. I could get e new phone (along with the GPS and the computer), as well as subscribe to premium membership to get the most out of it. But it's all extra cost that I am not prepared to pay.

 

All in all, an enjoyable and easy pastime has turned into a hassle, so it looks like I shall no longer be Geocaching.

 

Fortunately, there's an orienteering club nearby which seems just as good fun!

 

 

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I still cache with my Garmin.   In fact with the introduction of the Geocaching API, I find it easier then ever to download caches.    But I don't use the Garmin Communicator, I use GSAK.   You don't need to use GSAK, there are other tools you can use.   I'm sure it is a pain to change if the way you did it before no longer works, but it is  one-off change you would need to make.

As for the apps - I liked the old official app better than the new one, but as I use it so infrequently it doesn't matter to me.   There are 3rd party apps which others like which can be used as an alternative. 

 

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I still cache the same way I did ever since I upgraded from my old yellow etrex to my Legend.  Pocket Queries.  IMO PQs are the only way to go.  Of course that requires a Premium membership.  But the OP was a complaint about difficulty, not about cost.  The only difficulty I have is that I have to go further and further away from home to get to caches I haven't found yet.

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It's much easier for me now that I cache on the fly with my phone app. I create lists and all kinds of interesting PQ's for my phone.

Geocaching has changed, it is a smart phone game. Glad I didn't buy a paperless GPS for geocaching when the game is catered to smart phone users.

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I'm still using the same workflow I did since shortly after I started in 2006. GSAK + macro's.

I haven't used the "new" way sending caches by adding them to a list and then sending them to GPS by means of POI loader but that seems to do the trick too. As a PM you could just create PQs and after downloading and unzipping put them on your GPS.

 

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7 minutes ago, NanCycle said:

When geocaching really becomes just a smart-phone game is when I'll quit.

I didn't want to upgrade to a paperless GPS unit and GSAK, and was at the point of quitting when I gave the app a try and renewed my PM.

For me geocaching is a smart-phone game for premium members, and I believe that is HQ's intent. I just lost interest in using coordinates only, I need a cache page and past logs to keep the game interesting.

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From my perspective, it's easier now to plan a geocaching trip and load the information I need to get outside.  The main reasons are improvements in the mapping and search tools, and the ability to access bookmark lists on my smartphone.  I also use GSAK and Project-GC extensively.  The contrast in API functionality today vs. ten years ago is like night and day.

Of course, everything I mentioned requires premium membership.  Once you've committed to the hobby to the point where you're trying to plan days out, the time is ripe to upgrade to premium.

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52 minutes ago, Geostrategist said:

Now, I can't download caches to my etrex, as it needs a Garmin communicator add-on to be applied. This isn't supported by Firefox; or Chrome. It is with Internet Explorer 10, but I have windows 10 with Microsoft Edge, which isn't supported. I can't download IE10.

 

The OP shall no longer be Geocaching, but just for info, there are several ways to send GPX files to a Garmin GPSr.

You don't need Garmin Communicator nor any add-on.  Save a GPX file or entire (unzipped) Pocket Queries to the "Garmin/GPX" folder of a Garmin GPSr.  Do that all the time, and then you won't rely on "plug-ins".  They are cool and all, but when have trouble with a plug-in, it's often much simpler to copy the files to "Garmin/GPX" and go, than to work on the plug-in.  I almost always use the manual copying method.

Garmin Communicator may be gone, but another way to load caches (if you don't like to directly place files into the "Garmin/GPX" folder) is to install Garmin Express and use lists.  You can send any list to the GPSr using "Send To Garmin".  "Garmin Express" is how you get software updates from Garmin, plus now it works with Geocaching.com cache lists.

Microsoft Windows 10 comes with Internet Explorer.  I use it instead of Edge because IE accepts more plug-ins.  But Garmin Express can work with either.  I sent lists of caches to my Garmin Oregon from Edge, to try it out.  It works.

Edited by kunarion
Added a clarification of what Garmin Express does

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35 minutes ago, kunarion said:

The OP shall no longer be Geocaching, but just for info, there are several ways to send GPX files to a Garmin GPSr.

...

Of course, each of those methods you mentioned require a Premium Membership.

 

The OP said s/he wasn't prepared to pay the extra cost of a a premium membership, although it appears s/he currently is one and so any of those methods you described would work for her/him.

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Just to add to what I started, i am currently a premium member, but only recently. My style of geocaching has been quite basic as I described earlier. Pocket queries and the like is not something I have used before, so I've had a quick look. It looks like I'll need to study some of the tutorials to work out how to do it, and get it to my GPS.

I may be a bit of a luddite, but I prefer a GPS rather than a smart phone, so finding an easy way to continue using it is what I would prefer.

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3 minutes ago, Geostrategist said:

Just to add to what I started, i am currently a premium member, but only recently. My style of geocaching has been quite basic as I described earlier. Pocket queries and the like is not something I have used before, so I've had a quick look. It looks like I'll need to study some of the tutorials to work out how to do it, and get it to my GPS.

I may be a bit of a luddite, but I prefer a GPS rather than a smart phone, so finding an easy way to continue using it is what I would prefer.

I also prefer using a GPS. For me, it's an eTrex 20 loaded with PQ's.

 

If you want an 'easy' way to load caches, then the "GPX file" button might be a good option.  It's the button to the left of the "Send to My GPS" button you're already familiar with.

  • Click the "GPX file" button and save the resulting file.
  • With your GPSr plugged into your computer, drag that gpx file from your Downloads folder to the \Garmin\GPX folder of your eTrex.
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1 minute ago, Geostrategist said:

Just to add to what I started, i am currently a premium member, but only recently. My style of geocaching has been quite basic as I described earlier. Pocket queries and the like is not something I have used before, so I've had a quick look. It looks like I'll need to study some of the tutorials to work out how to do it, and get it to my GPS.

I may be a bit of a luddite, but I prefer a GPS rather than a smart phone, so finding an easy way to continue using it is what I would prefer.

You must try Pocket Queries!  They are kind of strange to use at first, but otherwise not hard once you get the idea.  Almost all of mine are just the location (such as a central cache) for where I plan to go, "Max 1000 Caches", and PQ name, no special "filters".  Three are set to run twice a week automatically, so I always have fresh files to load. 

I download, unzip, and place the GPX files.  I don't enjoy messing around with "plug-ins".  But I did keep "Garmin Communicator" functioning (until that became pretty much impossible), as a personal challenge.

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My experience is that geocaching seems a lot easier than it did when I started. Of course, when I started, I had no GPSr, and smartphones didn't exist yet. I used Google maps and satellite images, and I took notes on a PDA that had no wireless internet.

 

When I use my eXplorist, I just copy a GPX file to it, treating the eXplorist like a thumb drive. It's actually pretty easy to create a PQ from a bookmark list (when I'm being selective), or to create a PQ centered on a specific cache (when I want all the traditional caches in the area). Then I run the PQ, download the GPX file, and copy the GPX file to the eXplorist. When I'm done, I upload the field notes drafts to the web site the same way.

 

When I use my smartphone, it's even easier. I just tell it which PQ to download and it does it. And it uploads my field notes drafts automatically. I don't need to fiddle with a USB cable at all.

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21 minutes ago, Geostrategist said:

Just to add to what I started, i am currently a premium member, but only recently. My style of geocaching has been quite basic as I described earlier. Pocket queries and the like is not something I have used before, so I've had a quick look. It looks like I'll need to study some of the tutorials to work out how to do it, and get it to my GPS.

I may be a bit of a luddite, but I prefer a GPS rather than a smart phone, so finding an easy way to continue using it is what I would prefer.

Kunarion gave a couple of good options. 

Similar to NanCycle, I still cache the same way I did ever since I upgraded from my old blue legend (still have it) to my (also long-discontinued) 60cxs, but I load caches manually . 

 Used my phone (caching) so little that I haven't even bothered to load the new app yet (looking at newer phones anyway).

Hasn't been an issue (for me) yet.   :)

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2 hours ago, The Leprechauns said:

From my perspective, it's easier now to plan a geocaching trip and load the information I need to get outside.  The main reasons are improvements in the mapping and search tools, and the ability to access bookmark lists on my smartphone.  I also use GSAK and Project-GC extensively.  The contrast in API functionality today vs. ten years ago is like night and day.

Of course, everything I mentioned requires premium membership.  Once you've committed to the hobby to the point where you're trying to plan days out, the time is ripe to upgrade to premium.

If one uses GSAK, that also requires a payment of $30 in addition to the premium membership fee* and it only works on a PC unless you're willing to jump through some additional hoops by installing dual-boot software, virtual machine (got a Windows license too?) or an emulator such as Wine just so that you can run that one application.  

* I know that GSAK can be downloaded and run for free but the nag screen makes it increasingly less pleasant the longer it's used.  

GSAK certainly does make things easier (once one has learned how to use it) but it's not without it's costs.  

 

 

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10 minutes ago, NYPaddleCacher said:

If one uses GSAK, that also requires a payment of $30 in addition to the premium membership fee

 

 

Worth noting it's "per version number" i.e. V7.xx, V8.xxx. I started using V7.xx in 2006 and am now on V8.7.1.27 which means I've now spend a whopping $5/year on GSAK which in turn is less than I spend on fuel for ONE cachingtrip B).

 

 

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3 hours ago, Geostrategist said:

I've been geocaching on off for several years, and have become frustrated at how difficult it is to  accomplish these days.

 

 

When I started in 2006, I used the website, a $30 premium membership, my GPSMap 60csx, and GSAK.

Now in 2017, I use the website, a $30 premium membership, my new GPSMap 62s, and GSAK (now with API capabilities). I also use my smartphone, the official app, an unofficial app Cachly, and Project GC. Things are so much better and easier than before. The toughest part is deciding which of the above tools to use today.

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4 hours ago, kunarion said:

Microsoft Windows 10 comes with Internet Explorer.

 If you want to use IE with Windows 10, you'll have to do a search for it. They buried it without giving you a shortcut link to it. I assume so that you'd use Edge rather than IE. It's there...just hidden.

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When I started back in 2001 it was either print the caches out, or manually write the coordinates for each one in some sort of notebook (or manually enter them one at at time into a GPS). I still have my original spiral bound notebook that tracked the logging of my first 200 finds. Much easier these days.

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In the 15 years since starting, I find it a lot easier now than before. Many ways to skin that proverbial cat.

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Having started in 2003, I feel it's less difficult now both for a newcomer to get involved and an experienced cacher to continue along. 

With a phone based option, and I happen to really like Cachly, spur of the moment caching is easier. Take out your phone and find a cache. That was harder or impossible back in the earlier days without pre-loading caches for the area onto your GPS.

For non-spur of the moment caching, in the old days GSAK was a must-have tool for planning. I still have GSAK but I typically use it less for planning and rely more on Project-GC as I can typically perform many of the same planning without pre-downloading all the caches. Yes, you can download into GSAK dynamically for an area you don't already have covered in your database, but for me, all the data is on Project-GC all the time. I can scan the PGC map, look for areas that I might be interested in, add caches to a bookmark list right from the map, and then in Cachly, download the caches in the bookmark list in a very effective and user friendly way. I can also download the same bookmark list right to my Oregon 700 GPS. 

So for me, Geocaching is easier today.

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Anybody know a way to make Pocket Queries match Advanced Search? I can do Advanced Search of caches not found by me or another person. Is this possible in a  Pocket Query?

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56 minutes ago, flagray said:

Anybody know a way to make Pocket Queries match Advanced Search? I can do Advanced Search of caches not found by me or another person. Is this possible in a  Pocket Query?

Yes and no ;)

Not found by you, yes, not found by someone else, no.

 

 

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1 hour ago, flagray said:

Anybody know a way to make Pocket Queries match Advanced Search? I can do Advanced Search of caches not found by me or another person. Is this possible in a  Pocket Query?

One thing you could try is making a "List" of your search results.  Once you have a "List" of caches, then you can create a PQ of that List. This works if the search results include 1000 or less caches.

  • Run your search.
  • Click the checkbox at the top of the search results (left of "Geocache Name") to Select All.
  • Cick the "Add xxx to a List" button that's a bit higher on the page (below the banner image).
  • Enter you desired list name in the popup box that appears.
  • Click the "My Lists" button.
  • Select the list you just created, scroll to bottom, and click "Create Pocket Query".

Keep in mind though, that the List PQ will be a static list of caches - which is different than building a PQ based on criteria.  If you run a search to exclude caches you've found and create a list today, then find some caches tomorrow, and then run the PQ of the list next week - the PQ will include those caches you find tomorrow, since you added them to the list today (before you found them).  Hope that explanation makes sense.

Edited by noncentric

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Cachly on the iPhone is very easy to use. Also, you can save cache data using the Offline mode when you are in a place without cell service. I know the official app can also save caches offline, but the interface for Cachly is much more streamlined.  I think it is about $5 US in the app store.

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I'm not sure that I'm qualified to answer this, but I think it's already existing users, (especially those with many finds,) get used to the regular D/3 T/3 and start finding it easy, so when they hide their own, what may be like an easier D/2.5, may feel more like a D/3.5. But that's my guess, and I'm probably wrong.

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7 minutes ago, KMTAF said:

I'm not sure that I'm qualified to answer this, but I think it's already existing users, (especially those with many finds,) get used to the regular D/3 T/3 and start finding it easy, so when they hide their own, what may be like an easier D/2.5, may feel more like a D/3.5. But that's my guess, and I'm probably wrong.

 

Not sure I'm getting it, but all long-time cachers we know use the clayjar system to accurately figure D/T when placing caches.   :)

Others use the site's own, accurate system in the Help Center.

I'd think most people realize that what may seem a tougher hide to find for a new person, might be a typical day for one in the hobby a while.

Just like anything else, there's a learning curve...

Using either system attempts to keep things accurate for all.   It's up to you if you want to learn the various hide styles.

 

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22 minutes ago, KMTAF said:

I'm not sure that I'm qualified to answer this, but I think it's already existing users, (especially those with many finds,) get used to the regular D/3 T/3 and start finding it easy, so when they hide their own, what may be like an easier D/2.5, may feel more like a D/3.5. But that's my guess, and I'm probably wrong.

You're responding to a 3 year old thread and not answering the question that was asked.

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On 7/20/2017 at 1:17 PM, Geostrategist said:

Just to add to what I started, i am currently a premium member, but only recently. My style of geocaching has been quite basic as I described earlier. Pocket queries and the like is not something I have used before, so I've had a quick look. It looks like I'll need to study some of the tutorials to work out how to do it, and get it to my GPS.

I may be a bit of a luddite, but I prefer a GPS rather than a smart phone, so finding an easy way to continue using it is what I would prefer.

I read your other post as well and I hear exactly what you’re saying.  This weekend I couldn’t load any geocaches to my Garmin eTrex 20 because internet Explorer no longer works properly - they are phasing it out.  So now I have no idea how to load geocaches using Chrome or some other browser.  I’m determined to geocache so I loaded six geocaches manually so I could still go out and have fun.  But I am very frustrated!  

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1 hour ago, Ewe&Me said:

I read your other post as well and I hear exactly what you’re saying.  This weekend I couldn’t load any geocaches to my Garmin eTrex 20 because internet Explorer no longer works properly - they are phasing it out.  So now I have no idea how to load geocaches using Chrome or some other browser.  I’m determined to geocache so I loaded six geocaches manually so I could still go out and have fun.  But I am very frustrated!  

 

Probably the simplest way to load an Etrex 20 is by clicking "Download GPX", and saving the file into the Etrex's Garmin/GPX folder.  Yeah, try Brave instead, or some other modern browser.  I've just about completely managed to stop using IE, and use Brave unless there's some video that refuses to play.  In which case I temporarily switch to Chrome.

Be sure to manage the files, because there's a pretty low limit on the Etrex 20.

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Posted (edited)
On 7/21/2017 at 1:12 AM, Manville Possum said:

I didn't want to upgrade to a paperless GPS unit and GSAK, and was at the point of quitting when I gave the app a try and renewed my PM.

For me geocaching is a smart-phone game for premium members, and I believe that is HQ's intent. I just lost interest in using coordinates only, I need a cache page and past logs to keep the game interesting.

Past logs appear on my Garmin.

I too sadly think that HQ's intent is to get rid of players who prefer using a GPS; those whom the game was invented for. Coming and going muggles with apps are likely more profitable, than a few old 'fuddy-duddies' who find GPSs a whole lot less hassle. Who cares if 'chess' becomes 'draughts'. It's the same...isn't it!

Edited by Goldenwattle
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2 hours ago, Ewe&Me said:

 This weekend I couldn’t load any geocaches to my Garmin eTrex 20 because internet Explorer no longer works properly - they are phasing it out.

 

 

Using your computer, you can download lists of caches to your computer, then connect your Etrex-20 to your computer via a USB cable, and then transfer the files from the computer to the Etrex.

 

However, the Etrex only accepts GPX files, which are only available to Premium members.   But, as a Basic member, you CAN download LOC files, which contain the "bare necessities" for geocaching.  You can then utilize a number of free programs to convert the LOC file to a GPX file, and then it can be transferred to the Etrex.

 

Some programs that can convert LOC to GPX are:  GSAK, EasyGPX, GPSBabel, as well as others, and some of these programs have other useful capabilities for managing geocache data, and some can download the data directly to your Etrex (via usb cable).

 

If you were to upgrade to Premium membership,  you could then download GPX files directly from Geocaching.com, and then merely transfer the files to the Etrex as previously described, or with the same programs mentioned above (they work with GPX files too).

 

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2 minutes ago, TommyGator said:

However, the Etrex only accepts GPX files, which are only available to Premium members.   But, as a Basic member, you CAN download LOC files, which contain the "bare necessities" for geocaching.  You can then utilize a number of free programs to convert the LOC file to a GPX file, and then it can be transferred to the Etrex.

 

Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but my understanding is that basic members now get to download GPX files from the cache pages, with the LOC files being phased out at around the time browsers stopped supporting the Garmin Communicator plug-in.

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On 7/21/2017 at 12:35 AM, Geostrategist said:

Now, I can't download caches to my etrex

I use an Etrex 30 and can download caches to it. Individual files I download (in firefox) directly to my GPX folder, and bulk loads, I load the file there and then un-winzip it.

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2 minutes ago, barefootjeff said:

 

Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but my understanding is that basic members now get to download GPX files from the cache pages, with the LOC files being phased out at around the time browsers stopped supporting the Garmin Communicator plug-in.

 

That's true.  The "Download GPX" link on a cache page allows the download of one GPX file, which may be saved to a computer or directly saved to many models of Garmin GPS such as Etrex 20.  Save a GPX file into the "Garmin/GPX" folder on the GPS, no special software necessary.

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, Ewe&Me said:

 This weekend I couldn’t load any geocaches to my Garmin eTrex 20 because internet Explorer no longer works properly - they are phasing it out.

 So now I have no idea how to load geocaches using Chrome or some other browser.  I’m determined to geocache so I loaded six geocaches manually so I could still go out and have fun.  But I am very frustrated!  

 

Went from Windows 7 to  10,  and I've found the "new" edge better than IE, if that helps.   :)

But you could load caches manually while you're upgrading. How did you load your caches yesterday ?       

It'd take me around 12-15 minutes to enter all six, including hints, parking  n such on a notepad. 

About the same time as loading those files I bet.  ;)

 

Oops, saw you did load them manually (thinking about IE I guess; - ).  I've loaded caches that way since starting.  

Edited by cerberus1
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My first cache 10 years ago was done with an eXplorist GC and my last one was done with the same one I bought a decade ago. I use my phone from time to time but I prefer my GPSr.  I purchase a premium membership yearly and that's it. I quickly learned how to do pocket queries and I find geocaching no less accessible or difficult to do than it was 10 years ago. In fact the phone app gives more more flexibility because I can decide to fill some time caching even if I don't have my GPSr. 

So in fact, I find geocaching easier than ever.

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