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merendo

Multicache with lots of electronics

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Hello everyone, 

I want to do a multicache with lots of electronics (because.). I have developed a concept for the individual stations and I'd like to hear/read your thoughts about them.

 

One of the stations is going to show you a random sequence of numbers (0 to 9), which you must then repeat, in order. If you get it right, the cache will show you the coordinates for the next destination. If not: try again. I've already developed the electronics for this (mostly) and put it in a short video: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=SYv3bPrmidU

 

The next cache is a bit like the popular game "Hot wire" (we call it "heißer Draht" in Germany, not entirely sure what it's called in English). It's a flat circuit board with a track on it with lots of curves and bends - you have to touch a metal probe tip on the track and move it all the way from beginning to end without veering off the track, in a certain amount of time. If you do lose contact with the track, you'll lose seconds (Kind of like this: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=mpYdLgVgU5M&t=50 - it's in German but it'll give you a general idea). If you beat a certain time, you get the coordinates of he next destination, otherwise, try again. 

 

The next one, I'm not entirely sure about, it would be rather expensive to do and require a lot of time and effort. You'd be shown a 'playing field' of electronic logic gates (AND, OR, XOR and NOT), which you would have to connect in a certain way to get a certain output state (from a set of fixed input states). The playing field could be static (easier) or randomly generated each time (expensive and laborious). Again, success means coordinates to the next cache (or final cache) and failure means, try again. 

 

I was thinking that each of the caches could have three levels of difficulty. The difficulty could either be chosen at each cache (and changed at will), or I could set up a small website where the user has to select a difficulty in advance, and then be given a code which contains the difficulty (encrypted) - the user would then have to enter the code on the first cache and be given a new code each time, which each subsequent cache will accept and understand. That way, the user would have to stick with one level of difficulty all the way through (or start from scratch) - and, by means of the final code, which they'd have to post in the log online, I could verify if they actually completed the whole thing at the difficulty they say the did.

 

So, what do you think? I know I could do the electronics and the software no problem, but do you think this would be a Multicache people would appreciate and enjoy?

 

Cheers! 

 

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I think people would enjoy it, but there are some things to keep in mind:

 

1 - I would think that electronics won't do well out of doors for long periods because of humidity, condensation, etc. You will want to keep this in mind when designing the caches.

 

2 - I don't know if you would be allowed to do the difficulty predetermination sign-up with a code thing. I THINK you aren't allowed to make people download software, etc. , but I could be misremembering. Maybe someone could explore this side of the question more...

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Posted (edited)
48 minutes ago, TriciaG said:

I don't know if you would be allowed to do the difficulty predetermination sign-up with a code thing.

 

You can require finders to sign-up for an external website, though I don't think it'll be necessary (merendo seems to suggest it'll just be a website with (a) enter your username (b) enter your desired difficulty level; and then they'll get their "code.")

 

Geocaching Guidelines > Geocache Page > Cache Owner Responsibilities

A cache page that requires one or more of the following will generally not be published:

  • Create an account with another website.
  • Provide personal information to another website (excluding email address and username).

 

---

 

3 hours ago, merendo said:

the final code, which they'd have to post in the log online, I could verify if they actually completed the whole thing at the difficulty they say the did.

 

That would be an ALR ("additional logging requirement"), which is illegal. You can, though, kindly request finders to include their code in their online log. 

 

Geocaching Guidelines > Geocache Page > Physical Caches

For physical caches other than challenge caches, any additional logging requirement (ALR) beyond finding the cache and signing the log must be optional. Caches can be logged online as "Found" after the geocacher has visited the coordinates and signed the logbook. 

 

Edited by Hügh
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3 hours ago, merendo said:

I could verify if they actually completed the whole thing at the difficulty they say the did.

Difficulty ratings are not something finders earn, or something cache owners bestow upon them. Difficulty ratings are a way for cache owners to communicate the general nature of the geocaching experience to potential seekers.

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7 hours ago, merendo said:

I want to do a multicache with lots of electronics (because.). I have developed a concept for the individual stations and I'd like to hear/read your thoughts about them.

 

 

I feel there will be some who'll have great enthusiasm about this.   :)

Some will have the patience of a saint, others will destroy whatever they get their hands on to "make it work" for that smiley.

The last three gadgets where I was at GZ were beaten all to heck, taken apart to access the log.  All premium members...

I don't advise "expensive" unless you can afford to replace it JIC (archive a possibility too...).   

Requiring something to "verify" folks did it as you intended  (by their difficulty) is an ALR.

 

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Posted (edited)

Wow, thanks for all the feedback :) I should have come here a long time ago.

 

Ok, so, I can see that the difficulty level via a code is going to be, well, difficult. How about if I make it optional, so it's not a requirement for logging, but something people can provide if they chose to? Of course, I wouldn't ask people for any personal information or require them to set up an account or anything like that. I'd just set up a minimal website (text only, so it works on poor Internet connectivity out in the wild) to generate a code which holds the difficulty level and a randomly generated ID. The ID would be retained through each cache stage, and at the end, people who do want to brag about having done the cache on difficult, would have to post both the code which the website spat out Initially, as well as the code generated by the final stage. That way, I could check if they completed all the stages and check if both codes belong to the same individual. I don't think I'd even have to ask them for their geocaching name. Of course, that does beg the question of what to do if the IDs in the codes don't match but people do insist they completed the cache honestly on difficult... I might drop the entire idea after all. 

 

Of course I would design the electronics in such a way that they can survive outdoors for a long time (including temperatures of -30°C which we do sometimes see here in winter).

 

And yes, I agree that vandalism is a problem. I wouldn't put the final stage (with the actual log) in a locked container, just a regular cache container so people have no reason to use force. The other stages would be electronics only, which, when vandalised, don't do anything so people would shoot themselves in the foot by trying to get to the coordinates of the next stage by force. Whether or not that kind of people can see that, is of course a different question... I was also thinking about making an electronic log with an ESP8266, via WiFi, as some people have done - not sure about that yet. If I did that, I would put the ESP8266 somewhere completely inaccessible and power it with solar panels... 

Edited by merendo

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4 minutes ago, merendo said:

How about if I make it optional, so it's not a requirement for logging, but something people can provide if they chose to?

 

That is how HQ told me when I asked this question. Actually, HQ told me that it is possible to have alternative way to log but the cache must have a traditional logbook.

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9 minutes ago, merendo said:

Of course, that does beg the question of what to do if the IDs in the codes don't match but people do insist they completed the cache honestly... 

If the name is in the physical log, then there isn't much you can do.

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8 minutes ago, niraD said:

If the name is in the physical log, then there isn't much you can do.

Well, if the name is in the log, that only means they completed the cache. It doesn't tell me which difficulty they selected. 

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3 hours ago, arisoft said:

 

That is how HQ told me when I asked this question. Actually, HQ told me that it is possible to have alternative way to log but the cache must have a traditional logbook.

Okay, that's great. Thanks. 

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Posted (edited)

Okay, so here's what I'm gonna do. I'm going to ditch the idea of a difficulty code altogether. Instead, I'll let people choose a difficulty at each stage (which they can also change if they want to) and then, when they've completed that stage, show a message on the display, like 'Congratulations on completing this stage on: Hard'. People can then snap a picture of that message with their phones and attach that to the final log, if they want to, but that's entirely optional. That way, it's not a requirement, there is good enough proof of the difficulty level and if someone wishes to spend the time and energy to Photoshop the word 'Hard' into a picture which originally read 'Easy', then so be it. I think that's safest. 

 

What I'm also gonna do is, ask for three successive sequence of numbers, instead of just one (one seems meager). On easy, the sequences could be four, then five and then six digits long. On medium, six digits, then seven and then eight. On hard, eight digits, nine and then ten (which is really tough). What do you think? 

Edited by merendo

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1 hour ago, merendo said:

What do you think? 

Sounds awesome!

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17 hours ago, merendo said:

heißer Draht

 

I have seen this done as a lab cache at the past two mega events I've attended, one in Bonn, the other in southern Hessen.  It was probably the same lab cache.  I do not know who built it.

 

 

17 hours ago, merendo said:

If you do lose contact with the track, you'll lose seconds.  If you beat a certain time, you get the coordinates of he next destination, otherwise, try again.

 

I like your idea better than the lab cache version - for the lab cache, if you touched the wire you had to start over.  I never got it.  Good thing I'm not a surgeon!

 

These all sound like great ideas, and I am envious for your fellow cachers in the Allgäu who will get to play them.  The only concern I would have is integrity and security.  They'll need to be kept pretty dry, and they'll need to be someplace that they will not be taken or reported to the Polizei.  I think I would backwards plan: start by identifying the area where you want these to go, and then figuring out how you're going to keep the electronics out of the weather, and then planning how your hides are going to fit those two parameters.

 

Good luck! I hope they work well and get lots of favorite points.

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Creating a multi cache with several electronic stages might seem like a good idea until just one becomes unavailable, making the entire cache unavailable.   There's a well known geocacher in the states know for the gadget caches he creates,  but (as far as I know) each gadget is for s distinct cache.   Check out some of the examples from WVTim on his youtube channel

 

I could see each of the electronic caches you're suggesting being even more popular as distinct caches and would quickly become popular as a series of caches to be done.  That would also allow you to develop and improve upon some of the design and created higher and lower difficulty versions (rather than develop a web site to determine difficulty).  

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Posted (edited)
6 hours ago, hzoi said:

 

I have seen this done as a lab cache at the past two mega events I've attended, one in Bonn, the other in southern Hessen.  It was probably the same lab cache.  I do not know who built it.

 

 

 

I like your idea better than the lab cache version - for the lab cache, if you touched the wire you had to start over.  I never got it.  Good thing I'm not a surgeon!

 

These all sound like great ideas, and I am envious for your fellow cachers in the Allgäu who will get to play them.  The only concern I would have is integrity and security.  They'll need to be kept pretty dry, and they'll need to be someplace that they will not be taken or reported to the Polizei.  I think I would backwards plan: start by identifying the area where you want these to go, and then figuring out how you're going to keep the electronics out of the weather, and then planning how your hides are going to fit those two parameters.

 

Good luck! I hope they work well and get lots of favorite points.

Haha, thanks for the vote of confidence. If ever you do come to the Allgäu, you can have a go at the caches (and of course, there are many other good reasons to spend some time in the Allgäu ;) ) I do intend to make the entire design openly available to anyone who wants in, in the spirit of open software and hardware. And yes, I would certainly clear the cache locations with the proper authorities to avoid any hazzle that way. 

Edited by merendo

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3 hours ago, NYPaddleCacher said:

Creating a multi cache with several electronic stages might seem like a good idea until just one becomes unavailable, making the entire cache unavailable.   There's a well known geocacher in the states know for the gadget caches he creates,  but (as far as I know) each gadget is for s distinct cache.   Check out some of the examples from WVTim on his youtube channel

 

I could see each of the electronic caches you're suggesting being even more popular as distinct caches and would quickly become popular as a series of caches to be done.  That would also allow you to develop and improve upon some of the design and created higher and lower difficulty versions (rather than develop a web site to determine difficulty).  

Indeed, the interdependency is a point I hadn't considered yet. I could certainly make each cache independent, but place them such that they make a nice round trip. Good idea. 

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OK folks, I need your honest opinion. Do you think I should drop the idea of the various levels of difficulty altogether and simply give each stage one level of difficulty, plain and simple?

 

As I wrote above, I've already dropped the idea of a difficulty code, which would have meant people can't change the difficulty. What I would still like to do is give people a choice of a few difficulty levels at each stage (which they can also change as they please) - it wouldn't affect the outcome in any way, the difficulty would be purely for the vanity of people and so they can give themselves more or less of a challenge. The end result would always be the same.

 

I think in some cases, various levels of difficulty would make perfect sense - particularly with the "heiße Bahn" stage, where it would be tricky to find a time limit which would be suitable for everybody. Some people with very fine motor skills would find a certain timelimit boring and without challenge while others (say, those with diminished motor functions such as some elderly people) would find it near impossible to make that time at all. Giving people a choice of difficulty would solve that problem.

 

What do you think?

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1 minute ago, merendo said:

OK folks, I need your honest opinion. Do you think I should drop the idea of the various levels of difficulty altogether and simply give each stage one level of difficulty, plain and simple?

Yes.

 

I think it's fine to have multiple routes to the final. I've seen puzzles and multi-caches structured like that. For that matter, I've seen puzzle caches brute-forced, and I've seen puzzle caches solved in ways the owner did not originally intend. And I've seen multi-caches completed even when stages were missing, taking an alternate approach to reaching the final.

 

 

But I don't think it's a good idea to structure alternate routes as though one. is somehow "better" than another.

 

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Choices can be good.  I had a cache - Choices - that used three different ways to the final - low tech (compass sightings), normal tech (standard multicache) and high tech (project a waypoint).  Some did all three just for fun, others just used the way that was easiest for them - which is my point, most will probably take the easier route.  But some will take on the challenge of higher difficulty. 

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18 hours ago, merendo said:

OK folks, I need your honest opinion. Do you think I should drop the idea of the various levels of difficulty altogether and simply give each stage one level of difficulty, plain and simple?

 

As I wrote above, I've already dropped the idea of a difficulty code, which would have meant people can't change the difficulty. What I would still like to do is give people a choice of a few difficulty levels at each stage (which they can also change as they please) - it wouldn't affect the outcome in any way, the difficulty would be purely for the vanity of people and so they can give themselves more or less of a challenge. The end result would always be the same.

 

I think in some cases, various levels of difficulty would make perfect sense - particularly with the "heiße Bahn" stage, where it would be tricky to find a time limit which would be suitable for everybody. Some people with very fine motor skills would find a certain timelimit boring and without challenge while others (say, those with diminished motor functions such as some elderly people) would find it near impossible to make that time at all. Giving people a choice of difficulty would solve that problem.

 

What do you think?

 

The only issue that I can see is what do you choose for a difficulty level for the published listing.   

 

I have encountered the same thing when trying to figure out what to assign for a terrain rating.  I have a cache that is accessible by scrambling up a somewhat steep hill or "taking the long way" on a fairly flat, but longer trail.  The finder can choose either route but the effort to navigate to the cache is quite different depending on which choice they make.  I decided to go with a lower terrain rating and a couple of the early finders thought it was under rated.  

 

I can still suggest that you can have multiple difficulty levels simply by placing more than one cache.   The solving of the field puzzle can be fundamentally the same, but one cache might be configured to be a 4D while another a 2D.   Someone with diminished motor functions might not be able to do the 4D cache but could do the 2D one.  On the other hand, having a 2-3 position switch that a finder can use to set the difficulty would allow one to solve the puzzle at the lowest setting, then try the harder levels just for fun.

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21 hours ago, merendo said:

Do you think I should drop the idea of the various levels of difficulty altogether and simply give each stage one level of difficulty, plain and simple?

 

I don't have an opinion either way.

 

If you feel strongly about it, you can do it.  There's no real way to enforce it, since the listing on geocaching.com is only going to reflect one difficulty rating.

 

I suppose you could, in theory, give people the option of messaging you a confirmation code for completing the cache on advanced levels of difficulty, and then set up a Hall of Fame or Ehrentafel on the cache page to recognize those who have completed it on those higher levels of difficulty.

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Posted (edited)

Alright everyone, thanks for your feedback and honest opinions.

 

I'm going to get rid of the concept of difficulties. At least, as distinct levels. What I'm going to do instead is let people try one level of difficulty first (I'm not going to call it that though), say, give them a number sequence of a certain length. If they fail to complete that stage with that length of the number sequence twice, say, the software will quietly reduce the length of the sequence, making the stage easier. That way, everybody gets a fair chance and if someone completes the stage at the initial "difficulty", they will never know. Same idea with the "hot circuit board track", I'm gonna let people try to beat one time limit first, then, if they can't do that, give them more time (again, quietly, without expressly telling them "New difficulty level for you because you keep being too slow..."). That way, there really won't be any reason to say that the cache has several levels of difficulty. Each stage will simply adapt itself to whoever is doing it and try to give them a fair chance.

 

I'm also going to put a label of some kind somewhere out of plain sight on each stage with the coordinates of the next stage. That way, just in case the electronics do fail for any reason, people can still get the coordinates of the next stage. Hopefully, it will also stop morons from trying to brute-force the stage, trying to get at the coordinates of the next stage by force. Once they look at how they can get into the box, they'll discover the label and hopefully just be on their way.

Edited by merendo

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