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Unit473L

Electronic / digital TB?

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Probably an incredibly silly idea, but has anybody ever heard of an electronic and / or digital travel bug?

 

I don't see it being practical, since it would almost be a cell phone's worth of electronics stuffed into something going out into the wild, but I was thinking that this would be one way to have the TB log actual miles travelled, rather than calculating distances "as the crow flies" between caches. Plus it would need to actually travel out there rather than sitting in the drawer at home while the code is being logged.

 

I ask after reading an article about hitchBOT though I assume such a TB would end up with a similar fate. :(

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I think the idea is great. A cellphone's worth of electronics doesn't seem too large for a travelbug. The biggest technical issue I see is how you'd recover the data. Not many people would be willing to plug a random device into their computer's USB port, for example. (Power's also an issue, of course, but if you can't solve that one, you're not going anywhere.)

 

But the real problem is that TBs go missing far too often. I'd wish you the best, but I'd also caution you to be prepared for the typically high TB loss rate. You'll be very sorry unless you get the costs down low enough that you consider each and every TB expendable. In my opinion, you're goal should be to be amazed when one out of 20 actually gets somewhere and gives you interesting data. If you go to a lot of trouble to send out one, I'm afraid you'll likely be disappointed. If that sounds like the situation, you might want to try it, but just as a TB you always carry around with you, not one you release into the wilderness. And even if you're willing to lose them, you'll probably want to carry the first one around with you for a while to see how it works.

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Power is the first big hurdle, a bigger battery won't help if it's sitting in a cache for a year or two!

 

If it had cell data, then it could report back each day / week / month (as appropriate), until it hit an area with poor reception and drained its battery trying to get a signal (or was put in an all-metal container ... like an ammo can!)

 

But the biggest killer would be people. Standard TB's go missing pretty quickly (I think your 19 out of 20 estimate is a bit low), I'd imagine an electronic one would go missing even faster.

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2 hours ago, Unit473L said:

Power is the first big hurdle, a bigger battery won't help if it's sitting in a cache for a year or two!

 

If it had cell data, then it could report back each day / week / month (as appropriate), until it hit an area with poor reception and drained its battery trying to get a signal (or was put in an all-metal container ... like an ammo can!)

I think it would have to be designed to go idle when it wasn't physically moving, for one thing. And you'd definitely have to tweak things so that not getting a signal is taken as an important piece of information. Most devices take not getting a signal as meaning that they should try harder and harder to find one.

 

2 hours ago, Unit473L said:

But the biggest killer would be people. Standard TB's go missing pretty quickly (I think your 19 out of 20 estimate is a bit low), I'd imagine an electronic one would go missing even faster.

I could be wrong, but my guess is that being a fancy electronic gizmo would work in the TBs favor, however slightly. I think TBs that invoke the "PRETTY!!" response are the ones that disappear because of what they are. If anything, a fancy electronic gadget would encourage people to pay more attention and treat it with more respect. Alas, I also think most TBs disappear for reasons that have nothing to do with what they are or what they look like....

 

2 hours ago, Unit473L said:

(I think your 19 out of 20 estimate is a bit low)

I was trying not to be too discouraging. :-)

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Spitballing, I wonder how hard it would be to rig up some type of 3D-printed "funky" case, the guts of an old smartphone for brains and something like the LiPo battery out of an RC car for power? Though the next person to pick it up wouldn't be too happy about the long charge time.

 

The phone would only need to be smart enough to run the logging software, so older hardware running some flavour of Linux could do it. I wonder how hard it would be to make it "talk" to the person that picks it up, make a bit interactive? Maybe have a single, big button in the middle and when someone pushes that, it "wakes up" until it detects no motion, no signal, or some other variables to denote "stop paying attention and go back to sleep"..

 

I don't think I have the smarts to do something of this caliber, but would be kind of cool to do. I wonder if it would have better results than poor hitchBOT did, travelling in geocaching circles rather than the general public?

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9 hours ago, Unit473L said:

Spitballing, I wonder how hard it would be to rig up some type of 3D-printed "funky" case, the guts of an old smartphone for brains and something like the LiPo battery out of an RC car for power? Though the next person to pick it up wouldn't be too happy about the long charge time.

 

The phone would only need to be smart enough to run the logging software, so older hardware running some flavour of Linux could do it. I wonder how hard it would be to make it "talk" to the person that picks it up, make a bit interactive? Maybe have a single, big button in the middle and when someone pushes that, it "wakes up" until it detects no motion, no signal, or some other variables to denote "stop paying attention and go back to sleep"..

 

Sorry, but just like all the gadget caches we find dismantled, you're assuming that others might give a rat's you-know-what about charging the gizmo. 

 - And on their dime.   :D

Just needs a battery from the finder to work.  We've replaced button batteries when hundreds of tiny coleman lanterns were around.  

 - But we're seeing long-time players not able to close cache containers. That's not even something that requires major thought. 

Great ideas like this depend on humans.   What could go wrong ?   :laughing:

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On 9/23/2020 at 4:09 AM, Unit473L said:

Probably an incredibly silly idea, but has anybody ever heard of an electronic and / or digital travel bug?

 

I don't see it being practical, since it would almost be a cell phone's worth of electronics stuffed into something going out into the wild, but I was thinking that this would be one way to have the TB log actual miles travelled, rather than calculating distances "as the crow flies" between caches. Plus it would need to actually travel out there rather than sitting in the drawer at home while the code is being logged.

 

Maybe if the Official App was designed to record the total distance, and if the TB was RFID, and if the App and phone could read AND then write to that RFID chip as the TB is dropped, the TB could then hold the distance within its own memory.  This requires no battery charging for the TB, and makes it light and compact.  But the diligence required of Takers... the technology required... yeah, I dunno about that.  I truly believe that TPTB do brainstorm cool ideas, and if anything of the sort could work, they'd manufacture it.  They made the "QR Code TBs", and that might be about as complex a TB device as the average Geocacher could manage.

 

Just please don't do that funky container with circuitry and the RC car battery.  We don't need the excitement of the authorities finding that thing in a hole in the wall next to the court house when a cacher couldn't fit it into the Micro cache there. :ph34r:

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6 hours ago, kunarion said:

We don't need the excitement of the authorities finding that thing

 

Why, what could possibly go wrong? :laughing:

 

6 hours ago, cerberus1 said:

...just like all the gadget caches we find dismantled...

 

Yeah, there's a reason why we can't have nice things. :(

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8 hours ago, cerberus1 said:

 

Sorry, but just like all the gadget caches we find dismantled, you're assuming that others might give a rat's you-know-what about charging the gizmo. 

 - And on their dime.   :D

Just needs a battery from the finder to work.  We've replaced button batteries when hundreds of tiny coleman lanterns were around.  

 - But we're seeing long-time players not able to close cache containers. That's not even something that requires major thought. 

Great ideas like this depend on humans.   What could go wrong ?   :laughing:

This is something that requires a foolproof invention.

Then along comes a better fool.:(

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