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Fake GeoCoins


Unit473L
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Posted (edited)

Apologies for the click-baity title!

 

I have some TB's that I'm going to be releasing, but instead of just sending out a simple bit of metal I wanted to "jazz them up" a bit with my own designs. I can't afford to do a run of custom GeoCoins (and fifty of the same could be a little boring in our small town), so I made some wooden ones by printing out some designs and gluing them onto some wooden discs.

 

Hyu6Nlo.png

 

Relatively simple to do, here's the procedure (I remembered to take photos of most of the steps):

 

4G9Jq8W.png

 

(If the images are too big, please let me know and I'll edit them)

 

With the last step being to seal them up in case when they get wet. Nowhere near as good as a proper geocoin (I did think of adding some metal for weight, but that was too complex).

 

These are actually the fourth attempt; the first three sets came up with really mediocre results. The first was using packing tape over the paper design (tape started peeling on garden resilience testing), the second was toner transfer (my printer wasn't putting down enough toner) and the third was the same as above but using wood varnish (no good because the varnish soaked into the paper and made the designs blotchy). For this fourth attempt I went out and bought a pot of Mod Podge specifically for this which put my costs up a bit (most everything else was from stuff I already had) but I can use it on other projects.

 

(Edit 25 July 2021 - the combination of Mod Podge and sealer is reported to start getting "tacky" in the heat. The above process works, I'll experiment with other sealers - though I don't recommend standard Mod Podge. Probably best to avoid water based glue / sealer.)

 

All four have similar designs on the back with a quick bit of text, the TB code and "log at geocaching.com" on them.

 

Overall I'm relatively happy with how these came out, there was a bit of time and effort involved though the majority of the time was waiting for layers to dry. Plus there was a bit of a learning curve as I found what wasn't working and had to keep re-starting.

 

I wanted to share these here in case it inspires someone else to do something similar, or create a proxy for a TB that has been MIA for too long and wants to be resurrected. :grin:

 

Edit: Dang, just realised Step 2 is meant to say "plaster putty". :wacko:

Edited by Unit473L
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Posted (edited)

Those look nice! :P

I also can't stand making a whole lot of exactly the same design. I make one and I'm already changing it.  The only thing I made all the same was 500 wooden nickels, professionally "minted".  Be sure to include a lot of "This Is A Travel Bug" or "This Is A Trackable Item" and as much info as you can about tracking them.  A lot of people find things, get confused, and they don't ever ask.

 

Doesn't "Modge Podge" dissolve in water?  While I was reasearching coatings, that was specifically mentioned.  I know there are various kinds of Modge Podge, so if it works outdoors, lemme know which kind it is.

 

I bought "Judykins Dimensional Diamond Glaze" because that was recommended instead of Modge Podge.  And after I placed about 100 sig items with coated paper tags, I found crafters' posts about "Diamond Glaze" dissolving in water :wacko:.  Now I'm trying two different products, neither are water-based craft "glue" style coatings.  I can post the results if you're interested.

 

However, my Diamond Glaze coated paper may be holding up pretty well.  I had a keychain with a coated paper sticker, and a cacher left it out of its cache box, in the rain in its ziplock bag that then filled with nasty water for 3 weeks.  It dried just fine, and the coating seemed unaffected.  If I could instead use Modge Podge (without later discovering that it in fact melts eventually in water), I'd rather use that.  It's much easier to find.

 

 

Edited by kunarion
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Posted (edited)

I think what you're doing is great! But a couple of things stood out for me: wood and paper. I realize that you want to keep costs down, but why deal with inherently porous materials? You could - only suggestions - use a plastic disk - like a poker chip, or more costly an aluminum disk. And there are water resistant and water-proof label materials suitable for (especially) laser printers. Worst come to worst you glue a printed waterproof material onto aluminum with something like contact cement and have nothing to soak up water and no further steps.

 

What do you think?

Edited by Jimrky
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The title of this thread is really horrible if you're the one creating them...    They're simply coin proxies.  Look nice. :)

I guess if you're in an arid environment, paper (?) glued to wood might hold up.   

They'd swell, and fare no better the laminated paper tags here. 

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7 hours ago, kunarion said:

Doesn't "Modge Podge" dissolve in water?

 

Yes, I used the basic stuff to glue the paper down and do the initial seal over the top, then sealed it with spray-on acrylic outdoor furniture sealer. I think I ended up with two coats of Mod Podge and three coats of sealer. The sealer I used is Dulux Duramax which is supposed to be pretty good for wooden outdoor stuff. Assuming it doesn't get scratched on a sharp edge somewhere, breaking the seal and letting the water in. I've heard people suggesting nail varnish as being relatively robust, or mixing up some epoxy resin / UV resin but I don't have either available..

 

4 hours ago, Jimrky said:

You could - only suggestions - use a plastic disk - like a poker chip, or more costly an aluminum disk.

 

Totally agree. My preference is to make TB proxies in etched aluminium though my current method isn't working as well as I'd like (correction - the results are pretty good, it's the hours of prep and lead up work that I'm trying to streamline). I also tried simple letter and number steel punch on aluminium which is great for making a quick and easy proxy (about six minutes for this one) but I need to slow down and use some guides or something to help keep the lettering even. I'd also really like to make things by melting and recycling HDPE plastic but that's better for swag than TB's (mass produce the same thing over and over again once the mold is made). Due to my wife having lung issues I'm reluctant to do anything that will generate a lot of chemical fumes. Which also takes resin casting off the table.

 

4 hours ago, Jimrky said:

What do you think?

 

I'd prefer to, as you suggest, use water resistant / proof labels, but my main consideration is keeping costs down. If I can buy a standard TB for AUD$9 (average price to get one shipped here in northern Australia) and it's going to cost me $10 or more to make the proxy, then I may as well just send out the original TB. I have scrap aluminium and the punch set, so that method is almost free for me. I had some leftover sheet wood, sealer and paint from another project, so I wanted to use those up on something - hence this idea. The most expensive part of these was the mod podge, which I can use on other projects as well. On my math, these cost me just shy of $2 each to produce (plus the cost of the TB's, but I keep those at home and only send proxies out). It would have been less, but I had the first couple of attempts that didn't work out.

 

Unless I factor in my time, then they would be horribly expensive and it would be cheaper to just go to a laser engraving place and get them to make some professional ones with their industrial laser. That would be pretty cool! But with this method, I still have a lot of material left over, so if I wanted to make another dozen it would almost be free (other than time and buying TB codes) and the cost of printing the designs onto paper. Plus I also take pleasure in making things and trying out new methods.

 

3 hours ago, cerberus1 said:

The title of this thread is really horrible if you're the one creating them...

 

Agreed, which is why I started my first post with an apology. It's my old sales training rearing it's ugly head - make the headline attention-grabbing, anger-inducing or have an error and people will talk about it. Very rude of me. :bad:

 

3 hours ago, cerberus1 said:

They'd swell, and fare no better the laminated paper tags here.

 

Also agreed, but the average life expectancy of a TB around here is 3 - three months or three caches - then they disappear. If these are travelling long enough to start deteriorating from age or the elements then I'll be delightfully surprised. At which point I can either create a new one to re-release or post a replacement out to whoever has the old one.

 

Overall I'm mostly happy with how these turned out and I'll be releasing them soon. I did make a deliberate mistake in that they don't have a hole to add a hitch hiker, because I figured if I left a hole through the wood with a ball chain, it would rub and cut open the seal - leading to water, swelling and destruction. I don't think I'll be making any more in this style anytime soon (maybe next year?) but I am looking for other options on how to make low-cost, durable proxies that can travel around. I got hold of some nice scrap 3mm (1/8in) aluminium which could make some nice GeoCoins, but I don't have the tooling to work with this size material yet.

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4 hours ago, Unit473L said:

The sealer I used is Dulux Duramax which is supposed to be pretty good for wooden outdoor stuff. Assuming it doesn't get scratched on a sharp edge somewhere, breaking the seal and letting the water in. I've heard people suggesting nail varnish as being relatively robust, or mixing up some epoxy resin / UV resin but I don't have either available.

 

I have a UV resin in a couple of small nail-polish sized bottles.  It seemed OK, except it peels off in one piece if chipped.  For my small sig items, now I'm trying a special "pure" super glue brand "Mercury Adhesives" in the "Medium Flex" style, as a coating.  I have sprays similar to "Dulux Duramax", and I sprayed my wooden nickels so maybe they will stay nice longer in the bottom of a cache box.

 

Your "Fake Geocoins" aren't like tags to be attached to something?  Some of my Geocoins that lasted longest in the wilds were just the coin by itself, no baggie, no included info, just the loose coin.  This one is still going strong after 6 years!

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18 hours ago, kunarion said:

It seemed OK, except it peels off in one piece if chipped.

 

Good to know, I hadn't bought any yet. Have you had a chance to play with epoxy resin? It's pretty expensive to get shipped in to Darwin, it seems like it should be stronger.

 

18 hours ago, kunarion said:

Your "Fake Geocoins" aren't like tags to be attached to something?

 

No, they're just pure discs with no attachment points. My preference is to add a hitch hiker, though for these I'll be sending them out as-is to see how it goes. That's pretty impressive that your coin has been going so long - nice! I'll be curious to see how long these last.

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Posted (edited)

Quote Unit473L: "If I can buy a standard TB for AUD$9 (average price to get one shipped here in northern Australia) and it's going to cost me $10 or more to make the proxy, then I may as well just send out the original TB. "

 

Ah! Location, Location, Location? In the US we can get aluminum disks for about $0.40USD each in small quantity (plastic just 1/4 the price). I would have thought your proximity to China might produce lower prices for you, but I am NO expert on Australian import duties and fees, nor freight or for that matter market prices (the only time I send something to a friend in Oz it took 3 months to get there!). Likewise on the label stock. Here I could make custom printed items such as this for less than $0.50USD  apiece all materials (landed costs) considered in small quantity.

 

Sorry it doesn't work the same for you

Edited by Jimrky
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1 hour ago, Unit473L said:

 

Good to know, I hadn't bought any yet. Have you had a chance to play with epoxy resin? It's pretty expensive to get shipped in to Darwin, it seems like it should be stronger.

 

 

No, they're just pure discs with no attachment points. My preference is to add a hitch hiker, though for these I'll be sending them out as-is to see how it goes. That's pretty impressive that your coin has been going so long - nice! I'll be curious to see how long these last.


I’ve seen epoxy resin in craft stores, but haven’t bought any.  The closest I’ve come is using clear epoxy adhesive to fill a little space in an acrylic key fob.  One that I tried has yellowed quite a lot, while it was stored in an ammo box at home.  But it seems sturdy.

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I had also considered using the shrinky-dink style heat shrink plastic, as had been done before but it's already been commented on how it may not be suitable for TB usage. Though it's cheap enough that I could try different sealing methods?

 

I'd like to eventually get one of those el-cheapo laser engravers. I know a 2W laser isn't going to do a thing to metal, but I can attach a thin layer of plastic, use the laser to make holes in the plastic and then acid or salt water and electricity to etch the metal. Just need to be able to justify the laser engraver! 

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On 5/9/2021 at 12:46 AM, kunarion said:

If I could instead use Modge Podge (without later discovering that it in fact melts eventually in water), I'd rather use that.

 

Current feedback indicates that the Mod Podge in our Australian heat tends to become a bit tacky, in caches that get direct sunlight. It's currently "winter" here at the north of the country (closer to the equator) and the average daytime temperature is around 30°C (about 86°F). Though I'm not fully convinced if it is the Mod Podge itself or the sealer that I used.

 

Based on this I won't be using the above exact process for my future TB's. There is a variant of Mod Podge specifically for outdoor use but I think I'll be going with non-water based glue / sealer for future projects.

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