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The Puzzler
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With the recent gift of a new Garmin Geko 301 GPS and data cable :P , I am about to invest a fair bit of time into trying to streamline my handling of GeoCaching data. Cost is an issue.

 

What tools are others of you out there using to hunt geocaches efficiently?

 

In the past, I have printed out Cache pages and maps, organized them in a filing system, and either used a map and compass, or entered data into a GPS by hand for hunting purposes. The system works great, but uses up a lot of paper, requires a printer, and leads to a fair bit of time entering data into my GPSr by hand.

 

But, I have a Palm computer that I can download Geocaching data to and a GPS I can download way points to. I also have a laptop that I can connect my GPS to.

 

What software/hardware combinations do you use with notebooks and/or palm computers that allow you to most effiently download and organize your cache hunting?

 

What do you like and not like about the different combinations of tools that you do use and/or have used in the past?

 

I don't want this thread to be so much a discussion of software and hardware, but rather an evaluation of different combinations of tools that work well for people specifically for geocaching.

 

Thanks for your thoughts.

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I have a a Cobra GPS100 gpsr, (Don't laugh, it's never locked up on me, it always gets to within at least 10 feet of a cache and it seems to have a build quality that pus others to shame, :P ) and an old HP Jornada 525 pda which I simply synchronise word documents with the cache pages on. I take a Sony Erricsson T610 mobile phone, (nice and small) for emergencies with a 3 D cell maglite, a maglite solitaire converted to run an ultrabrite white led on a 12v battery and an emergancy whistle. This all goes in a bumbag (fanny bag?) which works great for me as I like to travel light.

 

Using cache pages copied to word documents and then synchronising may not be the most efficient way of doing things, but it uses what I have available which makes things relatively cheap as well.

 

The only snag with the Cobra is not being able to down load coordinates, but as I tend to have to plan my caching, this hasn't been a real problem, although it can lead to a sore thumb every now and then :D

 

The maglite solitaire is generally used for close up stuff or any where I may need to be a bit discreet at dusk / night.

 

As well as this, I have a Leatherman Wave on my belt all the time and this is a set up which seems to work for me. All my kit is in one place, I can just grab it and go.

 

Danegar

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The easiest way is GSAK and Cachemate. GSAK takes the pocket queries, sorts, slices, dices, and arranges them however you like, and then sends them to your GPS and exports them to a Cachemate .pdb for use on your Palm. I also use Plucker, and for that I use GSAK to export the queries to html files, and run Plucker Desktop to get a .pdb for my Palm. Plucker also will get any web page and put it on your Palm. It isn't the most user-friendly program you'll ever use, but once you learn to use it it's indispensible. But for quick and easy, you can't beat GSAK and Cachemate. You can keep many hundreds of caches on your Palm, and never again need to print anything.

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I have a Garmin V and an old Handspring Visor PDA. I keep all my caching software on a dell laptop that I got a great deal on from ebay. I use GSAK and Cachmate, but have also tried Spinner and Plucker. I was happy with both combinations but ended up using GSAK the most because it was the one I got the most used to. I think either of those combinations meets people's needs pretty well.

 

I am planning to get the laptop set up for use in the car, but haven't gotten around to finding a way to mount it in there yet.

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My sister gave me an old Compaq iPaq handheld. It is too old to use the best software like GSXSonar, but it is happy to display the e-books that are generated in my queries.

 

I leave the laptop at home. Too big to carry on a trail and too important to leave in my car along the side of the road.

 

With everything I need downloaded to my GPSr and PDA, I only need whatever personal gear I choose for the day.

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I use my Garmin eTrex Venture, and have an old Magellan GPS2000 as a backup (hopefully I don't have to use it ever again...). Then I use my multimedia cellphone Sony Ericsson P800 for paperless caching. And of course I have GSAK in my PC. And in addition to that, I use sometimes MapQuest and Finnish map programme Genimap for route planning.

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I'm pretty fond of my Pilot G-2. It's very portable, pretty straightfoward in its use, and comes in a variety of colors and line widths.

 

Seriously, I've had to become picker and a chooser of caches, since pretty much everything nearby is on my found list, and any unfound caches necessitate a 100 -150+ mile drive. I read through the new area's caches, pick the ones I like, find to be challenging, and/or realistically can do within the time I have to hunt them, then hand load them in to my battered Etrex Legend. (So far, if it acts up, it will respond to a light whack on the side, or a squeeze of the screen face.)

There's really no need to load in more than a handful of caches.

 

If within the PA, MD, DE or VA areas, I keep backroad atlases in the car to find my way. For other areas, I might download a map from a variety of sources, depending on where I will be (the standard US Topo sites, plus ViaMichelin for Europe, OSGrids in the UK, etc.), printing them out from my home computer. I also carry a Silva compass as a backup. Not very cutting edge, but it works for me.

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i use gc.coms pocket queries (gpx & pocket books) then with GSAK sort the gpx files and send the caches to my 60c... then upload the pocket book into a sony clie with mobi-pocket book reader for info on the caches... mapsource topo for more details maps in the 60c... i usually have approx. 400 caches from a 100 mile radius in both so should i find myself in DFW with some time to kill i can do some impromptu caching... can't think of a simpler way to go paperless IMHO...

 

for the person wanting to mount a laptop in the car, check out ram mounts... a google should find the website for you... they have mounts for just about anything you can think of... a little pricey but well worth it in quality...

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A GPS V for obviouse reasons.

A Pocket PC for paperless caching using GPXsonar.

A laptop that turns out not to be worth lugging around because the GPS and PDA have the maps that do the job and if it's complex I'll create a route before I leave the house.

A Bronco to eat the former Corolla Eating trails.

Everything else is fluff. Except water.

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Garmin GPSMAP 60CS w/Geocaching Mode:

pt-GPSMAP60CS01Large.jpg

 

Apple 10GB iPod, 1000 Cache listings in VCARD format:

af7577e8-c369-46d4-be73-b8208b89bf8b.jpg

(Please GSAK and GPSBabel authors, include VCARD support in your products, because caching with an iPod ROCKS! ;-)

 

Repel 100, Tick, Chigger, and Mosquito Repellent:

402.jpg

Note that this does not repel fire ants, it only makes them madder.

 

Glock 21, .45 caliber Feral Hog Repellent:

21.gif

Note that this does not actually kill the hogs, it only stings them.

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GPSr, digital camera, cell phone and pager, dual band HAM HT,

over the shoulder slung geobag, hat, bug spray, and pen and paper (geocache sheets)

 

The pager allows me to be in contact with the hospital I work at so that I can cache when on call. The geobag is a slick thing with two outside pockets and a long pocket along the central axis for a water bottle, or my HT, or some other long narrow thing, and it carrys my swag pretty well.

 

Trying out the HAM HT and once I get my General, then I might just add a QRP radio as well. Also considering a APRS transmitter.

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Stunod, please elaborate. When I saw the McColloch, I wasn't sure if you used it to bushwach, or to fix the usual problems with PCs and other high tech equip.

 

Lowracer, you are clearly a big dog, with your Garmin 60CS and 10GB Ipod.

 

I use the same set-up as CarleenP B), but my Garmin is older and my Palm is newer. I highly recommend Cachmate and GSAK.

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Using the Garmin V and the GSAK program to download and manage the

coordinates. I also have the Mapsorce program which is Great!. I have been using the GPS for few years for traveling and site marking just getting into the geocache and so far its a excellent setup.

 

 

Have fun and keep it clean!

 

Terrere :ph34r:

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GPSr, digital camera, cell phone and pager, dual band HAM HT,

over the shoulder slung geobag, hat, bug spray, and pen and paper (geocache sheets)

 

The pager allows me to be in contact with the hospital I work at so that I can cache when on call. The geobag is a slick thing with two outside pockets and a long pocket along the central axis for a water bottle, or my HT, or some other long narrow thing, and it carrys my swag pretty well.

 

Trying out the HAM HT and once I get my General, then I might just add a QRP radio as well. Also considering a APRS transmitter.

Backpack with "swagbag", Garmin E-Trex Legend, cellphone, Palm, digital camera, 7 amp-hour gel-cell, flashlight, Yaesu FT-470 dual band ham handheld - rigged with Byonics TinyTrak in empty battery case and powered directly from gel-cell.

 

This same pack also doubles as the ARES emergency pack, so I keep the assorted Red Cross and other credentials there, some freezer bags with clean underwear, socks, pants, shirt; a few water bottles, TOILET PAPER, assorted OTC medication and a couple of Rx bottles.. I do usually leave the Arrow antenna and all the RF connectors, adaptors, and tools in the car except for the Leatherman Wave when geocaching to save weight.

 

The "swag bag" is a separate fanny pack so the heavier ARES pack can be left behind when the cache is more of a "park and grab". Now that hunting season is around the corner and a very nice camo pack with integrated "camelback" is on sale, I'm looking hard at upgrading. This pack I'm drooling over has some pouches specifically positioned and designed for a GPS, cellphone, handheld (with buttonhole for antenna to protrude), and the shotgun shell pouch is perfect for a gel-cell. It has a detatchable fanny pack, and a place to hook a separate speaker/mike for the ham rig on the shoulder strap. $49.95 at Sam's Club.

 

To see the car running APRS running about, look at current location of cachemobile. When I have the FT-470 running as a tracker as well, look at the portable APRS tracker. To build up APRS tracks, look at findu cgi script documentation.

 

Or just look at the radar map with APRS data overlaid like we do when Skywarn spotting: n5psp-9 track previous 168 hours

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My Geocaching tools include

Compaq Presario 2100 lap top (purchased for geocaching)

HP 2315 pocket PC (purchased for geocaching)

Magellan Meridan Gold-for my truck runing map send direct route

Magellan sport track map loaded with topo map

Magellan sport track Color (Back up gps)

Princetontec Tec 40 flashlight, three pricntontech head lamps

Pelican clip on light (I am not a big fan of mag lite)

Titaniium walking sticks

Yaesu VX7R ham radio (can not depend on cell phone alone)

Yaesu FT 8800 and Yaesu FT100D radios in truck

Cell phone

Water

Assorted day packs and fanny packs depending on area I am geocaching in

Signiture trade items, large and small geocaching buttons (bumblebuttons.com)

Digital camera

Digital audio recorder

DEET

Binoculars

Clip board and hard hat

Tilly Hat

Compass

leatherman tool

Edited by JohnnyVegas
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Lesse, my caching tools include:

 

-Garmin Rino 130 (Great because it incorporates a GPS, 2-way radio, and a weather radio, in case conditions get bad).

-North Face Aurora Borealis backpack (someday I'll upgrade to a Duluth pack).

-Pens (including a nice stainless steel one).

-Notepad

-5x8 clipboard with a back pocket, keeps the pens handy

-Digital Camera

-Jacko hiking pole (doubles as a monopod for the camera)

-Energizer LED headlamp (recent purchase for night caching, I've heard the battery life on these things are pretty good).

-Mag Light flashlight (a 2 C cell model, decent amount of light output)

-Small mirror (great for the urban "under fence" hide)

-Cache repair kit (Zip locks, extra log books, pocket duct tape, pencils, etc..)

-Water Bottle

-compass

-gloves

-Trade items (soon to have a signature item along with me)

-Hand wipes (found these to be invaluable after a cache last week that was stuck in some fungus, that was gross)

-CITO trash bags (btw, these are also great for stealth, if you're out collecting trash while caching, muggles are much less apt to question why you're there)

 

Not a big fan of bug spray, and lately the weather here has been cool enough to thwart the mosquitos anyway. Never did like Cell Phones, guess if I get lost I'll be in trouble, but I have the 2-way, and never really end up too far from civilization anyway...

 

Things I'm still looking at purchasing or incorporating into my caching equipment.

-Palmtop computer (I have a handspring visor, might start using it)

-Multi-tool (like a gerber or leatherman, or possibly just a good ol swiss army knife)

-Something to use to poke around in crevices and the like, usually I'll just use a stick at the cache site, but it'd be nice to have something more substantial.

 

For the winter months, I'm possibly looking into a pair of snowshoes.

Edited by KC0GRN
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I carry a backpack with the following items:

 

Garmin III+

Silva Ranger

spare batteries

printed cache pages

trade items

water bottle

TP

CITO bags

note pad, extra pens, and freezer bags in case someone's cache needs a little fixup

wipes and pullups when I bring my little one with

sometimes a camera or binoculars

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My Garmin Map76 has served me well as a traveling tool for 3 years now and as my geocaching companion since I started this insanity 2 months ago. I have a Sony UX 40 that is my lifeline so I don't want to take it caching, but I would like to try paperless caching. Does anyone know the very lowest requirements for a Palm that would work. I have an old 100 series gathering dust.

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I would like to try paperless caching.  Does anyone know the very lowest requirements for a Palm that would work.

Whatever the oldest Palm operating system is that will still run cachemate would be my recomendation.

 

Since I first posted this topic a few days ago, and because of the responses, I have purchased cachemate. What a sweet deal for $7. My desire for paper has just vanished! Poof!

 

Actually, I still keep a personal log with notes on paper, but that's it.

 

With GSAK and Cachemate, I'm almost as happy as could be and almost paperless. I am still missing one thing, a paperless map.

 

Thoughts on mapping software? Free or nearly so for the Palm?

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I have used a program called Quake Map (www.quakemap.com) and found it to be a useful tool when planning out a trip. This program will get waypoints from Geocaching.com and plot them with various overlays (streets, topo, imagery). I believe there is a $10 registration fee to unlock some of the features but the trial version is good enough to get a feel for the program.

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  *Mapsource

  *Fugawi

Okay, Tirediron, why Mapsource and Fugawi? Aren't they doing basically the same thing? (Let me guess...Fugawi will download to Palm, but Mapsource will download to GPS?) And how does Mapopolis fit in?

 

You and I are carrying the same hardware, so I'd be very interested to know about your software choices.

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I have used a program called Quake Map (www.quakemap.com) and found it to be a useful tool when planning out a trip. This program will get waypoints from Geocaching.com and plot them with various overlays (streets, topo, imagery). I believe there is a $10 registration fee to unlock some of the features but the trial version is good enough to get a feel for the program.

Wow! That looks very cool, Adam. It looks like it's basically an interface that downloads its data from online resources like Terraserver as required. Don't want to download it from work, but I'll definitely try it from home.

 

Great. I'm turning into a map geek.

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  *Mapsource

  *Fugawi

Okay, Tirediron, why Mapsource and Fugawi? Aren't they doing basically the same thing? (Let me guess...Fugawi will download to Palm, but Mapsource will download to GPS?) And how does Mapopolis fit in?

 

You and I are carrying the same hardware, so I'd be very interested to know about your software choices.

cause I have etopo for SW BC which runs on Fugawi, but I'm too cheap to buy Mapsource Topo for Canada! :lol: I like Mapopolis 'cause it gives me a nice seachable map on my palm for urban 'caches (and plus I'm a software hog)!

Edited by tirediron
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cause I have etopo for SW BC which runs on Fugawi, but I'm too cheap to buy Mapsource Topo for Canada! :lol:

Ohhhh...that's how I just ended up ordering Fugawi. I needed SE England and I wasn't about to pay Mapsource for all of Europe just for that little slice. Fugawi let me buy that one area. In the end, it wasn't that much cheaper, but I figured it would give me an excuse to try Fugawi.

 

From, the screenshots, the Fugawi maps looked a bit better. Do you have a preference for either program?

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cause I have etopo for SW BC which runs on Fugawi, but I'm too cheap to buy Mapsource Topo for Canada! :lol:

Ohhhh...that's how I just ended up ordering Fugawi. I needed SE England and I wasn't about to pay Mapsource for all of Europe just for that little slice. Fugawi let me buy that one area. In the end, it wasn't that much cheaper, but I figured it would give me an excuse to try Fugawi.

 

From, the screenshots, the Fugawi maps looked a bit better. Do you have a preference for either program?

I am using eTopo maps on Fugawi, which from all the examples I've seen are about the best scans going. I've only seen screen shots of the Fugawi maps, but they seemed a little grainier to me. I much prefer Fugawi over Oziexplorer...

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