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How Do You Get Organized?


BooBooBee
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Have been GCing for a coupla months now and have finally purchased my OWN Garmin Legend (have to give Dad back his Garmin Rino eventually)! Just figured out how to get the .loc files from the GC.com site to MapSource (via EasyMPS...thank you very much!) and then into the handheld.

 

NOW...what I HAVE been doing is printing out the (printer friendly, no log) pages and keeping a pile of them in the car. But that's a heckuva lot of paper. And I'm not even in a heavily cached area.

 

SO...short of printing all this out or spending ages on the computer creating spreadsheets or ages still handwriting the info, how do you remember (for ALL of your local caches and then some) crucial details...like the TYPE of cache you're looking for, the container (or lack thereof), the theme (if there is one) and, if needed, any hints?

 

All input would be MUCH appreciated! :lol:

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I became a "premium member" in order to access the Pocket Queries. These give you .gpx files instead of .loc files. GPX files contain the entire description, I think up to 5 previous logs, cache type and all that. Combined with Cachemate on my Palm Pilot, it becomes very easy to pick and choose where I wanna go.

 

Premium GC.com member: $3/month or $30/year

 

Cachemate: $7.00 (yes, that is a seven!)

 

So very worth the investment!

 

EDIT: The Pocket Queries (PQ) get emailed to you automatically. Then you can constantly refresh your handheld data. I forgot to do this once and went to a cache that had been archived, but I missed it cuz I had old data. Still a nice place to visit, though. :lol:

Edited by New England n00b
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I'm the same as New England n00b. Cachemate on my Palm for cache pages. I have the 500 closest caches to my home, plus the 100 closest to my brother-in-law's house sent to my Palm once a week. Cachemate is a great little app for $7.

 

Right now I use EasyGPS and Watcher to manage my waypoints, but I've heard great things about Geocaching Swiss Army Knife (GSAK) and plan to get it soon.

 

I rarely plan geocaching trips ahead of time, but when I do, I plot it all out on National Geographic Topo!.

Edited by briansnat
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A caching trip for me involves ALOT of gadgets.

 

1. I start off by running a PQ for all the latest cache data in the area I will be visiting.

 

2. I export all of the waypoints into a file that my TOPO program can read.

 

3. I save both files onto my removable flash memory drive.

 

4. Out in the car, I use the flash drive and load both the TOPO file and the GPX file onto my laptop.

 

5. I interface my laptop and GPS and download all the waypopints.

 

6. I then setup auomatic GPS tracking using my TOPO software so I can easily drive to the nearest possible parking location to the cache.

 

This procedure sounds more difficult than it actually is. I used to waste so much time and paper plotting out a handful of caches and driving around aimlessly trying to find the best parking.

 

Now, in less than 15 minutes, I can be on the road .

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Geocacher University has an excellent article on paperless geocaching. I use it with my aging PDA and it works great. It's a little cumbersome to set up, but once you carefully follow the directions, it's very easy. I download not-founds every week to my PDA and have everything I need, along with my GPS, to travel light. I also use GSAK to keep track of my caching and ExpertGPS for my planning.

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Cachemate was the best seven bucks I've spent this year. I keep it, and my GPSr, stuffed with the closest 300. I've got it pared down to those two devices and it's working great. Before heading out, I do scout where I want to go and jot the names of the ones I think are going to be best, and get a Mapquest map to the first one in the area. But planning a day's caching is not the big hairy deal it was before.

 

I downloaded waypoints in eBook format at first, but find Cachemate is a much better approach.

 

I've just bought Fugawi navigation software as a <koff>gift</koff> for someone else. Seeing how useful that is will help me decide whether I want to start bringing my laptop along. I tried using my laptop with Mapsource to do real-time tracking, and it was terribly cool, but not actually useful enough to be worth the pain of dealing with the laptop.

 

I also tried out GSAK. It was a neat piece of software, but there was nothing it was doing for me that I actually needed. Perhaps there was a function there I didn't notice.

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For us lowly non-premium members, here's what I do:

 

I download cache coords and use EasyGPS to manipulate them and upload them into my GPS. For hard copy info, I use Gadwin's Printscreen, which allows me to do a quick printscreen of just the screen area that I specify, automatically saving that to a .jpg and on my clipboard, which I can then easily insert into a Word document. That allows me to shrink the image as I want and keep adding additional ones to the same document. I usually end up with two full cache pages on each Word page, including descriptions, hints, etc. I can also add topo maps (also using Gadwin's Printscreen).

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I do most of my caching while on the job driving a delivery truck all over. The company would rather NOT know about it and I like it that way.

 

I hand-load the co-ords into my little yellow eTrex, hand load the four-digit cache-code, add an "M" to the end of the code if it's a micro or a "!" if it's one I REALLY want to do or some such code and, if I'm in the area.....

 

I have a pretty good memory about some things and will sometimes add some notes in my notebook about some that I'm trying for.

 

I prefer to follow the KISS program.

 

That and I can't afford a lot of the techno geek goodies....

 

... and can't be trusted not to break them. ....

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SO...short of printing all this out or spending ages on the computer creating spreadsheets or ages still handwriting the info, how do you remember (for ALL of your local caches and then some) crucial details...like the TYPE of cache you're looking for, the container (or lack thereof), the theme (if there is one) and, if needed, any hints?

 

All input would be MUCH appreciated! :lol:

I use a Palm PDA and Cachemate. It certainly makes caching MUCH easier!

 

I use a Tungsten E which I got for about $175.00 but there are cheaper ones (check ebay) that will work as well.

 

Before I went paperless, I cut and pasted all the important cache info into word. Then I printed out those sheets and carried them in a binder. By cutting and pasting, I could change the font sizes and not include information I really didn't need...so I used less paper/ink and had a smalled binder to carry around. ;)

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GSAK is an incredible program. The power of being able to do relational database things to the data on your desktop is just great.

 

I have GSAK export the caches for any area I'm going to be around into Delorme Street Atlas or Microsoft Streets and Trips files. I then import into whichever program I'm using that day... If I'm driving to unfamiliar areas then I hook up the USB GPS (not the handheld Etrex) to the laptop and Delorme Street Atlas will give me routed directions to the cache. Otherwise, I think Microsoft Streets and Trips is "prettier" so I'll use it if I'm familiar with the area or have a navigator. That will get me into the parking lot.

 

GSAK also exports the cache data to HTML files, which Plucker (a free program for Palm Pilots) will import and display on the palm for you. While in the car driving around if I'm near a push pin, I can go into GSAK and see the downloaded version of the cache's page from GC.com too.

 

GSAK will also export which ever caches you select into your GPS as waypoints.

 

Oh, I'm such a geek... :lol:

 

---A

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Well, I've owned a Palm since 1995 :D (first I wished I'd bought stock, then I was glad I wasn't savvy enough to have done it).

 

But I've only upgraded once - to a Palm IIIe. Will Plucker and all these other doodads work with it? Or must I upgrade again to avoid the paper? :P

 

THANKS SO MUCH FOR ALL YOUR INPUT!

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I don't have any portable electronics like a PDA, Palm Pilot, or any of that other stuff, so here's how I get around printing a million cache pages...

 

I copy and paste the relevant information from each cache page; the name, coordinates, difficulty rating, USEFUL parts of the description, and encrypted hint and paste it on a Word document. I paste a number of caches on one document--say an entire city or county. Then at the end I paste the decryption key.

 

Now the key. I go to "Edit" and select all. Then I change the font to size 8 (or the smallest readable).

 

This gets me all of the info I need from 3-5 caches on one page. I have a few 5 page stapled packets I carry with all the info for about 100 local caches. I just cross them off the page as I hit them and occasionally pencil one in on the appropriate page when I see a new one listed.

 

Wish I had a gizmo, but this saves paper in the meantime.

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GSAK is an incredible program. The power of being able to do relational database things to the data on your desktop is just great.

 

I have GSAK export the caches for any area I'm going to be around into Delorme Street Atlas or Microsoft Streets and Trips files. I then import into whichever program I'm using that day... If I'm driving to unfamiliar areas then I hook up the USB GPS (not the handheld Etrex) to the laptop and Delorme Street Atlas will give me routed directions to the cache. Otherwise, I think Microsoft Streets and Trips is "prettier" so I'll use it if I'm familiar with the area or have a navigator. That will get me into the parking lot.

 

GSAK also exports the cache data to HTML files, which Plucker (a free program for Palm Pilots) will import and display on the palm for you. While in the car driving around if I'm near a push pin, I can go into GSAK and see the downloaded version of the cache's page from GC.com too.

 

GSAK will also export which ever caches you select into your GPS as waypoints.

 

Oh, I'm such a geek... :(

 

---A

another fan - supper -

 

I have been saying much the same thing - I import the GSAK files into Delorme topo and the Magellan map program too. I have MS Streets somewhere - older but usable - maybe I should look into that too.

 

I like you print the maps for my wife to get me to the parking lot.

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Without reading through all the responses... For me, it's a non issue..

When I go caching, it's usually only one or two caches at a time, so I just read the cache page (I do print it if it's for a multi) remember what I need to (cache name, etc) and head out.

 

All I usually take with me is my GPSr and a few swag items in my jeans pockets.

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I haven't seen anyone mention getting a satellite picture. I find this is more valuable than many of the encrypted hints. There are several servers of satellite and topo maps but I use http://lostoutdoors.com/newmap.html because it allows direct coordinate entries and multiple markers.

Check Quakemap for pre-cache trip research. There is a trial version so you can get a feel for the program. It communicates with the Geocache website and overlays tops, street, and image data so you can thoroughly research your destination before heading out.

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...Check Quakemap for pre-cache trip research. There is a trial version so you can get a feel for the program...

 

Woa, that looks might kewl AdamInCA - and it looks like the full, non-demo version is just 10 bucks.

 

Question is... Utter noobie here and haven't even yet tried to download any wpts for the gc site (i.e. I presently just hand enter them into my gps). I have a Magellan SporTrak Map and NADA pda 'n such - is this something that I could actually use?

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For maps and aerial photos, I like USAPhotoMaps. It will make .jpg files of the map or photo for your PDA, with one click, and can import the .gpx files and show all the caches. Very cool software.

 

If you have a cable to connect your SportTrak, then you can download the waypoints from geocaching.com via either .loc or .gpx (if you're a premium member) and use one of several freeware programs to send them directly to your GPS without having to manually enter everything. GSAK will let you change the name to something that makes sense instead of the GCXXXX nonsense, and also change the icon if you like.

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Ok, very low tech thing here.......

 

I write the info on scrap paper. Name, coordinates, size, hint......they all fit on a tiny scrap of paper. We've even used extra napkins from take out places or backs of envelopes to write the info down on. Easy to do and we dont print out reams of paper. When needed, we also write down driving instructions. It takes very little time to do, since we plan which caches we hit at any one time.

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I have been a Premium Member pretty much since I started. I used the PQs to help get the caches I needed for a particular area into my GPSr. Like you I traveled with lots of printed cache pages at the ready. I recently got a Pocket PC for my birthday which I loaded GPXSonar into. GPXSonar is amazing in what it does and its ease of use. I can't imagine how I went so long without the PDA.

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Without reading through all the responses... For me, it's a non issue..

When I go caching, it's usually only one or two caches at a time, so I just read the cache page (I do print it if it's for a multi) remember what I need to (cache name, etc) and head out.

 

.

I'm the same way, but a lot of my geocaching is opportunistic. I may not plan to go geocaching, but I keep the closest 500 waypoints to my home in my GPS and if I'm in an area, I flick on my unit to see whats nearby.

 

Because I only had the waypoint, I had no idea what I was looking for. It could have been a virtual, micro, multi or whatever, which made it difficult sometimes.

I recall standing in front of what was obviously a virtual and writing down all the info I could find (and there were several plaques) because I didn't know what the owner wanted for verification info. Another time I did the same for what I was certain was a virtual and when I got home to log it, found out it was a micro and had to go back.

 

Now that I have the pages for same waypoints on my Palm, I always have the cache page with me (if I remember to bring my Palm along).

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Question is...  Utter noobie here and haven't even yet tried to download any wpts for the gc site (i.e. I presently just hand enter them into my gps).  I have a Magellan SporTrak Map and NADA pda 'n such - is this something that I could actually use?

Quake Map doesn't work in conjuntion with a PDA but it will transfer waypoints to your Sportrak. It is not very good with waypoint management, it's forte' is in "seeing" where a cache is on a topo or satellite image of the area.

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Man, I don't know whether to scoff or whine....

 

Part of me thinks it silly to haul so much gadgetry to go caching and pat wishes I'd had it when trying to spot that "creatively camouflged" micro in the city park when the canopy and clouds have all but killed my signal.

 

No, I just can't fathom going to so much trouble and putting all that expensive equipment at risk... Sorry ...

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Well, you cache your way and I'll cache mine, and we'll both have fun. :)

... which one IS the high road? I always get confused.

 

I confess, there are a lot of positives to having the neat toys. I just see them getting in the way when I've cached with folks who use them extensively.

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My lady is a Nature lover and i am a gadget freak so Geocaching is a perfect combo of the two. I already had a Pocket PC sot his was agreat solution for me. I don't know what goes into doing it the other way?

 

I should definatly buy and crush-proof ottterbox to protect my Pocket PC though!

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My wife and I just got back into caching after I had a severe ankle injury 2 1/2 years ago and decided that we wanted to go paperless. So I went on ebay and bought a palm m500 for cheap and the rest is history.

 

On the PC I use GSAK, GPSBabel, ExpertGPS, and Mapsource.

On the PDA I use Cachemate, Plucker and CetusGPS.

For caching I carry a Garmin 76C and my wife carries a Garmin eTrex Legend(she doesn't like to carry the 76C, says it's too big).

 

I use GSAK to seperate the caches into 'zones' centered on our home coordinates (0-20 miles, 20-50 miles, 50-100 miles, 100+ miles, members only and archived caches). Using the automation feature in GSAK I read the zipped PQ's and create webpages for each of these 'zones' on my web server. GSAK also creates the database file for Cachemate which has all of the above mentioned 'zones' in one file. I will be adding another zone(found) after we have logged a few more caches.

The members only data comes from a seperate PQ that I run once a week as the .gpx files from gc.com do not contain this information. I have posted about that in another thread.

 

After creating each of the above html 'zones' I create a .gpx file of the same zone for GPSBabel to use to create CetusGPS databases for my palm m500.

Breaking the caches down into 'zones' allows me to keep the waypoint totals under 500 thus ensuring that I am not hitting the 1000 point limit in my GPS's. Not that I need that many caches but oh well.

 

The above mentioned procedure takes less than 2 minutes.

 

I direct Plucker Desktop to the above created webpages on my server for its data.

Plucker takes about 5 minutes to complete its job.

 

I then hotsync the pda to the computer and we are all set to go caching. Hotsyncing takes about 5 minutes.

 

I use CetusGPS as it will send waypoints to the GPS's from the PDA.

 

Granted this sounds like a lot of work but it is faster now than printing the pages of caches we might try to find on any given day when the urge strikes. This way also allows for more spontaneous caching than you can do with just printed pages. Less planning and more caching.

 

So after the data from the inital PQ's were imported into GSAK I only need a couple of small queries to keep the cache information up to date and functional.

 

Sorry for the long post.

Happy Hunting.

 

=-=-=edit typos =-=-=

Edited by Team yGEOh
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I don't use my Palm that extensively in the field. I may check the cache page before starting on the hunt, and I may check it during the hunt if I have trouble, but other than that I don't usually pull it out. I do use it after I find the cache to take notes, but they're usually pretty quick. I use Daynotez, and I've installed a caching template, so I can just enter what I took, what I left, and any notes I want to add freeform. Cachemate will also do this if you want. Sometimes I don't even do this, depending on the weather, the bug terror alert level, and whatnot. Anything can be distracting if you let it, including paper printouts. I try to enjoy my time outdoors, and worry about the details later, if at all. Sometimes my logs don't have much detail, but that's just the way it is, and the cache owners will have to live with it. Just because I don't write a lot doesn't necessarily mean I didn't like the cache - maybe I liked it so much I forgot to take notes, and after doing a whole day's worth they can start to run together, and I may be too tired to exercise due diligence. In any case, the Palm is only a tool, and one of many, to be used as necessary but not permitted to get in the way of the fun.

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I have changed the way I get organized recently because I purchased a Garmin 60CS. This has reduced my dependence on my Ipaq 3955. I still load the GPX files onto the PDA and use GPX view to look at cache pages when I need to, but since I can load 1000 waypoints on the Garmin and I have City Select and Topo, I don't really need to look at the maps in Streets and Trips to find the caches. I just tell my GPS to find the closest and go from there. I used to waste an awful lot of time just trying to find my way to a parking spot to start my search from. Auto routing has eliminated that problem. :D

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Cachemate on Palm computer!!!

 

I read about this Palm program here and bought it two weeks ago. It is FANTASTIC!! Thank you Smittyware and the recommenders here.

 

I carry hundreds of caches in my pocket now and easily update them using pocket queries every week (local) or just before I go on trips.

 

I recommend becoming Premium member and using Geocaching Swiss Army Knife, Cachemate and CMConvert (comes with Cachemate). No other Palm software is required this way.

 

Paperless is the only way to go IMHO. Think of all the time you could spend searching, printing and organizing paper cache descriptions/logs. Cachemate and pocket queries let you get updated in minutes.

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Ok...I've spent 6 straight hours (all night, basically) trying to find a program that will transfer my geocaching info (specifically, hints) to my PDA so I don't have to carry around reams of paper as I travel these parts. I've downloaded, unzipped, clicked "install" to PDA in various orders, then sync'd my Palm...still, no dice.

 

First I tried Plucker, but that wouldn't install on my Palm at a low enough resolution, apparently. When it DID install (yes, I clicked Low-Res and B&W), I'd click on the Plucker Icon only to be told by my Palm that the PDA wasn't capable of dealing with high-res programs. (Went through the install 3 times with same results, despite clicking low-res)

 

Then it was iSilo (which loaded on my Palm, but would only load its own manual which caused a "fatal error" notification and reset every time I tried to open it).

 

Now I'm working on the GSAK (nifty desktop program) solution in combination with the Cachemate PDA solution. Cachemate looks (online demo) just like what I'd like to use, but....

 

Here's the latest:

I downloaded the ZIP file from http://www.smittyware.com/palm/cachemate/ into a folder on my desktop.

 

From that desktop, using PKUnzip, I extracted the file contents to my Palm/add-ons folder

 

Using the Palm's "install" utility, I asked it to add cachemate.prc (which shows as a 89kb ebook) and MathLib.prc (a 50 kb ebook).

 

Then I dock my Palm, press the sync button and watch as everything else updates, the palm states it's loading "synchronizing mathlib," but nothing about cachemate (maybe it flashed by too quickly?). Shouldn't it install an application?

 

What am I missing?

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