View Full Version : How do you folks do it?

01-17-2006, 08:33 PM
How do you folks do the technology part of Geocaching and what would be the ultimate setup for you?

Here is the basics of how we do it and I was thinking there is surely a better way.

I have pocket queries that cover the state with a little overlap and one or two small blank spots. It took quite a few queries to prevent going over 500 and chance missing some. I update GSAK with the Pocket queries and it is the starting point for everything else. I use it to create a Microsoft Streets and Trips Map with every cache in the state and use Graig Given's info to create custom icons so I can tell at a glance what type of container the cache is. I export the GSAK database in different ways to feed GPXSonar which lets me export to Pharos favorites.

So here we go - Pocket Queries to GSAK to GPX Sonar to Pharos Ostia. And from GSAK to GPSr.

The ultimate setup for me would be a single tool to navigate in the vehicle, take me to the cache and manage all the waypoints in the state. A device that would download from the internet all current information, a large screen, and serves as a docking station for a GPSr.

Operation would be plug in a CAT5 cable, push a button to download updates, take the device which has a large screen to the vehicle, navigate to the cache site, remove the GPSr which is charged and loaded with current and nearby waypoints, and walk, hike, etc to the final approach.

Anybody got one of these? :)

01-17-2006, 08:55 PM
Nope...but I know what would be close.

I bumped into another cacher one one of my first outings with my GPSr and she had a PDA that had a gps function built into it and also had wireless broadband internet. I'm not sure how fast the connection was other than faster than 56k and it worked without having to be near a hotspot. (cell-towers?)

She said the unti itself was about $800 and I didn't think to ask how much the high-speed wireless connection cost each month.

I personally keep my laptop and a list of hot-spot with me and just go to the geocaching.com site if I need more data in the field.

Granted there have been lots of times I wanted to check a reference that I didn't have access to a hotspot right away, but I don't think I'm ready for a $800 + service charges setup just yet.

01-23-2006, 08:02 PM
The cell towers are mainly with Cingular and Sprint the monthly cost is $59 a month and it uses a PCMCIA wireless card. I have it on my laptop and can get an adapter for my IPAQ but the battery consumption is HUGE. So I use the laptop to get me close and then grab the GPSr to get me closer. When I get back to the truck I log the cache from the truck if I'm not in the middle of nowhere. LOL.

01-25-2006, 12:07 PM
Are laptops a common way to do geocaching? I have taken one and it is pretty nice but all the wires are a hassle esp when traveling with a partner (or two in my case).

Making a laptop my primary geocaching machine would sure eliminate all the import, export stuff I go through now.

01-25-2006, 12:25 PM
Tech_guy said:
The ultimate setup for me would be a single tool to navigate in the vehicle, take me to the cache and manage all the waypoints in the state. A device that would download from the internet all current information, a large screen, and serves as a docking station for a GPSr.
What you said !
But some of the caching I enjoy most is way out in the sticks ( no cell service ).
However if it also docked a PDA without a lot of wires for the GPS and PDA, it would be very cool. You could use the cell towers when you are near them, and use the PDA when not near them.
Wouldn't a small light back pack with Laptop, PDA and GPS with no external wires, ( infrared docking ports maybe ) be just the BOMB ?

01-26-2006, 07:58 PM
Here is a backpack with solar cells built in to charge the PDA. Don't know if it'd do a laptop though.

I haven't seen many responses on how the majority of folks attack the caches. Do most people go high tech, low tech, no tech (other than the GPS of course)

01-26-2006, 08:38 PM
Well our answer to your question goes like this:

We receive a pocket query from GC.com (requires being a premium member $30 per year)

We open that file with GSAK ($20 one time cost)

That file is then exported to Garmin Mapsource. (Where we can see the layout and plan an approach to a cache or an area.)

Due to GSAK's amazing capabilities this allows us to use the last 4 letters of the GC.com waypoint name as our waypoint name. In addition we add a + if the cache shows to have a T/B in residence and leaves a single letter to tell us what type of cache it is T=traditional M=multi Y=mystery etc.

Example: If cache GCT4RX Turn Around has a T/B the waypoint it would show as T4RX +T, if not T/B it shows T4RX T.

This waypoint data is D/L ed to the Garmin GPSMap 60CS.

In some situations we will export a second file to Mapsource that shows the last four of the GC number and then the difficulty and terrain.
Example T4RX T(1.5/1.5) This we use to print a map of the area we intend to cache in.

We Export again from GSAK to a Palm Data file. The Palm is synced to the computer and the file is then imported to Cachemate ($8 one time cost)

We are now ready to go cache.

As we cache the lookup of the upcoming cache can be done easily in cachemate. We make notes and record that waypoint name as we show it. When we log those caches we use the box at the bottom of the log page to add the GC to the noted T4RX to take us to the nest cache to log.

01-27-2006, 04:19 AM
What method and tools do you use to get to the site?

I use Ostia turn by turn navigaation software that came with the GPS for my handheld.

01-27-2006, 05:05 AM
We use GSAK to copy the caches to our GPSrs. We also use GPXSonar on a Dell Axim x3i PocketPC in the field. (OrangeDanish also got a Palm for Christmas that we're just beginning to use...)

The only thing I do that might be a little different is that I run a DOS batch file that uses GPSBABEL to automatically copy my GPX file to the PPC and to create maps for the state in Pocket Streets. Using this method, it's only a double-click to get everything I need to the PPC, and I have maps that show caches for just about the entire state.

Wish we had a cable to connect the GPSr to the PPC for realtime maps, but for now, we just use a laptop. Our budget doesn't allow for much extravagence, so if we have found a cheap way to do it, that's the way we go...


01-27-2006, 05:15 AM
What method and tools do you use to get to the site?

I use Ostia turn by turn navigaation software that came with the GPS for my handheld.

The Garmin is loaded with Mapsource City Select v7. It will do turn by turn navigation. We find it to be accurate about 85-90% of the time. The directions can be no more accurate than the maps they are loaded with. It will take you to the nearest road to the cache. It does not recognize that there is a 100ft bluff there, if there happens to be one. So some interpretation and common sense is required.

The 60 CS has an electronic compass and after switching to off road mode it will point you to the waypoint pretty well. After we get to the area nonni finds the cache.

We do carry a laptop in the car if we are traveling overnight so that we can, if desired, send email to cache owners or log finds and DNFs. In one instance we were at a meeting in New Mexico and had chosen to fly. While in flight back home we wrote the T4RX number and then the log into a word document. Skip a space and write the next log. Then logging into GC.com after arriving at home we copied and pasted our logs.

That process and this answer would both have been much easier if I could type instead of the hunt and peck method.

01-27-2006, 07:18 AM
So the City Select works pretty good for you? I have the 60cs also and did not get the maps. I have a Dell Axim with the Ostia software. I like the larger screen on the PDA and the voice turn by turn. I dislike the wires - cigarette lighter charger for it and the bluetooth GPS. I may take a look at the City Select software.

01-27-2006, 08:29 PM
Yes we are satisfied with City Select v7. We understand that Garmin has now stopped selling that software. They are touting City Navigator for the same application. It seems that the thought they could reduce the offerings and still do the same thing.

The GC.com forums lead me to believe that there is precious little difference other than the size of the map pieces that you choose to load. I count 21 seperate maps in City Select to get all of Arkansas. I am told that City Navagator does it all in 2 maps.

I also read that there is more POI info in City Navagator. POI info is the data that allows you to search for the nearest food or gas or lodging etc.....poppy

01-28-2006, 05:36 AM
You know there are several makers of cables to hook serial devices to the PocketPC like your AXIM?

Here is one:
http://www.serialio.com/products/adapto ... _RS232.htm (http://www.serialio.com/products/adaptors/AximSerial_RS232.htm)

01-28-2006, 10:10 AM
Thanks for the link! I had not seen that one before... A power adapter is a must for the Axim, if you plan to use it for maps. The battery drains pretty quickly. I've have found that by keeping the wireless card turned off, the battery life improves significantly.

Hmmm... now I have something to request for my birthday...

02-01-2006, 10:06 PM
Pocket queries, GSAK, Cachemate on a Palm m130, Garmin etrex legend. I flip/flop between the laptop and desktop for downloads and data transfers.

I'm waiting for my earnings to catch up to my dreamin'

ultimate for me would be a dedicated caching vehicle with the laptop for street navigation/logging/downloads/data transfers. pda for info at the cache site, and gpsr to get me from the truck to the cache.

02-02-2006, 06:41 AM
Thanks for the responses.

Looks like everybody is going through the import, export routines to keep serveral devices in sync. Maybe Garmin and others will add a GSAK type function to their products some day. The ability to hook up a keyboard, mouse and monitor, a good database program and the ruggedness of the handheld GPSr's would be the ideal would it not?

This is starting to sound like a rugged PDA? I have seen some ruggedized PDA enclosures. Maybe the way to go some day?!

02-16-2006, 12:10 AM
Goodness. You folks put me to shame. I just spend hours in front of the computer, plugging in zip codes near places I'm going to be, reading descriptions, reading logs, picking out caches that seem do-able and interesting, then download the waypoints to my etrex Legend and use it to navigate. It's not sophisticated, but I get as much enjoyment out of reading about other people's experiences as I do in having my own adventures, plus I get a kick out of that little gizmo taking me right to the caches. Of course, this probably also explains why I've only got 77 finds to my name!! I do have some PQs but don't really use them.

02-16-2006, 06:52 PM
PQ's RULE!!!!!!