ProGeocaching Quality in geocaching

26Jul/117

AMAZING geocache container (Cryptex)

If you want to build a Cryptex geocache similar to this, check out this video.

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I visited Bloomington, Indiana and hung out with a great group of geocachers - MonsterCatAmbush, DJHobby, ErWin and Mickey4Jes. Bloomington is famous for being the home of Hoagy Carmichael and Indiana University.

The geocachers here are concerned about improving the quality of geocaches, and go to a lot of trouble to put out the highest quality hides.  They were very hospitable and showed me some of the quality hides around town.   They were kind enough to give their views on video, and I'll put them soon.

Here's an amazing geocache container called a Cryptex created by MonsterCatAmbush which will be used as part of a mystery geocache.  It consists of an outer container made from three concentric tubes and an inner container.  You can only remove the inner container by rotating rings that form a combination lock.

You can see that he has gone to a lot of trouble to put this together.  He really knows how to geocache with high quality geocaches.  Check out the video.


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19Jul/110

Do people think you know how to geocache?

What do geocachers think?

The bird's reaction may say it all!

Don't we love to receive the emails when people log a find on one of your caches.

If I'm honest it's one of the reasons I hide caches - especially if I know that there is something great about the cache. I enjoy hearing about peoples' experiences leading up to the find. If you place really good geocaches, then expect to receive a lot of positive comments.

Geocachers are usually polite when it comes to logging their caches. If they think the cache is rubbish, they probably won't be too negative; but they also won't be very effusive.  You might get some terse comment.   If you're not receiving positive comments then maybe the cache isn't as good as you think.

Another way to see what people think is to look through the list of your caches and see how many are marked as Favourites.  If there are not many in the list, then maybe you need to review your cache hiding techniques.

Check out the survey to see what people like about geocaches ... then give them what they want!

5Jul/1111

Blackstar geocaching app for Blackberry

Blackstar geocaching app for Blackberry

Blackstar on a TGV between Paris and Lyon

BlackStar is a free geocaching app for Blackberries.

Check out the picture on the right.  I was travelling on a TGV (high speed train) between Paris and Lyon in November 2010.  The waypoint is a cache in Lyon. It's 258 km away but we are going to be there is less than an hour at this speed!

It's a good demonstration of the capabilities of Blackstar, and a more interesting screen shot than a static one.

Blackstar is not as pretty as Android apps like c:geo or Groundspeak's geocaching app, but I have found that it works much better. This may be due to superior GPS electronics used in Blackberries and the way the software interacts with it. Also those pretty coloured features need a lot of processing power which tends to make them very slow.

It's so good that while my Blackberry Bold was still working, I rarely used my Garmin.

Compared to the Android it's faster and works better under trees etc. When you are near GZ the display updates much quicker making it much more usable.

The other advantage of using a Blackberry is having a real physical keyboard.  It makes entering logs a breeze compared to the touch screen on the Android.  The Android is so painful and time consuming for log entries, that I normally wait until I get home and enter them on the computer.

BlackStar keeps track of your current Latitude, Longitude, Altitude, Speed, Direction and the distance to your destination. You can record, save, and export your track as you use BlackStar. This is useful for recording a trip, exercise, or just to see where you've been.

Geocaching features include:

  • Displaying a list caches closest to your location,
  • Importing GPX files from Pocket Queries
  • Ability to log finds immediately online
  • View the cache description and hint
  • Locate the cache on Google Maps.

Don't under estimate the ability to import GPX files.  To upload files to the previous generations of Garmins (e.g. GPSMAP 76Csx, 60Csx), you need to convert a GPX file to a WPT format and upload it using a piece of software like GSAK, OziExplorer or Mapsource. On Blackstar it imports the GPX file directly from a folder on your BB.

However, one of the biggest downsides of Blackstar is that it takes a several minutes to import and convert a GPX  file if it contains a few hundred caches.  When you receive your Pocket Query email you have to save the GPX file to a folder on the Blackberry so that it can be imported into Blackstar.  This is where the Android apps are much more streamlined.  They can display nearby caches by downloading them directly from geocaching.com.  They can also import a GPX file directly from the Pocket Query email that arrives on your Android.

Another downside compared to the Android apps is that it doesn't have turn-by-turn navigation for when you're driving. The Android apps use that feature of Google Maps.

Apart from these drawbacks, Blackstar is otherwise an excellent piece of geocaching software.  Highly recommended if you own a GPS enabled Blackberry especially since it's free!

For more information go to the Blackstar site here or download it from the Blackberry apps market.

Note: Be aware that as with most smartphones Blackberries are not ruggedized like dedicated GPS devices, so you need to be careful not to get them wet in less than ideal weather conditions.