Paperless Geocaching with a Mac
Ever since starting geocaching I have wanted to dispense with the paper cache description and find a streamlined way of paperless geocaching. As yet there isn’t a GPSr that allows you to simply visit the geocaching.com website, do a search for parituclar caches and then upload all of their details to the GPS device. As far as I’m concerned it is about time that Garmin and Groundspeak teamed up to produce such a device as it would make things so much easier. Of course, I’m sure they will, but no doubt it will be too expensive for me and Mac support probably won’t be great.
However, now that I have a new GPSr things have improved a little. My previous experiences were time-consuming to say the least and not ideal. I had a Garmin eTrex, but no cable to connect it to my Mac so a typical geocaching expedition would mean first visiting geocaching.com to find caches in the area I was about to visit, printing out the cache descriptions for each of these and then manuakly entering the co-ordinates into the eTrex. Once out looking for them we would have pieces of paper everywhere and of course only a few of the caches loaded into the eTrex.
Now that I have a Forerunner 305 can at least connect my Mac to it so can upload co-ordinates without having to enter them manually. This is an improvement, and coupled with macCaching and an iPod I can now go paperless geocaching… It isn’t quite ideal. For a start the Forerunner isn’t really designed for use as a geocaching machine and can only store 100 waypoints. Secondly the cache descriptions are on my iPod not the GPSr which means taking both out into the hills with me. It is still btter than it was though and here is the procedure
1. Log onto gecoaching.com and create a pocket query for the area you are about to visit. I tell the query to return 100 results (as this is all the Forerunner will hold) closest to my destination, and select caches that aren’t mine and I haven’t already found. i also limit it to active caches and exclude events etc. Once this has been done I get email a gpx file containing the details of these caches.
2. Open the gpx file using MacCaching (A Cache management database for the Mac.)
3. Export this list of caches from MacCaching to both my Forerunner and my iPod. This gives me all 100 coordinates on the forerunner and all of the descriptions of the caches within the Notes setion of my iPod
Now, when I get to where I’m going I simply switch on my Forerunner, go to the navigate screen and lookfor the nearest caches. This gives me the caches GC number which I can look up on my iPod to find the description.
Much better than using my eTrex, but still fairly limiting by the fact that 100 caches doesn’t actually cover a huge area in some locations. I’ve just done a pocket query for an area of North Wales that I shall be visiting soon, but 100 caches doesn’t come close to covering the area. Still, 100 caches is more than enough to keep me busy!