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Friday, January 2, 2009

Paperless Geocaching: A Video Tutorial To Go Green

It was not all that long ago I started straightening some of my "paperwork" from geocaching. It was several months worth and even with that short amount of time I had a stack several reams thick of maps, geocache pages and CacheRaids. I quickly realized that if this continued the pile of paper and ink would be amazingly huge in even a year or two. Was there a better way?

Fortunately the answer is "yes".

Many of the newer GPS units are now allowing geocachers the ability to retrieve geocache information directly from geocaching.com. This means you can read all the information instantly right over the Internet. They also have the functionality to "log" your finds directly into geocaching.com which cuts down on a lot of unnecessarily paperwork as well. This is a tremendous surge in the right direction but not everybody can afford the high end GPSs that do this. It is also not the complete solution we need. Many geocachers like to keep personal notes about our caches that should not be included in a standard log. For example, I would note something like:

"Took me 15 minutes to find this small grey and green colored cami lock n lock box. It was extremely well hidden inside the far end of a log right next to a large bolder. You had to remove the bark on the left side to actually see the cache."

This kind of information would be saved in a personal log book and saved in case someone else called asking for help usually referred to as a Phone A Friend. If we want to keep paperless, where can we store that kind of information?

So here's the deal, you want to go paperless. Great but you are going to need a couple of things. Most are either fairly inexpensive or down right free. Let's make a list and I will explain as we go.

First, you need to get a $30.00 membership at Geocaching.com. Most geocachers have this anyways and you may already but it is necessary to get the Pocket Queries and the geocache information.

Next, you are going to need a PALM PDA (Personal Digital Assistant). In the tutorials I use a PALM TX but there are several versions to choose from. You can learn more at http://www.palm.com/.

The two other applications you are going to need is GSAK, which loads onto your PC and stores all the Pocket Query information http://www.gsak.net/. Then finally Cachemate which is an application that stays on your PALM PDA which you take with you while geocaching http://www.smittyware.com/palm/cachemate/.
Below is a tutorial using two YouTube videos in which I created. They are included in an ever growing series known as GeoSnippits which explores and teaches about Geocaching.

Part One:

The first video goes over the initial basics of how to get the needed information from Geocaching.com. Then to take that information, get it onto your PC and into an application known as GSAK (Geocaching Swiss Army Knife).

Part Two:

The second video shows you how to export all that nice information from GSAK and put it onto your Palm PDA. Then we take a quick look at an application on your Palm called Cachemate which you can now read. Bye - bye printed cache papers.

Well I hope you found this tutorial into paperless geocaching informative. It may look like a lot to setup but once done you will find geocaching a whole lot more enjoyable and less paper intensive. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to email me directly or contact me through my blogs or YouTube videos.
***HHH - Please note that this is the best way that I have found to accomplish Paperless Geocaching. This by no means says this is the only way of accomplishing it. Find what works best for you and go for it...




The Historian said...

I not only go geocaching I film my adventures to bring along others virtually on some of my hunts via youtube! http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=1903196B320AE031

Just John said...

Neat tutorial! I'm mostly content with the paperless features that my Colorado offers, but would sure like to have the flexibility that cachemate and GSAK offer. I may be looking for a used PDA soon...

Scotto said...

Terrific job with the tutorials!

I'm looking forward to giving the suggestions you made a try when the weather warms up a bit here in Michigan.

Unknown said...

Two things. First a Geocaching.com membership is $30, not $10.

Second, you do not NEED GSAK to load Cachemate. Cachemate comes with a program called CMConvert which will do this and save you the cost of purchasing GSAK (all GSAK does is run CMConvert under the covers anyway).

Unknown said...

I sit corrected. Geocaching.com membership is $30.00 a year and I will make the change. Second, GSAK is in my opinion the best well rounded tool for handling most if not all a geocachers tracking, finding and importing/exporting needs. I never said there were not alternatives to do the same thing.. Find what works best for you is always the best way to go.


Unknown said...

The correct URL for GSAK is http://gsak.net This is a very powerful program and well worth the small payment.

Jerode said...

The cachemate URL seems to be off. I think it is http://www.smittyware.com/palm/cachemate/

Take a look it seemed the site you listed it parked and potentially dangerous.

Unknown said...

Thanks Jerode,

You are so right.. The best URL for cachemate is: http://www.smittyware.com/palm/cachemate/

Thanks for the info!


D. Gudger said...

Are any of these applications Mac compatible? I wasn't able to figure it out. The screen shots are PC.

Barsum said...

You can also do paperless geocaching using your mobile phone. Take a look at the free client geoshrine. http://www.geoshrine.org