This feed contains pages in the "geocaching" category.

There posts are mostly about geocaching, GPS navigation and related thoughts.

Last week I bought a Garmin Colorado 300, this was mostly because my Bluetooth GPS Receiver froze while turning static navigation off while we were in Stockholm. So far it's proven well worth the money, on Saturday we were returning from Tampere and had a lot of fun finding some caches.

Initially I had planned on checking some caches in Tampere, but it turned out that the caches that were near the place where we visited were not too interesting for us. So headed home and planned on checking a few caches while heading out of Tampere, which didn't work out. I had stored too few caches from Tampere to reach the outside regions of Tampere. So we just planned on heading home.

After a short while we stopped for a break and I decided to check if there were any caches nearby. To our surprise we had stopped just next to a cache called Mannerheimin matkassa and after a short search found it. It was such a nice surprise that we searched for more caches close to our path. We decided to visit Äijänkivi which we already expected to have a cache since it was such a convenient place for one. We also noted a cache further along but didn't really plan on visiting it since it was already getting dark.

By the time we reached Äijänkivi it was dark already and we had to use flashlights to find our way around. It turned out to be a bit of a challenge to use flashlights but keep them off enough to not draw attention to us. It turned out to be a awesome place to visit, too bad we left our camera in the car and it was too dark to just quickly run and grab it.

While we were driving home we started talking about the cache I noted before (Halkivahankivi). It turned out that we were able to guess the location and spotted it while driving by. So we decided to turn back and log the visit. While heading out we decided to visit cache called Kuninkaan mänty since it was a bit further away from main roads and we could use our flashlights without drawing attention. Before we would have passed searching for a cache in the dark or even during winter. But it was really fun to search for a cache in the dark with just our flashlights, even the snow didn't matter too much. When we were heading back to the car we both agreed that we should have changed our shoes in to something better than your regular city shoes, we were wet and cold once we got back to the car. Even still it was fun to search for a cache in the woods, one of the things I wanted to do when I finally started searching for caches.

So at this point we were both quite excited to head out for yet anther cache and decided to visit Sammallahdenmäki and this time change our shoes for something more fit for walking in the forest. Initially we started to head to the right direction that would have been the easy way to the cache, but decided to trust the technology and headed out to the woods. The cache was an easy find once we got to the location. It was fun to walk around in a forest you don't know in the dark. On the walk back I read the cache description out loud and it turned out that the site was a burial ground, which made the walk back even more interesting. We spotted 6 or 7 burial cairns on the way back.

So it took us some 3 or 4 hours more to drive home than it would have if we had driven straight home. It was fun though! The Colorado 300 proved itself as a good buy. Previously with the Bluetooth receiver finding a cache had to start a few days before the trip. First I had to verify that static navigation was off and print the maps, descriptions and unit conversions. When it finally was time to head out, I usually ran out of battery on my phone. So on the occasion when we got out to actually seek a cache the accuracy was lousy at best, we found the caches by luck. So it was a good adventure to just head out to find a simple cache, with the colorado it's almost too easy to head out and seek a cache.

In the end, the trip home from Tampere was a really good experience. I consider seeking a cache at night a fun thing and now I see that winter is a good time to find caches too.

Posted Mon Feb 18 08:16:27 2008 Tags: geocaching

So I finally got myself a GPS, which has been on my list of things to get for quite some time. I also made my first baby steps as a geocacher and surprisingly found a few caches.

Geocaching is a world wide treasure hunt that anyone can take part of. All you need is a GPS (or a very accurate map) and a adventurous mind. The actual process is simple: you locate a cache you wish to find, go to the coordinates of the cache, find it (duh!) and log your find.

The first time I heard about geocaching was back in 2002 or so and I've visited the idea of starting to find caches quite often since then. Last week I finally got myself to order a GPS. I took the cheapest bluetooth model I could find after making sure that it had an mini-B USB connector for the charger. In fact it turned out to be a re-branded Holux GPSlim 236, which was a good thing since I had my eyes set on the 240 model as an alternative.

So far learning a new hobby has been loads of fun as well as frustrating. It turns out that there are 3 ways to represent a WGS 84 coordinates. And with my luck I had 2 applications that both used different notations and neither of them was the one given to me. Not to mention that there are other coordinates than the WGS 84 datum. After learning about multiple standards and notations it became a bit easier to locate the caches, since now we were looking from the right place.

The trouble doesn't stop there. The GPS I bought has a SiRFstar III chipset. Since there is a small changes in the signal and you in a worst case scenario you can get multiple coordinates just by standing still, this chipset has a feature to improve accuracy. The way it is implemented causes problems in geocaching because you don't get as accurate information from the device. There is a way to turn the feature off, but in the process it's apparently quite easy to temporarily brick your device. Luckily the device can be unbricked by allowing the internal battery to drain so that the device does a hardware reset. I'll see tomorrow if I'm able to disable the feature without bricking the device again.

So, a seemingly simple hobby turned out as a mess.. Again! It's not all bad though, we spent a nice day outside looking for some more caches today. It's just the push we needed to get moving and going outside. I just keep wondering what other problems lie ahead.

Posted Mon Sep 24 00:53:12 2007 Tags: geocaching