Thursday, January 26, 2006

Paperless Geocaching

I have ventured into the world of paperless geocaching....on the cheap. There are many different ways to do paperless geocaching. Most of which require either a premium membership to geocaching.com and software that you have to pay fro such as Cachemate and GSAK. I want to try paperless geocaching, but on a free basis. I was quite pleased to find that it was doable. However, it takes some time and work to accomplish. If you are a penny pincher like I am, that will be okay.

What I want to do with this post is show you how to cache paperless without paying for a membership or extra software. Obviously, the first thing you need is a Palm device of some sort. I am using a Palm TX. You can get away with a device of much less expense. I see people posting to the geocaching forums using Palms that cost less than $30 on eBay. If you don't have a Palm device, I highly recommend searching on eBay for one. Just be sure you check feedback ratings and from what country you are purchasing. I highly recommend a feedback rating of at least 98% and either Canada or the USA for the country.

Once you have your Palm device, you will need to download and install some freeware software. The program you will need is Plucker Desktop for your PDA and your desktop. This program will grab the cache pages, convert them to a format readable on your Palm device and transfer them to your Palm.

Once you have the software installed, you can use Plucker Destop to save the cache pages and transfer them to your PDA. Once on your PDA, you can open them with Plucker. The pages should look just like they would on your home computer depending if you have a color PDA or not. My PDA is color, so the cache page on my PDA looks just like it would on my home computer.

Okay, we have now suceeded in getting the cache pages to your PDA. Next we need to get your waypoints to you GPS. I use GPSBable and EasyGPS to accomplish this. Both are freeware programs. Geocaching.com allows non-members to download .loc files to their computers. I find it easiest to search based on zpcode and check off caches on the search page. I then select "download" and transfer the .loc files to my computer. I open them with EasyGPS and convert them to the Lowrance format, .usr, using GPSBabel. Once that is done, I transfer them to my GPS SD memory card. I now have the waypoints on my GPS using the standard GCXXXX format and I have the cache pages on my PDA named in the same GCXXXX format. I can look at the map on my GPS, decide which cache is closest, pull up the related cache page on my Palm TX and head for the cache !

That's pretty much it. In other news, I am in the process of buying a premium membership and some of the pay for use software, so I will let you know how that goes, as well. I should end up with the same results I get in the above article. It will just be less tedious !

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4 comments:

dd said...

More good stuff. Let us know how the premium subscription goes.

GPS Systems said...

Hi, Thanks for your interesting blog. Keep up the great work! I also have a site & blog about gps software, please feel free to visit.

rsarich said...

If you buy a Palm to do this, look for at least the IIIxe, it has 8M memory instead of just 1M. The newer models have more memory too, they just cost more money. You should be able to find the IIIxe for around $15 - $20 US.

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Sorry for offtopic