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Introduction to Geocaching


Designed By: J. Galbraith & M. Gallagher from numerous online resources ... An entertaining outdoor adventure game for GPS users of all ages. ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Introduction to Geocaching

Introduction to Geocaching
  • Hi-Tech Hide Seek Interest project
  • April 8, 2006
  • Shavers Creek Environmental Center
  • Presentations by
  • Joel Galbraith (The Seven Gs)
  • David Darin Tandberg (Anasazis)

What is GPS?
  • GPS (Global Positioning System) is a system made
    up of satellites and electronic receivers that
    can determine your approximate location (within
    6-20 feet) almost anywhere on the planet.
  • (Satellites mostly controlled by the military)

How does the GPS work?
  • Using a system of 27 satellites in the sky,
    ground stations on earth, and a GPS receiver, the
    distances between each of these points can be
  • The distance is calculated based on the amount of
    time it takes for a radio signal to travel
    between these points.
  • This allows the GPS receiver to know where you
    are, in terms of latitude and longitude, on the

What is GPS?
  • The GPSr must see the satellites, so it does
    not work well in
  • dense forests
  • inside caves
  • Underwater
  • inside buildings
  • but it does work at night
  • The GPS receiver can see about 14 of the 24
    satellites at any one timethe more the merrier
    (or more accurate)
  • It needs at least 3 to give you your position in
    latitude and longitude.

GPS satellite factoids
  • Distance from Earth
  • ½x Earths circumference
  • 12,000 miles
  • 2 orbits in 24 hours
  • Travel 7,000 miles/hour
  • Powered by Solar energy

Latitude Longitude
  • A grid of imaginary lines on the earths surface.
  • The global address of any place on earth includes
    both latitude and longitude.
  • The lines of latitude, called parallels, are
    horizontal, running east and west around the
    globe. -90 (S pole) to 90 (N pole) degrees
    Were at about 40 North
  • The lines of longitude, called meridians are
    vertical, running between the North and South
    Poles. 180 east or west Were at about 77
  • Each degree is divided into 60 minutes and each
    minute is divided into 60 seconds.

What is GPS?
  • Since the GPS unit knows your position and
    tracks time, it can calculate distance, speed,
    direction, and even elevation.
  • You can use the unit to navigate from your
    current location to another location. Each
    position is called a waypoint.

What is GPS?
  • Some units have their own maps, built-in
    electronic compasses, altimeters, and even voice
  • Dont worry though, a GPS device doesnt send
    signals, it only receives them. So . . . no one
    can track your location!

Who uses GPS?
  • Military
  • Fire/rescue/ambulance
  • Researchers/scientists
  • Explorers, Ecologists
  • Surveyors/construction
  • Shipping companies (navigate ocean)
  • Farmers, Forestry
  • Hikers, bikers, skiers, snowmobilers
  • Airlines and private pilots
  • Fishers, hunters
  • Geocachers (of course)

How do GPS receivers work?
  • Lets say you dont know where you are but you
    call a friend and she says that youre 860 miles
    from Disney World.
  • That puts you anywhere on the perimeter of a
    circle around Orlando Florida!


How do GPS receivers work?
  • You call a cousin in Chicago who tells you that
    you are 511 miles away
  • So not only are you on the perimeter of the
    circle around Orlando, but around Chicago too.

How do GPS receivers work?
  • Finally, someone stops and tells you that youre
    160 miles from Philadelphia
  • You now know right where you are!

GPS options to consider
  • Rocker keypad
  • Computer interface
  • Power source
  • Color screen
  • Car Navigation
  • External antenna jack
  • Screen size/readability
  • 12-16 channel receiver
  • Waterproof (ipx2/ipx7)
  • Altimeter
  • Electronic compass
  • Basemap
  • Optional maps
  • Memory size (expandable?)

How much will I pay?
General GPS Questions?
Welcome to Geocaching!(indirectly addressing
  • The sport where YOU are the search engineTM

The Groundspeak Geocaching Logo is a trademark of
Groundspeak, Inc. (Used with permission)
What is Geocaching?
  • An entertaining outdoor adventure game for GPS
    users of all ages.
  • GEO geography Caching storing provisions
    (weapons, food, data)
  • Nothing to do with money or cash
  • The basic idea is to set up caches (hidden
    prizes) all over the world and share the
    locations (Latitude / Longitude) of these caches
    on the Internet for others to find.

What is Geocaching?
  • GPS users can then use the coordinates to find
    the caches.
  • Once found, the visitor may take something from
    the cache, leave something, and/or sign the
  • The find is then logged onto the Internet
    website where records are kept about caches you
    have found and hidden.

Whats the point?
  • Geocaching can be thought of in three parts
  • The journey to reach the cache area.
  • The challenge of actually finding the cache
  • The fun of creating an interesting or clever
    geocache for others to find
  • All can be equally rewarding.

Geocaching and the Environment
  • In 2003, geocachers around the world organized 67
    cleanup events in 5 countries and 28 States. The
    events were such a huge success that Groundspeak
    is committed to carrying on the tradition.
  • April 22, 2006 is CITO day!
  • Goals
  • Actively promote the Cache In Trash Out program.
  • Assist in the maintenance of parks trail
  • Increase public awareness of Geocaching.

How Did It Get Started?
  • On May 1, 2000, the GPS signal degradation called
    Selective Availability (SA) was removed.
  • The change allowed GPS units owned by civilians
    to now be accurate to within as close as 6 feet.
  • On May 3rd, 2000, Dave Ulmer hid a cache in
    Oregon and sent coordinates to friends online.
    It was visited twice within 3 days.

How Did It Get Started?
  • Mike Teague, the first to find it, built a web
    page to document the caches.
  • Jeremy Irish, the current operator of the
    Geocaching website, expanded the idea and named
    it Geocaching.
  • Geocaching is now in all 50 states and in over
    221 countries.

How BIG is Geocaching?
  • Six years later
  • Sept 5th 2006
  • There are 308, 647 active caches
  • Caches in 222 countries.
  • In the last 7 days, there have been 227,683 new
    logs written
  • 35,742 users

Worldwide Geocaches
U.S. geocaches
Geocaches in our Area
  • PA
  • (bagillion)
  • Centre County (70)
  • Shavers Creek (5)

A Code of Conduct
Dress Appropriately
What you need to start
A handheld GPS receiver
What you need to start
Internet access and a FREE account on
Geocache types
  • Traditional cache
  • Multicache
  • Virtual cache
  • Letterbox cache
  • Mystery/Puzzle cache
  • Event cache
  • Earth cache
  • Webcam Cache

Typical Geocache containers
  • Usually a weather-resistant container such as
    Tupperware, Rubbermaid, or surplus ammo box

Less typical containers
Whats in a cache?
  • The Logbook Pen/Pencil
  • Trinkets to trade
  • Examples maps, books, software, hardware, CDs,
    videos, pictures, coins, tools, games, etc.
  • Information sheet that explains the container and
    geocaching, as well as contact information.
  • Travel Bug (TB), Geocoin, Jeep
  • Disposable camera (optional)

What are the rules?
  • Cache placement
  • No caches on land maintained by the U.S. National
    Park Service or U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
    (National Wildlife Refuges)
  • No caches that are buried.
  • No caches placed on archaeological or historical
  • Obtain permission if needed for city, state
    parks/forest caches (CRPR, DCNR)

What are the rules?
  • Cache placement contd
  • No caches close to active railroad tracks. 150
    feet minimum.
  • No caches on military installations.
  • No caches near or under highway bridges, dams,
    government buildings, or airports.
  • No caches on/near school property.

What are the rules?
  • Cache contents
  • No food (attracts critters)
  • No weapons (knives, ammunition, explosives)
  • No drugs or alcohol
  • No solicitations (business, religious, political)
  • No inappropriate materials

Who enforces the rules?
  • Controls listing of geocaches worldwide on its
  • Caches are approved by volunteer reviewers.
  • Geocachers (everyone)
  • If you see something inappropriate, you remove
    it, mention it in log, email owner, or report it
    to reviewer.

Travel Bugs, Geocoins, Jeeps
  • Items with a serial number that are tracked from
    cache to cache
  • TBs are dog tags attached to any item
  • Contests are played for longest distance, fastest
    travel etc.
  • Frequently given missions
  • Fun to both find and track
  • Some people collect them
  • Example

How do you play?
  • Visit the website to locate nearby
  • Search the site by zip code, lat-long., state,
    country, area code, keyword, or waypoint.
  • Print or Write down coordinates (some GPSrs let
    you download info into unit)

Finding the Geocache
  • Enter Coordinates into GPS and follow directions.
  • Use clues (if necessary) to locate the cache.
  • Caches are hidden so pay attention to the clues!
  • If I were them, where would I hide it
  • Trust the GPS, LOOK around!!!

Once located.
  • Take something from the cache.
  • Leave something in the cache.
  • Write about it in the logbook.
  • Return it to its original location.
  • Write about it on
  • Log Travelbugs, Geocoins or Jeeps
  • Post pictures (always appreciated)

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Geocachers Jargon
  • Geo-muggle/muggle- non-geocacher
  • FTF- First To Find
  • TFTC- Thanks For The Cache
  • TNLNSL- Took Nothing, Left Nothing, Signed Log
  • Geotrail- Visible traces of footprints, disturbed
    leaves, broken twigs etc.

A note about Letterboxing
  • Much of the same activity, but No GPS is used
  • A growing sport started back in 1859 in England
  • Riddles and clues must be solved and followed
  • Stamps (custom carved), inkpads, logbooks and a
    compass are important elements of letterboxing.
  • Trade stamp imprints, (thumb print)
  • Often writing, drawing in logbooks, usually no
    goodies to trade (letterbox hybrid cache)
  • A slower, classier game (IMHO).

Enough yakking already!Lets Go Find A Geocache!
Sites on related activities
  • Central PA Geocachers
  • Letterboxing http//
  • Central PA Letterboxing http//centralpalbx.blogsp
  • Bookcrossing http//
  • GPS Drawing http//
  • Benchmarking or Benchmark hunting
  • Degree Confluence Project http//www.confluence.or
  • GPS Games http//

Educational Resources
  • From a Distance- NASA site with Information and
    Lesson Plans http//
  • All About GPS (tutorial) http//
  • GIS and GPS Lesson Plan Resources
  • What is Latitude and Longitude http//
  • How GPS Receivers Work http//electronics.howstuff
  • GPS Guide for Beginners (PDF download)

Geocaching Resources
  • http// -
    Number 1 site for geocaching the one that
    started it all
  • http// - Number 2
    web site for geocaching
  • Geocachers Creed http//
  • Todays Cacher http// -
    online magazine for geocachers
  • Geocacher University http//
  • Markwells FAQs http//
  • Buxley's Geocaching Waypoint http//
  • http//
  • The First 100 Geocaches http//
  • Geocaching with Kids http//
  • A weekly podcast on Geocaching http//www.podcache

Extra Stuff
Uses for GPS receivers
  • Hiking and backpacking
  • Canoeing and marine navigation
  • Hunting and fishing
  • Bird watching
  • Search and rescue
  • Exercise progress tracking
  • Traveling via car, motorcycle, bicycle
  • Geocaching

Basic GPS Features
Some GPS links
Whats the point?
  • Sometimes just getting to the cache area can be a
    big part of the adventure.
  • It's one thing to see the latitude and longitude
    plotted on a map, but it can be quite a task to
    figure out how to get from here to there.

Who are the geocachers?
Who are the geocachers?