Author Topic: Newbie FAQ - for those who are just starting  (Read 6249 times)

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Newbie FAQ - for those who are just starting
« on: May 05, 2010, 16:33:43 »
This thread takes the best advice for newbies from our forum, saving you a little searching.  If you want to find out more on a topic, try using the search function (box at top of page) on the forum, as it may have been covered, before starting new thread.

FAQ about Geocaching this will answer the basic questions.

You will need to buy GPS

You will find the majority on here saying GARMIN.  Most in the area use a version of the MAP 60 (Cx or CSx) with a few upgrading to the Oregon or Colorado.
What the letters after certain Garmin models mean:
C = color
x = expandable (memory card)
H = High-sensitivity (more precise under heavy canopy)
S = Sensors (fancy barometer/altimeter/electronic compass)

Only a handful use Magellan, or other

Things to look at no matter what you buy:
Ability to connect to computer, makes transfer of waypoints easier
Ability to add maps, you will want to know what side of a river, cliff the cache is on

Now that I have GPS, what do I do?

When I started, I used the website to enter my postal code, and searched for the caches nearest my house.  I had been expecting to find caches in the larger parks, but was pretty shocked to discover the nearest caches were just a few hundred meters away.

Look for green "1 box" icons indicating "traditional" cache hunts (e.g. the cache is at the coordinates), as opposed to the yellow "2 boxes" icon which indicates that you have to find tags with more coordinates written on them, or the “blue question mark” icon which indicates that you have to solve a puzzle or riddle in order to determine the coordinates.  Also look for the cache size indicator (a small dark red square) -- the bigger, the better.  Take a look at the difficulty and terrain, try starting with 1/1 caches.

The others have mentioned that there are regular events in Ottawa. There is a monthly dinner at Summerhay's Grill on baseline - N 45° 21.139 W 075° 45.703.  This is a fun social event where you get to meet a couple of dozen other cachers, and it counts as a find too (an "event" cache)!  However, since these are at a busy restaurant you may find it's a bit crowded and noisy.  Plan to also attend the next "Let's Talk Geocaching" event.  It's held at the Dovercourt Rec Center in Westboro, and is a much more relaxed setting.  You'll have plenty of opportunity to ask questions at either one, and both venues have caches nearby that you can find.  (If you go to both, that'll be your first 3 or 4 finds right there!) Info can be found in the event forum.

If you haven't bought a GPS unit yet, you can ask about them and try them out. The most popular units in Ottawa seems to be Garmin GPSMAP 60cx.  Feel free to check out Magellan units too, but they're in the minority

Also, there is a group that regularly meets for breakfast every Saturday morning at 7:00am, followed by a few hours of caching.  Normally it's at Al's Diner on Clyde Avenue just south of Carling Avenue.  This is a family-friendly group and you are always welcome to attend -- just show up.  Come when you can, go home when you're ready to -- it's all very informal.  You can keep track of where the group is meeting, and what caches are on the agenda, by reading the latest thread in the "Geo-Mob" forum, .  There's also an email list you can ask to be subscribed to.

If you prefer a more personal tutorial, just ask and I'm sure one or two of us would be happy to get together some afternoon and take you through the process of finding your first few caches.  Post in the Looking for a cache partner forum.

In short, we're a friendly bunch, and we always welcome new people!  If you have questions feel free to post on the forums too.  There's no such thing as a stupid question (only stupid answers)

I am ready to go look for a geocache

It is always a good idea to tell someone where you are going and when you will be back, especially if you are heading off-trail in the wilderness.  The search and rescue team can't look for you if they don't know you are missing.  You might have the best sense of direction in the world and be sure you will never get lost, but if you slip and break your leg, it's nice to know someone will come looking for you in a few hours.  If you can't find anyone reliable to tell, at least leave a note somewhere (in your car / home / office).  Or on the forum here.

Most geocachers have a bag dedicated just for caching.  To get a sense of what people take read this thread:

If you are visiting or new to the wooded areas of Ottawa there are a few things to be aware of.  We have ticks in the area,  and we have poison ivy,

Making a trade, TB's, Geocoins, signature items

The general rule is, if you take something leave something, but please trade up, meaning leave something better then what you took, trade equal or don't trade at all.  We all like the chance to find a great swag item (trade item)  leaving a broken McToy and taking a working maglight is not fair to the finders after you.  Also if you find garbage in a cache please remove it, this could be rusty swag, moldy papers, broken items.  If there are TB's or geocoins and you don't have a trade item we still encourage you to pick these up and move them.  If there are a few trackables, consider leaving some and moving some.  These items are meant to be moving and you can help them along.  You may notice in caches the same item, such as a bluelamb or a calling card (though cards are now frowned upon as they get moldy)  Many have wondered if you can move them or if they are to be left.  The answer is they are free for the moving.  To read more on good/bad trade items read this thread:

I looked for the cache now what?

Did you find the cache?  Did something happen on the way to the cache?  Was the container in good condition or was it wet?  Did you not find the cache (DNF)?  Was it rated 1 terrain meaning you could do in a wheelchair but you had to scale a cliff to find it?  Was the area an amazing place to visit?  Was finding your first cache a real high?  Were you first to find (FTF) ?  Did you sign the log, take nothing left nothing (SLTNLN)?  Did you make a trade?  Did you want to say thanks for the cache (TFTC)?  Is there something future finders should know about?

This is your chance to tell the world your thoughts, story about your caching trip.  Go to a computer sign in to find the cache page for the one you did.  Now in the upper left corner you will find a link “log your visit”  Now pick the type of log it is, found it, did not find it, or write note and set the date. In the big square tell everyone about your adventure, the good and the bad.  Don't worry if your hunt ended in a DNF.  That story should be shared to as it could mean something is wrong and owner should check, especially if there are several DNF's on the page, or it could just mean a really tricky hide. Please don't include spoilers, like exactly where the cache is or how to solve puzzle.  If there is something that you want to say but can't on the cache page email the owner.

I love this game and I want to hide a geocache NOW!!

We would like to encourage you to find about a 100 caches first, before placing your first hide.  Yes that sounds like a lot, but in this city it can be done fast, within a week if you want.  Our reason for this is, 100 caches gives you a chance to build up your geosense, and also by 100 you should experience many different hide styles.  You will probably learn what containers are good and what containers crack or let moisture in.  You will learn what makes a good hide location and what may not.   Be sure to double check your coords, take the time to let the GPS settle, even try approaching it from different directions. If there is a trail head or anything that a seeker should know, be sure to write that on the cache page.  If it is a puzzle, ask a friend to try and solve it This will give you an idea of how hard it is and a chance to check for errors.  By following these tips  you will save yourself some grieve.  We want your first hide to be a positive experience for you, as well as those seeking it.

Working on Puzzles

Puzzle solving differs because there are so many puzzle types. But they have a few things in common.

Usually, you're looking for numbers, and you know they will be N45 xx.yyy W075 aa.bbb (in Ottawa). If you see a puzzle that clearly states it has the full coordinates, then you just got a hint on how to find a "4", a "5", a "7" and maybe a "0". If the puzzle says the final coordinates are less than x km away from the posted location, you can verify on Google Earth or Mapsource for ranges of minutes. That will reduce the amount of work to "translate" the cryptic text into coordinates.

Example: a puzzle would show coordinates "N23 13.324 W53 34.122" and tell you to figure out the real coordinates. If the puzzle is near Ottawa, you know the "45" and "75", so you could guess you need to add 2 to each numbers to figure out the answer! That would be "N45 35.546 W75 56.344". Now, you can do the same thing with letters, etc.

Always look at the difficulty level. That will generally tell you if you need to break your head on it. Of course, that depends on the owner's judgment.

How would you "translate" something like "IIS.GE BIB.LE"? Did you try to read it on a calculator? Wouldn't it be "37.818 39.511"?

The real trick is to not try too hard. Start with the ones you feel comfortable with. Projections, trigonometry, etc. Then try harder ones like text encryption. You will build up confidence and experience. After solving a lot of easy ones, you'll sometimes see the trick right away when a cache is being published.

Sometimes, you may find hints in logs. But that may also discourage you (seeing things like: "easy puzzle, I deciphered it in minutes!").

If all attempts fail and it really bothers you to always see that nasty puzzle in your closest unfound cache list, then you can use the "Ignore" button in the upper right corner of the cache page. That will prevent it from showing in your searches and pocket queries.  Please note though that this option is only available to premium members. When you get some experience and feel the need to be challenged again, you'll always have the option to remove the cache from your ignore list at a later time.

Stats bar in forum signature

And an update to that...

Event cache etiquette - log “will attend”

The CCC cachers enjoy a good event.  To make it enjoyable to all, it is important to post a "will attend" and the number of people in your party, ASAP.  This allows the events host to better prepare the location, so they can hiring of staff and meal prep. If you do not log a "will attend", or leave it til the last minute like day of event, the event will not be the best it can be.  So please let us know your coming ASAP, we look forward to seeing you there.

Now that you have read through this, we invite you to enjoy the forums and geocaching in the region.  Please step over to this thread where you can meet us and introduce yourself .

Thanks to hidnseek, GreyingJay, cron and cavecats for contributing to this FAQ
« Last Edit: August 01, 2014, 21:57:21 by model12 »


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Re: Newbie FAQ - for those who are just starting
« Reply #1 on: October 28, 2010, 22:22:20 »
A suggestion regarding signatures... You can also link your signature to your profile on by adding the url bbcode. Example is the code I have used for my signature. You just have to get your 'guid' code on your profile.

Code: [Select]



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Re: Newbie FAQ - for those who are just starting
« Reply #2 on: July 16, 2011, 15:31:04 »
What's a "GAG" and an "OMAX" and where can I find out more?


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Re: Newbie FAQ - for those who are just starting
« Reply #3 on: July 16, 2011, 17:51:26 »
Gags are a yearly event here in Ottawa. OMAX used to be a similar event in Gatineau, but is no more.


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Re: Newbie FAQ - for those who are just starting
« Reply #4 on: July 17, 2011, 09:34:07 »
Great explanation by bluelamb03! Thanks Model12. I did search "GAG" and "OMAX" in search bar but this did not come up as a find?

Added: I just tried again and results were present discussion. However, if I search from HOME page, there are many results. Please excuse me, I assumed the Search would comb the whole site, not just the active thread.
« Last Edit: July 17, 2011, 09:36:25 by Wanda_Arownd »