Author Topic: A Geek in the Woods  (Read 2675 times)

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HoundGPS

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A Geek in the Woods
« on: December 05, 2011, 08:15:00 »
How many times have you "prepared" yourself for a geocaching adventure, got to the rendez-vous location only to realize with horror after walking a few meters that your GPS, which should be packed with the geocaches in the area, is actually ... empty?

How many times have you, in response to the previous situation, popped out your gps-enabled smartphone to try and find the caches anyways with that crappy GPS chip and firmware that loses signal or freezes every time someones breathes too close to it?

This post might give you a third option, provided you are still within the 3G/4G network coverage and that your smartphone supports USB Host mode. Sadly, there are not many devices that supports USB host mode. Android 3.1 added support for host mode a little while ago, but to my knowledge and at the time of this writing, the Samsung Galaxy S II is probably the only smartphone that enabled the hardware support.

Here's my little "Geek in the woods" demonstration of how you can use both the smartphone and the GPSr to your advantage.

http://youtu.be/EKAOVMeSDIA

« Last Edit: December 05, 2011, 08:19:38 by HoundGPS »

elyob

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Re: A Geek in the Woods
« Reply #1 on: December 05, 2011, 12:09:39 »
Being a forgetful but lo-tech adventurer, I just start exploring geotrails.  More often than not, I find the container without any technology.

bluelamb03

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Re: A Geek in the Woods
« Reply #2 on: December 05, 2011, 13:05:12 »
Cool video, but unless you need to download a lot of caches you could just use your smartphone of choice, open the Geocaching app, search for nearest caches, and enter the co-ordinates of your target(s) by hand.

I agree that using the phone alone for geocaching might not be the best solution depending on which phone you own and where you're going, though Tanglebones and GarmonGal will defend their iPhone 4's to the death, but your solution seems, well, unnecessary if you know what I mean.

Blue -
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Lucky-Lizard

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Re: A Geek in the Woods
« Reply #3 on: December 05, 2011, 13:25:15 »
Unnecessary?

Sure, a smart phone can be a good "emergency" GPSr for regular caches, but what about multi caches where you have to do projections? Or solved mystery caches with the corrected coordinates uploaded in the unit? Should one upload pocket queries in both a smart phone and a GPS in the likelihood that one device fails on the field? I was there when HoundGPS's Garmin decided to crap. Were it not for his "useless" portable powered hub, he would not have been able to fix his Garmin on the field. Sure, he could have used his phone for the afternoon, but if you can fix and/or update your GPSr right on the spot with minimal hardware, why not? I think the initial investment in the handful of cheap electronics he purchased to make this project paid itself in one outing.

But then again, I'm a tech-savvy geek with a penchant for do-it-yourself projects, so my view is extremely biased.

HoundGPS

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Re: A Geek in the Woods
« Reply #4 on: December 05, 2011, 14:54:57 »
I understand this project may seem superfluous when you only consider Geocaching in the equation. There's a lot more potential uses for this than merely fixing a Garmin bug occurrence or transferring GPX files, though they go beyond the scope of what I was attempting to demonstrate in the making of the video.

We all have our preferred ways of doing things when it comes down to how we perform our hobby. Having cached with all three worlds of smartphones (iPhone, HTC Touch Pro windows, Samsung Galaxy S II with Android), I can personally attest that I do NOT like caching with any of them and I will use them as last resort. While I understand this may not be the case for everyone, it is for me and could possibly be the case for others as well.

Since smartphones evolves quickly, the fact the Galaxy is one of the only devices to be able to do this does not mean others won't in the future, hence why I wished to share it for those that could potentially be interested.

As for my habits on the field... Here are a few explanations as to why I got inspired into making this project:

- I prefer using my Garmin Oregon 450 which, even with a few bugs, I consider to be a more reliable device than a smartphone when it comes to GPS accuracy and stability.
- I am not in for the numbers. I am willing to spend as much time as it took the experience on the field to re-live it a second time writing my logs.
- I always provide detailed logs of my finds on geocaching.com so I can share the adventure I had while finding it for both the owner and myself because, well, thats what a "log" is for.
- I always log and time stamp my finds using my Garmin unit, to write my geocaching.com logs at my computer using the timestamps from the garmin log file.
- I like my logs to have one part consistent and the rest being unique to a particular cache.
- I hate creating waypoints manually in the GPS for caches I did not have loaded. Those cannot be logged as "Found" in the device and breaks the use of the garmin log file. This forces me to write the timestamp somewhere else and then I have to handle multiple sources of data when writing the verbose logs at home.
- I enjoy versatility when it does not affect one's designed specialization performance.

For the above reasons, I have thought of this simple device setup so that it can add versatility to my smartphone as well as add mobility to my Garmin.

But that's me. This project is customized to my needs, that's what makes it geek and why I actually called it so ;)
« Last Edit: December 05, 2011, 15:01:24 by HoundGPS »

bluelamb03

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Re: A Geek in the Woods
« Reply #5 on: December 05, 2011, 16:26:26 »
Sure, a smart phone can be a good "emergency" GPSr for regular caches, but what about multi caches where you have to do projections? Or solved mystery caches with the corrected coordinates uploaded in the unit?

Perhaps my post wasn't clear.
 
...unless you need to download a lot of caches you could just use your smartphone of choice, open the Geocaching app, search for nearest caches, and enter the co-ordinates of your target(s) by hand.

I meant "enter the co-ordinates of your target(s) by hand into your GPSr!". While some geocachers are content to use their smartphones (projections? There's an app for that!), I agree that a dedicated handheld is the best way to go, especially when you're in the wilderness for an all day expedition. Loaded mystery finals? If you've loaded the corrected co-ordinates onto the cache page you can browse to the page and enter them by hand.

And in reply to:

Quote
I hate creating waypoints manually in the GPS for caches I did not have loaded. Those cannot be logged as "Found" in the device and breaks the use of the garmin log file

Not a problem with my MAP60Cx.

And in reply to the original point:

Quote
How many times have you "prepared" yourself for a geocaching adventure, got to the rendez-vous location only to realize with horror after walking a few meters that your GPS, which should be packed with the geocaches in the area, is actually ... empty?

It has never happened to me and my MAP60Cx, ever.

So to reiterate, cool video, your geekiness knows no bounds, but while it's an elegant solution to a particular problem there are simpler ways to get what's needed for us non-geeks in the woods.

Cheers,

Blue -
Without shared stories we are strangers.
- Sheila Mendonça


Garmin Gal

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Re: A Geek in the Woods
« Reply #6 on: December 05, 2011, 22:10:15 »
Sure, a smart phone can be a good "emergency" GPSr for regular caches, but what about multi caches where you have to do projections? Or solved mystery caches with the corrected coordinates uploaded in the unit?

Silly ::) - there's an app for that! :P 

Geosphere is the one I use.  I can do projections (though the app author has yet to provide mils as a possible unit, so I do have to do a conversion), record all stages of a multi and correct unknown/mystery cache coordinates.  I can also view only a selected multi (with all stages) so that I can easily see any patterns without the distraction of any other caches displaying.

I have nothing against geek fun, so if you folks want to enjoy yourselves with extra steps and electronics, have at 'er - just don't shortsell my iPhone and what it can do. :D

Lucky-Lizard

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Re: A Geek in the Woods
« Reply #7 on: December 06, 2011, 06:11:10 »
Being inherently geek, I will NOT get into the subject of iPhones or Apple products, for the sanctity and well-being of all ;)

missbug

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Re: A Geek in the Woods
« Reply #8 on: December 09, 2011, 11:49:34 »
after every gpx load, i disconnect my oregon 550, boot it up, watch the loading bar, and search for a couple of caches i know should be on the unit, so there should be no surprises of this nature in the field!

i have been unsuccessful using elyob's strategy of following geotrails to caches (i follow, but can't find anything) when i am aware of multi's or puzzles in the area.