gps receivers & geocaching details

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GPS Receivers & Geocaching Details. Prepared by:. John McGee Jennifer McKee. With support from:. NSF DUE-0903270. in partnership with:. Geospatial Technician Education Through Virginia’s Community Colleges (GTEVCC). GPS Receivers. What does “Geocaching friendly” mean?. - PowerPoint PPT Presentation


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GPS Receivers & Geocaching Details

With support from:NSF DUE-0903270Prepared by:in partnership with:John McGeeJennifer McKee

Geospatial Technician Education Through Virginias Community Colleges (GTEVCC)This presentation is a precursor to a geocaching exercise. You may want to provide two handouts (if you have a trackable item, or are tracking an item such as a geocoin...):The Virginia Geocoin AdventureThe Virginia Geocoin ReflectionsYou will also require access to GPS receivers, and to the Internet ( in order to geocache!1GPS ReceiverseTrex HeTrex Venture HCeTrex Legend HCxeTrex Vista HCxeTrexOregon550THigh sensitivity chipYesYesYesYesYesGeocaching friendlyNoYesYesYesYesArea CalculationNoYes YesYesYesColor ScreenNoYesYesYesYesInterface-USB/SerialSerialUSBUSBUSBUSBPrice ($85$125$190$212$509

GPS receivers come in a slew of models with a slew of options. The more expensive GPS receivers (like the Oregon) have built in cameras, barometric altimeters, pre-loaded topo maps, larger hard drives, etc. The less expensive GPS receivers (like the eTrex H) have fewer capabilities. Which is the best GPS receiver? Basically, the best GPS receiver, is the one that most closely fits your specific needs. Map@syst ( has a great article that discusses potential considerations when purchasing a GPS receiver. This article can be accessed here:

2What does Geocaching friendly mean?For Garmin units:Ability to download waypoint coordinates from geocaching.comGPS receiver has a geocache menuShows downloaded geocachesMany show if they have been found or notCan select Go To function which gives navigational directions towards geocachesWill also show any other information downloaded with the geocache in comment field

Some GPS receivers are geocaching friendly, others are not. 3Introduction to GeocachingGeocaching is a high-tech entertaining adventure game for GPS usersThe idea is to hunt for hidden containers (geocaches) that have been placed in the landscape (virtual orienteering)Pick a prize from the geocache and leave a prizeGeocaching is enjoyed by people of all ages, with a strong sense of community and support for the environment Pretty self explanatory...4GeocachingGeocache examples

Micro cache

Example of contentsGeocaches come in lots of shapes and sizes. Most geocaches are just tupperware containers. Ammo boxes make good geocaches. And then there are the micro caches (like a small hollowed out magnetic bolt) . In addition, some geocaches are virtual. For example, there are some geocaches that are basically a digital camera sitting in a window. Youll get your picture taken by the digital camera (you may need to use a smartphone device or mobile internet to take the picture) and posted to a virtual geocaching website!

Big Bolt cache (magnetic) - Micro cache from 5GeocachingCreate account on Search for geocachesDownload geocaches to your GPS unitHunt your geocacheSign logbook in cacheTake an item, leave an itemReturn cache to exact position & condition in which it was foundWrite about your experience on These are the basic steps that are required to get involved in geocaching. Many of these steps are outlined in further detail on the geocaching Website ( or in the Virginia Geocoin Adventure handbook (available from under cool tools.)6Trackable ItemsItems that have a tracking number & can be followed on (via GoogleEarth...)The majority of items that are placed in a geocache are not trackable. Examples of ordinary/ non-trackable items might include small plastic dinosaurs, balls, a deck of cards, stickers, small cars or trucks, a compass, etc. Trackable items, on the other hand, are prized by members of the geocaching community. These items have a unique serial number stamped on them. The serial number is then logged onto a website ( each time the coin is deposited into a geocache, or found at a geocache. The movements of the trackable item can then be monitored via!7

This image shows an example of the movement of two different geocoins. The movements of geocoins can be conducted at a global scale (world view) or at a zoomed in or local scale. The example on the left side of the screen shows the location of a geocoin just outside of Diamond Head, Hawaii. The image on the right side shows the location of a geocoin in Holland. The beauty of this feature, is that students can add a (or several) geocoins to their watch list, and start to compare different landscapes as the geocoin makes it way across their community, their state, and then the world! This approach also helps students to better understand how their neighborhood is associated with larger landscapes. 8Trackable ItemsGeocoinsSpecial coin created by individuals/groups as a signature item/calling cardHas unique tracking ID Travel Bugs - A trackable tag that is attached to an itemThe travel bug is a standard design (a travel bug looks like a dog tag...)

There are 2 types of trackable items:GeocoinsTravel bugs

Both of these trackable items have unique tracking ids 9Geocaching is fun... This activity is also a teachable momentThe Virginia Geospatial Extension Program has developed a geocaching handbook that incorporates STEM-based learning with GPSThis is available for download from the VCCS Geospatial Webportal, or from the Virginia Geospatial Extension Program Website ( under the cool tools section)It is also accessible from the VCCS Geospatial Portal!Geocoins & Travel Bugs

Here are some examples of travel bugs and dog tags. Note that it is not a good idea to place an image of your trackable item on the Web that shows the unique id number (I use photoshop to blur the number out...). If this number gets into the wrong hands, then someone can wreck havoc with that particular trackable item...11Establishing a New GeocacheDo you need to start a new cache in order to be a geocacher? Absolutely not! There are already almost 1,100,000 established geocaches to choose from! There is likely an active geocache near your school already!There are over 50 geocaches within a 3 mile radius of Virginia Tech!

All you need to get started with Geocaching is a GPS receiver, an account (free) on, and a small trinket that can be place in the geocache. 12Information & Tips for Creating a New GeocacheIf you do want to start a new cache, then there are some guidelines that you need to follow... Are geocaches are allowed in your proposed location?If it is private property, you will need to get permission from the land ownerSome park systems require permits, so check with park management to make sure a permit isn't required, or obtain one if it is.No geocaches on NPS lands!If you do want to establish a geocache, then just be aware that there are some protocols to follow. These protocols are outlined on www.geocaching.com13Information & Tips for Creating a New GeocacheStock your cache A few inexpensive & useful itemsDollar stores are popular places to get items (gotta keep the Chinese economy going...)If its trash throw it out, not in a cacheBefore hiding your cache, step back and consider what a non-geocacher might think if one were to see a stranger wandering that area with a GPS.Pretty self explanatory...14Any Questions?John McGeeGeospatial Extension Specialistjmcg@vt.edu540-231-2428

Jennifer McKeeGeospatial Project Developerjmckee@vt.edu540-231-9115


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