Geocaching and Georeferencing

Fun with GPS Technology

The Global Positioning Satellite Network

Geo Technology

Covering the Geocaching Beat

How to start treasure hunting using a Pocket PC or GPS receiver?

Share the excitement of treasure hunting with your family. Stretch your imagination and keep excited about the 250,000 active caches or treasures in over 200 countries that are waiting for you to discover.

A few months after May 2000, when the Clinton administration lifted the limitation of selective availability in the way the GPS satellites were configured, Jeremy Irish built a web site called Geocaching.com. A new sport was born. The object of geocaching is to find caches or treasures hidden in different locations all over the world and then logging your find on the Geocaching.com web site. The cache usually contains any widget of some sort as well as a log book for you to record your find.

The motto behind geocaching is, "take something, and leave something". Geocaching is more than just hunting for treasures in forest, shopping malls, business industrial areas, hiking trails and swamps. It's an opportunity to explore treasures while teaching your family how to incorporate using Pocket PCs, Bluetooth GPS receivers to find caches in different locations around the world. This is a sport that the entire family can participate in.

This article will go right into:

  • How to start geocaching
  • How to find your way back to the car
  • Recording your treasures or caches on the Geocaching.com web site

Geocaching Has Never Been Easier

Your first step on your treasure hunting adventures is to look for cache by first going to Geocaching.com and find, "search for caches". Once you're there, type either your: zip code, country or state. You'll see a list of caches in your area. Next, choose the cache you want, download the cache information onto your Pocket PC. After that, load this information on to your navigation software. You are now ready for your high-tech treasure hunting adventure.

Geocachers use mapopolis to drive to the location where the caches are. What's nice about this mapopolis is that you get a voice to guide you turn by turn giving you the exact and precise directions of where the treasure is located. It would be a good idea to go use GPXtoMAPLET, the utility lets you convert GPX files to mapopolis maplet files. This way you make your life easier to get your cache site.

At the arrival point of the cache site, load Beeline GPS on your Pocket PC. The screen will show the caches in your current position. Now that you are on the map screen, tap onto the cache and select Go to Waypoint. Next, select the panel tab on your Pocket PC screen; you will now see an electronic compass. The arrow will point to the location of where the caches are in reference to the location you're standing.

Beeline GPS is said to notify you when you are 100 feet of your treasure hunt. Because you'll be trekking and want to conserve your energy, you will need to change the setting to one or 2 feet. Unless you're prepared to make this into a marathon, and have to either jog or walk 100 feet to get to your treasure. When you're within one to 2 feet of the cache, an icon on the map will change and a pop-up window will say. [You have arrived in gcv06y.] This indicates that you are very close to your treasure.

If you have done any geocaching before, there are some snags you may run into. First of all, even if you set the default setting to 1 to 2 feet, the actual accuracy is you're actually within 15 feet radius of the treasure or cache. I mean the beeline GPS is correct in that you are not far away from the cache, you'll have to use the software in your brains at this point to locate the actual treasure.

Usually, the caches or treasures are in a waterproof or weatherproof container. Another clue you may look for to get you closer to your cache is to view the previous cache finder's notes detailing a hint of where the cache is.

Let's pretend you found cache or treasure, go ahead and swap your cache for the cache that's in the container. Next, sign the log in the weatherproof box with the: date, time and name.

If you wish, you can enter the information right on your Pocket PC. Open the beeline GPS map screen; tap the icon that represents the cache. Click on geocaching found it from the pop-up menu. Go ahead and input your field notes for the next person that will be looking for this cache or treasure.

How to Find the Way Back to your Car?

On the beeline GPS tracking feature, you'll see a red line from a house to your car. You'll also see a dotted meandering line on the screen showing the path that you took from the point you started to where the cache was found. The red line is just a point of reference. It's very important; for you to make a note when you are at the starting point on your Pocket PC before you head off into the woods looking for your treasure. Otherwise you'll have to call the 911 rescue team to rescue you if you happen to be there late at night and don’t have a good sense of direction.

Recording Your Caches or Treasures on the Geocaching Web Site

After going home and plunging into the shower, you're now ready to sit in for front of your computer or Pocket PC and go to the web site called Geocaching.com. The first step to log your successful cache find is to:

  1. Switch on your Pocket PC, open beeline's GPS, find the cache you visited. Once you are on the waypoint management screen. You'll see a list of all the caches loaded on your Pocket PC along with the waypoint name. Find the one you want to make notes on and hit the edit button.
  2. On your web browser, go to geocaching.com web site, log onto your account.
  3. In the geocaching.com search window where it says, "view a cache listing" you'll see this a third way down the screen on the right hand side.
  4. Type in the waypoint name of the treasure and click the search icon. You will now see summary page of that cache.
  5. Under the navigation menu on the right hand side, click on [log your visit.] Next, you'll see a [Post a new log screen here].
  6. Copy the notes you entered earlier to the comments field in the [Post a new log screen.] Earlier in the article, I explained you needed to open beeline GPS to select Go to Waypoint to begin hunting for your cache.
  7. Once you're done, click the [submit log entry] button

If you happen to have a wireless data plan with your wireless carrier provider, you can do all of the above steps at the site of the cache find. If that is the case, it is better to use Geocaching.com’s WAP site which is wap.geocaching.com.

Very often as parents we don't have a chance to be with our kids and spend quality time with balancing our careers, family life and health. If you look at how Geocaching can be an opportunity to look at our children with openness and receptivity, and see the purity of life expressing through them, at any age, it can wake us up at any moment to their true nature and to our own. A new day has dawned in geocaching. The earth has shifted just a bit and the rest of us can enjoy nature using your pocket PC, a GPS receiver and some simple software. Why not take your entire family out next weekend and find a treasure together!

Share The Moment: Georeferencing with the Navman iCN 750

Link The Location With The Picture

Let's say you've decided to go to Alaska or the Yukon to take pictures of the Aurora Borealis in the wintertime. So you get your winter parka and those finger free gloves and hit the cold air to capture some magnificent images to share with your friends and family. Geo Referencing the exact latitude and longitude of the picture you just took is great because you can reference the location and go back to it to take more pictures if you wish to.

Normally, before Geo referencing came along, you would take a picture of the Aurora Borealis and the only reference of the location of the photo was the picture itself. Once you've taken the picture, your memory would not allow you to go back to the exact same location and take that exact same picture again because conditions would be different.

What is Geo referencing?

According to the University of Alberta Department of Biology:

"Georeferencing is the process of assigning coordinates to points on a photograph"

The Navman iCN 750 for example lets you take a picture and automatically saves the location (longitude and latitude) which is embedded then into the JPEG image's EXIF header inside a digital photograph file.

In the old days, you would develop the photos of a trip you went on. There would be a date stamp on the corner of the picture. However, you don't have the exact longitude and latitude of the location. Now you can. The Navman iCN 750 can display with a green camera icon and hyperlink the exact location where the picture was taken on a map. It can also be displayed on the turn by turn directions on a three-dimensional map. The iCN750 functions very well in pinpointing visually the exact location on the navigational map. Now you have an interactive album of your vacations.

The Navman iCN 750 retails for $799.95 (available from www.Navman.com). Before you run out and buy this incredible Geo referencing gadget, please visit the web site to see the image quality and visual images. The Navman iCN 750 comes with 4 GB of hard disk storage allowing you to store maps and photos.

Treasure the past; use it wisely to create the future you want

The Navman iCN 750 is a GPS navigation system combined with a 1.3 megapixel digital camera. When you look at the Navman iCN 750, it looks just like any GPS navigation unit. The front horizontal screen shows turn by turn directions on a 3-D map and is powered by windows mobile. The backside of the unit is the lens opening for the digital camera along with a flip out GPS antenna and a speaker. On top of the Navman iCN 750 is the shutter button to take a picture. By pressing the shutter button once, you launch the camera application. Pressing the shutter button again, will let you take a picture.

As mentioned earlier, automatically when you take a picture with the Navman iCN 750, the current location is embedded in the JPEG image's EXIF header. Once you switch over to the navigational mode, the screen will show the location where the picture was taken on the map where you'll see a green camera icon.

Taking pictures indoors and importing digital photos from your computer

Both Taking pictures indoors and importing digital photos from your computer is possible. The Navman iCN 750 will assign those photos to be "NavPix". You have the option of manually assigning location to indoor photos and imported photos later.

Not a stretch of my comfort zone...

Because the Navman iCN 750 comes with 24 NavPix of US landmarks, and getting going is easy with the Navman. If you happen to be near Niagara Falls or the Golden Gate Bridge, by tapping on a picture of the golden gate bridge or Niagara Falls, you can set up your new Geo referencing JPEG file. You can easily checkout the closest: ATM machine, gas station, restaurant, postal outlets and other travel pit stops by you pulling up any one of the NavPix that are preloaded on the Navman iCN 750. This really comes in handy especially if you travel frequently out-of-town for business or pleasure and don't like to bother asking anybody directions.

If you have installed your collection of photos onto the Navman iCN 750, chances are the iCN 750 will calculate the quickest route to a location without you punching in the longitude and latitude.

Navman is currently working with lonely planet (www.lonelyplanet.com) to promote premium Navman content. If you're planning a trip to Europe, you can purchase SD cards for European locations. If you buy the US version of the Navman iCN 750 preloaded with maps of the US and Canada, will have to purchase European map CDs and lonely planet Nav pix tour cards. What a great invention this is because it eliminates you having to juggle three different devices: a digital camera, GPS receiver and finally a computer when you have to manually input each GPS coordinate photo by photo.

A great advantage with the digital camera component to the Navman iCN 750, you can easily wipe out any unwanted pictures without having to pay for them to be printed out. Looking at the pictures will give you that nostalgia feeling. If you are a Geo referencing fan and love taking pictures with the coordinates attached to the photo, getting from here to there is only part of the trip. The shots you took will give you a hint of what happened especially if you have an idea where you took the picture.

Remember the saying treasure the past, use it wisely to build the future you want. With that in mind, consider sharing some photographs with your friends and family from recent times and wonderful trips you went on with Geo referencing technology.


Source: Smartphone Pocket PC Oct/Nov 2006

Copyright © Rene Tse, the founder and president of the website: verizon cell phone deals.

Rene Tse is on the look out for mobile devices to enhance her productivity. This website cuts to the chase and has valued information on: cell phone ratings and which is the best Geo referencing solution available for your Linux PDA, Pocket PC or smart phone.

If you have any questions regarding these articles, please submit a comment on my blog at: cell phone comparison blog.

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Last edited Sat Oct 28 18:56:08 2006.