Our prayers are answered…
For cachers looking for a hassle-free way to compile caching maps including 1:25k ordnance survey maps with cache location on, our prayers have been answered. I’d previously blogged about using OS GB Mapping by the Hug which requires a bit of faffing about in Excel to get the GPX files in the correct format, and some Photoshopping to remove the route lines that it plots. Geocacher Pardlerum saw the post and was kind enough to drop me an email and let me know about another site that will allow cache plotting on maps including OS maps without the fuss. I can’t believe I’ve never encountered it as I searched, and searched, and searched for something to do this and came out empty handed. So, as most of you probably wouldn’t have stumbled across this site I thought I’d write a little tutorial post to introduce you to this. It really is the bees knees of cache mapping…
The site is CACH’EYE.
I’ll start by giving you a quick run down of what you can do with the site:
- Upload PQ’s straight from the zip file you download from Geocaching.com and view these on the map.
- Create filters to adjust which terrain/difficulty of caches are shown
- Modify which cache types are shown
- Choose to display caches and/or waypoints
- Filter found, not found, and those which you have used GSAK to correct the coordinates on. If the Information comes from GSAK it cant be changed in CACH’EYE. GPX, LOC and PQ data can be corrected in CACH’EYE
- Filter using GCVote ratings. (This feature also now works without running the GSAK GCVote macro on the site). There is an option “GCVote Settings” located in the “Preferences” menu. Enabling this gathers the GCVotes on application startup. But it is disabled by default because it makes only sense to use it, if someone wants to use GCVotes for filtering.)
- Measure distances between caches by clicking on the map to draw a route.
- Log your caches by clicking each one
- View cache details by clicking it
- Create, store and print lots of to do lists of caches you plan to do on a trip.
- Set a default view, or add different coordinates to create different views to switch to on the maps.
Choose between loads of maps including:
- Bing road, aerial and aerial with labels
- UK Ordnance Survey
- London Streetmap
- Google Road, Satellite, Hybrid, Terrain
- Open Street Map
- Open Cycle Map
- World Imagery, Street, Topo
- US Topo
- DeLorme World
There is a GSAK macro MyCachEye available from the site which allows you to get files ready for import into the site, but from what I can make out the site was modified since this was required and it is no longer needed. I certainly didn’t do anything special to my PQ’s.
To do anything with the site you need to sign up with an account. It’s totally free. You also need to install (cringe) Microsoft Silverlight to access the maps. If you go to view the maps you will be prompted for the download and once you have it installed the maps are viewable in both Internet Explorer and Firefox.
Now you have your account and Silverlight installed the fun can start. Click the big ‘Start’ button on the homepage and you will be directed to your private map area. This is brilliant because it means that you can save changes and they will appear next time you log on.
Uploading a PQ
I started by creating a PQ of 300 caches centering around Chelmsford and a MyFinds PQ. To get this to the site I simply clicked the import menu along the top and pointed it to my PQ zip file on my desktop. After a few seconds everything was done. If you use IE or Chrome you can also drag and drop a PQ onto the map to have it appear.
I thought I’d test the “London Street Maps” view with my MyFinds PQ, centering around the ones found in London. The maps look very useful and include parking, toilets, cinemas, etc. so great to have something a little more detailed with your caches on.
Then it was onto the OS maps (Exciting!) for my Chelmsford PQ. There’s a trail just south of Chelmsford, “Stock Loop‘ which I’ve been meaning to do for ages, so I centered on that to check out the maps.
More advanced features
Hovering on a cache shows its name, owner, GC number, type, difficulty, size, coords, date placed, GC vote rating (If you have run the macro first), and approximate altitude. You can also click on its name to visit the Geocaching.com URL. Along with this you have a set of actions. These are: focus (to focus on that particular cache and also show all belonging Childwaypoints (Stages of a Multicache …), Add to todo list, Measure distance (So you can draw a route on the map), and Log your visit.
If you select a puzzle cache you also have the option to add corrected coordinates. It will zoom in on the area, and then when changed move the cache location to the new coords and colour it red showing that it has been changed.
I started off with measuring the loop. The OS map made it very convenient to see the footpaths so I clicked along these drawing a route as perfect as possible. I was impressed that the measurement snapped to each cache as I hovered my mouse near to it. To end the measurement, I double clicked back at the place I had started. I now know that the route is just over 3km. It’s also handy to be able to see that approximate altitude of the caches so that I know if I’m going to have to climb any hills to it.
The Todo List
No onto one of the real gems of this site, the ‘To Do’ list. If you hover over each cache in a loop you can click the ‘Add to to do list’ action. Now if you click the ‘To Do-List’ tab on the far right hand side you will see the caches that you have added. You can name this list, and create new ones to add additional caches to and these will remain there even after you have logged out.
You can then choose to print the map and it will ask you to select the area to print and produce you a todo list of the caches as well.
Views and Markers
Cach’eye makes it easy to center on a part of the map using markers. You can either enter the coordinates in the ‘Go to’ search box to zoom to an area, or click ‘Go to and set marker’ to zoom there and save a view in your list. On the map you get a little red circle that marks your view coordinates and in your list you get a selection of views to switch to.
Customising your Preferences
You can also modify preferences to filter the caches and change the view of caches on the maps. You can filter out different cache types, including Benchmarks and Waymarks if you collect them too. You can select to show just caches, or just waypoints, or both. You can filter whether you have found or not found a cache, and show only particular difficulty and terrain ranges. Finally you can choose whether your To do list is printed with a portrait map, landscape map, or no map at all.
I have to say I’m eternally grateful to Pardlerum for sending me an email and letting me know about this fabulous site. This very nearly has everything I have ever wanted for creating my caching maps to take on trips. I can only think of one tiny addition which would make it the perfect tool for me, and that is the ability to have cache names all appear on the maps. Other than that this now takes the top spot of the caching resource that I would recommend to all cachers. So what are you waiting for? Head over to Cacheye, download Silverlight, sign up for an account and get playing!
If you need any help with anything drop me a comment below and I’ll try and get back to you as soon as poss. Or if you find any cool little features that I’ve missed let me know!
Happy mapping! :D