NEWS: The Garmin Chirp (Wireless beacon for Geocaching)


A few days ago Garmin released a new little Geocaching product called the “Chirp”. This is a little wireless beacon that runs on their ANT wireless protocol, meaning it can communicate with any other Garmin ANT-enabled devices.

The Chirp

The basic idea of this is that you place this little device in your cache. When a GeoCacher with an ANT-enabled Garmin device comes within 10m they can then pick up the signal it is transmitting. This signal can push additional hints, or coordinates and can confirm that the cache is nearby.

Transferring data to the chirp

An example of your GPSr screen when the Chirp transfers data

The little battery in the device can last up to a year, so there’s no worries about that, however it can’t broadcast signal through metal, meaning if it’s in a ammo can then it will only really be usable when you open the lid. The device is also waterproof, but like most waterproof devices this means don’t submerge it, but it will cope if the cache leaks.

They are retailing in the US at around $20 at the moment. My initial thought was what if someone steals it? However there’s a fair bit of security and after the Chrip is programmed it is then locked to the device that you programmed it with unless you know the last 5 digits of the unit ID that you programmed it with. After entering this you can then use a different device to control it. This owning device can also erase the chirp for re-use.

It seems that this little device is only available in the US at the moment. However I’m sure it won’t be long before we see it. I however won’t be buying one as in my opinion it’s pretty pointless. It means that not only do you limit the finders to Garmin devices, but only Garmin devices that have ANT (Wireless) enabled. That knocks my Dakota 10 and anyone with older Garmins or iPhones, Droids, etc. out of the game . The only supported devices are: Dakota 20, GPSMAP 62s, 62st and 78s and Oregon 300, 400t, 450, 450t, 550, 550t. What a massive limitation.

It’s an interesting way to go though and would be brilliant if there was a shared wireless protocol among all (or most) Geocaching-capable devices, which I’m sure (or hope) one day there will be. Wi-fi is the obvious one, however nowadays in these little devices would probably draw too much battery power hence the reason for other wireless protocols like ANT, Zigbee, and Wibree. In my opinion, it’s just a bit ahead of it’s time.

Product details for the Chirp are available on the Garmin site, and there is a great review over at GPS Fix.

What do you think? Can you think of a cache you could lay using the Chirp? Or would you not bother due to the compatibility restrictions?

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Posted in News. Tags: , , , , . 9 Comments »

9 Responses to “NEWS: The Garmin Chirp (Wireless beacon for Geocaching)”

  1. ErikaJean Says:

    I don’t think it is a fully developed idea. Like you said – only can be used with garmin.

    I wonder how it would do in extreme temps (often over 100 here in the summer) and freezing temps in the north…

  2. Can the Apple iTouch function as a GPS receiver? | Hand Held GPS Radio Says:

    […] NEWS: Th&#1077 Garmin Chirp (Wireless beacon f&#959r Geocaching) « GeoCass UK GeoCaching […]

  3. geocass Says:

    Follow-up: Turns out Groundspeak didn’t know anything about the Chirp until a couple of days before it was released! They’ve now implemented a ‘wireless beacon’ attribute. Good move! At least cachers without these devices can filter them out!!!

  4. firennice Says:

    Every cache out there should be listed with an option that does not require the chirp. Such as a two routes to the final one with a chirp and another with a puzzle or standard multi option.

    • geocass Says:

      Ah, excellent. At least that will be fair on everyone. I’m still struggling to see a practical use for it, just seems like a gadget for the sake of it. I’d rather spend $20 on swag or a really awesome container.

    • Steve Says:

      I didn’t see a similar reply…
      From what groundspeak said about the chirp device, a cache using the chirp will require one of 2 things… if it’s a traditional cache it does have to include a 2nd way of locating the final without using the chirp.
      Or it can be listed as a puzzle/unknown.

  5. dogbomb Says:

    A bit too expensive to be a “casual” device, but it could make for some interesting caches – at least for those compatible. Whereigo caches are quite unpopular, and these will likely be the same.

  6. smstext Says:

    Hi my Chirp cache is out GC2HEED so far lots of good comments, just waiting for others to go up so i can try them.

  7. James Parr Says:

    Hi,

    The market for these chirps is growing. iPhone uses now can use GeoBeacon app as well as wahoo fitness Ant+ adapter to add an easy and cheap method (compared to a new garmin gps) of finding these.

    Cheers
    James


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