Quick and Dirty GSAK Macros

This blog entry is long overdue and it’s going to be a geeky one! 🙂 A big thank you to the comments and emails I received following my GSAK 8 beginners guide blog post. I’m delighted that so many Geocachers have got to grips with GSAK after reading it.

Macros provide a way of automating GSAK, however require that you write code to create them – something that terrifies a lot of people! The Master Macro Index provides some great macros written by the community. Personally, I don’t spend much time writing big hefty macros, however there are a couple of quick and dirty ones which I have created that I often use with filters when quickly loading my GPS up for a caching trip (Particularly useful if you’re caching whilst on holiday)

When I’m heading off caching I will load the GPS up with a good thousand or so caches. Maybe I’ll be going for a walk around a series, maybe I’ll be hoping to quickly stop off and grab a cache as a drive-by as I see it appear. When Geocaching the best thing to do is check the cache description, check the logs to make sure everything is ok, etc. but let’s be honest… We don’t always do that. We end up hunting for 10 minutes for a cache only to realise it’s disabled or has a string of 5 DNFs on it or we go looking for a place to park for what looks like a “cache and dash” only to find it’s on a footpath that passes along a motorway.

The following macros modify the title field of the cache so that you can instantly see on your GPS if a cache is missing, disabled, a cache and dash or has a lot of favourite points. Just those useful little things when you’ve not done a lot of planning and want to see cache information instantly.

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GSAK 8 Beginners Guide

I’m a couple of weeks overdue with this post, but on 22nd September I presented a GSAK for beginners event. Those who didn’t attend the event were promised that the user guide I produced to support the presentation would be available through my blog at a later date.

So, you can download it from here.

The guide covers setting up GSAK, loading PQs, sorting and filtering, exporting data, database management, adding data to cache data, using the GSAK 8 API, installing and running macros, and a few useful macro suggestions.

An example of a couple of pages in the guide

Enjoy! 🙂 Do feel free to drop me any questions or comments below this post!

GSAK 8 – New Features Tutorial

GSAK 8 is the most recently released version of Geocaching Swiss Army Knife. For those not familiar with the software, it’s basically a Geocaching database that you can use to store, filter and manipulate cache data. It’s an absolutely massive product and since version 8 now connects to the Geocaching.com Live API for better integration with the website. Previous versons of the software relied on you manually loading in your own caches, for example via Pocket Queries. Version 8 is better integrated with the Geocaching.com website and is able to not only automatically retrieve cache data, but also download extra logs for caches, add caches to your favourites, quickly log caches, and log caches using the field notes from your GPS.

GSAK8 has been out a fair while now, but I thought I’d use a blog entry to go into some depth as to what the new GSAK 8 features provide and how cachers can benefit from this update as I’ve recently upgraded to it. The update isn’t a freebie for existing GSAK users, however it is really reasonably priced for the amount of features you get ranging from $10 to $20 depending on how recently you purchased version 7. Anyone who doesn’t yet own GSAK can purchase it for $30, however you can get a free 21 day trial here to have a play before deciding to part with your hard earned cache cash! 😉

Get the latest patch

Although you may have installed GSAK8, unless you’re running the latest patch for it you could be really missing out! Click here to view a list of patches and what each patch adds to GSAK. Scroll to the very last post in the forum to download the latest patch. By default, GSAK is configured to tell you if there is a new version available. This doesn’t alert you about any of the latest patches, so I’d strongly recommend spending a few seconds modifying your GSAK preferences to enable patch alerts. To do this, click the ‘Tools‘ menu –> Options –> ‘Advanced‘ tab and then on the top right click the box that says ‘Also check for “patches”‘. Now it will pop up and tell you whenever there is a new patch for download.

Tick the 'Also check for patches' box

Geocaching.com Access

Version 8 of GSAK comes with a new menu item added along the top bar labelled ‘Geocaching.com Access‘. Under this menu is where all the new exciting stuff lives!

The Geocaching.com Access menu

A quick run down of the items:
Get Geocaches – Pull Geocache data straight from Geocaching.com. You’ll need premium membership (i.e. the ability to use Pocket Queries) to get any real benefit from this.
Refresh Cache Data – Update the caches in your database with the latest cache data from the Geocaching.com website.
Download Pocket Queries – Pull up a list of Pocket Queries in your account that are downloadable and download them into your GSAK database.
Status Check – Update the status of the caches in your database (Archived, Disabled, or Available)
Favourite Points – Add/Remove the currently selected cache from your favourites or get your Favourites balance.
Update User Information – In GSAK you can set your Home coordinates and User ID to find caches close to home (for example) and filter those owned/found by you. Instead of doing this manually, this option will pull the data from the your Geocaching.com account.
Publish Logs – Log a cache, or queue up a big list of logs to publish to the Geocaching.com website.
Add to Bookmark List – Add the currently selected cache to one of your bookmark lists, or create a new list to add it to.
Get Available Download Balance (New in Build 37 Patch) – Check what your available balance is for cache downloads (Out of 6000)
Get another Access token – Access to your Geocaching.com account is granted via a token. The first time you access your account via GSAK you will have to click to ‘Allow Access’. If you have 2 Geocaching.com accounts and want to switch to another one in order to download more caches (Perhaps you have 2 premium accounts?) you can do that by selecting this option.

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GPX 1.0 vs GPX 1.0.1

I just imported a GPX file into GSAK and it told me something about using an old format of GPX file. Being your typical IT worker I didn’t read it, clicked don’t show me again and clicked “OK” (Something I do far too often without thinking!)

It then got me pondering about the GPX file formats. I’d read something about the different versions before, but not worried. Basically what it boils down to is two GPX verions:

GPX 1.0 which doesn’t include attributes and
GPX 1.0.1 which does include attributes.

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Plot multiple caches on an OS map

I discovered a couple of websites today that allow you to upload a GPX routes file for it to be plotted on an OS map. This is very nearly exactly what I’ve been wanting all of these months! I wanted something to plot on Geocache trails on, however I have worked out a way I can edit my Geocache GPX files to be more route GPX files which show each cache (waypoint) on the trail.

As I haven’t found anything that will let you upload a Geocaching GPX and just show you where each one is on an OS map I’ve found a great workaround…

The final result

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Automatically display cache names on maps

You may have seen my previous posts where I mentioned how I knock up my cache maps using paint and enter the cache names over the top to prepare a map for my travels with the caches clearly identified on it. Well, I had created all of my trails in GSAK, got them all nice and tidy and thought “I need to make a map” however, I thought rather than creating a map of over 1150 caches on it and manually labelling them maybe, just maybe there is a better way! 😀

So, I posted a message on the Geocaching forums and a lovely UK user got back to me. (I must say everyone on the Groundspeak forums seems so friendly, it’s great!) And YES there are ways to do it…

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GSAK Lock Multiple Records

I’m getting on pretty well with GSAK 🙂 We’re very good friends now! I loaded 2 PQ’s of the areas we are camping and used my trail macro to update the user data fields to identify trails. Some it missed, as they only had a few characters matching in the trail names so I did these manually. I then discovered my PQ’s didn’t quite cover all of the area that I’d hoped so I needed to import another set. I realised that this would overwrite my data that I’d enterred and whereas I could run the macro to replace most of the trail data, I would need to do the manual stuff all again.

So, I quickly knocked up a GSAK macro. It took about a minute. I turned on a filter for all records where User Data 2 is not empty (i.e. those I’ve labelled as trails) and then written a bit of code that just loops through the records shown by the filter and locks them all. Simples:

GOTO position=top
WHILE not ($_EOL)
$d_Lock = true
GOTO position=next