GeoCaching Podcasts


There are some great GeoCaching podcasts out there and I’m really enjoying listening to them all. At first I wasn’t aware of them all and only found 2 by searching for ‘Geocache’ and ‘Geocaching’ in the iTunes store. However, as some of the podcasts reference others I started to realise there were a few more and searching of ‘Cache’ and ‘Caching’ yielded even more. Even though most of them are not from the UK, I’d still recommend listening to them. When they start talking about national events then it does get a little irrelevant, however 90% of the information is pretty much general GeoCaching talk.

Listed in the order I discovered them…

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GeoCaching Heat Map


I stumbled across a new site today that generates a Geocaching heat map for your finds in the UK. It even comes with a Michael Fish! It’s super cool! Visit http://www.poieditor.com/geocache-heatmap/ to generate your own. I think GSAK can generate something like this, but I haven’t found anywhere else that can do it. You simply sign up and upload your MyFinds file. Below is my heat map:

GPSVisualizer Review



Name: GPS Visualizer
URL: http://www.gpsvisualizer.com/
Type: Web-based

Main Features:

So GPS Visualizer’s main feature is that it allows you to create a map of caches (or rather waypoints) from a GPX file, a Spreadsheet, a Google Map Route, Plain Text and a whole host of other different formats. One advantage it has over viewing your cache maps on the GeoCaching.com site is that it allows you to list the names above the caches, colour different way points, and view the cache map in different online map services (Sadly not OS maps though for us UK users)

Other Features:


You can convert GPX files to plain text separated by tabs, commas, and other punctuation.


You can draw your own map and click on it to add waypoints, or tracks and then save it as a GPX file.


You can geocode your address (i.e. enter your post code and it’ll tell you the lat and long co-ords)


You can import a track from your GPS and see what elevations you have walked/travelled across.


And there are also calculators where you can convert between the different co-ord formats and find the distance between two points

Appearance:
Not a bad looking website. Some Google ads on the left hand side, but they are neat and don’t look that they are randomly placed here there and everywhere to annoy you. 8/10 for design.

Testing:
OK, so to start with I uploaded a plain old GPX file of 350 caches around Chelmsford that I’d created a few days ago and clicked go. I got back a map of the caches dotted around and was able to choose various Google map formats, along with a few other maps and Open Street Maps, and Open Cycle Maps. Nice, but nothing that I couldn’t do on the GeoCaching.com website.

Then I headed over to the tutorials web page and found that you could create maps from text co-ords. You could either have these in a file and upload them, or enter them in a text box. I opted for the text box and entered the following caches that we visited yesterday into it:

name,latitude,longitude
Hanningfield TT – 08 West, N 51° 40.188, E 000° 29.858
Hanningfield TT – 09 Backpack, N 51° 39.961, E 000° 29.123
Hanningfield TT – 11 Hat, N 51° 39.730, E 000° 28.947
Hanningfield TT – 12 Bridge 1, N 51° 39.581, E 000° 28.872
Hanningfield TT – 13 Bridge 2, N 51° 39.474, E 000° 28.934
hanningfield waterside, N 51° 38.790, E 000° 29.186

I got a map back in Open Cycle Maps (Nice to see you can use the DDD.MM.MMM format, not just decimal that the tutorials use). It’s not bad! The Open Cycle and Open Street maps show quite a few footpaths and as you’ll see from the pictures they are on there.

It is nice to have the cache names appear on the map, however I think it’ll only come in handy if you are in the US as the worldwide maps show very pixelated and you can’t really make anything out.

Using the convert function of the site I managed to import my GPX file, and export it as a comma separated values file which opened in Excel. Here I can have a spreadsheet of all of my caches with descriptions, long/lat, name, and URL. If I didn’t have a Garmin Dakota, and had one of the more basic GPSr’s where you have to input co-ords to find caches this would be mega useful!!!

I like being able to map my caches on Open Street Map instead of the maps that Geocaching.com provides, as you get to see more of the footpaths, however if it was an Ordnance Survey map with all of the caches around then you may even see me making a donation! I guess you’re not going to get that from a non-UK site though!

Conclusion:
Being able to map your pocket query on Open Street Maps is more useful to me than mapping it on Geocaching.com. Mapping it on an OS map with cache names/GC codes above would be even more useful, but you can’t win em all! I think this site would be more useful for US/Canada cachers than UK cachers, but I think we can still make good use of the Open Street mapping, converting GPX files into files that can be opened in Excel, convert between co-ord formats, and I will definitely use it for calculation the distance between two points. The website looks appealing, and the adverts very well layed out so as to not interfere with the site. There are also examples, and tutorials to accompany it and if you’re feeling adventurous a whole host of advanced options to fully customize your maps. All in all, a pretty useful site.

Final Rating:
(Based on useful-ness to UK-based cachers)
7 out of 10

Essential Caching Maps


Well, one thing I have discovered is essential when out on Caching adventures (Particularly cache trails/series’) is a map detailing footpaths. I guarantee that whenever we take a map out with us we won’t need it and will find the footpaths easily, however when you don’t you get lost! It’s just sod’s law. Some footpaths are so badly managed it’s unbelievable and it can be a real maze! It’s such a horrible feeling when you think you may be trespassing on somebody’s land. How am I going to explain why I am there?

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