GeoCass’ Top 10 Tips for rating your caches


1. Do your research using the 3 sites I mentioned
When you are deciding the difficulty and terrain rating for your hide, it’s a good idea to do a bit of research. Refer to the Groundspeak ratings documentation, The ClayJar Geocache Rating System and the TechBlazer Rating System to give you an idea. You can then perhaps take an average.

My fave cache rating site

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Rating Difficulty/Terrain for a hide


When you submit a cache, you need to carefully consider the difficulty and terrain rating that you give it. This gives an indication to finders of what may be involved in finding the cache without them having to dig too deep into the description. Additional details can then be provided in the description and attributes if there are any notable hazards, if any special equipment is required, if there is a difficult puzzle to solve first, etc…

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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:

BCaching.com Review



Name: I’d Rather Be Caching
URL: http://www.bcaching.com/
Type: Website

Main Features:
I’d rather be caching allows you to view GeoCache information on mobile devices. It’s dependent on you uploading your PQ’s to the site beforehand. This allows you, when you are out caching, to quickly see information on caches in an area. If you have GPS on your mobile device it allows you to view caches near you and use your current location. You can then view cache logs, description, hints, etc. in a really user friendly, simple format which won’t eat loads of bandwidth pulling down logos and images…

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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

WHAT? You don’t like trails? :(


I was shocked to read a recent topic on the UK section of the Geocaching forums where many users said that they weren’t keen on trails and considered them to be “all about the numbers”. I thought everyone loved trails as we do and there are plenty in our area to go around. People started mentioning power trails but I think they got a bit confused and started thinking trails with a good few caches along a good few miles are power trails. They are not! I googled Power Trails and the Geocacher University website backed up my understanding:

“A series of caches placed in close proximity to each other–usually just over .1 mile apart. The caches are normally quick finds a quick way to rack up some numbers. Power trails are looked down upon by some and frowned upon in the Geocaching.com guidelines.”

We don’t have them in the UK. The closest I’ve found is the 109 caches in 20 miles that I blogged about in a recent post.

One great thing I did pick up from that topic however was a GeoCaching website I had no idea about… http://geocachetrails.com/index.html A list of trails! Check it out, if you love trails as much as we do. I may submit some soon… 🙂