geocaching with an iPaq

Ewald Beekman 0 Comments

After using my Magellan 315 GPS for a long while, i decided to see if my iPAQ 4150 could be used for geocaching and wat kind of software i would need.

But first there was the GPS to decide on. I had used the Magellan together with the iPAQ but all the cables don’t make me happy. So i went looking for a second generation GPS with bluetooth and found this adapt 16 channel GPS receiver (adapt probably is a dutch brand name, the pictures of AVL and iTrek GPS look just the same) with nemerix chipset an bluetooth support. The handy thing about the adapt is that it uses the same battery found in Nokia gsm’s so it’s very cheap to buy a second battery or, if you own a Nokia, you can switch battery from one to another.

I allready had TomTom installed on the pda, but my version (v.5) did not work straight away with the adapt GPS, you had to use a trick:

  • click the bluetooth manager and switch on bluetooth
  • use the wizard (activate via new) to find the GPS
  • click on the GPS icon, holding the stylus down untill the menu appears
  • and select connect
  • close the bluetooth manager, start tomtom, goto preferences and GPS
  • now select other cable GPS and then cable GPS on com6:

Tomtom is not ideally suited to be used for geocaching, because it somehow uses the assumption that youre position is on the road, and most geocaches are not on the road. However, it is possible to get the geocaches with their own icon drawn within the tomtom maps. For this to happen you find your cache on www.geocaching.com and export it as a loc file. If you are a premium member you can run pocket queries which return up till 500 geocaches in one loc file.

Tomtom can’t handle the loc file, but there is a handy program Geocaching Swiss Army Knife which can convert the loc file into a tomtom point of interest (poi) file. The tomtom poi files use an file-extension of .ov2. convert the loc to ov2 format and name it:
Geocaching.ov2. Copy the file in the same location that the tomtom map file is, download this icon and copy it to the same location. Now when you startup tomtom you can go to the POI screen and just select the geocaching icon to make them visible on the map. Tomtom now allows you to navigate to the nearest street in the vicinity of the geocache. If you are dutch (like me) you can find this story also on the Geocaching Forum

How to get there
We need a different program to actually reach the geocache. I found Vito Navigator II very usefull for this purpose. Click the create new waypointicon (the red flag) to fill in the geocache coordinates. After that just click the green arrow (select destination point) to choose the just created waypoint. I normally have the upper panel set to Course Mode so it shows me in which direction i should move. The left panel is set to destination so it shows the distance to the cache and the right panel is normally in sky view mode, so i now if sattelite reception is well. The really fun thing is you can switch to track mode by clicking on the globe icon. This shows you which direction you are moving (are we there yet?).

So is that all?
Well the above tools allow you to find your first cache, but if you really get the hang of it you probably want to find multiple caches on one go. So, do a query on geocaching.com to find all undiscoverd caches in the region you are in and save this as a gpx file. Now install gpxsonar on your pda and also move the gpx file to the pda. Using gpxsonar you can now search for caches, for instance everything within 10km of your current gps location. When you click on a geocache, it opens up pocket internet explorer for you will all the information about that cache including the last logs of users who found it.

Have fun geocaching!