Saturday, February 21, 2015

Geocaching with the iPhone 5s

Well this weekend, February 14, 2015, I went out Geocaching with an iPhone 5s and the Geocaching app from geocaching.com and here is an assessment of my experience. It was pretty cool and it works with some effort.

My geocaching experience level would be considered novice and I wanted to do something along with my going out to take pictures (something to get me outside even more.)  So my first day out I found 5 of  9 that I searched for and second day 7 of  8, though 3 of these were ones I did not find the first day.  Like I said, novice level.  I had no clue how cache hiders really hid caches and learned the hard way by myself.

Using the Geocaching app was very easy, I select local "easy" to find caches and there were lots of them. The first cache I found ended up being in the knot of a tree and the second a magnetic key-holder on a lamppost.  Both of these were relatively easy.

The iPhone 5s as a GPS worked fairly well.  I found it would take me directly to the area of the cache and would actually try to take me straight to the cache.  I wondered if would take me directly to the point of the cache and it would not. Best I could do was one foot and even then it was off a bit.  I did validate the phone would not take me to a cache if there was no service which is what I expected. The approach that finally worked was to try and approach the cache from multiple directions and it would narrow down where I needed to go.  Experimenting worked out pretty well.

For the failures I had, well chock that up to inexperience.  I had no clue about guard rail caches and with some tips I got from a friend and a bit of research via Google and the geocaching.com site, day 2 was much better with a higher success rate.

One of the things I have learned is that the iPhone GPS can be a bit jittery.  It is impacted by metal buildings and overhead power lines.  I found using a regular GPS that these things were not a big a factor in reception.

Beautiful day. Cache I found in Longview, WA - GC4RPG8

Huge cache - Longview, WA - GC4RPG8


More things to learn though.   Next thing to figure out is how to download GPS information on caches to my GPS and use that instead of the preloaded caches.

You want to get outdoors, geocaching, photography and bird watching will get you there.  In the Pacific Northwest you have assume bad weather, rain, fog, mist,and wind.

Thoughts, please comment.