Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Summer Holidays

In and around Melbourne not much happened in terms of nightcaching in the past weeks. The second Geelong nightcache Barwon - Nocturnal Wander is still out of order since on top of the recent flooding a construction site showed up. Bummer.

Meanwhile I got myself a kayak so I am kind of busy to play with the new toy instead of creating new caches or hosting events. However this post shouldn't be completely useless so here is a link for everyone using an iPhone:

iphonecaching.appspot.com

Cheers!

Monday, 8 November 2010

Spring Camping Event

Wow. I don't have a good hand if it comes to picking dates for camping events. Seriously! I really don't!

On the first date (4th of September) Victoria faced one of the worst flooding for the past 10 years and the second date wasn't very dry either. This time a handful of cachers braved the elements and attended the Spring Camping event on the cup-weekend. It isn't exactly a bad idea to go camping on that very weekend but that didn't keep the sky from opening it's locks. So we enjoyed some time at the camp-fire which kept burning due to the trailer of wood Bmak provided >> Thanks again!

Mt. Cole Spring Camping


EveryTrail - Find trail maps for California and beyond

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Girls Edition Sold Out

Just a short update: The Girls Editions have been sold. There are still some Apple Editions left.

cheers

Monday, 25 October 2010

Everybody likes globes!

It's pink ribbon day and nightcaching.org is supporting the National Breast Cancer Foundation. So far we have raised 100 Aussie-dollars by selling our new Nightcaching Australia Geocoins. Whatever the final amount will be - Martina and I will top that up.

But beside donating there is a more important task you can do: Ask your partner, sister, daughter, mum, co-worker, boss, friend, auntie, grandma, neighbor when she had her last check-up and encourage them to have a regular health check. Breast cancer can be treated if you catch it early.

Do something today ...
... because everybody loves globes!

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Nightcaching Australia Geocoin

Finally! After 42 days, a lot of designing and over 30 emails later I received a package of geocoins this week. Here comes the Nightcaching Australia geocoin in four finishes:
  • Apple (60 coins)
  • Orange (20 coins)
  • Girls Glitter (10 coins)
  • Girls Glow (10 coins)

All coins have a unique icon on Geocaching.com:
Icon on Geocaching.com




For the tech-specs: The coins have a diametre of 4,45 cm, are 3 mm thick and have a epoxy coating. For the rest I don't feel like typing up a fancy release text :o) Just have a look at the pics and decide for yourself, if you want one.

The first activated coin of this series can be found here.

Price & Ordering
Martina decided to sell the Girls Editions for 50 AUD each. Sorry Chickens - these are sold out (as of 30.10.2010). For every sold Girls Edition geocoin 10 AUD will be donated to the National Breast Cancer Foundation. Why? Because the coins are pink and everybody loves ... globes :o) and shipping is included as well. Price including shipping to Europe is 37 EUR - that includes the donation as well.

The Apple Edition is available for 20 AUD including shipping to Australia. International shipping to Germany and the US is 20 AUD for up to 7 coins.  For the Euro-zone I use 7 EUR for 10 AUD as the exchange rate.

>> Before today (26.10.2010) I had a lower shipping rate posted however I didn't consider that there is a limit of 5mm thickness for that rate - stupid me. That didn't work with a 3mm coin and a padded envelope >> the first international buyers just saved some shipping :o) Sorry for the inconvenience.

The Orange Edition won't be sold. Sorry, that'll be a gift for guys who place good nightcaches (like in orange >> owner)

Payment is available via Paypal or wire transfer to either an Australian or German account. Of course there is also the option of picking them up from Elwood or meeting me at an event if you don't trust banks, me or auspost *gg* Interested? Then send me a mail via my geocaching account or pingchat me (username is "derfuzzel").

Cheers
Philipp

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Garmin Chirp vs. Wherigo

Garmin announced the introduction of Chirp yesterday. Chirp is a little beacon used for geocaching and quite similar with a hidden zone in Wherigo. Instead of rephrasing the original post here, just have a look at the short video or check this blog:



So it is a nice gadget and I will give it a try (just ordered two from REI).The question is what makes it different from a Wherigo cartridge beside the fact that it is a physical waypoint?
First of all Chirp works with more GPSr than Wherigo. If you switch to the German Garmin site you can see the devices supported:

Dakota 20, Oregon 300/400t/450/450t/550/550t, GPSMAP 62s/62st, GPSMAP 78s

so there is some potential for this little bug. On the other hand all the devices which work with Wherigo like the iPhone, Windows Mobile and Android don't work.Speaking of working: Wherigo is has never reached a real stable version. With some custom builders you can make it work but that's a long and painful process. I did create a wherigo nightcache but it took a while until all major bugs were gone.Covert knows what I am talking about.
Anyway - with a Wherigo you can set-up a so called hidden zone which is in terms of functionality pretty similar to a Chirp: You don't see anything on your GPSr until you enter the zone. Now you have all the possibilities the Wherigo environment offers but then again all the hassle with programming, bugs and downloading the cartridge before you leave the house, is not much fun.

Chirp is an easy but not so powerful and more over not so cheap alternative to that concept. Let's see when they arrive and what I can do with them.

Cheers
Philipp

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Getting a nightcache reviewed

If I put a nightcache on geocaching.com is there any difference to putting in a normal cache?

Well there is, but it isn't really huge. All the guidelines for a normal cache do apply for a nightcache as well. The only tiny difference comes with the additional waypoints. Let's just start easy and see what kind of additional waypoints do we have.
  • Coordinates - (*) these are the listed coordinates of the cache. If you want to change the coordinates of an active cache you'll have to do this via a "change coordinates"-log.  If your caches hasn't been publish yet you can just change them in the listing.
  • IPB Image Final Location - (*) this is the final position of the multi- or puzzlecache (the logbook has to be at this location).
  • IPB Image Parking Area - a recommendation to park your geomobile.
  • IPB Image Reference Waypoint - This is just a point you want to mark and might not be related to hunt for the cache. An electric BBQ, public toilets or simply a nice view are possible locations for this type of waypoint.
  • IPB Image Question to Answer - here is an object which would have been there anyway but it's needed to find the next stage of the cache. This could be a sign, fence or flashing signal where you have to count certain words, posts or seconds between lights.
  • IPB Image Stages of a Multicache - (*) at this type of waypoint you'll find something the owner of the cache placed. This could be a cache with a piece of paper holding the next set of coordinates, a tag or some other installation.
  • IPB Image Trailhead - well that is where the trail to the cache starts.
(*) These waypoints are checked for minimal distance to waypoints of other caches by the reviewers.

If you place an ordinary stage of a multi-cache, you enter the stage as an additional waypoint which can be either a "question to answer"or "stages of a multicache". For a nightcache you should do the very same thing with one exception:

If you place a trail of reflectors, every single reflector is not considered to be a "stages of a multicache" waypoint. Just use "question to answer" (QtA) if you want to enter every reflector. 

That's it. Easy, isn't it? However if you are placing a point-to-point nightcache, where a tag with the coordinates for next stage can be found at every reflector, then you'll have to use the "stages of a multicache" waypoint.
For a trail of reflectors I personally don't even bother to enter the coordinates of every reflector. I just enter the ones of the final where the tag or something else can be found. In any case it's good to give the reviewer a short (!) overview how the cache works in a reviewer-note. This way everybody's life is a little bit easier :o)




    Saturday, 2 October 2010

    Braeside Park

    On Monday I started to place a new nightcache. It's not really a difficult or extremely complex one. Just a solid point-to-point type. So here is what I did:

    • Day 1:
      Went there and found all the caches in the area. Wasn't too hard since there were only an easy puzzle and a multi.

    • Day 2:
      Drove out there, decided for a routing and took all the coords of the stages with a prototype reflector.

    • Day 3
      Short stop at bunnings and building of all the reflectors. Printing of all aluminum-tags.

    • Day 4
      Attached all the tags and reflectors to their places and placed the cache-box.

    Done :o) Here is the result:
    Home of HöpsHöps the roo

    Monday, 27 September 2010

    Let there be light

    I won't question the story about God creating day and night three days before he created the sun, stars and the moon :o) Let's just stick to lights at night.

    We all live in an enlightened world. Even when the sun sets there is no need to carry a lantern, candle or torch around. There is always a light-source close-by: Either it be your beloved design-lamps in the living room, the street-lights or at least the head-lights of your car. Technology doesn't leave you in the dark in your daily live. One of the reasons why nightcaching is so much fun is that you have to leave that comfort zone. You have to go out there and bring our own light but which one?

    There are three types of torches which should be considered for nightcaching:
    • Headlamps
    • Normal torches
    • and portable floodlights
    Since the introduction of LEDs headlamps are really a bargain: They are cheap, bright and have a long battery life. There is no need to buy a fancy product - the $10 from Kmart or BigW will do just fine. The main purpose of these lamps is not to find reflectors or other things. It's more about not stumbling over your own feet or poke your eye with a branch in the dark. The one I have was about that price and I still use it. The only thing why I am considering buying a new one is because it runs on AAA batteries and the rest of my stuff uses AA. And here is a free piece of advise :o) wear a base-cap. That reduces glare from the lamp and it also is more comfortable than the strap directly on your head.
    Stefan and I deep in the forests of Bavaria
    Normal torches is not the best wording. What's normal? Well. Let's just define it as a torch you carry in your hand and which isn't too big. There are A LOT of companies offering LED torches and there are some websites which try to give you an overview of the market. You can basically spend any amount of money for a torch so the question is how much is enough?
    Again the question about the batteries comes up: Do you want to use AA or is it ok to add another type of batteries? A lot of torches run on 18XX0 Li-Ion. The huge advantage is that you have much more "power" in a similar cell as the AA. The disadvantage is that you need a second charger and if you place these batteries accidentally into another device it's toast. I'm just sticking with AA because I love to have the same batteries for all devices however that is a personal decision.
    Ok. We figured out the type of battery but how much money do you have the spend? I bought myself "the" standard nightcaching torch: The Fenix LD20R4. It was about 80 AUD and in the same price-range are a lot more torches like the EagleTac P20A2 Mark II or the Olight I25 Infinitum. So if you can't find a nightcache with any of those lamps then the cache is of very poor design (Keep that in mind if you build a nightcache: it's not about showing which fancy light you bought yourself. The challenge shouldn't be within the equipment). You can buy less quality but the same brightness for - of course - less money. However in my opinion you shouldn't need a torch which is brighter than the mentioned ones which means you don't have to pay more than 80 AUD on a torch.

    My Fenix LD20 R4 - the very one I use
     If you are a little bit nuts and/or have too much money, you can also spend heaps of dollars on a floodlight. Don't get me wrong - I know it's fun to have useless stuff at home otherwise I would never had a GPSr before 2000 (by the time "Selective Availability" was till turned on). So you don't need it but nobody can blame you if you want to have it. There are different types starting from normal car headlights up to High Intensity Discharged (HID) lamps which can cost thousands of dollars.however buying of the shelve is never as much fun as building the stuff yourself :o)
    As you can see below I did build myself a flooder long before you could buy good LED torches. It is powered by a 12V lead gel battery ... yes: lead as in very heavy and not really usable. Obviously I didn't bother to bring it down-under so it sits in a storage close to Frankfurt. Another project which is really cool is the 500 LED torch. It fits the profile: large, expensive and completely useless for nightcaching.

    My first self-made floodlight: 35W 12V Halogen
    Ten years ago buying a torch wasn't that hard: You just went for a Maglite. If you don't like gyms, it's worth to grab the good old 3D brick, use it and do some work-out along the way. Beside the extra weight it is still quite good for finding reflectors even compared to modern LED torches.
    Anyway. The market changed over the past years and new torches get released by Chinese companies as you read this post. There might be already the next model on the market and it is as hard to keep track of it as with mobile phones or computers. 

    Just remember that you don't need to spend a lot of money in order to have a good and reliable torch.

    Link: www.light-reviews.com

    Monday, 20 September 2010

    Reflectors

    One of the most used stages in nightcaches is and always will be the retroreflector. It's easy to buy, place and maintain. In Anglo-American influenced areas you will find a lot of caches with firetacks. Don't ask me why is that. I could only guess although I do have some kind of a theory. Here in Australia the plain firetack has some disadvantages: Most of the native trees are gumtrees and they have a very soft bark compared to oaks, beech or maple trees which can be found in the northern hemisphere.
    Why is that bad? Firetacks are pinned to the bark of the tree and if that is soft, well they tend to fall off. If they don't fall off they might turn and that changes the visibility. The second thing is that some of you want to create a "day-cacher-proof" nightcache. Just have a look at the picture below:

    Firetack at Glow-worms and fireflies cache
    That is already a so called stealth firetack and you can still see it because of it's shape. Firetacks have an effective range of about 70m. After that you need to have a special torch which will be a topic for another post. So if a cacher want's to find your next in daylight, they just check all trees within plain sight and a 70m radius. Yes people do that!

    If you actually don't care about your reflector being found in daylight or you want to cover some distance, then a cateye might be a good choice. Yes the stuff you normally put on the wheels of your bike and they come in all kinds of shapes and colors. For a kids nightcache they are fun but even better if you want to get the attention of some cachers: You can combine them and create a really large cateye which can be found from very far away. I did place a cache where you had to find the reflector from a lookout. The covered distance was about 1.2 km. In order to find that thing a Maglite 3D and a binocular was all you needed.

    simple white cateye ...

    ... which easily can be seen


    That said you'll wonder what kind of reflectors are really useful for a normal nightcache. Since I am an engineer, self-made is my answer :o) First get yourself some retroreflecting self-adhesive foil. That shouldn't be too hard since some bike-shops have it or the local commercial vehicle design shop or simply a webshop. I've tried a lot of different brands and types over the years and in the end my choice is the black 3M foil:
    Helmet without light
    Helmet with light

    close-up of the foil
    Looks pretty cool, doesn't it? Now you have to get yourself some kind of base-object to apply that foil - sticking that stuff onto tree-bark actually works but not for long. I recommend two shapes:
    • the tube - which is a small plastic tube on which you apply the foil. Just paint it black or whichever camo you like and hang it into the tree with a fishing line. Since it's round it can be seen from different angles.
    • the plaque - is a piece of sheet metal. I use that all the time because you can just punch the coordinates for the next stage right onto it. You can also screw it to any kind of object you like and if you use torx-srews it's quite muggle proof as well. 
    Just keep in mind that your reflectors lives longer if it is plain and simple and doesn't draw to much muggle-attention. If you go for the plaque-style, use aluminium sheets since the don't rust. A simple permanent-marker does the trick in order to get a black plaque:
    simple plaque reflector with two torx screws
     It isn't really rocket-science. I know. But it doesn't keep owners from creating "less optimal" solutions: e.g. a thumbtack with some reflecting foil on it - it's even worse than firetacks. Just imagine that one of those two-left-handed cachers slaps your reflector with his GPSr - will it survive? If yes, place it. If no, get a different reflector :o)

    Wednesday, 15 September 2010

    A brief (personal) history

    We all know how geocaching itself started however not much is know about the beginnings of nightcaching. Well here is what I know and if you can draw some light on the past feel free to drop a comment :o)

    About a year after the first cache was placed somewhere north of Seattle the EraSeek placed the first nightcache. With this cache already firetacks were used (as far as I know), which still can be found as a standard set-up for a lot of nightcaches. I am not really a fan of firetacks but that's another story :o) Anyway. Again almost a year later in March 2002 the first nightcache in Germany appeared. It is interesting because it introduced the German style of nightcaching: Instead of following a track of firetacks, you get a set of coordinates from where you have to spot a reflecting something - here it was a micro-cache - then you get another set at where you look around and so on. This means you have to use your GPSr all the time ... which should be an essential part of geocaching.

    My personal nightcaching journey started in 2004 somewhere around Munich. It was the same "German style" coords&relectors type and I had serious fun over there. So much fun that I found myself a nice forest and placed a nightcache in that almost undisturbed landscape. (You might think that I am going a little bit over the top with the following sentence because it's me who created that cache but have a look at the 130 people watching that cache and the logs themselve)
    Mission Echo ... just mentioning the name gives some people the creeping horrors. It features things like crawling into bomb-craters from WW2 or through storm sewers which are only 60cm in diameter. Just have a look at Windi after his FTF and you'll see what I mean.

    After that nightcaching started big time and there was no holding back: I just had a look at nachtcaches.de and it currently holds 2900 nightcaches ... including the 72 of New Zealand and Australia (yep I had them added). It's fair to say that for some strange reason nightcaching never really flew downunder. And if you compare the English to the German wiki page about nightcaching, I'd reckon that it isn't that big anywhere else.

    So if you know anything about the early days of nightcaching (before 2005) just post it here ;o)

    cheers
    Philipp


    My nc-equipment 6 years ago. I still got the etrex but the rest is gone
    Me at the first nc I found: Little Nightmeer in Munich (I still had hair!)

    Monday, 13 September 2010

    Attributes

    Since groundspeak introduced a lot of new attributes a few weeks ago there is a lot of confusion. I won't draw the bigger picture here and focus on nightcaching. So which attributes are relevant? There are five:

    Flashlight
    Not 24/7 available
    Recommended at night
    Nightcache
    UV light

    Confused? Exactly my point. Before the last two attributes were introduced there was no "standard" solution in order to identify a nightcache except from reading the description. Normally the combination of the first three icons kind of gives it away however to make it work the owner has to set attributes :o) Well we all know how realisitic that is - e.g. as of now there are nine caches labelt as a nightcache in Australia. One of them isn't even a nightcache and further three are mine.In real life there are over 50 nightcaches out there.

    Just keep in mind that the attributes are a great feature and if you place a cache please use them, but if you try to located "your style" cache you might miss it since not every owner bothers.

    Saturday, 11 September 2010

    New logo

    I just "painted" a new OZ version of the nightcaching logo and - of course - it includes a roo. The little fellow even has a name: HöpsHöps which is pronounced ɦœpsɦœps. Please keep in mind that all rights are reserved. Yep. Sorry. You can't use it. Not at all ... or just contact me to get some kind of agreement.

    Back from Geelong

    Tuesday night we headed out to clear the two Geelong nightcaches and of course the wherigo ... hey it was just around the corner after all :o) Bumber one was fun and found after a little bit of sneaking through the alleys of Gellong. Thanks for placing this one.

    Number two was ... well ... wet. It might be related with the heavy rainfalls the weekend before but I am not to sure about that hehe. Nah we didn't even try so back to normal caches for the night but we will return. Check the pics on facebook

    Cheers
    Philipp