November 24, 2012

c:geo Part 1: Importing Pocket Queries

In my last post, I promised to go over in detail how to perform certain functions in c:geo, the free Android geocaching application. I've been using the app. for over a month now, and while I don't use it to navigate to caches (I leave that chore for my trusty Garmin GPSr), it is a great tool for storing, retrieving, and logging caches. Since the c:geo documentation leaves something to be desired, I'm hoping these write-ups will help fill any knowledge gaps.

c:geo offers two methods of getting your pocket query data into your phone: (1) Download your pocket query file directly from using your Android's web browser, or (2) Copy your pocket query data file from your computer to your phone using your USB cable. There is a third option, which I prefer, that is not listed in the documentation which I'll describe in a minute.

First, it is important to note that c:geo cannot read .ZIP files directly, which is the format your pocket queries come in from So if you plan to use method #1 above, you will need to use an Android app. that can decompress ("unzip") files. If you use method #2 above, just unzip the pocket query file, and copy the two GPX files to your Droid's SD card. It's a good idea to create a "GPX" folder on your SD card to store these files, just to keep things organized. Note too that you really only need the larger of the two GPX files (the one that does NOT contain "wpts" in the file name), but it doesn't hurt to copy both.

As I mentioned above, I use a slightly different method, sort of a hybrid version, of the two methods described above. I'm a big fan of "Dropbox", a cloud file-storing/sharing service. So what I do is download my PQ to my desktop computer, extract the GPX files to my hard drive, and then copy them into Dropbox. Then I just go to my Droid, open Dropbox, and copy the GPX files to my SD card.

Once you've got your GPX files on your SD card, you can import them into c:geo, as follows (note that these instructions include a step that is not listed in the c:geo help file):

1. Go to the Stored Caches screen in c:geo and click on the phone's menu button;
2. Click the Manage button and select "Import GPX";
3. c:geo will scan your SD card for GPX files - select the one you just copied over.

That's it. c:geo will read in all the geocache information from the file. One other point, however, before you do this. I strongly recommend that you go to your c:geo settings (use the phones menu button from the home c:geo screen) and un-select the "store cache static maps for offline use" option, which is checked by default. Otherwise, c:geo will load a static map for every cache in your pocket query, and depending on how many caches you have in your gpx file, this could take hours.

Finally, when you're all done caching with that particular pocket query, you can remove it from c:geo by going to the Stored Caches screen, click the menu button, then Manage, and then Drop All. This will clear out the pocket query data from c:geo, but it will not remove the gpx file from your SD card. To do that, you'll have to connect your device to your desktop machine and use a file manager program to remove the file, or, if one is available, use an Android file manager app. to clean up your SD card.

Next time, we'll go over the steps involved in offline logging in c:geo.

Cache On!

November 18, 2012

Hello c:geo

You don't have to go very deep into this blog's archives to learn how I really feel about smartphone caching (here's an example). For years, I've been extremely content using my Garmin GPSmap 60CSx to do the heavy lifting, along with my iPodTouch running Geosphere pre-loaded with my pocket queries. This combination allowed me to get consistently close to GZ with the Garmin workhorse, and then, if necessary, I would refer to Geosphere for cache description and hint information, followed by using Geosphere's field note logging feature after a successful find.

This combination has worked great for me over the years and resulted in many successful geocaching outings. And none of it required the use of a cell phone. In fact, until about a month ago, I didn't even own a smartphone. But for other, non-geocaching-related reasons, such as not being able to check emails and texts when away from the home or office, I finally gave in and purchased a Motorola Android phone.

Shortly after getting the new device out of the box, my goal was to find an Android application that I could use to recreate the iPodTouch/Geoshere experience. And I think I've found it with the free geocaching app. called, "c:geo". Since I wasn't planning on giving up on my Garmin GPSr to locate caches, I just needed an Android app. that could do the following:

1. Import Pocket Queries
2. Support Offline Logging
3. Export Field Notes

And yes, of course the Android App. will do all of this and more; but it also costs $9.99. Did I mention that c:geo is free? Yes, I did. And it also supports all of the a fore mentioned features. The only differences I've found so far between c:geo and the app. and geosphere is that it is not quite as intuitive to use from an end-user standpoint, and the documentation can be a little tricky to follow.

That's why I plan to devote the next three blog posts to describing in some detail how to accomplish each of the above-listed tasks in c:geo to you, my faithful readers, as an early holiday gift; and as a small token of appreciation to the developers of what I think is a great Android application.

Just note that I will not be discussing how to navigate to a cache site with this software, as I prefer to leave that task to the professionals.

Cache On!

November 10, 2012

National Parks Free This Weekend

With the elections (finally) over, and the crispness in the air, there's no excuse now not to throw on an extra layer and head outside this weekend. And to make it easier for you, the National Park Service is waiving all park entrance fees this long, Veteran's Day weekend. In case you need reminding of which National Parks are in your state, here's a list.

As you know, geocaches are not allowed in National Parks (except for virtuals and earth caches), but what's to stop you from picking up a few en route to and from your favorite Park? Now get out there and enjoy!

Cache On!