Welcome to CarolinaCacher

Welcome to my CarolinaCacher site. I'm Randy Hefner. My caching screen name on GPSgames, Geocaching, and TerraCaching, is RanHefner. I have been caching since June 24, 2005.

You may be asking, "What is caching?" You would probably know it as Geocaching. Geocaching is the combination of technology, outdoor activities, and treasure hunting. You use a GPSr (Global Positioning System receiver) to locate hidden containers of different sizes and shapes. All cache containers will contain a log (piece of paper, notepad, or notebook) to document your finding of the cache. Some containers are large enough to contain trinkets for trading. The rule is that you take somthing and leave something.

There are many handheld GPS receivers on the market ranging from around $75 to over $400! All of them will get you started with geocaching. The more expensive ones are good for geocaching and road navigation. The two most popular companies offering GPS receivers are Garmin and Magellan.

Garmin offers a GPS Guide For Beginners. It is a little "technical", but does offer a lot of great information about how the Global Positioning System works.

The online "How To" manual, wikiHow, offers a very good guide to geocaching. This is a good article for beginners. This article takes you step-by-step from selecting a GPS receiver and how to log your find.

A good place to start is to join a local caching club. There are several in the Carolinas. If you live in North Carolina, you should join the North Carolina Geocachers Organization. This "club" is for everyone in North Carolina or anyone interested in caching in NC.

If you live in the foothills area of North Carolina, there is a group for you! The NC Foothills Geocachers is affiliated with the NCGO above, but is targeted towards the members living in the foothills.

If you live in the Asheville area of North Carolina there is a Yahoo! Group called Western NC Geocaching.

If you live in the upstate of South Carolina, there is an organization for you. The Upstate South Carolina Geocachers Association covers the 10 counties in the northwest portion of South Carolina.

There are two South Carolina state-wide geocaching organizations. South Carolina Geocachers Association and South Carolina Society of Geocaching.

Join the organization that best fits your needs and participate in their events. You will get more out of geocaching by making new geocaching friends!
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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Mount that Pathtag!

If you are like me, you have collected quite a few Pathtags. When you trade or buy a Pathtag, they usually come in a small cellophane pouch that is stapled on the open end.

I started putting them in a Lock & Lock for storage. This was fine when I had just a few, but, I have collected nearly a hundred of these little buggers! It's time to organize.

I looked at many options, but finally settled on products used by coin collectors. A cardboard coin holder sometimes referred to as a "flip" is an inexpensive little item that makes storing and collecting coins easy.

A "flip" comes in several sizes for just about any size coin. It is made of a cardboard shell lined with Mylar. There is a hole punched in the center a little larger than the coin you intend to display. For Pathtags, the U.S. Quarter size is just perfect. The Mylar film and punched hole creates a round window that you can view the coin or Pathtag through while protecting it from fingerprints and the elements.

I found a good source of the 2" x 2" U.S. Quarter sized flips on eBay. I bought 100 flips that come in a red storage box. Once you mount your Pathtags you can use the box as a storage container. The price including shipping was $6.95 and the seller was very prompt on shipping the flips. You can view his eBay auctions here.

One way to mount coins or Pathtags in a flip, is to center the Pathtag over the window area and fold over the flap and staple on all four sides of the flip surrounding the Pathtag. Make sure you wipe the Pathtag clean of all fingerprints before mounting. I tried this method and it works well, but the staples don't look good and they take up more space in the storage box.

A better method us to use a "permanent glue tape" dispenser to apply a layer of the sticky substance on double-sided tape without the Mylar strip. Just run a strip along all four sides between the window and the edge of the flip. Now center the Pathtag in the window and close the flap. This gives a cleaner look to the final Pathtag mount.

To finish the mounting, I write the Pathtag number on the corner. This makes it easy to file them in order and also lets you reference the Pathtag quickly.

You can keep the mounted Pathtags in the storage box that came with the flips or you can buy three ring notebook size clear vinyl sheets designed to hold the 2" x 2" flips. There are other coin collector options available to Pathtag collectors. Just remember to use the U.S. Quarter size mounting products.

I have prepared a slide show of the mounting process below. Enjoy your Pathtag with style!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

You got a GPS for Christmas...Now what?

Santa brought you a brand new GPS receiver (GPSr). Now what?

If you have a friend who is into geocaching, he or she is the person that can be of most help. But if not, here are few tips.

Garmin has an interesting page, "What Is GPS?" This page is a little technical, but does explain how a GPSr works.

Garmin has also produced a good document, "GPS Beginner's Guide." It is not very specific, but is worth reading.

One of the best documents is provided on wikiHow. It is titled, "How To Go Geocaching" and should be read completely. Many questions can be answered there.

Take a while to become familiar with your new GPSr. Learn the basic functions, especially how to add waypoints. Most new GPSr's come with a USB cable that allows you to transfer coordinates, but if not, you will have to enter them manually. This can be time consuming and I don't recommend it unless you don't have any other means of entering the information.

Take your GPSr into the back yard or a nearby park and walk around with it. Switch to the compass screen. On most models, the compass screen doesn't work exactly like a compass. A real compass will point north even when standing still. Your GPSr changes only if you are actually moving. This is because the computer inside is looking at several coordinates and calculating where you are, what direction you are heading, and your speed.

Explore all of the features of you new toy. You will find it can be very useful for things other than geocaching!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Happy Geocaching Holiday!

I found a nice, little geocaching holiday greeting on YouTube.

Happy holidays from CarolinaCacher!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Groundspeak announces iPhone application.

Groundspeak announces a new application for the iPhone. This application not only lets you see the geocache pages, but also utilizes the features of the iPhone to navigate you to the geocache location.

The iPhone application is best supported by the iPhone 3G but it is also compatible with the iPod Touch and 1st generation iPhones.

Here are a few screen shots of the new application for the iPhone.

I don't have an iPhone, but this looks like a great way to have an "all-in-one" device for geocaching!

"It was a cold and quiet afternoon."

"It was a cold and quiet afternoon". That is how my geocaching journey began today. GC1JMPG - Foul Ball was the geocache I went to find today. This was the newest geocache in may area and I wanted another FTF (First-To-Find). I wanted this FTF because it put me in the 15% club!

This geocache was a very good hide. The spot was easily accessible, the coordinates were dead on, and the geocache container was very imaginative. Good job five0xpress!

It was a little spooky going in. I get there just as the sun was meeting the horizon. The shadows were long and the only noises I heard was the dogs calling for the moon and the ice crystals crunching beneath my feet. Wow it was cold.

I noticed a very large dog's footprint. By the size and depth, I would say the dog is well over 100 pounds! I'm glad I didn't meet FrankenDog on this geocaching trip! Take a look at the picture.

As I was leaving, I was treated to a lovely scene of nature. The sun was just about below the horizon. I stopped long enough to grab a picture.

This was a good day for geocaching. Thanks five0xpres for getting me out here. Your geocache was imaginative and hidden in a good location.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

The GSAK Pathtag has arrived!

I just received the latest of my Pathtags. The GSAK Pathtag recognizes the contribution that GSAK (Geocaching Swiss Army Knife) has made to the geocaching community.

The GSAK software gives geocachers the flexibility to focus his or her geocaching activities precisely on the desired objective. GSAK lets you filter geocache listings by many criteria. This lets the geocacher load only the geocaches he or she wants to search for.

There are too many features that GSAK has to list here. Visit the GSAK website to learn more!

I will have very limited trading on this Pathtag. If you would like to purchase one, see the side-bar to the right.