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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Sunday, July 11, 2010

Urban Geocaching? Use your auto GPS.

Mio-C230 If you ever go geocaching in an urban environment that you are unfamiliar with, you will quickly find that even with your handheld GPSr, you can find yourself a little lost in the city.  I found this out one day geocaching in Charlotte, North Carolina. 

Luckily, I had a solution right under my nose…Uh…I mean in front of my eyes.  I had an automobile GPS receiver.  I am sure you have seen them.  Some popular units are TomTom, Garmin, and Magellan.  I have one called the Mio C230.  It is a basic unit, but, does help me get around unfamiliar areas.

Mio-C230Handheld GPS receivers are, by design, to function at its best while being carried while walking.  Automobile GPSr’s, on the other hand, don’t work very well in the woods, but, are great for getting you around town.  Most automotive GPSr’s will allow you to input coordinates.  You will have to adjust the way you input your geocache coordinates. 

We are all used to seeing a GPS coordinate in this format:

N 35° 37.017 W 081° 16.962

This is the standard format used on Geocaching.com and other geocaching listing services.  This format works great in your handheld GPSr, but, most automotive GPSr’s require the digital format like this:

35.61695 -81.2827

Both coordinates are exactly the same, but, in different formats.  Since your geocache coordinates will be loaded into your GPSr, you can simply tell your handheld GPSr to display the digital format.  I have had several handheld GPSr’s and all have allowed me to do this.  Here is how it looks on the Garmin GPSmap 60CSx:

60CSx-Coords-Formats The format highlighted in yellow is the decimal format.  Now when you view all of your waypoints on your handheld GPSr, it will show them in the format compatible with your automotive GPSr.  Don’t worry.  You can always change the format back.

Now all you have to do is look at the coordinates of the geocache you are trying to find and enter the decimal format into your automotive GPSr.  You can use your automotive GPSr to take you to the area of your geocache hunt!  It is easier and quicker than using your handheld unit.  This saves time and gasoline…And time and gas are money.

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