SpoilerSync and Garmin geocache photos

Garmin not so long ago added ability to view geocache images directly on the GPS unit (more details). The functionality is not limited to caches from opencaching.com and can be used by anyone.

Since currently the most popular way of downloading photos from geocaching.com is using SpoilerSync, I created a small application that converts the output from SpoilerSync into structure that is supported by Garmin devices.

Download the application (5Kb). You will need .NET Framework 4.0 to run it.

To run it, open a console window and run SpoilerSync2Garmin.exe “C:\Where\SpoilerSync\Saved\The\Images” “G:\”

The first parameter is the folder where SpoilerSync saved all the pictures (it will have a lot of images, the file names starting with GC12345 style codes).

The second parameter is the drive letter where the Garmin GPS (must be the internal storage; for now the SD card does not work for photos) is located.

The application can also resize the images but that most probably will not be used since you can specify the size in SpoilerSync. If you need the resize, add resize 240x400 before the folder parameters. First value is width in pixels, the second – height in pixels (240x400 is the screen size for Oregon 450).

Note that GeoTransformer will soon support this out of the box.

GeoTransformer 2.0

Layers-icon Download GeoTransformer.zip (810Kb)

GeoTransformer is a small application that is a-must-have for everyone who does not use something more heavy-weight like GASK (and GeoTransformer is free of charge without any nag-screens).

GeoTransformer functions:

  • Decodes HTML entities in the cache description and logs. This function is required as Garmin devices cannot correctly display these entities but it can display the characters if decoded. This will allow you to see all non-latin characters correctly.
  • Saves the coordinates of solved mysteries and automatically inputs them in the .gpx file, changing the cache icon at the same time. After this simple manipulation it gets pretty hard to drive by a solved mistery and not notice.
  • Automatically uncompress .gpx files from a .zip archive.
  • Publishes the converted .gpx files either to a fixed folder or directly on Garmin device (the device must show in My Computer with a name that starts with “Garmin”).
  • Publishes the converted .gpx files also to Magellan device (the device must show in My Computer with a name that starts with “Magellan”).
  • Merges many .gpx files together so that it is not required to manage .gpx files that were previously published on the GPS unit.

Usage instructions:

  • Download and install Microsoft .NET Framework 4 Client Profile.
  • Decompress all files from the downloaded archive in a separate directory (can be a removable USB flash drive).
  • Save the .gpx and .zip files in the same directory.
  • In order to enter the solved coordinates, enter the geocache code (GCxxxx) and the correct coordinates (they can be entered in different formats – DMS, DM, Dec – they will be automatically converted to N XX XX.XXX format).
  • All data is stored in GeoTransformer.data file – this is the one you have to watch in order not to lose the entered data.
  • The cache title will be populated with data from the .gpx files during publish.
  • Click publish. If a recognized GPS device is connected it will show up in the list, otherwise you can publish to a folder.

Upgrade:

  • Just copy the new files overwriting anything you had previously, preserve the MovedCaches.txt – the new version will automatically import anything from the previous version.

Future plans:

  • Collect logs from previous pocket queries to increase the number of logs sent to GPS device (a standalone .gpx download includes 20 logs which is much better that the 5 included in pocket queries).
  • Detect duplicate cache entries and use newest (would be useful if pocket queries overlap or if individual files are often downloaded).
  • Adding additional hint to the .gpx file.
  • And more…

GeoTransformer + Magellan

Publicēta jaunākā GeoTransformer versija, kas māk automātiski publicēt .gpx failus uz Magellan ierīcēm (ja ierīces nosaukums iekš My Computer sākas ar “Magellan”) – direktorijās Geocaches un Waypoints.

Lejupielāde iepriekšējā rakstā.

GeoTransformer – palīgs ar .gpx failiem

Layers-icon Download GeoTransformer.zip (289Kb)

English description is available below.

Izveidoju nelielu programmiņu, ko varētu nosaukt par absolūti nepieciešamu rīku tiem slēpņotājiem, kas neizmanto, piemēram, GSAK.

GeoTransformer funkcijas:

  • Atkodē HTML entities slēpņu aprakstos un logos. Šī funkcija ir nepieciešama, jo Garmin ierīces HTML entities nespēj attēlot, taču pēc šīs apstrādes visi latviešu, krievu utt. burti normāli attēlosies.
  • Saglabā atrisināto mistēriju koordinātas un automātiski tās ievada .gpx failā, pie reizes nomainot slēpņa ikonu. Pēc šīs vienkāršās manipulācijas nejauši pabraukt garām atrisinātai mistērijai kļūst krietni grūtāk.
  • Automātiski atarhivē .zip arhīvā esošos .gpx failus.
  • Publicē pārveidotos .gpx failus vai nu uz konkrētu direktoriju vai arī pa tiešo uz Garmin ierīci (nepieciešams, lai ierīces nosaukums iekš My Computer sāktos ar “Garmin”).
  • Publicē pārveidotos .gpx failus arī uz Magellan ierīci (nepieciešams, lai ierīces nosaukums iekš My Computer sāktos ar “Magellan”).

Lietošanas instrukcija:

  • Nepieciešams Microsoft .NET Framework 4 Client Profile.
  • Jāatarhivē abi faili no lejupielādētā arhīva atsevišķā direktorijā.
  • .gpx un .zip faili jāsaglabā šajā pašā direktorijā.
  • Lai ievadītu atrisinātās koordinātas, nepieciešams norādīt slēpņa kodu un labotās koordinātas (tās var norādīt dažādos formātos – DMS, DM, Dec – programma automātiski tās konvertēs uz N XX XX.XXX formātu).
  • Saglabātie dati tiek saglabāti failā “MovedCaches.txt”.
  • Slēpņa nosaukumu var ievadīt, taču tas tiks pārrakstīts ar datiem no .gpx faila pie publikācijas.
  • Spiežot “Publish”, visi atrastie .gpx faili tiks apstrādāti un nokopēti vai nu uz Garmin vai Magellan ierīci vai apakšdirektorijā “Published”.

GeoTransformer is a small application that is a-must-have for everyone who does not use something more heavy-weight like GASK.

GeoTransformer functions:

  • Decodes HTML entities in the cache description and logs. This function is required as Garmin devices cannot correctly display these entities but it can display the characters if decoded. This will allow you to see all non-latin characters correctly.
  • Saves the coordinates of solved mysteries and automatically inputs them in the .gpx file, changing the cache icon at the same time. After this simple manipulation it gets pretty hard to drive by a solved mistery and not notice.
  • Automatically uncompress .gpx files from a .zip archive.
  • Publishes the converted .gpx files either to a fixed folder or directly on Garmin device (the device must show in My Computer with a name that starts with “Garmin”).
  • Publishes the converted .gpx files also to Magellan device (the device must show in My Computer with a name that starts with “Magellan”).

Usage instructions:

  • Download and install Microsoft .NET Framework 4 Client Profile.
  • Decompress both files from the downloaded archive in a separate directory.
  • Save the .gpx and .zip files in the same directory.
  • In order to enter the solved coordinates, enter the geocache code (GCxxxx) and the correct coordinates (they can be entered in different formats – DMS, DM, Dec – they will be automatically converted to N XX XX.XXX format).
  • The data is saved in the file “MovedCaches.txt”.
  • The cache title can be entered but will be overwritten with data from the .gpx files during publish.
  • After pressing “Publish” all .gpx files will be converted and copied either to Garmin or Magellan device or a subfolder “Published”.

OfflineCacher - download

For initial description and reasoning behind the OfflineCacher application, see the previous post. In short – OfflineCacher is a Windows Mobile Standard (otherwise known as Smartphone) application for geocaching without using data (GPRS/EDGE/…) connection. Both maps and additional cache information is predownloaded on the desktop and copied over the wire to the phone.

Note: the instructions below are constantly updated when new version is released.

Requirements:

Download (current version is v.5):

Setup:

  • unzip the desktop application – no further setup required, just launch it;
  • on the mobile phone storage card create directory \Storage Card\OfflineCache (the directory goes directly on the storage card, the given path is when accessed from the phone itself) – it cannot be changed currently;
  • it is recommended to either use a card reader or switch the phone to work as a removable drive and not via ActiveSync (otherwise the copy speed will be extremely slow and during the copy it will automatically overwrite files and not leave existing ones; also via ActiveSync the desktop application will not be able to directly connect to the phone).

Typical usage:

  • download .gpx file from geocaching.com (either individual cache or a pocket query) to a local folder – specify this folder in the desktop application; alternative is to download .gpx files to the OfflineCacher data folder under Caches subfolder.;
  • connect your phone via USB connection, set it up so it does not use ActiveSync;
  • create the OfflineCacher folder on the memory card – this way the download application will detect it automatically and work always even if for some reason Windows decides to give the card different drive letter later;
  • launch the downloader application, select the removable folder option (if required, browse for the folder), it will automatically read the .gpx files and display the caches on the map;
  • navigate the map by mouse (right click centers the map, double left zooms in, double right zooms out);
  • select the caches you want to visit either from the list or from the map;
  • click “Download maps and extras” – this will download maps for all zoom levels (only the deepest for sattelite map) for all selected caches – approximately 3x3 mobile screens are predownloaded; it will also download the cache web page with all logs (the .gpx includes only the latest ones) and images;
  • launch the the mobile application, it usually takes about 5 seconds to load (no matter the number of caches);
  • usage of the mobile application is via the menus and keyboard shortcuts:
    • “1” – zooms out;
    • “3” – zooms in;
    • “0” – centers on GPS coordinates, second click zooms in on GPS coordinates;
    • “Enter” – opens the selected (under the center of the screen) cache info page.

The usage of this application might seem a bit complex at first but after the first time it should be very straight forward – it is this complex because of the requirement to predownload maps – once you start copying the maps to the storage card you will understand why it is better to be done this way – the size of them is quite large and if that is downloaded from the mobile phone, the bill can grow quite a bit.

Geocaching with Windows Smartphone

Geocaching is a high tech game. As soon as you get outside of urban areas most of the time it gets near impossible to find the cache if you do not own a GPS. But GPS alone does not help that much – in order to be as effective as possible the GPS has to be able to display geocaches directly on the map. There are many devices you can buy that supports geocaching but nowadays most people have a GPS on their phones and in this case it really does not make much sense to buy another device.

There are many different software solutions for different phones. For example, the iPhone has an application, Trimble has a product that you can install on different phones. But most of the good applications are not free and for some of them you even have to pay monthly subscription (and pay premium membership for geocaching.com).

I myself own a phone (HTC S740) with Windows Smartphone 6.1 operating system. The big problem for me is that the Smartphone (or Standard) version is for phones without touch screen (such as mine). There are multiple free applications for Windows mobile phones with touch screen (Professional version) but I could not find one that works for me.

Another very limiting factor is roaming GPRS (mobile data) charges. While I am visiting Canada, the charges are approx. 10 USD/Mb. This way geocaching becomes quite expensive if you use an application with an online map (like Google Maps). So for me the application has to be able to download the maps before I go outside and work offline.

Suffice to say I did not find anything that would do what I need and I decided that it has to be corrected and I need to write the application myself.

To show the result, here are some screen shots of the first version:

OfflineCacher - Map view OfflineCacher - cache info OfflineCacher - satelite map OfflineCacher - GPS status

The current functionality:

  • A desktop (Windows) application to download maps (you need to copy them to the storage card manually).
  • The maps are downloaded automatically for geocaches you select on the map or from a list.
  • Geocaches are loaded from GPX files (you need to be a Premium Member to have access to them).
  • The application downloads and works with maps from OpenStreetMap and Google Maps (both street view and satelite view).
  • Works with any GPS module that the Windows Mobile operating system can manage automatically (built in or external).
  • Displays the current location on the map.
  • Shows all loaded caches on map by their type, highlights caches that are found, are inactive or that have travelbugs in them.
  • Displays the information about the cache – hints, description, logs.
  • Downloads the cache web page on the desktop application and displays it on the mobile phone – useful if the GPX file did not contain enough logs.
  • Downloads images for the cache and displays them on the mobile phone.
  • Absolutely nothing is downloaded on the mobile phone directly – no need to worry about GPRS costs.

Requirements:

  • Phone that supports Microsoft .NET Compact Framework 3.5.
  • Non-touch screen as this is the target for the application.
  • Enough place on the phone or storage card to store the offline maps (for a few day caching session it could take up to 1Gb of space).

I will post the application here soon – if you feel that this is something you need, by expressing that you will probably get me to do that sooner.