This week, Garmin raised the bar in the geocaching game with the release of the Chirp wirelessgeocaching beacon. This device, used with a compatible Garmin GPS receiver, allows for the reception of programmed information into the GPS receiver. This information includes a message from the Chirp owner with coordinates to a next stage of nearby special cache container. This can open up new variations of the game not just for geocaching, but also for orienteering and letterboxing.
The models that he Chirp communicates with are; Garmin Oregon x00 and x50, Dakota, and the new GPSMAP 62/78 models. The new firmware is installed through the Webupdater software available from Garmin.
Once the software is installed, the Chirp device is programmed through your GPS. The GPS then ‘owns’ the Chirp and the last five digits of the GPS ID become the password, preventing others from reprogramming the password.
Geocaching.com has set guidelines for Chirp enabled geocaches, they are:
A new attribute for a "beacon" is added. Any caches that use a Chirp (or any future similar device) should use this attribute.
If a cache owner puts a beacon in a traditional cache and geocachers have an alternative method to find it without using the beacon, then OK. I remind you to use the “beacon” attribute.
If the cache owner insists on not providing an alternative means of finding the geocache, it must be listed as a mystery with the beacon attribute.
Cache descriptions may mention the "Chirp" as long as the text doesn't go on and on with "overtones of advertising, marketing, or promotion" as per our long-standing commercial guidelines.
We do not plan to add a new cache type just for this.
The Chirp is powered by a CR2032 battery with an expected life of one year. The suggested retail price of the Chirp is $22.95 US. REI has them available for $20 US. This cost could make the loss of a geocaching container very painful.
The transmitter works off of an open source ANT+ profile. This means that competing devices could be built that would open up this technology to all geocachers.
This examiner has purchased two Chirp’s transmitters and will have a follow-up article on setup and how He has used them.
To stay up to date for this Examiner by pressing the subscribe button above.
More information in geocaching is found at Centennial State Geocaching Podcast