Garmin Chirp, Geocaching Approved!

Well, what the hek is a a Garmin Chirp anyways.

It’s described physically as a small electronic beacon about the size of a quarter, black in colour.  It has a user replaceable button battery that lasts about one year and it’s waterproof.

I don’t have one yet, because you need an ANT device that is Chirp enabled.  Currently, the Garmin Oregon 450, higher, Garmin Dakotas and the latest versions of the Garmin GPSMAP units are the only ones that have the firmware released to do so.

Even though my Garmin Colorado is an ANT device, they haven’t worked on a firmware upgrade to this unit for over a year.  Even though my model is less than two years old.  It’s officially discontinued and from some sources on the internet, will probably not be supported.

Personally, I’m not going to be very happy, if they don’t.

I have e-mailed Garmin Support and inquired.  If you have a Colorado and in the same situation as I am, please do send Garmin a message of your concerns at the following link: Contact Garmin Support

The ANT is a part of the GPS that will allow GPS users to wirelessly share information between one another while in the field without having to connect to a computer.  Example, waypoints, geocaches, etc.

I have had the pleasure of being out with my friends, Gordon Dewis, Keeper of Maps, who has recently purchased an Oregon 450 from gpscentral.ca

We just recently went out for a local cache event here in Ottawa, called Go and Get’em.  In short, we call it GAG.  While out, we decided to try a couple of Chirp enabled caches.

Now before I get into how well it worked for us, I’ll tell you a little bit more about how the people at Groundspeak and Geocaching.com approved the use of this.  In short, it took them a few weeks to decide whether to allow this or not, even thought that Garmin had already announced the Chirp’s release.  In the end, it was approved.  As long as the beacon symbol is placed in the attributes of the cache page.  It is also preferable that Cache hiders also provide an alternative to those that do not have a Chirp.  However, it doesn’t say they are required to do so.

Back to our Chirp cache story.  We decided  that we would go after this cache called “A Long Shot” by Pokaroo (GC2GJ7K).  When we get to our first way point, we have a to do a puzzle in order to find the projection from the current waypoint to get to the next or we let the Chirp ‘tell’ us.   Within 10 meters/40 feet of the first waypoint, Gord’s Oregon beeped and said that a Chirp was detected, and asked if he wanted to download the information.  He did of course and it automatically downloaded a new set of coordinates called “Next Stage” into his GPS.  Cool!  And off we went to find the cache.

Images directly linked from the Garmin Blog site.

So, yeah, this is like multi-caching.  But instead of looking for a small little Dymo label tag, the GPS and the Chirp will be looking for each other.

The cost for these little guys, $22.99us each.  You can purchase them from gpscentral.ca and gpscity.ca for about $21.99cdn each.

In any case, a multi waypoint chirp enabled cache would be very costly.  For example, my Bill Mason multi cache is seven waypoints in total.  That would cost me in excess of $140 to put up that cache.  Now, even though that the Chirp is assigned a PIN (Personal Identification Number), so that no one else can change the information on it.  It doesn’t stop people from stealing it.  This could get costly, it you hide it in a high muggle area.  Just take a look at this cache “Chirp it Up” by Burt Gummer (GC2H4C5).  They have since, placed a memorial cache for their missing Chirp, “Who took the Chirp?” (GC2HQCE).

Well, I hope this answers some questions about the Chirp for some of you.

Till next time.

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