A Geocaching HOWTO: Waypoints

Now that I finally have a GPS receiver, I want to get out and use it!

My current workflow for getting caches onto the GPSr is to use GeoToad to search for caches and generate a GPX file, which I send it to the GPSr using GPSBabel or EasyGPS. CMConvert takes the GPX file and creates a PDB file; J-Pilot uploads the PDB onto my Palm, where with CacheMate I have all the descriptions, logs, and other cache goodness at my fingertips.

  • GeoToad: geotoad.rb
  • GPSBabel wrapper: gps_upload.sh filename.gpx
  • CMConvert: cmconvert -d -C -L -O -S -N 15 filename.gpx
  • J-Pilot: jpilot

To enter waypoints manually, I find the Marengo GPS Route Planner helpful. Just copy the generated XML and save it as a .gpx file, and use your favorite transfer utility to get it to your GPSr. Even if I’m not planning on using the waypoints as a route per se, it serve as a convent grouping mechanism.

Software I’ve groked:

(Linux/MacOS/Windows) Runs queries against geocaching.com for caches, with all kinds of filtering options. Output is an XML-style GPX file. A simple query can generate hundreds of caches–give it a few hours to run. Also

(Windows) “EasyGPS is the fast and easy way to transfer waypoints, routes, and tracks between your computer and your Garmin, Magellan, or Lowrance GPS.” Reads in GeoToad GPX files.

(PalmOS) Neatly stores everything about a cache on your Palm. Has the ability to decrypt hints at the touch of a button. I used to think this was good.. but maybe it’s not :). Free trial version holds 10 caches; full version is a reasonable $8. smittyware also makes available a little app called CMConvert to send gpx files to your Palm (./configure; make; sudo make install; man cmconvert). To create Palm-importable pdb files: cmconvert -d -C -L -O -S -N 15 filename.gpx.

(Linux) “J-Pilot is a desktop organizer application for PalmOS devices. It is meant to be an alternative to the Palm Desktop for those who run the most popular Operating Systems in the World, Linux and Unix.” This is for CacheMate, as mentioned above. To get it talking to my old Palm Vx I think all I had to do was fill in the Serial Port under File -> Preferences -> Settings (/dev/ttyS0 in my case) and up the Serial Rate. This was after spending a few hours unsuccessfully trying to sync a Handspring Visor, so I don’t know what collateral damage that caused.

(Linux/MacOS/Windows) “GPS file conversion plus transfer to/from GPS units.”
If the kernel-included garmin_gps driver isn’t working for you, try this. This uploads a .gpx to my GPSr: gpsbabel -s -i gpx -f file.gpx -o garmin -F usb:. Martyn C Davis has released a simple wrapper around GPSBabel for uploading gpx tracks; it is easily extendable. I had to sudo apt-get install libusb-dev before building to get GPSBabel to talk to my USB port.
(BUT: can GPSBabel replace CMConvert by creating something CacheMate can read???)

Software I’m still figuring out:

GSAK (Geocaching Swiss Army Knife)
(Windows) Seems pretty popular. $25 to remove nag screen after 21 day trial. Looks like it does not query for caches; it only loads .gpx/.loc files. Does export to CacheMate (probably through GPSBabel… mag_pdb?).

sudo apt-get install gpsman gpsmanshp libtk-img

sudo apt-get install gpstrans
Doesn’t appear to support USB connection?

Other software:

Appears to be the same thing as GeoToad. The screenshot looks nice, but the latest version (0.9.4) is dated Oct 20, 2003.


  1. Comment by humminbird-1-597ci-hd-di on 2012-04-23 12:13 pm

    Hey Ideaharbor,
    I know what you mean, I have just started geocaching and I am currently using the iPhone app. I would like to get a handheld gps unit. Recommendations?
    Kindest Regards

  2. Comment by Matt on 2012-11-30 10:39 am

    I am having a heck of a time trying to make my own geocaching gpx files. I just need the minimum code. I can’t find it anywhere… Any help would be greatly appreciated.

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