1. Computing
Fred Zahradnik

Garmin Chirp Adds Interesting New Dimension to Geocaching

By October 18, 2010

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Garmin Chirp GPS beaconThe just-announced Garmin Chirp is a small (slightly larger than a quarter) capsule that serves as a combination beacon and communication device at the site of a geocache. The Chirp sells for $20 - $23, and weighs less than one ounce. The Chirp "stores hints, multicache coordinates, counts visitors and confirms the cache is nearby," states Garmin. It is waterproof and durable, and its battery is said to last about a year.

For the person who creates or monitors a geocache, Chirp benefits include the ability to transmit hints and tips, wirelessly provide instructions and coordinates for a multicache hide, and automated tracking and uploading of cache visitor counts.

For those seeking a cache that has a Chirp, benefits include notification of proximity to a cache (10-yard range), hints and tips provided by the cache creator, and automatic upload of coordinates of the next cache in a mutlicache hide.

The Chirp should not be buried, placed in a metal box, or hidden underwater, Garmin states, because its signal would be blocked. Also, I think that a Chirp should not be hidden in the geocache box itself, where it could potentially be stolen. Someone placing a Chirp could easily hide it in a nook near, but not in the cache and it would still serve its intended purpose without risk of theft.

On the downside, the Chirp is compatible only with select Garmin handheld GPS devices using ANT+ wireless technology, including certain Dakota, GPSMAP, and Oregon series models. Image Garmin

October 18, 2010 at 3:13 pm
(1) ecanderson says:

Before buying one of these to use in a geocache, cache owners should be aware that the announcement of this product caught the folks at Groundspeak TOTALLY flat footed. Garmin provided no prior warning. Groundspeak has very quickly reviewed this gadget, and based partly on the fact that the receivers are sole sourced (only certain Garmin handheld GPS units can receive and understand the content of a Chirp transmission), have arrived at the following compromise in their use. Per Jeremy hisself…

“Garmin didn’t tell us about this product. We only became aware of it, by accident, two days prior to the public announcement.”

and per Groundspeak, the following will apply as of this morning:

Here is the current plan:

1. A new attribute for a “beacon” will be added soon. Any caches that use a Chirp (or any future similar device) should use this attribute.
2. 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 coming attribute.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. We do not plan to add a new cache type just for this.

October 20, 2010 at 11:21 am
(2) Sean Hutchins says:

Wahoo Fitness has announced that they will support receiving chirp’s messages with their ANT+ iPhone Fisica Sensor Key. The key allows iPhones to receive data from ANT+ sensors including heart rate belts, speed and cadence sensors, foot pods… and soon chirp. There should be a multitude of iPhone apps available soon allowing one to use their iPhone to collect chips.

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