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.
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.
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.
I said in the last post that I would explain about a process call GeoTagging.
This is the process of adding location data into the MetaData of a digital photograph. Now why would you want to do that you ask? Well, maybe you have some family and friends, following your photographic adventure while you’re on vacation. Maybe you just like taking a look at other people’s photos at a specific location. The reasons are multiple and plentiful.
So, first, let’s introduce you to a couple of places that support Geotagged photos. Amongst the popular, there’s Flickr and Panoramio (which is a Google Earth based application). Do a Google search on the internet and I’m sure you’ll find something. I’m going to talk about Flickr, it’s what my friends and I mainly use.
Above you can see this is Flickr’s map view of the Ottawa, ON area. The little pink dots, well, as you probably have guessed, those are geotagged photos. Doesn’t look like a lot, but trust me there’s a lot more. You’ll have to zoom in closer. In the next picture you’ll see a few of my photos that have been geotagged in at Phiney’s Point.
Click on one of the Pink dots and it’ll open up the photo. Neat, huh?
So, how do you Geotag a photo? Well, the most inexpensive way, but the least accurate is to manually enter the data into the metadata of you digital photograph. In Flickr, it gives you the option of drag and dropping it onto the map. I’m not going to get into any great detail on how to do that. You can figure that out on your own. I have faith in you.
Now, the more expensive way to do it.
There’s at least two ways of doing this. Direct Imbedding (while on the camera) or using a computer, handheld GPS device and geotagging software.
Now this is what I would like to get for Geotagging. Well, since I have Nikon camera, I would like to use the Nikon GP-1. This device will cost you about $280 at Henry’s. It will automatically write the longitude and latitude coordinates into the picture as you take them.
The other way, which is way more affordable is software.
I use a program called Robogeo, now there are other software out that that does Geotagging, but I found that Robogeo is more intuitive and easier to use. Also that it will geotag RAW (.NEF) photos as well.
You’ll need to walk around with a handheld GPS that is capable of keeping a tracklog. Previously, I used a Garmin GPSMap60 CSx (Robogeo was able to automatically grab the tracklog from the 60), now I use a Garmin Colorado 300. I have to transfer the tracklog to my computer as a GPX file and import it into Robogeo. Hind sight, being twenty-twenty, I should’ve kept my 60.
Technically speaking, this is the more expensive way to go about Geotagging. Since you have to spend out for a good hand held GPS. But since I go geoaching, I already had the handheld GPS.
Once you have imported the tracklog into Robogeo, then you have to import the photos that you want Geotagged. You can either have the coordinates stamped right on the picture or written into the metadata or both. This is a long process, especially when you go out for a photowalk and take hundreds of pictures. I choose to write the geotagged photos to a new directory on the computer, therefore I don’t alter the original photo.
Well, I hope this answers your questions on what is geotagging. If you have the means, I suggest giving it a try. Oh yeah, Robogeo has a demo version available on their site. I think it watermarks your photos until you register for a full version.
Until next time folks.