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SKY CACHE: Mobile Aerial Geocache

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This is my completely autonomous Mobile Aerial Geocache, or MAG. I'll show you how to make one, and participate in this project yourself.

I wanted to create a new kind of interactive cache that would have the ability to travel through the sky, and be tracked in real time with a small GPS device.

My goal is to give the community the ability to track, find, and relaunch this cache to keep it ever wandering

What is Geocaching?

Geocaching is a free real-world outdoor treasure hunt. Players try to locate hidden containers, called geocaches, using a smartphone or GPS and can then share their experiences online. - http://www.geocaching.com/

I will be updating this Instructable in the near future as this project progresses, and invite all of you to follow along and participate. Please comment with your thoughts, ideas, and knowledge, and lets make this a collaboration!


 
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Step 2: Make the container

Cut off a length of noodle. This will be the body of your container.

Next, fit a hole saw bit into the noodle end.
Find the largest one that will fit inside without ruining the container.

Cut off another length of noodle, then cut that piece in half lengthwise.

With your hands, gently and slowly twist the saw into the noodle piece COUNTER-CLOCKWISE.
(otherwise the piece will be torn too roughly) Repeat with other half.

make sure your end pieces fit properly.

Step 3: Add treasure and test lift

I tested lift with 3 helium filled balloons that I bought at Vons (Safeway). They can lift about 20.2 grams of weight. The stash and container weighs in at 14.8 grams. WE HAVE LIFTOFF!
Reiff6 months ago
I sort of confused, is this a Geocache, or some "cache" you made. Anyways, if it were to be a Geocache...no it coud't be a Geocache. What is it for, what is it!
Norro9 months ago
Nice try but I'm afraid I think that this would be rubbish as a cache. It is too temporary and misses the point of a cache highlighting it's surroundings. However it might make a very good 'trackable'.
American Ruin (author) 9 months ago
I just got the GSM tracker in today, and will update shortly. Thanks to everyone who is following along, and giving support / ideas!
Chipfire9 months ago
Really cool project - I have always quietly held a desire to find a balloon complete with tag from one of those 'furthest travelled balloon' contests at village fetes etc. This takes that to a new level. How you gettting on?
My contribution.....
I notice that orntihologists are tagging birds with tiny geo positoning kit , solar powersed, very lightweight and can be programmed to chirp their position at set intervals.
http://www.microwavetelemetry.com/
No idea of satellite costs etc
I want to be a part of this movement!!
American Ruin (author)  Chipfire9 months ago
I just got the GSM tracker in today, and will update shortly. Thanks for the heads up on the positioning kit. I'll definately check it out! Thanks for following along!
Phoenixmill9 months ago
Hey I want to know if this actually got approved as a Geocache? If so, that opens a whole bunch of possibilities for future design ideas. Great work tho!
American Ruin (author)  Phoenixmill9 months ago
I just got the GSM tracker in today, and will update shortly. I'm going to a few Caching sites, and I think I may have to list it as a cache AFTER it lands... but I'm gonna see what I can do. Thanks for following along!
Green Silver10 months ago
What's the phone number for the cashe?
American Ruin (author)  Green Silver9 months ago
I just got the GSM tracker in today, and will update shortly. Thanks for following along!
jongscx10 months ago
For power, you could use a radio-isotope thermal generator... or a solar cell.
thekanester10 months ago
The simplest idea would be to get some solar panels on the device and then you could put the whole thing into low-power mode and send out tweets periodically. Weight would be an issue for something more complicated and you may have to embiggen the balloonage.
thekanester10 months ago
That's not a gps unit you've bought. It's GSM tracker, which explains the error margin. A proper gps tracker with GSM module tends to be quite expensive, and not something I'd bung in a balloon and set off! But it should do the job reasonably well.
phoneatk10 months ago
I think this would be great, but i believe in order for a cache to be posted for the "hunt", a geocache official has to find the cache and verify it first. I haven't checked the website, but you may want to check with geocaching.com before the launch.
American Ruin (author)  phoneatk10 months ago
I'll do that. Thanks
flapper50110 months ago
Another Instructicacher! Yay!
jgarton10 months ago
Great idea!may try to keep the charge on GPS unit with a small solar recharger. But that would make it heavier
American Ruin (author)  jgarton10 months ago
Maybe I could wire a solar panel from one of those walkway nightlights.... I'd just have to Google how to do it....
eh well those "walkway nightlights" have rather weak solar panels. You might want to check out www.browndoggadgets.com for a better solar panel with proper stuff
They work and the walkway lights are probably one of the more cost efficient ways of getting them. Hmmm... seems I may have seen an instructable on the topic.
JTreehorn10 months ago
This is a wonderful idea and a great instructable however, isn't it illegal to release balloons like that. I was always told that anyway. Years ago while working at a Papa John's pizza, we had a helium tank and balloons and I decided to attach a note to one including the stores phone number and a promise for a free pizza. I live in Louisville Kentucky... the phone call came from Chicago. I had no idea that was possible.
American Ruin (author)  JTreehorn10 months ago
That's fantastic! 300 miles... I hope you had a "pickup only" stipulation.
That would have been a great idea but I simply transferred the order to his store in Chicago... the manager there wasn't nearly as fascinated with the situation.
JoshwaJustify10 months ago
Maybe posting the gps model number might be helpful? so others can try it too, good instructable anyway!
marcellahella10 months ago
soo cool! I hope to find one one day!
hgcraft_10 months ago
I had a geocache but it got stolen, so be careful not to let anyone steal yours, especially with a GPS attached to it!
mikeasaurus10 months ago
This is a really fun idea.

A suggestion for your concern: GPS batteries will probably last a day, wiring in a solar array on each side tapped into the battery could extend this to a few days.
FokWi10 months ago
You can get pretty inexpensive solar panel battery-chargers to charge the GPS, from 4 to 15 bucks from eBay for instance. It can probably solve one of your concerns :-)
American Ruin (author)  FokWi10 months ago
I'll definitely look into it.
SybilStrikes10 months ago
THIS is frickin' amazing!!!
American Ruin (author)  SybilStrikes10 months ago
Thanks!
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