Instructables

The Traveling Geocache!

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This project and future projects can be found at my website http://revoltlab.com/  where you can also find my blog.
UPDATE LOG:
NOW SUPER SIMPLE TO REPROGRAM!
Easy FTDI USB interface hardware explained in step 10
Easy FTDI USB interface programming explained in step 13
NEW code uploaded works perfectly with speaker output! see step 13

For those not familiar with geocaching, it is a wonderful treasure hunt/ adventure game for grownups and kids! Traditionally one finds a set of coordinates and cryptic clues on a website that hosts geocache locations. Using a hand held GPS device, one simply tromps off into the wilderness (or busy city intersection) and uses the power of observation and clue solving to find a hidden box usually with a prize inside! This is loads of fun and free! http://www.geocaching.com/

The Traveling Geocache still requires the user to get to a specific set of GPS coordinates but the hand held device is replaced by the Traveling Geocache itself. It is a locked box with an LCD display and one button. Upon pressing the button an intro screen welcomes the user to the Traveling Geocache and then displays the distance in kilometers from the target location. If the distance is larger than the programmed margin of error radius, the LCD informs you that access is denied. The box will not unlock until it is brought to the correct location! This is a great way to give a present to a friend or loved one. You can put tickets inside and set the magic location to the museum, aquarium, stadium, train station (DO NOT set a location that requires plane travel! Unopenable homemade electronic boxes are not welcome at airport security!). Any prize will do. Because the box is intended for a specific person, the prize can be far more special than in a traditional geocache.

Apart from the prize, the box also contains a log book where recipients can sign their names and write messages. There is also a usb drive with information on all of the electronics and software. This enables the recipient to reprogram the box, change the destination, customize the LCD messages, replace the prize, and re-gift the box to another friend, loved one, or trustworthy stranger. You can even leave a url somewhere inside the box where users can enter their names and destination locations enabling every user to track the life of the box!

This was my first time using GPS and LCD modules as well as my first time working with relays. Don't worry about the learning curve if you can already make a light blink on the arduino.

Thanks to sparkfun and instructables for holding the microcontroller contest. It really motivated me to document and post my first ever instructable! If you like it, please rate and vote for this project!

Please leave comments! =)
 
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goblindust3 years ago
Wow! What a great cache idea! Would love to have a look at the inter working some day so hope it heads my way. When and where will it be released?
Happy caching!
Revolt Lab (author)  goblindust3 years ago
I am still waiting on the usb to serial FTDI break out board from sparkfun. That will allow simple usb interface making programming a purely software oriented endeavor. Once that is installed I must send it on a test run with some friends to see how it performs without my help. After that its just a matter of replacing hot glue with epoxy and making sure every step needed to operate the box is documented in pictures and text or even video on the usb drive. If I place in the contest I will put the money to making another one!

Thanks for the comment! Don't forget to rate the instructable and share it with anyone you think may be interested. =)
dont forget picographs
I look forward to seeing the finished product. I think you have come up with a super original idea and very different kind of cache. Really like these "different" kinds. Hope when it is done it gets out Seattle way.
Revolt Lab (author)  goblindust3 years ago
It would be great if it made it across the continent (I'm in MA) without using planes or breaking the documentation logging (or the box!). If the first one goes well I will make the second one more sturdy (maybe an ammo box or something?). I'm trying to balance a non threatening appearance with durability.

Thanks for the rating!
Check out the metal, first aid boxes as these are pretty tough, hinge on one side and come in different sizes. Only problem I see with them for your use is that you will have do a bit more work on the insulation to keep things from shorting out on the metal box. Durable and look safe.
Revolt Lab (author)  goblindust3 years ago
That's a good idea! Insulation isn't so hard with a layer of hot glue on the bottom of the board and over other exposed connections! Medical boxes are a good avenue I think. I could always get a pelican case but there is so much aesthetic potential in re-purposed boxes.

Thanks for the advice!
Goodwill, Salvation Army or any second hand shop are great for finding such things as metal containers. If I find any links for cheap ones I will send them your way.
Keep up the great work on these type of ideas!
One.2 years ago
cool : )
if it were me I would just break the box open, but where's the fun in that?
or you could just magnet a geocache on the bottom of a random car...
Revolt Lab (author)  One.2 years ago
If you ever get one, please don't break it!
One. Revolt Lab2 years ago
haha ; )
maybe making it out of solid steel could be somewhat remedial of peoples desire to smash stuff
urtlesquirt3 years ago
Were you in MAKE?
Revolt Lab (author)  urtlesquirt3 years ago
In the first episode of the latest in arduino, yup!
vishalapr3 years ago
This is absolute fantabluoustic!!!Rated 4.5*
Have a look at my instructables as well
http://www.instructables.com/id/Remote-Controlled-Arduino-Car/
and
http://www.instructables.com/id/Star-Wars-X-Wing-2/
And vote for them if you like them in the microcontroller contest and the LED contest accordingly
NatNoBrains3 years ago
So, it like walks around?
I don't get it!
Revolt Lab (author)  NatNoBrains3 years ago
No it doesn't walk around. You give it to someone who travels to the destination. When they open the box and take their prize they reprogram it and give it to another person and so on.
Nice, but what if someone picks it up and doesn't know about arduinos?
(Like me)
Revolt Lab (author)  NatNoBrains3 years ago
All you need to do is change the gps coordinates in the code where it is clearly marked. There are a bunch of things you can change as listed in step 13!
Revolt Lab (author)  NatNoBrains3 years ago
That is why the usb drive inside has the full pdf of this instructable and all the arduino software as well as a beginning arduino manual! =)

I'm still waiting on parts from sparkfun to get the usb to serial interface working to make it super easy to reprogram.