I use custom Points of Interest (POI) files for almost all of my
geocaching on both of my Garmin GPS units (the nuvi 260 for the car and
the GPSMAP 60Csx for the trail). Both units are limited to 1,000
waypoints, but the number of custom POIs is only limited to the amount
of memory in the unit. I currently have about 42,000 POIs loaded on both
units. Forty. Two. Thousand.
On The nuvi
The main benefit for this system of Custom POIs is surfing for caches on the nuvi. Selecting "Where to?" > "Extras" > "Custom POIs" > "All Categories", will bring up a list of all Custom POIs loaded to the unit.
The display shows the closest four POIs along with a distance and bearing. The custom macro that I use, prefixes the cache name with a shorthand notation for the cache type and size. The first letter is the type (T=traditional, M=multi, ?=puzzle, e=event, E=earth, - for everything else) and the second letter is the size (m=micro, s=small, R=regular, L=large, and - for unspecified or unknown).
Selecting the cache from the menu will bring up a detailed listing for that cache.
"(TYP/SIZ/D#.#/T#.#) B GCXXXX NFFF 02/23/11 N43 12.345 W077 6.789 by The Name of the Hider
are longer versions of type and size,
are Difficulty and Terrain, and
is * for bugs or ! for no bugs, and
is the last four find statuses, F for found, N for not found
the date is the date last found, and
the other fields should be self explanatory.
Surfing For A Cache
With this setup, I can tell at a glance when doing a find, what the type and size are and help me base a decision on where to go from there. Also, I can load the same file to both my nuvi and my handheld. On the nuvi, I can drive around with the Custom POI screen selected and it shows me the closest four caches on a page along with distance and bearing. This updates every 15 seconds or so to always show you the top four closest caches. This is great for driving through an area where I've loaded POIs for and discovering new caches as I drive by new places. There is a lot of "Oh that looks close/interesting. Lets stop.". With the size and type in the name, we also avoid stopping for puzzles that we aren't prepared for or micros (if we aren't in the mood).
Child Waypoint Category Lists
Each of the six child waypoint types from GSAK are written to their own category list. They each have their own custom icons and with the customizations that I've made to the macro, they each have features that make them a little more usable.
- All child waypoints list the name of the parent cache.
- All child waypoints have a shortened label that makes it easier to fit on the display.
- "Parking Area" and "Trailhead" categories are displayed as "Parking" and "Trail", respectively.
- "Final Location" is displayed as "Final" and also includes the size of the the final container. This keeps you from having to refer back to the original waypoint.
- "Questions To Answer", "Stages of a Multicache", and "Reference Points" (not shown) all have a very short labels. "Q?", "WP#", and "REF#", respectively.
- These child waypoints also include the first two characters of the waypoint name from GSAK. This allows you to simply number each waypoint.
The details of the child waypoints include the GC number so that you can manually cross reference the child waypoint back to the original cache. They also include the comment on the child waypoint and the child waypoint coordinates. Often for "Questions To Answer", the question will be listed in the comment field.
@ToDo Category List
The @ToDo category list is another customization I've developed. You can enter any note in the "User Data" field of a waypoint in GSAK. The macro will group any of these waypoints under the @ToDo category and prefix the normal cache name with an exclamation point (!) and the note. The exclamation point makes the waypoint stand out a little more and makes it more searchable.
Some examples of the notes that I enter into the "User Data" field are:
- D/T or Fizzy -- for caches that will fill in my Difficulty/Terrain grid or satisfy requirements for a specific Fizzy Challenge
- Month Year -- for caches in months that I'm missing in my "Finds by Placed Month" grid
- Cacher Name -- to clean up those last straggler caches for some of the top hiders in my "Finds by Owner" chart
- STxRRR## -- Seaway Trail / Region / Cache Number -- To make it easier to find the Seaway Trail caches
- any other cache that I might want to highlight in the field.
On The Handheld
The display on the handheld is very similar to that on the nuvi. Instead of viewing caches through the "Waypoints" menu option, you will nee to select the "Custom Points of Interest" menu option.
The list of waypoints has the same information that the nuvi has except there are no category lists.
There are additional prefixes for the caches:
- "!" -- @ToDo. this cache has data entered in the "User Data" field in GSAK
- "*" -- Found. You have already found this cache.
- "c" -- Corrected Coordinates. Corrected coordinates is an alternate method to register final cache locations.
- "x" -- Disabled
- "X" -- Archived
Making It All Happen
What You Need
My method for loading Custom POI information is based on a script on the GSAK site (Nuvi60CsxGarminCsvPoiExport.gsk
) that exported similar information, but also added custom icons
for each cache type. There wasn't a nice way to get my custom prefix information in, so I modified the original script to add this (Nuvi60CsxGarminCsvPoiExportModified.gsk
). The Custom POI icons are also available (Custom POI Icons
There are a lot of fields in the macro screen and you can set them based on your individual setup. Here is how I have them set.
- Database to export -- Default. Select whichever database has your unfound caches
- Folder to save CSV files -- Same path where the custom icons are extracted to. Same path where the POI Loader will point to.
- Geocaching Name -- Your geocaching name here
- Name Format: -- %Name
- Comment Format: -- (%typ=3/%con=3/D%dif/T%ter)%bug=*! %code %last4 %datelf %lat=M %lon=M
- Child Name Format: -- %Name
- Child Comment Format: -- (%code) %c_comment %c_Lat=M %c_Lon=M
- Comment Length: -- 88. It's safer to pick the lowest common denominator
- Add owner to comment: -- YES. I like seeing the owner
- Output hint? -- NO. This fills up the name too quickly and causes extra waypoints to get generated
- Filter out archived caches? -- YES. I never want to see these.
- Skip Child Waypoints? -- NO. I always want to see these.
- Use existing filter: -- NO. I want to export ALL the caches.
- Filter out found caches? -- YES. when sending to the nuvi, NO. when sending to the handheld
- Filter out disabled caches? -- YES. when sending to the nuvi, NO. when sending to the handheld
- Separate Micros: -- YES. Traditional micros will show up in their own category with a special film can icon.
- Location of Garmin POI Loader: -- NOT SET. I always load separately via the POI Loader.
- Run POI Loader: -- NO. I always load separately via the POI Loader.
I am very happy with using Custom POI files on my Garmins. The information encoded in the name and the details in the comments allow me to make spontaneous decisions about finding (or not finding) various caches around my home as well as when we are travelling to visit family outside of the area. If you have any questions or need any additional clarification please feel free to email me
There was a bug in the latest nuvi line (I now have a nuvi 2460) that makes using loaded Custom POIs for geocaching harder. The four closest Custom POIs will display, but they don't refresh automatically. You can drive for 20 miles and they will never update. However, you can back out of the Custom POI screen and reselect it and then it will update. this takes a very fluid automatic process and makes it very manual and far less helpful.
I have created a YouTube video that illustrates the issue. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J0X1rBO90mE