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elrojo14

Benchmarking on Cachly

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There aren't a ton of us out there, but we exist. Benchmarkers. There is absolutely no good benchmarking app for iPhone nor really anyway to download benchmark data and display it in an app for paperless benchmarking either. 

I just had an epiphany. The absolute, best Geocaching app on the market is Cachly. Hand down. Zero question to it. What about adding benchmark support to Cachly? I can see it only increasing Cachly sales since it will be the only iOS app that supports benchmarking. 

My biggest problem right now is paperless benchmarking when I don't have reception. I can probably download the .loc files from a page like this and it will give me listed coordinates and PUID. I can probably translate that data to a .gpx and probably use it in Cachly right now. However, for those of you not into benchmarking, the coordinates can be off by a quarter mile or more and the description is key. If I could even load a massive data file into Cachly that will display that .gpx data of the benchmark description, that would be huge for my offline benchmarking. 

Let me see if I can find some more knowledgeable benchmarkers into this discussion. Cachly would you be interested? Again the numbers might not be huge, but I would see a definite plus to figuring out a benchmark feature to Cachly and I would think it would only increase sales. Hopefully the work to make it work would be worth it.  

Thank you. 

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I would be happy to start a discussion about this. There isn't an API for viewing Benchmarks, or logging them, so the only real way to get them into Cachly would be to import them.

Did you say there is a standard GPX format that they come in with associated data?

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I believe there are state wide .gpx files you can download. I should have that information shortly for you. 

There have been apps in the past, but they don't work with iOS 12. findacontrol worked decently well for cell reception benchmarking. I am sure you have some non iOS 12 devices around to test it out on. 

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findacontrol was a benchmarking app that would show you where benchmarks were on a map and allow you to click on them and read the data. It gathered the data from somewhere. 

As far as I am aware no one allows .gpx data import and easy data display. Otherwise I wouldn't be trying to make Cachly an even more superior app than it already is! 

Right now I am using a web based app to find them, but it's number one problem is it is web based and if I don't have connection, I don't have an app. https://findbenchmarks.com/

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elrojo14 asked me to post a link to the State benchmark datasheets. You can download the entire state information, but the files are huge! And, once you get them, they are almost unreadable.

ftp://ftp.ngs.noaa.gov/pub/DS_ARCHIVE/DataSheets/

To make this file readable, there is a program that converts the NGS data to GPX data called, creatively, NGS»GPX. This makes the file readable in a number of ways: it allows programs like Google Earth to show the BM on a map with the description information, and it puts the gpx file in a readable format in a text editor (like Notepad). However, it makes the file much bigger in size.

http://ngs.tsqmadness.com/ngsgpx/index.html

The only way I've seen to make this work offline is to get the information into Google Earth, then select the BM that I want to visit and create a new Google Earth file with just those in it. The reason to pair it down is because the computer has a tough enough time handling the gpx file, let alone a phone. Once I have that Google Earth file, email the file to myself so I have the file stored on my phone. Then open the file in the mobile Google Earth app. All of this so I can have a paperless BM hunt.

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10 minutes ago, Tung8 said:

To make this file readable, there is a program that converts the NGS data to GPX data called, creatively, NGS»GPX. This makes the file readable in a number of ways: it allows programs like Google Earth to show the BM on a map with the description information, and it puts the gpx file in a readable format in a text editor (like Notepad). However, it makes the file much bigger in size.

http://ngs.tsqmadness.com/ngsgpx/index.html

I don't use a PC, so I can't open the EXE file. Are you able to convert the WA file to GPX for me to look at?

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2 minutes ago, Tung8 said:

Sure. In this dropbox folder, you should see the text file that is downloaded from NGS and the converted GPX file. 

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/hx339wsim7jaa2v/AAC4z1dnyFQzB03I_Uibwr63a?dl=0

Thank you. You are right, the GPX is massive.

Have you tried importing the GPX into Cachly? It does work, and all the benchmarks and waypoints are created correctly offline. I didn't import the whole file, but only about 4500, but it worked.

The data in the GPX is formatted just like a Geocache which make the import easy. :)

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It seems to work. Kind of. 

elrojo14 was able to import one of the two 325MB files to Cachly and it showed what was needed. He stopped the import at 20k "geocaches". I stopped my import at 23k "geocaches", which put my phone over the storage limit available. That import put the app over 1 GB in size. Needless to say, I didn't have enough available storage to use the app (or any other app).

So, the import will work once we figure out how to only import the BM that we need. The process is still cumbersome and long, but it looks like it will work. Definitely not something we will use for casual benchmark hunting, but it looks like it will work for bigger trips.

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Ok, Cachly is just so awesome. It does download that .gpx and it displays it in a way that should be pretty easy to use. So Cachly has already won as being a way to easily see, navigate to, and read BM data! See the attached photos! 

Here are the challenges moving forward.

The converting .exe won't do all of CA at once and so it has to be split up. This is bad because that means you would have to switch back and forth between offline lists to see if you are missing a benchmark or not. Edit: Tung8 says, "Just download them all into one list." Problem solved! i am back from lunch and downloading the first list now. I have nearly 200 GB free on my phone so I should be GTG.

Next, it shows all of the benchmarks, not just the benchmarks that are on the Geocaching website. If I can't log it on Geocaching, I really don't care that much about it honestly. 

I would still love to see Cachly give me real time benchmark data when I am in reception. That would still be a really awesome feature. 

46953509_273030743413335_2735812150856515584_n.jpg

47504622_937922779730332_1747966816623263744_n.jpg

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Glad that this is working for you!

41 minutes ago, elrojo14 said:

I would still love to see Cachly give me real time benchmark data when I am in reception. That would still be a really awesome feature. 

That would be cool, but for that to happen Geocaching HQ would have to provide an API to do this, which I am not sure they will do.

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11 minutes ago, elrojo14 said:

So do you think the findacontrol used USGS data then to make its database? How did they list them and show them on a map?

That would be my assumption, that they used that public data. Do you know if that is what findbenchmarks.com has done?

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I'm with elrojo14 on how awesome Cachly is! The fact that it can be imported to an offline list and then used to see all the BM data is something that solves the last part of the problem for our searches. However, for me to make it work on my small, 16GB phone, I will need to be more selective on what BM I import. So, the front end of the process will be cumbersome, but the end result will be useful!

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1 hour ago, Nic Hubbard said:

That would be my assumption, that they used that public data. Do you know if that is what findbenchmarks.com has done?

It has to be. Now I think the findbenchmarks.com gives you all of the benchmarks, not just the ones that are on the Geocaching snap shot they took in 2000. Which, I could always get over if I found a few that I couldn't log on Geocaching.com. 

 

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On 12/7/2018 at 3:39 PM, elrojo14 said:

Nic, is this something you can ask your contacts at Groundspeak about? Let them know you are interested in possibly using Cachly for benchmarking and asking them if it is possible? 

Yes, I sent them a question about this.

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I just used the NGS site to find a bunch of datasheets and PIDS I needed to create some .txt files that I converted to .gpx and upload them to Cachly for my Death Valley run next weekend. That part is now working wonderfully. No doubt about it, Cachly has solved my offline benchmarking problems and I now can do full on paperless benchmarking anywhere.

I would love to see this improved though where maybe it could also save the Geocaching benchmark logs and data along with photos and of course see Cachly do real time benchmark displays. There are not a ton of benchmarkers out there, but hands down if Cachly supported them fully, they would definitely buy Cachly. 

IMG_4816.PNG

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On 12/15/2018 at 10:55 AM, elrojo14 said:

I would love to see this improved though where maybe it could also save the Geocaching benchmark logs and data along with photos and of course see Cachly do real time benchmark displays.

Are you meaning this data would come from geocaching.com?

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Ideally, yes. If we could get the BM data like we get the cache data, then it would be seamless for BM hunting. If it was a feature of Cachly, then I wouldn't need to go through any other steps to do BM hunting. 

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22 hours ago, Tung8 said:

Ideally, yes. If we could get the BM data like we get the cache data, then it would be seamless for BM hunting. If it was a feature of Cachly, then I wouldn't need to go through any other steps to do BM hunting. 

This would have to be something provided by Geocaching HQ, but I will chat with them about it.

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Our Death Valley trip was cancelled due to the government shutdown, but we changed our Geocaching plans and found six fun benchmarks that hadn't been found in years. How could we tell? They were buried under an inch or two of dirt and moss. Cachly performed wonderfully. I sent my .gpx file to Tung8 and while I drove, he read the description and I snuck a peak at the map and where we were at. When we got close enough, we focused on the descriptions. 

The only thing is we saved the benchmarks as finds when we were done, but those won't upload to Geocaching for probably good reason and even the .txt file screws it all up. Which isn't a huge deal because I usually know what benchmarks I found by looking at my photos on my phone since I take photos of each one I find. 

Cachly is certainly a great option for those of you wanting to do paperless benchmarking where you don't have reception. If we can get it to do live benchmarking support, that would be awesome! 

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34 minutes ago, elrojo14 said:

Cachly is certainly a great option for those of you wanting to do paperless benchmarking where you don't have reception. If we can get it to do live benchmarking support, that would be awesome! 

Glad that it worked out for you and that you had a great trip! 

I hope in the future there can be improvements in the way of live benchmarking, but I will just have to wait and see.

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The whole "Benchmarking" thing seems to be very US orientated.  So not a lot of use for this in any other part of the world.

Many of the similar things for other countries appear to be listed as "Waymarks" though, but the Waymarks also include rubbish such as your local fast food outlet so isn't anywhere near as exciting.  The waymarking web site is just as bad for trying to find and log them on as well.  

Perhaps groudspeak need to consider a big revamp of these other things, and perhaps a merge of them all in to a single source (ie - make them all "geocaches" but have a different cache type for the Benchmarks/Waymarks).  They'd probably have to do a lot of work pruning out some of the rubbish though, I know that there are landmarks that have many "waymarks" for the same thing.  Not to mention that geocaching.com is very anti-advertising or promoting other companies or products, yet a Waymark can be for your local McDonalds so there's a bit of a conflict there they'd need to resolve.

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On 12/7/2018 at 10:34 AM, elrojo14 said:

There is absolutely no good benchmarking app for iPhone nor really anyway to download benchmark data and display it in an app for paperless benchmarking either. 

 

On 12/7/2018 at 11:58 AM, Tung8 said:

elrojo14 asked me to post a link to the State benchmark datasheets. You can download the entire state information, but the files are huge! And, once you get them, they are almost unreadable.

ftp://ftp.ngs.noaa.gov/pub/DS_ARCHIVE/DataSheets/

To make this file readable, there is a program that converts the NGS data to GPX data called, creatively, NGS»GPX. This makes the file readable in a number of ways: it allows programs like Google Earth to show the BM on a map with the description information, and it puts the gpx file in a readable format in a text editor (like Notepad). However, it makes the file much bigger in size.

http://ngs.tsqmadness.com/ngsgpx/index.html

I've been using this method for about 10 years.  It gives you current status of the marks.  A difference is I download the benchmark data from NGS by county so it is in manageable file sizes.  I first put it into GSAK.  I wrote a program that then converts a GSAK GPX file to a file that compares the data to the GC.com database and indicates which BMs are in their 20 year old data and show finds.  After hunting the mark I report my results to the NGS.  I've also written a couple of utilities that make that easier.

If you want to read about all this go here factsfacts.com/benchmarking

Edited to Add:

This approach allows you to put the BM in Google Earth and use the description to create much better coordinates.  As was mentioned, the Scaled coordinates on NGS/GC.com are often very bad.  After putting them in GSAK you can choose which ones you want to hunt and create an even smaller file which can be exported from GSAK and imported into Cachly.

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I would love to have benchmarks included in Cachly. Once the huntmarkers benchmark app stopped working, I haven’t done much benchmarking. I had uploaded some into geosphere with the .loc files but cannot do it currently with Cachly. 

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