Tiny GPS Beacon

An old coffee can filled with knickknacks or a screw-shut piece of PVC pipe stashed full of plastic toys often stands in as the checkpoint cache for participants in the activity of geocaching. This week, Garmin International Inc. offers a tech item that could stand in to significantly upgrade the caching part of the geocache game. The Chirp device is a wireless beacon about the size of a quarter. It is compatible with any wireless-enabled Garmin handheld GPS device, and its functions include the ability to load and store geocache hints, transmit coordinates, and count the number of visitors that have found your digital cache in the woods.

garmin chirp.jpg

Garmin Chirp GPS beacon

Chirp modules cost about $23 apiece. They are durable and waterproof, and they come with a replaceable battery that Garmin says can last for up to one year of use. Says the Garmin press material on the Chirp, “when geocachers arrive near a cache, they’ll be alerted that the cache is nearby, and then they’ll be able to access the hints you’ve loaded into chirp.” In other words, hints on other caches nearby or additional information will appear on the screen of the geocacher’s handheld GPS.

garmin chirp screen.jpg

Onscreen: Data transmits wirelessly from the Chirp to a handheld GPS

My thought: Beyond geocaching, could the Chirp be used as a “checkpoint” in the sport of orienteering or adventure racing? Seems like a Garmin digital cache — as opposed to old-school pin-stamp punches or esoteric “e-punches” from the likes of SPORTident — might open up the possibilities of what a race director could do during any number of navigation-based outdoor events. Better than old toys in a coffee can, to be sure.

—Stephen Regenold

Posted by brett - 10/15/2010 07:10 PM

the heck with that, can I attach it to my keys? or my cat?

Posted by towtrkdug - 10/16/2010 05:26 AM

Groundspeak does not allow you to use these as designed. Copy and paste reviewer note on my cache submission……I’m afraid the new Chirp device is something very exclusive to Garmin, which brings it into conflict with our commercial guidelines. To be publishable, the cache needs to be findable with any type of GPS device, and the Chirp method must be optional. Please come up with an alternative option to do this cache which does not require a Chirp compatible device. After you have done this, please enable your cache and I will look at it again.
Thank you for your understanding,
Geocaching.com Volunteer Reviewer

Posted by jr - 10/16/2010 07:47 AM

towtrkdug – good point. Although, there are many other GPS hide/seek games besides those on www.geocaching.com. Finding a device like this appeals to me much more than trying to locate a 35mm film canister buried under a pile of tree bark. Where can I get one??

Posted by dynaryder - 10/18/2010 11:00 AM

So if I have a Garmin could I put one of these on my bicycle and use it as a Lojak? That would be enough to make me go out and buy one.

Posted by Oz - 10/18/2010 07:10 PM

The Garmin Website claims the range is 10M or 32 feet

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