Geocache Locator Is The Gift That Keeps On Giving

Depending on how you look at things, the holidays could be seen as either an excuse to spend money or an excuse to get creative. We imagine many Hackaday readers would rather head to their workbench than the mall when it comes time for gift giving, and [Sean Hodgins] is no different. He came up with the idea of hiding geocaches around his nephew’s neighborhood and building him a locator device to find them. The locator itself is intended to grow with his nephew, allowing him to reprogram it or use its parts for something completely different down the road.

The main components tucked inside of the 3D printed case of the locator are an Adafruit Trinket, a GPS receiver, and a compass module. The Adafruit NeoPixel Ring is of course front and center, serving as the device’s display. To power the device there’s an old battery, a LiPo charger circuit, and a 5V converter.

One of the goals for the project was that it could be constructed out of things [Sean] already had laying around, so some concessions had to be made. The Trinket ended up having too few pins, the compass lacks an accelerometer, and the switches and buttons are a bit clunky for the build. But in the end it comes together well enough to get the job done, and at least he was able to clear some stuff out of his parts bins.

To allow its owner to disassemble and potentially rebuild it into something else later, no soldered joints were used in the construction of the locator. Everything is done with jumper wires, which lead to some interesting problem solving such as using a strip of pin header as a bus bar of sorts. A bit of heat shrink over the bundle holds everything together and prevents shorts.

Location-aware gadgets happen to be an extremely popular gift choice among the hacker crowd. We’ve covered everything from devices cobbled together from trash to hardware which could pass for a commercial product.

5 thoughts on “Geocache Locator Is The Gift That Keeps On Giving

  1. Could’ve used this 10 yrs ago for Dad. Could drive fine but just could not remember where home was. Alzheimers but was still strong enough to keep his car keys. There’s your product niche! We get “Silver Alerts” broadcast from time to time when another sufferer has reached the stage where they manage to wander up to hundreds of miles away. Can drive perfectly fine, can’t navigate though.

    I think you’ve got a product with commercial value. “PUSH BUTTON TO FIND HOME”.

    1. I’m thinking that this simply points toward the target ( i.e. as the crow flies ), and does not navigate.

      It would point you to drive you car into a river, if home was on the other side …

      1. Yup… was considering that. Keeps ’em near home instead of zooming out to two states away where nobody is looking for them. Sliver Alerts are local. Comes to river would think of going around. Single button operation “Push to Point Toward Home.”

        Hey… there is need for a pocket version as well! He got out more than once and wandered the neighborhood, but had enough left to ask a cop for help when he bumped into one.

        GPS would sound like the ticket, but couldn’t handle operating it anymore. Ever try and take keys away from an old farm boy?

        1. Brains aren’t gone… still work fine, just more and more of short term memory missing the further along. Could still help you tear down an engine and put it back together, but could not remember where set the spark plug down.

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