Sunday, August 30, 2009

A Nano in the Woods

Nanos.  Some enjoy them.  Many hate them.  The mere word makes some want to hunt down the guy who first introduced them to the geocaching world.  Some have never seen one before.  So how can we be creative with a nano?

Nano's are small caches about the size of the tip of your pinkie finger.  Magnetized on one end, they can fit in spots that many caches cannot even fit in and they are inconspicous.  Commonly, they are found in urban environments where someone wants to place a cache but most caches won't fit well.  For those who haven't seen one, here is what a nano looks like (with a penny for scale):

But a nano in the woods?  I must be crazy.  Well, I won't deny that statement but I will ask that you give me a chance to explain.  It is entirely possible to place a nano in the woods without people crying for your capture. It just takes the right cache design.  The design I'm going to share today can be varied as you desire, but it is one I have been working on for a while now.  Let's look at what is needed. 

First and foremost, you need a nano.  You can find them through many various geocaching stores, along with Groundspeak's own store.  They do cost a few dollars, and occasionally you can find deals if you buy a group of them.

Once you have the nano, the next thing you need is an ammo can.  Yep, I said ammo can.  You might be starting to see where this is going.

With these two items, you have the bare minimum needed for this cache.  Place the nano inside the empty ammo can and go find a good spot in the woods to hide the ammo can.  Cacher's will dread your nano and possibly give a huge sigh of relief, and maybe confusion, when they find the ammo can.  But, as always, there is a way to go an extra step.  This is where my design comes in.

For my idea, I've been spending the last several months trading swag for golf balls whenever I see one in a cache.  My idea, which you are welcome to use and modify if desired, is to get as many golf balls as my ammo can will hold.  I'm closing in on that goal.  Many are dirty so I'll take one day and clean them all up so they look as similar as possible short of brand design.  I've purposely passed up on colorful golf balls.

Next, I will begin the process of drilling out a hole in one of the golf balls.  The hole will need to be deep enough that I can fit a nano inside such that only the lid of the nano sticks out.  Then I need just a tad bit deeper.  This is so I can glue a magnet into the base of the hole.  I could stick the nano in further, but if I do, it will make it harder for geocachers to pull the nano out of the hole.  With the magnet in place, I can set the nano into the hole and voila...geocachers now have to search the ammo can for the golf ball that contains the nano.  You can see an example of how this would look to the left.

This is an idea that can be modified however you desire.  I've actually seen a variation with a homemade container for the nano to be housed in.  Don't want to use golf balls?  35mm film canisters can also work.  Just place a small pebble in each one so that a geocacher can't "feel" the containers for the one with the nano.

And that is how to place a nano in the woods that won't resort in your exile.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Building Bolt Caches

Bolt caches are a great example of how to blend something in so well that few muggles will ever pick up on it's true intentions.  Many geocachers will get caught off guard by them too if they are well done.  But did you realize there are ways to get creative with just bolt caches?

Most geocachers will see only one type of bolt cache.  It looks like a simple bolt with a nut on one end.  Unscrew the nut to open the cache.  But let's look at it with a bit more detail shall we.

There are a few things you'll need if you want to build one of these.  You need a bolt, a nut that fits it, a magnet that fits either fits just inside the nut or over the nut, a logsheet, a drill and a drillbit for drilling metal.  Last of all, make sure to have some super glue.  You will also need a saw for cutting through metal. 

Let's start with the bolt.  It's easiest if you know where you are going to hide this first, as you can then get a bolt of the same size as what's found on that object.  This really helps blend it in.  It will also give you an idea of how far it sticks out.  You don't want the cache to stick out further than the real bolts.  Make sure that you try to find a spot that doesn't use really thin bolts.  The thinner the bolt, the harder it will be to build the cache and the smaller the log sheet will have to be.

Once you have the bolt, then find a nut to fit it.  This will be pretty easy.  Also, while you're at the hardware store, make sure you have a drill bit that will not only cut through metal, but also be wide enough to drill through the end of the bolt.

The hardest part of getting the supplies will be the magnet.  You can often find small round magnets at hardware stores, but usually in limited supply and often thicker than you really want to have.  You may have to order them from a catalog.  Ideally, you want to try and find neo-dymium magnets.  They are powerful and come in a variety of sizes and thicknesses.  You can go with thin or thick, but make sure it is just wide enough to fit inside the nut.  The more snug it is, the easier it will be to seal it.  Also, the thicker it is, the harder it will "grip" the surface it's place against. 

Once you have the supplies, you will need to figure out how long you want the cache to be and then saw off the head.  Then you need to drill a hole into the end of the bolt.  How deep you want to go is up to you.  You can cut the logsheet to fit the hole, but try and make it at least a half inch deep.  This allows a logsheet that gives room for people to sign the log.

After you have cut the hole, you will need to fit the magnet into the nut and seal it in with super glue.  Try to use super glue that works on metals.  Or, if you have something that works really well for you when gluing metals together, work with that.

Once this is all dry, slip a rolled up logsheet inside the bolt, screw the nut over the end and you now have a magnetized bolt cache.  Go hide it and enjoy the new cache.

But wait, I said there are ways to make this more creative.  How could you possibly make this more creative?  First, let's look at the typical way people find a bolt cache.  Most geocachers, if they begin to think it might be a bolt cache, will begin grab every bolt and see if anything moves.  Since the bolt cache is merely magnetically attached, it will come right off or at least move (if the magnet is good).  Here's where the creative part comes in.

One thing to do use find a spot where there are already bolts, but find an unused hole.  If there is one you can use, this opens up options.  Measure how thick the object is.  Figure out at what point on the future bolt is on the opposite side of the object.  For example, let's say you are using a bolt 3 inches long.  If the head is snug against the object this is attached to, then let's say the object is half an inch thick.  Measure from the base of the head to about 3 & 1/4 inches.  That is the spot that will most likely be covered by the nut.  Now, instead of sawing the head off the bolt, saw through the bolt at that spot.  Then drill the hole into one of the two pieces.  Now you have two options at this point.  You can use a wider nut and hold the two pieces together using just the nut, or glue two nuts together to provide enough room.  Just be warned that the latter option is more likely to stand out.  The advantage of this method...a geocacher can't just feel for the bolt that moves.  They would actually have to take it out to figure out it is a cache.  I've actually seen this done just once in my personal experience.

But now for the really tricky option.  The above ideas include drilling the hole through the end of the bolt.  Instead of drilling the hole through the end of the bolt, drill it through the side of the bolt.  Then use the nut to cover up the hole.  Since this is not the standard method of hiding a bolt cache it will help throw some cachers for a loop.  Combine in with the second idea and you'll have a devious cache.  If you really want to mess with your fellow geocachers, make it magnetic but hide more than one of these designs.  The fake ones don't need to have the hole drilled in them.  In fact, drilling the hole might entice a geocacher into thinking the logsheet is missing and they might "help you out" by putting one into the fake cache.

The last way to make a bolt cache interesting is to combine it with something else that blends in.  For example, combine it with a reflector on one end and attach it near other reflectors.  I have seen this one once before too.

Bolt caches are a fun way to safely hide a cache in plain site and have it be a bit more creative.  Are there other ideas for bolt caches out there that I haven't thought of?  Post a comment and explain.

I'm still working on a system of photos and diagrams.  I'll try to get those up soon.


Monday, August 24, 2009

A New Blog

The idea was developed over the summer.  A resource for geocachers interested in going that extra step with their hides.  It could be a creative container or it may be a creative hide.  Maybe you're looking for puzzle ideas or an idea for use in that next multi-cache you're planning.  No matter what you are looking for in a creative geocache, you can always find a variety of ideas here.

Do you think you have a good example of a creative geocache?  You can reach me by posting a comment, click on my Geocaching Stats Bar to the right or on the link at the bottom of the page to get to my profile, where you'll find a link to e-mail me through If I use you're idea, I'll give you credit for it. Have a picture of a creative cache? Contact me and if I use it, I'll also give you credit for the photo.