iGeoPad

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Welcome to iGeoPad, the first comprehensive geocaching app for the iPad. A good bit of the feature function set inherits from almost 5 years of user input from iGeoCacher which was the first comprehensive application for geocaching on the iPhone/iPod Touch. But enough history. You want to get going and the first thing is to get some geocache data loaded into iGeoPad.

IGeoPad consumes both .LOC and .GPX file formats for geocache data but it especially shines with the more robust information in .GPX files. So your first stop should be to the Geocaching.com site (no affiliation to ayefon.com) to get some geocache data in one of these formats.

There are two ways to get these files loaded into the application. The first and probably easiest way is to simply email them to yourself as attachments to an email message at a mail account you can access on your iPad. When iGeoPad is installed on your phone, it "tells" the mail client that it can "read" .LOC or .GPX files and if you tap the attachment, it will offer to "open" the file with iGeoPad. This is my favorite way to load files.

Important Note: The application will NOT unzip files so if you get your pocket queries in zipped form, you need to unzip them before importing them or mailing them to yourself. TIP: When creating a pocket query, you have the option to have them sent in unzipped form. This way, they are useable right from the email attachment.

Not doing ZIP files as attachments was a deliberate choice. There are all manner of zip files that you might get in email and if I "recognized" .ZIP extension, you would be offered the option to try and open them with iGeoPad. That could prove confusing and possibly even result in damage to your database. At the very least it wouldn't work and would net a support email. So at this time the application just recognizes .LOC and .GPX files because those are far less likely to be something other than geocaching data files than the myriad .ZIP files that are out there. At today's bandwidths and because these files are just text, the extra bit of space is so small as to be negligible. One modest MP3 song on your phone takes up many times the space of hundreds of geocache files in .GPX form.

 

iPadMail

The other option is to use the iTunes file sharing feature and with your iPad connected to iTunes (via tether cable or wireless) open the app tab for the device and scroll to the bottom and select the iGeoPad icon. Then drag and drop your .LOC/.GPX files into the file sharing area at the right.

iTunes

Either of these merely gets the FILES into the document directory of iGeoPad. From there you need to load them into the iGeoPad database. Press the load data button in the lower toolbar of the GeoCaches list.

loading

This will push the Database screen into view:

file chooser

You should see the GPX file you imported in the file chooser window (and any others that you've imported as well.) Select the desired file and the filter group into which you wish to import it in the database and press either "Replace Records" or "Add New Records." In the case of an empty database, BOTH will add the records to the database. The REPLACE option merely deletes any existing caches with the same cache id (GCXXXXX) before adding the new ones from the file. The ADD option always just adds records. So if you import a GPX file that has one or more caches in it that were previously imported, you will see duplicate records. You might WANT to have the same cache in more than one group. In that case, you would use the ADD function and import the cache file for each group in which you want the cache to appear.

FInally, you can delete the caches by the entire group or the entire database. The "Delete File" button will delete the imported FILE as desired. They aren't actually needed once caches are in the DB. However, they are small and unless you have a huge number of them, it is sometimes handy to be able to just clean out the database and re-import them.

During the import you will see progess messages in the status indicator. That's all there is to managing files.


Now for some GEOCACHING!

With files imported you should see them in the cache list. Tap a cache in the list to select it. Its data will appear in the detail screen to the right.

first caches

Tap the "Edit" button to delete geocaches from the database.

Tap the "Filters" button to make filter selections (see below)

You can refine a large list of caches by entering search text in the search bar. It will look for that text in the cach id, name, long and short descriptions and the cache type fields and display those that contain the text in ANY of those fields.

The yellow numbers to the left show the number of caches displayed in the list/the total number in the database. If the number on the left is not the same as that on the right of the slash it means that you have some filtering in place.

The sort buttons allow you to sort the list by cache name, by distance from the selected cache ascending, by distance from your present position ascending or select the caches and order solely from an "Ad Hoc" SQL query you entered on the Filters page.

The indicator above the "Ad Hoc" button is a filter status indicator to remind you of which filter switches you've selected as well as either ALL caches, Finds, Unfound, and Did Not Find (DNF's) as selected on the Filters page.

The settings button at the lower left brings up a settings page where you can select to use English Units instead of Metric, Cardinal Directions instead of degrees (cache list), Turn on position alert spam and show pin halos on the maps. The latter are red for not found, green for found and the pin head denotes the cache type.

The Load Data button brings up the Database Page whose function has been described above.

You already know what the Help button does. That's how you got here. ;-)


first caches

You may organize your caches into as many as five different groupings as desired. You don't have to use any. If you leave the switches all "off" you will show caches from any group. But if you have any switches "on" then only the caches loaded into that group are displayed in the list.

You may further filter caches by their Find Status. Select ALL if you don't want any filtering.

If you know SQL, you can compose any query acceptable to SQLite (the underlying database) to display your caches. Use the schema information at the end of the help file for the field names for sorting and selection. You should ALWAYS use SELECT * for the columns so that you will get all of the cache data fields.

When you select Ad Hoc filtering (right most sort button on previous display), NONE of the other filter settings are used regardless of their state. Your query controls everything.

You can edit the group titles to remind you of your group arrangements by touching them and entering new text. Just realize that they are still groups 1-5, top to bottom.

 


Main Detail Display

The Main Detail Display appears in the Detail view of the split view controller. It is divided into three parts, the Navigation HSI (Horizontal Situation Indicator) display, the Map display, and the Cache Detail display.

The nav HSI display is your primary tool to get to the target geocache area and it is shown below:

nav display

Starting from left to right you have the Location Service Power toggle. You will normally "hunt" with this turned on so you get position updates. But you might want to turn it off to save power if the battery in the iPad is getting low. This is less of an issue on iPads as their batteries are of ample capacity compared to other iOS devices.

The Line of Reference mode switch is next. In Auto mode, it takes the heading information from the Location service and displays a yellow arrow shoding you the direction of walking based upon the GPS info. In P1->P2 mode, you can use the P1 (point 1) and P2 (point 2) buttons to capture your current location at two differnt spots and it will then display a line pointer drawn from P1 to P2. This is handy when you are out in the woods and the sky is overcast and your compass and/or GPS is erratic. Pick out two landmark points in your vicinity that are easy to see from the cache target area and walk to the first, capture its location as P1 then walk to the second and capture its location as P2. The yellow line displayed will give you a straight line reference on the HSI display between these two points.

Here's a typical scenario. I'm walking down a trail looking for a cache. The caches are typically "off" the trail by some distance but you don't want to "bushwhack" more than you have to so the best strategy is to walk down the path until the cache pointer is approximately 90 degrees either side of your walking direction. At that point, you have the shortest distance through the brush to get to your target. If the trail I'm on is relatively straight at that point (often the case) then I'll walk ahead just a bit (maybe 25-50 meters) and set P1 then I'll walk back down the trail past the 90 degree point by about another 25-50 meters and set P2. The distance between P1 and P2 just needs to be enough to minimize directional error from GPS wandering. Having about 50-100 meters between P1 and P2 seems adequate but the more the better. If there is a big tree or other visible landmark near your P1,P2 locatons, by all means use them. The point is to have the trail, parallel stream, road, railroad, two big trees or whatever else you can easily see in the target area as a "line of reference." With that line on the HSI you can then visually guage the direction to walk much more accurately by simply orienting the yellow line parallel to the line of the landmarks/geographical reference line you chose and then the red target arrow points in the right direction relative to that. Play around with it in familiar surroundings and you'll soon get the hang of it. It really helps when you are in the woods and the GPS signals are wandering. This HSI feature is unique to iGeoPad and iGeoCacher.

The Waypoint button will bring up a small pop-over window that will allow you to add an arbitrary set of coordinates as a waypoint. It will start loaded with your present position since typically that gives you most of the significant digits you will likely want. Add a name and description. The waypoint will show up like any other gecache except that it will use the waypoint icon (flag) and you can select it for your next navigation target. I use this most for entering stage coordinates for the next stage of a multicache.

A word about coordinate entry. iGeoPad, like iGeoCacher, uses a "smart" entry method. You can enter decimal degrees as a single decimal number if that is more convenient at the time. You should use a leading minus sign for west logitudes and south lattitudes per the normal convention. You can also enter integer degrees and then decimal minutes as long as they are separated by at least one space. Finally, you can enter integer degress, integer minutes and decimal seconds if desired. You only need the minus sign on the first number.

Some examples:

-80.5

-80 30.000

36 12 10.2

The display will allways be DDD MM.MMM per the Geocaching convention but you can enter coordinates wherever they are called for in iGeoPad using any of the above methods.

Finally coming down the left side of the figure we have the Sonar mode toggle. This is another distinctive of the iGeoPad program to make your game play a bit more interesting. I use the distance information and compute an echo time delay much like you'd hear in submarines. The two modes use different ranges depending on whether you are walking or driving. In either walking or driving mode, you get a simulated SONAR "ping" transmission about every 30 seconds. When walking the first echoes will start to occur at about 150 meters or less from the target. In driving mode its about 1500 meters. As you get closer the time between the ping and the echo will decrease linearly with distance and as you get closer the ping repetition rate will increase from 30 seconds.

Now while this is good fun and will certainly earn you some stares from onlookers, it also has a practical side. Many times out in the woods I've walked into a hole or bramble because I was focused on the GPS display rather than looking where I was walking. Sonar actually allow you to "find" the cache just by walking and listening to the echos. The closer you get, the faster they come. Try it. It's great fun and is unique to iGeoPad/iGeoCacher.

Moving to the right you have both the Target Position and Present Position coordinates displayed. The color coding helps you to remember that the Target bearing arrow is RED. The ASTERISK that blinks next to the present position coordinates gives you an indication that the GPS is updating the position information. If it isn't blinking, you aren't getting position updates.

Now we come to the professional heart of the navigation display, the HSI indicator. It is a precision compas rose scale patterned closely after that which I find in the HSI's in aircraft I've flown. The various headings and bearings are all depicted on this display with color coded arrows. In addition the display scale itself can rotate in various modes to allow you several ways to feature the information without having to actually turn and twist the iPad. The display modes for the HSI are set with the segmented bar control at the top right.

In North mode, the scale is just always oriented with the North at the top of the view and it is fixed. Think of it as "North Up."

In Compass mode, the scale is rotated so that the compass pointer (GREEN) is always at the top. The net effect of this is that as you walk, the direction (top/ahead) you are walking is always displayed at the top and as your direction changes the scale rotates to show you the relative bearings of the compass as well as the other indicators.

in Line mode the scale will rotate so that the Line of Postion (LOP) is oriented at the top and it will update when your LOP changes. Naturally, this only works if you are using Auto or P1->P2 LOP modes. If LOP mode is off then this reverts to simple North display.

In Cache mode, the scale will rotate so that the Target arrow is always at the top. This mode gives you a very quick idea of the relative angle between your heading and the direction of the geocache target. That can also be very useful.

To get a real "feel" for what these various modes can do for you I recommend setting a waypoint on your home location and then going for a walk in your neighborhood. As you walk, try the different displays and see what they are telling you as you walk away from and then back to your house. These are professional navigation display options similar to those I find in aircraft navigation instruments. But that can be confusing. If you find it a bit much, then you might just want to stick with the simple North mode where the scale does not move.

Finally, on the upper right you have the distance to the geocache target and the current reported accuracy of the location fix from the Location Service. On the lower right you have the GPS time.

Be sure and check out the support web site for more in depth videos and instruction.


On the lower part of the Detail Display is the Map Display.

 

map display

This is the standard iOS map display with the geocache targets overlaid as map pins. The pin heads correspond to the cache type.

The Halos around the pin heads are translucent red for caches that aren't "finds" for you and green for those that are.

The white halo ring border helps locate the caches on the satellite and hybrid views where they are harder to see.

You can specify whether the map is displayed centered on your target or location coordinates.

You can zoom the map using the usual pinch gestures.

 

You can select between the normal street map view or the satellite view or the hybrid view which combines them both.

Finally, if you want a larger full screen map you can select the Map button at the upper right and the Detail View will be pushed out of the way to display a Large Map view. To get back to the Main Detail Display just use the navigation back button at the top left.

The Large Map uses the small map center mode so if you are centered on target in the small map, the large one will behave the same. However, the map modes are independent so you could have street mode in one and satellite mode in another if desired.


The Cache Detail display rounds out the trio of detailed information displays at the bottom right.

cache detail display

If you've used iGeoCacher you are already familiar with this display. It provides the main information about the cache obtained from the GPX file.

The "Hint" button will display any hint information provided for the cache or the message "no hint."

The Clear background button will clear out the background images that some geocachers insist upon including in their cache listings. Thiscan sometimes make it hard to read the text. This button just removes that background image. So if you are having trouble because of the cute graphics in the cache listing, try this button.

This is a SCROLLING view so use the normal scroll touch gesture to view information down the page including the log entries.

To see a full screen view (as with the map above) just tap the Details button. You can return using the normal navigation back button on that page.

Using the Notes button, you can enter your own notes as well as select to move the geocache to a different group or change its local find status (in the database, not on the GC site) for filtering purposes on the notes pop-up screen. There is no "save" button. The information will be updated when you exit the popover by tapping outside of it as usual for popover displays. You will get a confirmation alert letting you know the information was saved.

The GC button simply brings up a large web view that points to www.geocaching.com for general site access. Obviously, you have to have current network connectivity for this to work but that is entirely possible in the field if you have an iPad with data service capability or are using your iPad with a mobile "hot spot."

The GC Log button is a shortcut to get you to the log entry screen for the selected cache. You need to have logged in recently (your GC session cookies are still "live") for this to work smoothly.


That pretty much sums it all up. More information, tutorials, videos and the like will be posted as they are available at the support web site

https://www.ayefon.com/geo

Be sure and check them out. Also, come join us for discussion and tips and general fellowship on the igeocacher@yahoogroups.com forum. There are a lot of nice folks from all over the world who are fans of iGeoCacher and iGeoPad who will be glad to help if I dont' get to your question first.

By all means tell me what you like and what could be better. That's they way great products are born.

Finally, if you like the prorgam, please consider writing a review and give it as many starts as you can (g). I'm just an old geocacher working out of his garage at something he loves. I depend on word of mouth advertising and while there are millions of iOS devices, the number of geocachers is somewhat smaller so every sale helps keep this product growing.

 


As promised, the database table schema. If you know SQL this will tell you what you need to know for Ad Hoc queries. If you don't, I can't teach you SQL here but there is a TON of inforamtion available on the web. If you have a special query need, write me. I'll be happy to cobble one up for you if it can be done.

CREATE TABLE `geocaches` ( `pk` INTEGER PRIMARY KEY NOT NULL ,
`customer` VARCHAR(100),
`tstamp` VARCHAR(25),
`cacheid` VARCHAR(10),
`lat` VARCHAR(20),
`lon` VARCHAR(20),
`type` VARCHAR(50),
`ctype` VARCHAR(50),
`name` VARCHAR(200),
`sdesc` VARCHAR(1000),
`ldesc` TEXT(25),
`link` VARCHAR(200),
`hint` VARCHAR(1000),
`grp` INTEGER,
`logid` VARCHAR(10),
`loadorder` INTEGER,
`distance` NUMERIC,
`logs` TEXT,
`container` VARCHAR(50),
'findstatus' varchar(20),
'cachenotes' text,
'difficulty' varchar(10),
'terrain' varchar(10),
'placed' varchar(30));