New socialhams feature to combine APRS with geocaching

What is APRS Caching?

APRS Caching of socialhams is aiming at giving the well known GeoCaching concept an amateur radio touch. The idea behind APRS Caching is to connect the fascination of GeoCaching with amateur radio. Thus, APRS Caching gives radio amateurs the opportunity to rediscover their fields of interest. The socialhams platform provides the following concept as well as the needed infrastructure. APRS Caching can be regarded as a user-friendly project and is according to the Ham Spirit open to criticism, support and change.

How does APRS Caching work?

Basically the APRS Caching system resembles the main features of GeoCaching. There are so called caches, which have to be searched for by the logger. After having found the cache the logger can make an entry in the logbook. The difference between APRS Caching and GeoCaching is that the logbook entry is carried out by APRS. This makes it possible to verify the logger’s actual presence at the coordinates of the cache.

What cache types are these?

There are single-stage, two-stage and other caches. Single-stage caches provide the ultimate target coordinates where the cache can be logged. Two-stage caches first provide the stage 1 coordinates where you get the target coordinates in some way or other, depending on the cache type. Currently “other caches” are the traditional GeoCaches.

Below is a small excerpt of cache types:

Single-stage caches

APRS – An APRS cache has to be an APRS station that sends its position to the APRS net in regular intervals. APRS stations can be iGate, mobiles, portables, weather stations etc.

Two-stage caches

Audio – The idea behind this kind of cache is to hide an audio recorder module, that plays an audio signal by pushing a button or any other kind of activation. The goal is to use a digital mode such as CW, PSK31 etc as audio signal. There are no limits to your imagination.

How can I join?

In order to be able to join APRS Caching as owner or logger, you first need to register on the platform socialhams. Registration on socialhams is free, requires a valid ham radio callsign, though. As a logger you can start immediately after registration. If you wish to contribute your own cache, this has to be done using the APRS Caching feature. As a logger you need to be able to send out your current geographical location using APRS. It doesn’t matter whether this is done via radio transmission or a feed-in in the APRS-IS. This means you can use your ham radio equipment or a mobile phone with a suitable APRS App for this.

Radio hams become living caches

Everybody who is familiar with GeoCaching knows that GeoCaches hold a static geographical position. The reason for this is based on several details. On the one hand, GeoCaches are meant to show loggers interesting locations and long forgotten places. On the other hand, GeoCaches cannot update their location in real-time. This is where socialhams APRS Caching comes in and allows on update of the geographical position of an APRS cache thanks to the global APRS network that can be reached via radio from nearly everywhere. This enables radio hams whether portable or mobile to function as living cache.

The average GeoCache experienced radio amateur should not experience any difficulties with the APRS Caching System. Inexperienced radio amateurs will find detailed descriptions and assistance on various GeoCaching sites relating to this topic. Once you are familiar with the basic GeoCaching concept, the APRS Caching will represent an exciting extension for you. It will certainly bring about unexpected challenges but most of all a lot of fun for radio enthusiasts.

Join the community now on to experience this novelty. If you have any questions concerning APRS Caching or socialhams in general, feel free to contact me at [email protected].

Andreas Pachler, OE8APR, is a special contributor to and writes from Carinthia, Austria. He is the creator of socialhams, a social network for ham radio operators. Contact him at [email protected].

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