What is a Garmin Chirp?
A Garmin chirp is a wireless geocaching device that transmits a name, coordinates and a small amount of data, called a “message”, to compatible Garmin GPS receivers which are within range (10m) of the beacon. The chirp’s primary use is intended as a multi-cache “stage” which provides geocache hunters with coordinates and a hint to the next stage of a geocache.
At the time of writing there are only 143 caches in the UK that utalise the ‘Wireless Beacon’ attribute on geocaching.com, and a small portion of those are Garmin Chirps, so it is a pretty rare beast but one that should be tackled if the opportunity arises. Their scarcity may be in part due the price tag of the Chirp (between £15 and £20) but it is a pretty clever device as I shall explain.
I recently went hunting for a Garmin Chirp using my new Oregon 650 and was delighted at the results. My Oregon was set to ‘Chirp Search’ already, and as I pulled into the car park of the supermarket where the Chirp was hidden, it instantly sprang into life and told me that it had detected a chirp signal and asked if I would like to download the information. The following screen was then displayed;
On clicking the ‘OK’ button you are taken to another screen that shows you the cache title, the new co-ordinates and the distance to the ‘new’ GZ. You then have the option of navigating to the new location and the physical cache itself ( you cannot log a find simply by finding a chirp, you still need to find the physical cache itself ) As a cache owner, when other geocachers arrive near your chirp, they’ll be alerted that the cache is nearby and then they’ll be able to access the hints you’ve loaded into chirp and when you return, chirp will tell you how many visitors have been to your cache.
The whole process was seemlessly executed and I was left so impressed that I went home and purchased my own Garmin Chirp Wireless Beacon for Geocaching – They are hardy, waterproof devices that are designed to be placed outdoors and left in all weathers. They are powered by a small battery which is replaceable and lasts for approx 12 months. You configure it yourself using your own Chirp compatible device and then its ready to be hidden!;
The following Garmin GPS units are compatible with chirp
- eTrex 30
- Dakota 20
- Oregon 300, 400t, 400i, 400c
- Oregon 450, 450t, 550, 550t, 600, 650
- GPSMAP 62s, 62st
- GPSMAP 78s, 78sc
The following Garmin GPS units can be used to receive chirp data only (they cannot program a chirp):
- Colorado 300, 400t, 400i, 400c (as of software 3.60)
Specifications: Unit dimensions, WxHxD: 1.3″ x 0.9″ x 0.3″ (3.3 x 2.3 x 0.7 cm) Weight: less than 1.0 oz (28 grams) Waterproof: yes (IPX7 – 1 metre for 30 minutes) Battery: up to 1 year with continuous use; user replaceable battery; message appears on your compatible Garmin device when battery is low Range: up ten meters
My Chirp will be with me in the next few days. I will review it as soon as I get the chance.