Solving Geocache Puzzles

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GeoQO contains some special help for solving geocaching Unknown puzzles.



After Launching the GUI, click on the Solve Geocaching Unknown/Puzzles button.


Selecting the Puzzles to Solve

This will bring up a standard search menu letting you pick the unknown caches you wish to solve. I'd suggest picking a pocket query near where you are heading next using a Search By: type of A single Set and a Set Name of the pocket query in question. Here's an example of my near me pocket query being selected:


Don't bother selecting the Include Extra Waypoints option for this...

The other options at the bottom let you include multi caches into the search, include caches you've previously found or have marked as in field (more about this last choice later), or previously marked as already-solved.


Auto-Equation Support

As you'll see below, geoqo provides some support for doing fancy puzzle math for you. The auto-populate attributes with extracted puzzle equations attempts to read any puzzle caches you haven't looked at before and automatically create some math equations based on the text of the cache. It is not perfect and needs to be checked, but it can save you some time of manually typing them.


Sorting by Distance

At the very bottom of the search window is a field that lets you sort the unknown caches by a distance from another waypoint (I put in the one nearest my house).


Solving Puzzles

The next screen will show you all the unknown caches you've searched for. It'll have a bunch of extra boxes to fill in in order to mark the puzzle as solved or something to solve in the field.

Aside: Types of Puzzles

There are really two types of Unknown Caches:

Caches to do ahead of time
These include puzzles, general research problems, etc. But the important thing: you can't even get started till you do some homework ahead of time. In my opinion, the Unknown cache type should have been reserved for this.
Solve-in-the-field caches
In order to find the cache, you have to go to at least one spot "out in the field" and answer some questions. IE, you must start the cache at a set of coordinates and there is nothing to do ahead of time. IMHO, all of these caches should be marked as Multi-Caches but many aren't and a category of "Unknown" is chosen instead.

Viewing the cache

If you click on the show button it will open firefox (my recommendation), another web browser you have configured, or the internal viewer.


Marking caches as infield

Caches that fall into the Solve-in-the-field type should be marked as such using the infield checkbox button:


Entering Puzzle Answer Coordinates

GeoQo uses (expects by default) two attributes called puzn and puzw to hold the solution to puzzle caches. (You can also place the next stage of a multi-cache into the same attribute if you want).

The puzzle solving screen creates these attribute boxes for you after the word "Or:"


Here you can put in the solution you want geoqo to remember (example: "N38 32.001" and "W121 41.456"). If you're done solving the puzzle, click the solved checkbutton.

Good Advice: Click the Solved checkbox when you are done solving the puzzle. This will prevent this cache from showing up in the puzzle solving screen again (unless you tell it to include solved caches)

You can also put in special field values:

Automatic Value Substitution

If the cache you're solving a puzzle for had an equation in it like:

 The final solution is at N38 32.ABC and W121 41.XYZ

Then you can have geoqo automatically replace the letters with values you select and put into the attribute boxes. You need to surround each letter replacement with ()s and put the special word "replace:" in front of the whole thing. As an example, if you fill in the North answer with:

 replace:N38 32.(A)(B)(C)

Then geoqo will automatically try and use the A, B, and C attributes to finish the solution. Of course, it means you need to create the A, B and C attributes and that's exactly what the attribute boxes let you do. Not only that, but if you had the auto-equation button checked, geoqo may have actually filled in the equation for you and created blank attributes for you to fill in.


Here's an example cache in my area that is an excellent looking cache but has a bunch of fill-in numbers. The auto-equation system already filled in the north and west fields with the proper equation (I checked, they're right. You should check too!!!). And it created a bunch of blank spots for me to fill in:


Automatic Math Calculations

GeoQO can even do tricky (or not so tricky) math for you. If you use "math:" instead of "replace:" in front of the string, it will try and evaluate the results to get the answer you need:


Substitutes of Math of Substitutes

Yes Virginia, you can do silly things like:

 puzn:  replace:N38 32.(A)(B)(A)
 A:     math:(C)-(D)
 C:     replace:(X)(Y)
 X:     4
 Y:     2
 D:     41

And geoqo will magically do everything required.

Heading Out

Ok, now you've solved all the puzzles you want to solve. You're ready to export your data to your device and head out. But what gets exported with respect to solved puzzles?

The answer is that you need to click on a few buttons:

Only including caches that have solutions or are in field

The first, which is off by default, but I recommend turning it on if you're going to use this system is the export searching buttons that let you filter out unknown caches that don't have a solution or the infield tag:


Then make sure the Use Solved Puzzle Cordinates checkbox is also selected:


That's it!!! GeoQO will now:

  • only export unknown caches that either:
    • have been given a (complete) puzn/puzw solution attribute set (including any needed math and replacements)
    • have been tagged as infield
  • Replace the original coordinates with the solution coordinates before exporting the cache


Future GeoQO Work

Wouldn't automatic evince verification be cool? Coming soon, if I can find the time. Or you can if you want to help ;-)

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