Supporting Amateur Radio Emergency Communications

GPS UnitWe have come to rely on the worldwide system of satellites known as the Global Positioning System or GPS. Once only used by the military, today, GPS devices are telling us our location everywhere from our cars to our cell phones.

QUESTION:

On this date in history…  On May 3, 2000, Dave Ulmer of Beavercreak Oregon became the first person to use GPS to do what?

ANSWER:

Geocaching

EXPLANATION:

GPS used to include a feature called Selective Availability that added intentional errors of up to 100 meters to the publicly available navigation signals.  This was intended to deny an enemy the use of civilian GPS receivers for precision weapon guidance.  At midnight on May 1, 2000, following an Executive Order by President Bill Clinton, the Selective Availability signal was turned off making GPS receivers much more accurate.

On May 3, 2000, about 30 miles southeast of Portland, Oregon, Dave Ulmer buried a five gallon bucket in the ground containing a Topo USA map, 2 CD ROMs, a cassette recorder, a “George of the Jungle” VHS tape, a Ross Perot book, 4 $1 bills, a slingshot and a can of beans.  He then posted the GPS location of the bucket on a Usenet newsgroup. The first finder of that cache was Mike Teague who took the money and left some cigarettes, a cassette tape and a pen.

So, Dave became the first person to use GPS and create the first documented Geocache.

Geocache Plaque

Within a few days, other caches were placed in various places and the hobby of Geocaching was born. Geocaches are currently placed in over 100 countries around the world and on all seven continents, including Antarctica.  After 12 years of activity there are over 1,639,000 active geocaches published on various websites. There are over 5 million geocachers worldwide.

For the traditional geocache, a geocacher will place a waterproof container containing a log book (with pen or pencil) and trade items then record the cache’s coordinates. These coordinates, along with other details of the location, are posted on a web site. Other geocachers obtain the coordinates from that site and seek out the cache using their GPS handheld receivers. The finding geocachers record their exploits in the logbook and online. Geocachers are free to take objects (except the logbook, pencil, or stamp) from the cache in exchange for leaving something of similar or higher value.

NET CHECK-IN’s:

A total of 24 people checked into the Net tonight.  Of those, no one had the correct answer to the Trivia Question.

A big thanks to everyone for participating to tonight’s Net.

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