Paperless GXing!

Are you tired of printing pages and pages of caches you want to do and then having to lug them around in a notebook, on a clumsy clipboard or just stacked up together that usually ends up as a wrinkled mess? Sounds like the beginning of an infommercial. It's time to go paperless and what follows is a basic step-by-step approach to the end of printed cache sheets and an opportunity to save the planet...or at least a tree.



palm3 We are using the PALM Tungsten E and this guide will be based on the PALM operating system. We started out with a PALM IIIC that was given to me so the price was perfect. I had never used one before and was offered it so I took it to see if I would use it. I started using it for basic tasks, datebook, to-do-list and I also put an NIV bible on it. Then I discovered Paperless GX'ing! Recently upgraded to the Tungsten for more memory and a brighter display. The PALM's all come with a way to connect to the computer and update the information, called HotSyncing. The only downside to using a PDA outdoors is screen visibility but the Tungsten gets bright enough for me. Premium Membership
If you have been using the services of, you should subscribe to a Premium Membership to help the geocaching community. If you want to go paperless, and do it right, you will have to get a Premium Membership in order to make it happen. The Premium Membership allows you to create and download queries of multiple caches based on the criteria you enter. These queries are what are loaded into the Palm after they are tweaked.

There are 2 different ways to approach paperless. The first is the 'free-way' using free software and the second is purchasing software. We have recently converted to using purchased software for easy of use.

GSAK (Geocaching Swiss Army Knife) $20 (
Cachemate $8. ( )

GPX Spinner This handy utility converts the .gpx file you will download from and get it ready. GPX Spinner outputs a set of HTML files that you will view on your PDA after they are run through the next piece of software.
Plucker This second utility allows you to read the web pages on your PDA from that are converted by GPX Spinner.

STEP BY STEP PAPERLESS using purchased software

Okay here we go...

Set up your query page on It is pretty self explanatory but the main thing you want to check is the 'In the format:' option shown below.

The .gpx format is required for this guide. After you complete the query and you get it emailed to you, save it to your desktop or anywhere you want to. It should have 5 numbers followed by the .gpx extension

Download and install GSAK (You will need to register at some point). This will put a shortcut on your desktop. Now download and install Cachemate (You will also need to register this software as well.). One more icon on your desktop. You will also need to Hot Sync your PD and install Cachemate on your PDA.

Once you receive the emailed .gpx file from your pocket query. Click on it and GSAK should open up. If not, open GSAK and select FILE > Load GPX/LOC and load the .gpx file.

Without getting into all the details of GSAK (and they are endless), now that you have the database loaded you can select FILE > Export > Cachemate PDB file.

Create a name for the .pdb in the top highlighted box and a location. Also click “Install To Palm After Conversion.” Click generate and it will process the file and save the .pdb file to the location you chose. If you are using a PALM based PDA then the “Install Tool” will also open up. You can click ‘Done”. Close out GSAK (It will ask you if you would like to “backup all your databases and settings now”. Either yes or no is fine for this tutorial.

Now run your Hot Sync Manager. Connect your PALM to your PC via the USB cable.
Select your Hit Sync button to Hot Sync and transfer the .pdb to your PALM. When it is finished, locate the Cachemate icon on your PALM (I created a category called GXING that put all of the utilities in for easy locating). When you first run Cachemate now it will ask you to select an Import Category. Under “Database” I choose Default and under “Category” I choose “Not Found”. Click OK. It will now import all of your records and when finished click OK again. Now you will see all of the caches listed! Click on any cache. Now you have top right options of INFO, DESCRIPTION, HINTS, PAST LOGS and OVERVIEW. Choose each one and get familiar with what they display. Your done! Go caching!

STEP BY STEP PAPERLESS using Free Software
Download and install GPX Spinner. This should put a shortcut on your desktop which you can leave there or move to wherever you want. I have a folder called GXing which I put all of my geocaching utilities in. As long as you know where it is and it is easy to get to, everyone will be happy.

Now you need to download and install the last utility, the Plucker Desktop which is the Windows version and Plucker for the Palm.

Drag the .gpx file you received from and drop it right into the GPX Spinner icon.
It will run through some 'DOS looking' processes and the window will close when it is done.
Wherever you placed the emailed .gpx file, you will now find a folder called 'cache' that GPX SPinner created. It is filled with a bunch of files.

Open the Plucker Desktop program.
You will probably see some sample channels under the Channel Names bar the first time you run it but you don't need to worry about them. You can highlight them and select File>Delete selected channels. Click the far left icon with the star to 'Add a new channel'. Delete the 'Unnamed channel' and create a name. I usually use the date so I know when I have the latest geocaching data. In this case I named it '6-29-04'
After clicking 'OK', you will get a new window that you will use to set the parameters for the the conversion to your PALM
Select the 'A local file' radio button and find the folder named 'cache' that we talked about above. Inside that folder, find the file 'index.htm' and select it. Now you need to click on the 'Spidering' tab. Be sure 'Breadth first' is selected.
Now click the 'Limits' tab and be sure a depth of 3 is selected in the 'retrieve linked pages to a depth of' option.
Check the box that says "Ignore links to a server that is different from the starting page's server" and then click the button that says "only restrict to domain."
Click the "Destination" tab and make sure you see your Palm's user name there.

If you want images to be shown you can go to the 'Images' tab and select or de-select images depending on how much RAM you have on your PDA. Mine is only 8mb so I am running low and usually don't include images.

Now click 'OK'. Now click Update>Update all channels. It will process and when it is finished click 'OK'. You're done!!!

Now you need to HotSync your Palm. After the Hotsync is complete, click on your Palm's menu and look for the Plucker icon. Tap it and look for the name of your new cache page. Click on it and the new geocaching pages should open up.

That's all there is to it! When you open the pages, you will get everything you need to complete a cache including the hints.


The time will come when you want to load a single cache page or a couple of cache pages that are not in your query list or are brand new listings.
You can use Plucker to do that all by itself.

Find the listing on and select the url from the address bar in your browser. Right click and copy it.

Open up Plucker, go to File>Add a new channel and create a new named channel. I usually name it after the cache I want to load.

The Configure Channel window will open and on the Starting Page tab, click the radio button for 'A website URL' and paste the link in there.

Now select the 'Limits' tab and change the 'Retrieve linked pages to a depth of' to 2.

Click 'OK', highlight the new channel name you just created and go to Update>Update selected channels. HotSync and you now have that cache page in your PDA.

As you can see, the FREE version is more complicated and not as user friendly, but it is FREE. It does get the job done and it's nice to see the actual cache pages with images using the Spinner/Plucker combo. I still use Plucker because it's handy for different web pages that you may want to load on your Palm. The GSAK/Cachemate combo is more streamlined and will cost $28 (as of this writing) but I believe it's worth every penny because GSAK does so much more.

You can email me at if you need any help or have further questions.

Happy Paperless Caching!