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Mystery Cache

Jefferson Wheel Cypher

Hidden : 11/30/2008
In Illinois, United States
Difficulty:
2.5 out of 5
Terrain:
2 out of 5

Size: Size: regular (regular)

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Geocache Description:

NOTE: The listed coordinates are not the position of the cache. The listed coordinates represent a good place to park. You must use the description below to learn how to locate the first stage - a device hidden in a container. Using the device, you will determine the location of the second and final stage - an ammo can.


I'm Thomas Jefferson and I approve this cache.

Thomas Jefferson was a very clever man. Among his many inventions was a device for sending secret messages. He called the device a "wheel cypher," employing an alternate spelling different from the one we commonly use today: "cipher."

The device consisted of a collection of disks that were set to rotate on a central rod. Upon each disk was written a different arrangement of the letters of the alphabet. To encode a message, one would arrange the disks to spell out the message and then rotate the entire device to reveal another line of letters which would become the encrypted message.

For example, suppose we needed to communicate the message, "The package is in the drop zone." We would rotate the individual disks until we spelled out that message as shown.


(The device pictured has one more letter than the message so the letter "X" has been used at the end of the message.) Then, the encrypted message could be any of the lines around the wheel. So, if we used the line below the message, we would send "EVAOSWMNDTKERXSKNKSEYFEEWS." The receiver of this message would be perplexed unless they had the same device with the disks arranged in the same order on the central rod.

The recipient of such a message would take out their own, identical device and line up the encrypted message and then rotate the entire disk, examining each line until a message became evident.

Just as in Jefferson's time, in modern use of a wheel cypher for encryption, the device must first be "keyed." That means that the disks must be arranged in the same order so that the sender and recipient can communicate. However, the physical disks that you will use for this cache do not come apart so you won't have to key them. But, you will also use an electronic version of the Jefferson Code Wheel as described below. And that, electronic version requires a key.

What you are going to do

First, you have to decrypt a message so that you can determine the location of a Jefferson cypher device out in the woods. Next, after you have found the device in the woods, you will use it to determine the final cache location.

Step One

Go to the this site and use a device like the Jefferson cipher wheel to decrypt: IXXZNLTNXBOOVDVBRFXVVWLSR. In order to use the wheel to get a message, you will have to enter the key: rocky is our pretty good doggy and then press the button: "CHANGE KEY." Then dial in the encrypted message on the center line. Rotate the wheel until you see a message in plain English. That message will tell you the decimal parts of the coordinates of the cipher wheel out in the woods. That device is hidden in an container at N42° 15. _ _ _ and W088° 18. _ _ _

The website requires java to view and to use the wheel cipher. You can get java here.

Alternatively, you could make your own wheel cipher by cutting strips of paper and wrapping them around a soup can. You can find instructions and the graphics you will need here.

Step Two

Use the code wheel you find in the woods to determine the digits encrypted below:
Bring these codes with you!

A = CNRZJ
B = RTXHT
C = ZOXZD
D = XWCOM
E = BWNXB
F = NNNKM

The code wheel in the woods only has five disks (that is all that is needed to spell out words as long as "seven" and "eight"). In cases where spelling the digit requires less than five letters, the letter "X" has been used as a filler either before or after the name of the digit. So, for example, "two" might appear as "XTWOX," "XXTWO," or "TWOXX." In the case of "six," the letter "O" has been used in the same way. So you may see "OOSIX," "SIXOO," or "OSIXO."

Please be sure to read the instruction sheet at stage 1.

The final is hidden at N42° 15.ABC and W088° 18.DEF.



Additional Hints (No hints available.)

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Current Time:
Last Updated: on 7/19/2014 5:03:18 AM Pacific Daylight Time (12:03 PM GMT)
Rendered From:Unknown
Coordinates are in the WGS84 datum