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The Patchwork Cardan - Indy Edition

A cache by Western Mass Clan & Oyer Send Message to Owner Message this owner
Hidden : 04/22/2009
3 out of 5
1.5 out of 5

Size: Size: micro (micro)

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How Geocaching Works

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Geocache Description:

The cache is NOT at the posted coordinates. Once again, as an expatriated Hoosier who now lives in Massachusetts but visits friends and family in Indy often, I am teaming up with local Indy puzzle cacher Oyer to bring you the following kid-friendly puzzle cache. This cache is our second "Back Home Again in Indiana" puzzle.


by Western Mass Clan & Oyer

This is a puzzle created especially for the caching family - though it should be just as must fun for the adults without kids at home to solve too! Presented here is a fun "Solve at your Desk" style puzzle for caching parents to work on with their kids. The kids will have fun figuring out how the puzzle pieces go together and resolving the coordinates.


Gerolamo Cardano (1501-1576) was a gifted mathematician, scholar, lawyer, inventor, and chess player (no wonder I like him). He may be best known for his contributions to modern algebra - publishing volumes on cubic and quartic algebraic formulas and how to solve them. He was also a notorious gambler and talented cryptographer. Of course, the latter is the part we are most interested in.

Gerolamo Cardano

In 1550, Cardano developed a means of secretly hiding a message in a longer hand-written note (clandestine) or a random grid of characters (not so clandestine). In order to retrieve the message, one would hold a card or "grille" over the note / grid. This grille would typically have holes punched in it. The secret message would then be revealed through the holes in the grille. This became known as the Cardan Grille.

Others then took the concept of using a grille and ran with it. This method of encryption eventually became known simply as a "Grille Cipher". How the grid and grille were used was only limited by the imagination of those who created them - thus making them difficult to detect and almost impossible to crack. Unless somebody was able to intercept the grille itself, grille ciphers were very secure.

The Puzzle:

Keeping with the idea that grille ciphers are only limited by the imaginations of their creators, I have presented you with a grille cipher of my own design. It's close to what is known as a "turning grille" since the grille is a square and can be oriented in any of four ways. I have provided you with both the grid AND the grille (What??? Am I crazy???). However, to make it so that retrieving the coordinates isn't as trivial as printing out the grid and grille and overlaying them, I have divided the grid into 16 pieces. It is up to you, then, to figure out how the grid goes back together so you can use the grille to retrieve the secret coordinates! It works much like a jigsaw puzzle - but with matching colors instead of shapes that snap together.

The grid pieces, the grille, and instructions are all in a PDF file you can download by clicking the below link (after the requisite Groundspeak disclaimer).

Required Groundspeak Disclaimer: You are about to download a file in order to obtain further details needed to find this geocache. As the cache owner, I represent that this file is safe to download although the files needed to complete this geocache have not been checked by Groundspeak or by the Geocache Reviewer for possible malicious content. As a result, you are downloading this file at your own risk.


You will need Adobe Acrobat to read the file. You'll need to cut the pieces out, so you will need scissors for cutting and tape for assembling the grid. If you have a black and white printer you may want to get some markers or crayons to help with the colors.

VERY IMPORTANT NOTE: The numbers on the grid pieces are randomly oriented so as to not give away the piece's proper orientation. The number six HAS A DOT UNDER IT. The number nine HAS NO DOT.

Remember, I designed this puzzles with families in mind. If you have kids, please let them help you solve it! They'll get a kick out of putting everything together and getting the coordinates for the "secret cache" by using the grille.

The Hide:

The hide makes this an overall 3.0 difficulty puzzle. The puzzle is perhaps a 2.0 to 2.5 difficulty for adults, more challenging for the kids. The cache container is a well camouflaged bison-tube like container just above adult eye level.

Additional Hints (Decrypt)

[HIDE:] N erny gerr-uhttre bs n pnpur. Jung ryfr jbhyq lbh rkcrpg sebz n Znffnpuhfrggf yvoreny? ;-)

Decryption Key


(letter above equals below, and vice versa)



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Coordinates are in the WGS84 datum

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