Skip to Content


4.How Do I Solve These #@&% Puzzles? Coord Formats

A cache by charliewhiskey Send Message to Owner Message this owner
Hidden : 08/03/2017
2.5 out of 5
1.5 out of 5

Size: Size: small (small)

Join now to view geocache location details. It's free!


How Geocaching Works

Please note Use of services is subject to the terms and conditions in our disclaimer.

Geocache Description:

The cache is not at the posted coordinates. This is the fourth in a series to help people get a start at solving puzzle caches. I tried to make these easy to understand, but if you have any questions about them, please ask.

This is a remake of How Do I Solve These #@&% Puzzles?!! Coord Formats. I had to make such drastic changes to the original cache page that I decided to redo it as a new cache. The puzzle and final cache coordinates remain the same as before.

Other coordinate formats can be confusing too. Some puzzles take advantage of that.

With the previous cache How Do I Solve These #@&% Puzzles?!! Start at End, I asked you to think about approaching puzzle caches as you would approach traditional caches: Keep the end in mind.

With a traditional cache, the end result you want is a container with a log. Your search will depend on what size container you're looking for. You can narrow down your search if you know you are searching for a micro rather than a large container.

With a puzzle, the end result you want is a set of coordinate numbers. You can narrow down your search if you know the range of numbers likely needed for your coordinates.

How Do I Solve These #@&% Puzzles?!! Start at End talked about our coordinates as they usually appear: numbers in a degree and minute format that (using the posted coordinates for this cache as an example) look something like this: N 45° 46.979 W 122° 54.209. But the solution you find might not be as straightforward as that.

- Your solution may be missing the N, W, and degree symbol: 45 46.979 122 54.209
- It may be missing the decimal point: 45 46 979 122 54 209
- It may be spaced differently: 45 46 97 91 22 54 20 9 or 454 697 912 254 209
- It may be bunched together: 4546979 12254209 or 454697912254209
- It may be backwards: 902452219796454 How do you figure this one out? Look for patterns that give you a 4 next to a 5 for north, and a 1 and 2 and 2 for west. If you find them in unexpected places (in the middle and end, as with this example), then you know you have to rearrange them somehow.

Look at the cache description. How many THINGS (words, sentences, images, critters, items in a list, whatever...) do you have? If you have 15 (especially if you have one group of 7 and one group of 8), it's likely you're solving for our standard coordinate format.

If you have 17 things, maybe they represent the N and W, as well as the 15 numbers of your coordinates.

If you have 10 things, maybe the N 45 and W 122 are assumed and you're solving for just the minutes. These can be harder puzzles to solve. If you have to solve for 45 and 122 as part of the puzzle, that can help you find the pattern that leads to the solution of the puzzle.

How do you solve these? Remember from the previous cache in this series How Do I Solve These #@&% Puzzles?!! Start at End, the minutes are USUALLY within 2 numbers, up or down, from the posted coordinates. (There are exceptions, including some puzzles older than 2007, that might have posted coordinates much further from the final.) Look for patterns - SOMETHING that can give you numbers that fit this pattern:

If you only have 6 things, maybe the degrees and minutes are assumed, and you're solving for just the last 3 numbers of the N and W coordinates.

How do you solve these? If it's not apparent, hopefully there will be a hint somewhere, maybe in the description, title, or "Additional hints". Still not getting it? Later in this series I cover more places to look for hints, and other strategies for more difficult puzzles.

Some puzzles can be even less straightforward than that. They can use other coordinate formats.

Here's an example using the posted coordinates.

We are familiar with coordinates written this way: N 45° 46.979 W 122° 54.209 This format is known as Degrees and Minutes, or Decimal Minutes.

These same coordinates written as Decimal Degrees would be: 45.7829833° -122.9034833°

... and written as Degrees, Minutes and Seconds would be: N45° 46' 58.74" W122° 54' 12.54"

Note the minus sign instead of a W in front of the Decimal Degrees west coordinates. For a nice explanation of why this is so, visit : What Is: GPS Coordinates

How do you tell if you need a different format?

If you think you've solved correctly for the N 45 and W 122, but the minutes seem screwy, then maybe you're looking at a different format.

Note that Decimal Degrees and Degrees, Minutes and Seconds can use more numbers than the 15 used in our usual format, and Decimal Degrees can use fewer.

How do you convert to different coordinate formats? There are several online converters available, but here is a link to one recommended by Groundspeak: GPS Coordinate Converter, Maps and Info

You get a page that looks like this:

This isn't a perfect converter. For one thing, it doesn't like converting from Degrees, Minutes, and Seconds. It also won't let you just enter a second set of coordinates and hit "Convert and Map" again. You'll need to refresh that page first. But I like the map links that this one includes.

How Do I Solve These #@&% Puzzles?!! Map Tricks shows different ways you can use maps to help solve puzzles and find caches.

You can do an internet search for "coordinate converter" and try different ones to see if there are any you like better. If you need help on how to do an internet search, check out How Do I Solve These #@&% Puzzles?!! Web Searches

Note: A compass is divided into 360 degrees. In our area, the degrees stay in the N 44/45° and W 122/123° range. Each degree is divided into 60 minutes, and each minute is divided into 60 seconds - just like with a clock. And just like with a clock, if you add a second to 1:59, you don't get 1:60; you get 2:00. With coordinates, if you add a minute to W 122 ° 59.000, you don't go to W 122° 60.000 You go to W 123° 00.000

So, with all that in mind, here's the puzzle you must solve to get the coordinates for this cache:

It's a little known fact that NASA sent out two unmanned space probes before Voyager 1 and Voyager 2. NASA kept quiet about them because there was a glitch in their software programs that caused them to zig-zag erratically on their flights out.

They were called Wanderer N and Wanderer W, and they circled around these planets before they each drifted into the asteroid belt and were not heard from again:

Wanderer N:

Wanderer W:

Click on the box below to check your solution.

As I said, this is one of a series of "How Do I Solve..." caches. They are spread out in different neighborhoods. It might help to solve them in order, but you don't need to. I tried to make these easy to understand, but if you have any questions about them, please ask.

Here are all the caches in the series. They are also posted in a "How Do I Solve These #@&%$ Puzzle Caches?!!" bookmark list.

This series of #@&%$ Puzzles contains the following caches:

Cache Techniques
1. GC5HFTZ - How Do I Solve These #@&% Puzzles?!! Intro Intro. Puzzles can be fun. No - really!
2. GC5EQV9 - How Do I Solve These #@&% Puzzles?!! Start Easy Where do you start? Start with easy puzzles!
3. GC5HJ70 - How Do I Solve These #@&% Puzzles?!! Start at End How do you start? Start with the end in mind.
4. GC7AEJA - How Do I Solve These #@&% Puzzles?!! Coord Formats Different coordinate formats
5. GC5DQ9M - How Do I Solve These #@&% Puzzles?!! Patterns Look for patterns, and anything that's awkward, unusual, or out of place.
6. GC78KAK - How Do I Solve These #@&% Puzzles?!! Subst Ciphers Solving substitution ciphers.
7. GC7AM55 - How Do I Solve These #@&% Puzzles?!! Old Codes Other codes and ciphers. (Oldies are goodies.)
8. GC7AF6Y - How Do I Solve These #@&% Puzzles?!! Number Bases Different number systems and bases.
9. GC5J529 - How Do I Solve These #@&% Puzzles?!! Web Searches Search the internet for information and images.
10. GC5J53Y - How Do I Solve These #@&% Puzzles?!! Hidden Info Two ways to hide info on a cache page - White Font and Source Code.
11. GC5JGNC - How Do I Solve These #@&% Puzzles?!! Pictures Five ways to hide information in images.
12. GC5HYEF - How Do I Solve These #@&% Puzzles? Cache Page Tips There are many ways to hide hints, and even the puzzle itself, in places other than the cache description.
13. GC7F6PH - How Do I Solve These #@&% Puzzles?!! Map Tricks Tips on using maps and coordinate checkers when solving puzzles.
14. GC5JA76 - How Do I Solve These #@&% Puzzles?!! Use Tools Start building your puzzle-solving tool kit.
15. GC5J5PP - How Do I Solve These #@&% Puzzles?! Still Stumped? If you've tried all these tips and tricks, and you're still stumped, here are a few more things you can try.
16. GC5J52X - These #@&% Puzzles - Graduation Bonus Cache Congratulations! You've done it! Here's your bonus graduation cache!

Important Note: Be sure to get the bonus numbers from each cache in this series. You will need those to get the coordinates for the These #@&% Puzzles - Graduation Bonus Cache .

Once you've become an enthusiastic fan of puzzles and are ready to place your own, I recommend you first take a look at these tips from Geocachers of the Bay Area: Advice For Making A Good Puzzle and respected Florida cacher ePeterso2: Geocache Puzzle Construction Tips

Have fun solving puzzle caches! And remember ...

Additional Hints (Decrypt)

[puzzle 1] Jr yvir ba gur GUVEQ ebpx sebz gur fha.
[puzzle 2] Jura gurfr fcnpr ceborf jrag bhg, Cyhgb jnf fgvyy pbafvqrerq gb or n cynarg.
[puzzle 3] Fgvyy univat gebhoyr? Znxr fher lbh unir gur pheerag pbeerpg cynarg beqre.

[cache] Haqre onex ol ebpx

Decryption Key


(letter above equals below, and vice versa)

Return to the Top of the Page

Reviewer notes

Use this space to describe your geocache location, container, and how it's hidden to your reviewer. If you've made changes, tell the reviewer what changes you made. The more they know, the easier it is for them to publish your geocache. This note will not be visible to the public when your geocache is published.