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Tutorial: Empowering Your Caches

Your tools of the trade for this build …

By Vince Migliore (GC handle: FolsomNatural)

Utility boxes, control panels and wiring enclosures are visible everywhere in today’s urban environment. They are inexpensive and widely available at most hardware stores.

They also make good hiding places for caches; a passer-by would never guess this is actually a geocaching container. However, neither the plastic nor metal versions are very waterproof. They have coin-shaped punch-out holes designed to make it easy for an electrician to add pipes containing the wires for each utility box.

Ready or not: Spraypainted and attached to a wooden plank.

These units are made to connect to metal conduit tubing but simple PVC pipe is much cheaper and easier to work with. I suggest you connect the PVC pipe to an elbow to make it appear as if it’s going into the wall or wooden support, when it’s actually just glued in place.

Real utility boxes often house electric wires and are therefore sealed or locked to keep the public out. To make your box look real, yet allow geocachers to open it without a screwdriver, you must add a hinge so that the front (or rear) panel is easily accessible. Not to mention a magnetic latch to hold everything in place.

Figure 2 shows a utility box spraypainted a dark colour and mounted to a fencepost. You’ll notice the edges of the box have built-in connecting flanges, so it can be screwed right onto any wooden surface. Adding the hinge and magnet can be cumbersome for someone not used to working with shop tools, though – so it’s handy to know the plastic ones are easier to drill but liable to crack; the metal versions are sturdier but harder to drill.

Inside out: Now featuring a hinge and cabinet magnets.

The screw heads on the front panel give the illusion that your box is sealed shut, but it actually flips up to accommodate a waterproof container inside. In the lower right section of this photo, you can see the bathroom cabinet-style magnet that keeps the door closed as it lines up with the two glued-on metal washers in the flipped-up cover plate.

YOU WILL NEED:

  • Wooden board or fence plank, preferably at your cache location
  • Electric utility box – in plastic or metal
  • ½-inch PVC pipe, about 6 inches’ long
  • PVC ½-inch elbow
  • Slip-ring cylinder to connect the PVC pipe to the punch-out hole
  • Cabinet magnet holder, or refrigerator magnets that you can glue in place
  • Guerilla glue
  • Cabinet door hinge with connecting hardware
  • Electric drill for mounting your hinges
  • OPTIONAL: Spraypaint for camouflage and/or a cabinet knob to help open the faceplate door.

Start by visiting the electrical section of your hardware store, and take a look at the various shapes and sizes of the utility boxes available. Measure the interior space so you can choose a jar or container that will fit inside to offer better waterproofing.

You’ll soon discover there are many ways to further disguise your utility box and make your own variations. First off, though, you must decide where and how it will be positioned. If there is no wooden surface to attach the box to, you may have to pound a section of PVC piping into the ground like a tent stake and simply mount it on that.

Good luck, and have fun!

*Material for this article was printed with the permission of Vince Migliore, the author of Creative Containers for Geocaching. The just-released paperback is available from Amazon for US$9.95. To see more clever geo-designs, visit his website Creative Cache Containers.

 

3 comments

  1. kim

    Great tutorial on how to make those cache containers. Thanks!

  2. CraigRat

    Totally irresponsible to hide caches like this.

    Yet again I must state the obvious: Electricity Kills. It maims, it irreparably injures people.

    If YOU place one of these near anything live and someone dies opening the wrong box then YOU may me liable.

    PLEASE for the love of all that’s good, don’t make fake electrical caches or caches in or around actual electrical or gas infrastructure.

    Encouraging people to remove electrical lids might be OK on a fake cache, but what if it’s a spot elsewhere where someone can’t find the cache and they dissemble a local REAL one of these and get a shock?
    In many parts of the world it is ILLEGAL to remove or access electrical wiring or infrastructure unless licensed to do so.

  3. Mike

    PLEASE delete this post and PLEASE do not publish these kinds of caches. If you love geocaching, you don’t want people to get hurt playing the game. Do you want your kids taking apart electrical boxes looking for caches?

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