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Cash-in on your geocaching skillz

Evan Blass
01.31.06
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If you're one of the lucky folks who live in or around the yellow area pictured on the map (it's a map of the upper 48 United States), grab the closest gadget with GPS, your EV-DO-sportin' laptop, and the keys to your pickup, 'cause money is literally falling out of the sky all around you 24-hours-a-day. Let us explain: Apparently some regions in the South and West aren't as wired as midtown Manhattan, so a company called Space Data found a way to make money by repeatedly launching weather balloons with cellular transmitters called SkySites, and charging what must be astronomical fees for getting your cell-on in the boonies. These eye-in-the-sky cell towers hover between 70,000 and 100,000-feet and provide coverage for a 200-mile radius on Earth- but the darn things only stay aloft for 24 to 48 hours before freefalling to the ground (or tree, or lake, or Grand Canyon). Once a balloon hits terra firma, or something close, it radios its location back to its successor in the sky, which then relays the data to the SkySite website. Since geocachers are known to be a particularly violent and rowdy bunch who would no doubt cause wanton destruction in a free-for-all pursuit of these $60 treasures, only a particular balloon's general location is posted, and the first certified 'cacher in the area who calls dibs gets the exact coordinates (plus or minus five decimal places) and an exclusive 48-hour window to retrieve the gear. If you think that there's only chump change to be made here, you couldn't be more wrong: SkySite reportedly paid out over $93,000 to its volunteer army last year, with the top earner "caching" in to the tune of $10,000.

[Via GPS Review, thanks Tim]

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