I love doing this. It takes me a while to sit down and gather the information for these coins but I an fascinated by some of things I learn while googling. This one was actually pretty funny. I found the coin easily enough, but the version I found was red. Hmmm. It seemed odd that a club would put out different colors for a monthly coin, so I started to wonder if this was a second edition. I started to Google. After about 15 minutes it dawned on me that if it was a GeoClub coin, that they HAD to have some information on the site about the coin. So I went back to my window (that was still open) and started to scroll down. Heh Heh, there was the green one two photos below the red one.
Lets start with the red geocoin. The Red Selective Availability Geocoin was the GeoCoin Club coin for the month of September in 2005. The first official release was in August, so this was the second coin that they released. So what about the GREEN edition?
The Green Selective Edition GeoCoin was the New Subscriber coin. Every person that joined prior to Feb. of 2006 was given one of these coins. The GeoCoin club has always strived to make enough coins for their subscriber base, with a few left over for replacements. In order to get one of the surplus coins, you must be a subscriber. I suppose that isn't the case anymore as we've gotten quite a few older coins through eBay. of course, we've also made more for them. At any rate, I think there was a bit of a learning curve the first couple of months. These days they have a pretty good idea of how many coins they need.
It looks like both the red and the gold Selective Availability geocoin came in a brass finish. It is an interesting coin. I like how it is cut out around the earth. It is 1.75" across. While I don't see a specific Selective Availability Icon, I did find the coin on the geocaching site with a GCC (GeoCoin Club) icon. Both the Red and Green Selective Availability Geocoins are trackable items.
So what is Selective Availability anyway? Selective Availability is what made GeoCaching not possible. Like many neat things, the Global Positioning System (or GPS) was designed by the Government. In this case, the U.S. Department of Defense. The satellite system was designed for Military use, specifically for OUR military use. Selective Availability intentionally introduced slow, random errors in to the publicly available signals. When SA is enabled, accurate signals are still sent, but they are encrypted. Only the US military had that key, and it changed daily. They had two reasons for doing this. One, they only wanted a few of our allies to be able to use our satellites for military purposes .Two they didn't want anyone else to be able to FIND our satellites and destroy them. This made it only accurate to about 100 meters. I don't know about you, but I get pretty cranky when a cache is off by 20-30 ft, I can't imagine trying to find one with only 100 meter accuracy. The scrambling was known as Selective Availability.
On May 1st, 2000 President Clinton announced that Selective Availability would be turned off. This allowed for civilians to enjoy using the GPS system with accuracy to about 10 meters. I actually remember when this happened. My dad, a military man who probably had been using the GPS system for work related stuff could use it for play. I remember the GPS unit was pretty expensive that when I asked him what it was good for, the only reply that he could give me was "well, I'll never get lost. Ill always know where I am". It was funny, because this was a man that could navigate just by the position of the stars.
On May 2nd, at about midnight the Selective Availability was turned off. People Got Excited, now they could actually use their GPS systems with some accuracy. On May 3rd, Dave Ulmer hid the first cache near Beaver Creek Oregon. You can read all about the history of GeoCaching on the Geocaching website. I understand that the original cache is no longer there as it was damaged by an Oregon Road Crew mower. However, there is an Original Stash Tribute Plaque located there now. It is the number one, most found traditional cache in geocaching. It is on my list of caches to find. Hopefully Ill be heading back up to Oregon next year. I'll be sure to take photos when I find it!
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