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A trip to the North and some GPS fun April 15, 2009

Posted by GuySoft in Crictor, Hamakor, ITU, linux, Maemo, open source.
Tags: , , , ,
Tracking with the Nokia N810, mapper sees satellites.

Tracking with the Nokia N810.

Hey all,

This Passover, I went on a trip in the North of Israel in the Golan heights.

However, apart from enjoying the beauty of nature I thought I might do a little experiment with my Nokia N810, a Linux device with a GPS receiver.

What I did was switch it on at the beginning of the tour and put it back inside my bag, ignoring it most of the time.

The result was a complete GPX file of our tour.

On the Nokia it looked nice, however I wanted to see if I can extract more data at home with the GPX file.I found 3 tools I could do with it.

The first was slicing the exact route (since I left it on after getting in the car and driving home, it had the 5 hour route I drove home too). For that I used an application called Viking. Viking also give me another bit of information I liked – it said we walked 10 kilomiters.

The second was an online tool called gpsvisualizer. This gave me a nice view of the track, along with the height variation, you can see the outcome on the right.



Gpsvisualizer also gave me an option to convert the gpx file to a .kmz file, a googleearth filetype. So I could now load my track in to googleearth.

I could see now the route overlaid with google’s rich data, from photos to a high res satellite map, and 3d view!

The Track from Google Earth

The Track from Google Earth

A Deep Valley we crossed

A Deep Valley we crossed

I thought I might share with you the fun trip I had, and digital fun that came after it. I know there are others here that have gps tools and I’d love to hear what tools you use.

A lot of Caterpillars on a shoot

A lot of Caterpillars on a shoot

A nice View of the valley

A nice View of the valley


1. magicrobotmonkey - April 15, 2009

what did you use to capture your track that gets the altitude as well? I’ve been looking for something that does that.

2. GuySoft - April 15, 2009

Well maemo mapper did the job well (it did loose trip data on the way there though).

Really anything that saves gpx files should do that.

3. sysedit - April 15, 2009

I’m also looking for a replacement for maemo mapper:
– most of the time I only need a gpx recorder, so I don’t need something which consumes CPU/memory/battery to display the map for nothing
– sometimes (it usually happens if the n810 goes out of battery) the gpx file is not saved and I’m loosing all data :(.

4. FrankB - April 15, 2009

How did you power it for so long? Surely an external power source?

5. GuySoft - April 15, 2009

Hey sysedit and FrankB,
First thing: I made sure that the screen would go blank after a minute or two. Note that in maemo mapper there is a setting to keep the screen always on when receiving gps data. I usually have that selected (for when I am driving).
The trip was about 5 hours and with a blank screen it seemed to hold just fine, no external power. But I do get the feeling that if I’ll see a cheep solution for external power I’d go for it.

If you want to constantly log gps data then maybe you could try using carman, it has a service that goes on the system tray, however I am not sure how much power it would take in daily use.
Also the interface is not so friendly when you just want to save gps data, we should try and work on that feature and carman could be not only for cars.

6. jukey - April 16, 2009

The default option of maemo mapper is to blank the screen only if fullscreen mode is deactivated.

Maemo mapper seems to be a very energy saving application. I used my N800 + Externale Bluetooth GPS device (Holux M-1200) for about 8 Hours for City Walks and hiking in Norway last year. And I had a look for the way every few minutes 🙂

Beside this maemo mapper should store your gpx data if the program is closed. But I don’t know what’s going on if the device powers off immediately and kills maemo mapper.

7. lbt - April 17, 2009

The next thing you need to try is geo-tagging.

Synchronise your camera time with your GPS time and use the timestamp to determine exactly where your caterpillars were.

sysedit – for you I suggest an iBlue 747 datalogger; it’s better GPS than the built-in, connects via bluetooth and doesn’t need the Nokia powered on. It’s also a lot more rugged

8. GuySoft - April 17, 2009

Already did :-).
I was wondering if I should open a separate post for it.
I got it working with gpscorrelate.

BTW, about the iBlue 747 datalogger. $65 seem like much to pay (well unless you actually need it).
What really made me excited about this technology was that I managed to do it with a normal digital camera, and a gps that should be available in any smartphone on the planet pretty soon.

GuySoft - November 5, 2012

Late update,

I also find a useful commandline tool to shift the time and set it to match the photos, called exiftool .

exiftool "-AllDates+=Y:MM:DD hh:mm:ss" -overwrite_original_in_place -verbose *.JPG

9. olderdog - April 20, 2009

How smooth is your data? When I’m out for a walk, I find my GPS track is pretty noisy, with typical excursions of 10-20 m, sometimes more. One of the things on my list is a 10-point or so moving-average filter.

10. GuySoft - April 20, 2009

It was pretty smooth for me. I saw a lot of jitters once I went in a place with a lot of plant growth that covered the sky. But it was pretty close. I had no other tool to validate, and I guess it would be less accurate than a stand-alone GPS.

But for a cheep GPS that I just stashed in my backpack it gave pretty good data (after all I just wanted to see how far I walked, the altitude and to geotaging, not build a guided missile system).

11. Kevin Rutledge - June 6, 2009

I use a tomtom one with Event_Logger installed to log my travels. I just did a week around the UK. I had a device called a tekkeon telecharge to keep the charge. It used 4 AA batteries to charge the tomtom one. I could get 12 hours or more out of the GPS with it. I need to find Mac software to figure out how much I actually walked.

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