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Mark Atwood
GiSTEQ PhotoTracker, so far my experiece is negative
I just bought a GisTEQ Phototracker Pro from ThinkGeek.

So far, I've been extremely disappointed.

It's a USB device, but instead of doing the smart thing and making it look like a USB storage device full of NMEA files, or even a serial device speaking the standard GPS seria NMEA protocol, it speaks a proprietary protocol. That's annoying.

It does come with a baroque and ugly Windows app that tries to be all-in-one photo album and slideshow app, that also does the geotagging. But I run a Mac or Linux. That's annoying, twice over.

But it does come with Mac software to download. Which I have downloaded and am running. Again, it tries to be an all-in-one photo album and slideshow app, that also does the geotagging. Again annoying.

Except that it doesn't actually work. When I try to use it to talk to the device, it fails. FAIL

All I want is something small I can carry around for a weekend, and then grab a NMEA track files from whenever I want, using whatever OS and machine I want.

I'm swapping emails with their support people, and am trying to be charitable and say that their clueless and incomprehension to a language barrier. Maybe they can get it to work for me.

Followup: all those megabytes of bloatware GUI apps are replaced by and outperformed by 2kLOC of perl scripts here, thanks to one Hartmut Schimmel. And it works on Linux and Mac. Most of the docs deal with configuring older Linux systems, and/or figuring out how it all works. But with just a few tweaks, it Just Works. Now I can get NMEA and GPX files from a small device I just keep near my camera.

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Current Location: Home, Capitol Hill, Seattle WA

2 comments or Leave a comment
From: hollyking Date: August 1st, 2008 09:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
I've been working on a project like that for the car. Its part of an APRS system I'd like to setup. The only thing that would keep it from being easily portable would be the size of the GPS receiver and batteries.

The plan involves a small computer such as a gumstick the receiver and a CF card. Apply power and the CPU writes the NMEA data to the CF card as a text file. Pop the CF card into your system and use whatever tool you like to consume tha data.
whl From: whl Date: August 2nd, 2008 03:10 am (UTC) (Link)
How about this:

If you are comfortable plugging in chips, or soldering, and building cases, they also have little boards for this, cheaper. Everything gets written to SD cards.

I used to do this with a Garmin GPS-40, with external antenna on my shoulder. Then one of these:
And a Palm TX

And now, a Garmin eTrex Legend hcx.

GPX files are a good XML format for storing position data; NMEA gives more status data, but frankly, the gpsd people found a lot of errors in NMEA-0183 feeds from various devices; GPX should be cleaner.

The datalogger designs really do seem snakebit. The GPS manufacturers need to be made to behave better. Many of the Digital Media Players are finally just acting like USB storage devices (I like my iPods, but for some things, nothing beats normal file transfers); let GPS be the next challenge. But then again, GPS manufacturers are just now realizing that RS-232 ports are getting rare on the ground.

If we don't convince them, it will get to be like all the wireless picture frames and WiFi cards for digital cameras: only working through online services, most of which will die after a year or so.

Semson's shows some loggers, but not many document how the software gets the data.

And This device supposedly just has NMEA logs sitting on it when viewed from a computer as a mass storage device, according to this review. It's a shame it doesn't take something like microSD...

The log files are said to sometimes exceed the length limits of some popular tools, but writing python code to write out GPX files from NMEA sentences is not tough, and good programming would avoid that issue.
2 comments or Leave a comment