Wednesday, November 11, 2009

No matter where you go...

The TripMate 850

There's that saying from Buckaroo Bonzai, "No matter where you go, there you are". This line from the movie floated in my head as I found myself in the middle of an open field being landscaped by tractors and bulldozers off in the distance. I was in Unionville, a small community north of Toronto (part of Markham) that was apparently growing right before my eyes.

A few blocks away from where I stood were townhouses, relatively new. The large construction vehicles were working on the next phase. Odd.

I was in the area walking from the GO bus station to the UPS store. It was at this remote location that a package was waiting for me, a package containing a GPS logger. Specifically the TripMAte 850.

The ironic part of this trip was that I used a car GPS to program a hand held GPS, or personal navigator, to help me find this store to purchase another GPS device.

The garmin nuvi 250w, while it works great in the car, powered by the cars's battery, seems to have a weaker signal reception when used unplugged and running solely off the internal proprietary battery. I hate proprietary batteries.

I bought the Garmin etrex Legend HCx, a cell phone sized device that uses AAs. It also has a better signal pick up. The disadvantage is that the maps it comes with are pretty simplistic and no where near detailed as the nuvi 250w.

I used the nuvi GPS to punch in the address. Once the address was located, I took the longitude and latitude coordinates and transfered them to the legend HCx. Because it was a clear sky, no clouds, the car GPS worked anyway.

What the heck is a GPS logger and why is it useful anyway?

A GPS logger is a device that records your location (longitude, latitude, and elevation) with a time stamp every few seconds, or over a course of distance. The end result is a list of data that can be imported into your computer.

The usefulness of this list is that it tells where you've been and when you've been there. When synced up to a camera, as digital cameras typically store the time and date with each photo, you can tell almost exactly where that photo was taken.

Other useful applications for a GPS logger...

put on the neighbourhood cat (with the owner's permission) you can find out where the cat has been. This can come in handy if the other neighbour is complaining that the cat has been eating their garden plants. You could then figure out if the cat has been in that area. Maybe a raccoon is the culprit.

figuring out where you were when you were drunk. This is a great idea but you have to attach the GPS logging device somewhere where you won't lose it so you can get the data off of it later. Not only will it tell you that you were at the toilet bowl, but for how long.

Also note...

After a bit of experimenting and playing around with these gadgets I have found that although the eTrex Legend HCx doesn't advertise explicitly on the box, it too can be used as a GPS logger. The Garmin terminology that it uses is Track Data.

Track data is like virtual bread crumbs. Th gps records the latitude, longitude and elevation along with a time stamp. It's totally programmable. You can drop a crumb every X seconds, or Y kilometers (or miles). When you're done travelling you can use the GPS to back track and retrace your steps. It's pretty cool.

I have not yet determined if the formatting of the data is compatible with the TripMate's. I'll figure that out over the next few days. Below are photos of the TripMate 850.

the stuff you get in the TripMate850 package

The TripMate850 on

The USB interface

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