After several days walking and having covered a hundred miles or so, I get back home, look at the map and the photos I have taken, and wonder where on earth have I been exactly?
Well now my wondering is over, by taking a Super Trackstick with me I have a GPS log of where and when I have been (and where I have mistakenly
gone off route got lost). It is not perfect but it allows me to review the route, work out how far I have gone (in what time), and where I stopped. Knowing the location of each stop is particularly useful to work out where photos were taken (though I am sure GPS in compact cameras will become standard one day).
The first time I used it was the 2 days spent wandering along the Sussex Ouse Valley Walk, and the screenshots below uses data from that walk.
I have yet to nail down the perfect settings for when I am out walking: the balance between logging intervals (it can be changed from an interval of every 5 seconds, or from 1 minute to every 15 minutes), how long a pause might be before it becomes a stop, and how much to group the points by – it works this out in 2 ways, it has a built in vibration detector and will also group points if they are within a few degrees of each other.
For each date and time stamped point it records: Latitude, Longitude, Altitude, Status (power on/off, miles per hour), Course (general heading eg N, S, SE etc) , GPS Fix and the Signal Strength. There is only 4MB of flash memory onboard, and a day’s walking could easily take up half the memory at the maximum logging rate.
The unit is powered by 2 ‘AAA’ sized batteries and has a single LED which flashes various colours but is impossible to see when outside, even on a rainy day. Talking of rain the case is supposedly weatherproof – it might be proofed against sunshine but exposed to driving rain it soon stops working, so I have taken to wrapping it in a small plastic bag.
It is a USB device, but the software is Windows only. It is lucky that it is only 4MB as it does take a little while to download the data via USB1.1 and store it in its proprietary format. Once saved though it can be exported in a number of other formats, including: gpx, csv, html and several flavours of KML.
I had hoped to just upload the KML file to this blog but the file is full of junk, and a lot of redundant points (probably because I have yet to get the logging frequency right). Depending on the number of files and the length of the walk I then use either GoogleEarth, GoogleMaps or Memory-Map to trace over the points to produce a clean route which I can export and use. Each of the various bits of software has its advantages and I have yet to settle on my preferred one.
As an eBay purchase, and with such a favourable exchange rate with the US Dollar, it has proved to be good value and very useful.
Go-Go-Gadget USB Super Trackstick GPS device thingy!