Micro GPS for Nikon D2X D2HS D200 Project

Started May 16, 2006 | Discussions
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jfriedl Senior Member • Posts: 1,557
tracklog?

Very cool indeed.

How difficult would it be to add the ability to store a tracklog (to, say, a MiniSD card)?

I geoencode most of my photos, currently by keeping a GPS unit in my camera bag, recording a tracklog. When I get home, I sync up the photo times with the time/locations in the track log, and add the appropriate EXIF fields to the photo, e.g. this one from the other day:

http://regex.info/exif.cgi?url=http%3A%2F%2Fregex.info%2Fi%2F_JEF015064.jpg

I've found that while out and about town, I often lose the signal because I've gone into a building, under heavy tree cover, near tall buildings, etc., and as such I don't have a tracklog data point for the exact time of the photo. Thus, I've found it extremely convenient to tell my sync-up software to extend some latitude in how far away (timewise) the nearest datapoint can be to be of use.

For example, if I'm taking pictures inside, it'll be able to use the last datapoint captured (just outside the door, presumably), even if that datapoint was taken hours before. I have to tell the software to allow such a wide gap, but having the tracklog at least allows it.

I'd love the convenience of the type of solution you've built, but I've found a supplemental tracklog to be invaluable, so I highly recommend it if you can swing it....
Jeffrey

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Jeffrey Friedl -- Kyoto, Japan -- http://regex.info/blog/

jfriedl Senior Member • Posts: 1,557
oops, sorry about broken link, here's the fix

Oops, I forgot to put ';' at the end of the link, and so the forum software took it as an embedded picture. Sorry!

http://regex.info/exif.cgi?url=http%3A%2F%2Fregex.info%2Fi%2F_JEF015064.jpg

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Jeffrey Friedl -- Kyoto, Japan -- http://regex.info/blog/

az_av8r OP New Member • Posts: 13
Re: tracklog?

jfriedl wrote:

Very cool indeed.

How difficult would it be to add the ability to store a tracklog
(to, say, a MiniSD card)?

I'm working on adding a PIC micro controller and writing the micro code to hold the last location. This will allow the unit to be able to shut off the GPS, which uses about 100mA, and run only on the PIC. The PIC will continue to send the last location and only need a couple of mA to operate. Not only will this save power, but also allow you to have a GPS position when you can't get the satellites (ie inside a building).

The initial photos I posted (very beginning of this thread) were of Rev 1. I’m currently working on Rev 2, which will include the PIC, and I also hope to have it in a smaller box. My own goal is to have rev 2 up and running and ready for field test in 2-3 weeks.

The track log is an interesting idea, but to do that on a SD will require a lot more engineering time. Maybe for rev 3.

-Andy

jfriedl Senior Member • Posts: 1,557
Re: tracklog?

I'm working on adding a PIC micro controller and writing the micro
code to hold the last location. This will allow the unit to be
able to shut off the GPS, which uses about 100mA, and run only on
the PIC. The PIC will continue to send the last location and only
need a couple of mA to operate.

I'm a programmer, so my limit of hardware engineering is plugging in a mouse. Thus, it's with great awe I read stuff like that paragraph

(I wonder if it's at all the same feeling that non-engineers often have when I mention that I create software, and they say "oooh, sounds difficult". Not at all -- just fun.)

Jeffrey'

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Jeffrey Friedl -- Kyoto, Japan -- http://regex.info/blog/

LongTimeNikonUser Senior Member • Posts: 1,091
Here is a Bluetooth GPS for $129

Looking for a GPS for my new Palm Treo, I discovered this $129 GPS receiver. This price does not include software, but it sure looks small. And the specs sound right.

http://store.treocentral.com/content/accessories/9-57--550.htm

Perhaps the real project, as others have suggested, is to build a Bluetooth to Nikon-10-pin connector adapter.

Bluetooth newbie question:

Can a Bluetooth device communicate with two other Bluetooth devices at the same time. E.g, this Bluetooth GPS receiver woudl talk to the proposed Nikon BT-10-pin adapter AND to a Palm Treo, which includes BT. Of course, you would need some GPS software running on the Treo.

Is this practical?
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LongTimeNikonUser

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hadron New Member • Posts: 2
Re: tracklog?

Hello Jeffrey,

you described exactly what I think is the best solution of adding GPS data to photographs: Just producing a tracklog during the shooting day and adding the GPS coordinates to the EXIF afterwards based on the timestamps, if necessary either with interpolation between time/location points or by taking the last valid location.

Are you aware of any software that is able to do that? Or have you written your own code?

BTW: I just ordered the Siemens Loox N560, a small PDA with built-in GPS (SIFT III) and VGA Display. It should be a nice unit for "GPS tagging" with many more applications.

Thanks for any help,
Christian

F. Kamphues Senior Member • Posts: 1,276
Do you take any orders?

Hi Andy,

Your solution is lot more elegant than the standard Nikon option with D-sub connector, long cable and seperate GPS unit.

It would be ideal for my Eye On Australia project ( http://www.eyeonaustralia.org ).
Do you take any orders or have plans to go commercial?

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d70_europe Senior Member • Posts: 1,208
easy

az_av8r wrote:

The track log is an interesting idea, but to do that on a SD will
require a lot more engineering time.

It's very simple when you have the right PIC compiler with libraries for writing to flash memory cards and for FAT file system.
Werner

d70_europe Senior Member • Posts: 1,208
Re: Do you take any orders?

Hello Fred,

first: I love your pictures - especially when they are about Australia

Do you take any orders or have plans to go commercial?

I was in contact with Roland (from Switzerland) and he still favours the Bluetooth solution (I'm still not sure about it - for me it would only makes sense if the Bluetooth unit is just one part with the plug and can be put right in the camera).

We talked about commercial sales too - but we came to the conclution that because of the wired product liability especially in the U.S. it's hardly impossible to do so with such a small project.
Werner

d70_europe Senior Member • Posts: 1,208
Re: interested in your project

Adriaan wrote:

Hi Roland,

Roland is doing some field testings at the moment - or in simpler words: he is on vacation

Could you help to get started? What else do I need when I would buy
this module for example:

http://www.kanda.com/index.php3?cs=1&bc=direct&bw=%2Fproducts%2FSena%2FPARANI-ESD01-1.html ?

This is a class 1 Bluetooth module - which you won't need because you don't need such a far distance - and one you don't like because battery is only wasted. Roland is using the ESD02 at the moment.

Or could one of these maybe work:

http://cgi.ebay.ie/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&rd=1&item=9717741968&ssPageName=STRK:MEWA:IT ?

Not really. Theoretically you could use it with a GPS receiver with serial connector - but power supply should be not easy to solve - or more precisely: it get's so big that I think that is no real solution.
Werner

d70_europe Senior Member • Posts: 1,208
it is necessary

Adriaan wrote:

I woudn't mind if the GPS uses it's own power source actually. So
can I not just omit the +5V line?

You have to adapt the output voltage level of your GPS receiver!

The camera uses voltage between 0 and +5 volts - an RS232 interface uses something beween -3V/+3V and -15V/+15V - so far too much for your camera (and the signal is inverted anyway).
Werner

d70_europe Senior Member • Posts: 1,208
simple answer: no (nt)

no text

az_av8r OP New Member • Posts: 13
Re: Do you take any orders?

F. Kamphues wrote:

Do you take any orders or have plans to go commercial?

Fred,

I’m not ready to start taking orders just yet. I’m still just having fun with getting the unit working, playing with the features, and getting feedback on the concept.

I think in a month or two I will be to the point that I will be looking for other photographers to do field trials. If the trials go well, and I think there is the demand, I may take the next step.

-Andy

az_av8r OP New Member • Posts: 13
Re: easy

d70_europe wrote:

It's very simple when you have the right PIC compiler with
libraries for writing to flash memory cards and for FAT file system.

Hi Werner,

What PIC model were you thinking about?

Rgs,

-Andy

d70_europe Senior Member • Posts: 1,208
Re: easy

az_av8r wrote:

What PIC model were you thinking about?

Well, you need a PIC18Fxxx because the flash card/FAT support takes quite a lot of code space - and RAM.
Werner

Smada Lesna Forum Member • Posts: 96
Re: tracklog?

There's lots of software. Opanda? Search with Google. The problem with PDA's is the battery life.

jfriedl Senior Member • Posts: 1,557
Re: tracklog?

hadron wrote:

Hello Jeffrey,

you described exactly what I think is the best solution of adding
GPS data to photographs: Just producing a tracklog during the
shooting day and adding the GPS coordinates to the EXIF afterwards
based on the timestamps, if necessary either with interpolation
between time/location points or by taking the last valid location.

It's a nice solution, but does have some drawbacks, at least with my GPS unit (Garmin GPSMap60CS). It doesn't record in the tracklog, for example, the number of satellites or strength of the signal, or the current accuracy estimation.

It also doesn't record speed and bearing, but those can be calculated after the fact.

I wish there were a way to record what direction the camera is facing, and its orientation.

Are you aware of any software that is able to do that? Or have you
written your own code?

I wrote my own stuff. One step dumps the GPS tracklog to a MySQL database, while another allows me to tag the photos with GPS and other EXIF data. It's not in any kind of shape that can be shared, but I may have some time to work on it this summer, and if so, I may try to release something......
Jeffrey

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Jeffrey Friedl -- Kyoto, Japan -- http://regex.info/blog/

Adriaan Forum Member • Posts: 58
Re: it is necessary

d70_europe wrote:

Adriaan wrote:

I woudn't mind if the GPS uses it's own power source actually. So
can I not just omit the +5V line?

You have to adapt the output voltage level of your GPS receiver!
The camera uses voltage between 0 and +5 volts - an RS232 interface
uses something beween -3V/+3V and -15V/+15V - so far too much for
your camera (and the signal is inverted anyway).
Werner

Hi Werner,

Thank you very much for your answers! The problems involved are a whole lot clearer to me now...

Adriaan

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d70_europe Senior Member • Posts: 1,208
direction

jfriedl wrote:

I wish there were a way to record what direction the camera is
facing, and its orientation.

Orientation should not be the problems (but I obviously miss what this should be good for). I thought a lot about recording the direction the camera is pointing to and did many reading. But it's simply not possible to include a compass.

It's quite complicated. So three axis needed to get the direction and calibration is quite complicated too. But finally magnetic sensors have to be far too sensitve for being used close to the camera. Just take a simple old machanical compass and hold it close to your camera. Even when the camera is turned off you can already forget about finding north. So when the camera is turned on it's really hopeless. Would you like to wear a compass with cable (because wireless would make finding north impossible again) on your head and asure to look straight in the same direction like your camera?
Werner

jfriedl Senior Member • Posts: 1,557
Re: direction

Would you like to wear a compass with cable
(because wireless would make finding north impossible again) on
your head and asure to look straight in the same direction like
your camera?

Don't let your physical laws of the universe get in the way of my wishlist!

FWIW, I just tried the magnetic (non-GPS) compas in my Garmin unit, and it seems to be unaffected by any proximity to my D200. (It's a different story for my computer speakers, though!)
Jeffrey

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Jeffrey Friedl -- Kyoto, Japan -- http://regex.info/blog/

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