Kiri and


Track and field

August 29th, 2013 (by Steve)

As alluded to in a previous blog post, we see this trip as a great opportunity to do cool and funky things with data – much along the lines of “Information is Beautiful”, although probably not executed quite as well. We have yet to decide exactly what data we’ll gather and what art projects we’ll take on, however GPS is a kind of obvious starting point. What follows is a bit of a GPS geek indulgence.

Even before we begin to think about what we might do with any GPS data that we generate, we had to decide how we would gather it. Now if power wasn’t an issue, we’d be laughing. We’re not laughing (but we are smiling – it’s ok – we’re happy). Smartphones and GPS dongles that plug into your computer are great, but they’re quite power hungry, and we only have limited battery power. One option was to purchase a Raspberry Pi, add a GPS dongle to it and write some capture software, but that would take time.

There are loads of GPS trackers on the market… but most of them want a SIM card in them so that you can remotely locate the tracker. Now that would be pretty cool, but with roaming mobile charges that wouldn’t be cheap. What we needed was something with a long battery life whose only function was to log co-ordinates, altitude and time every 5 seconds, which we could then download at a later date. Enter Ivor (our i-gotu GT600):


So we’ve got the device, which records all we want it to, but also has a great battery life which is extended further by a motion detector which puts it on standby if it’s not moving. Good stuff! Only one issue; we don’t use Windows (well, actually I do have Windows on my Ubuntu laptop, but only because the TomTom software has no Ubuntu alternatives and won’t work on the age Mac we have). This means we can’t use the @Trip software as a matter of course. No worries – thanks to igotu2gpx, we’re cooking on gas (more on the subject of cooking with gas later!) and can transfer our co-ordinates onto the computer and into standard gpx format. The only thing that we can’t do with this is remove the data from the GPS device itself… so for that we’ll be forced to boot into Windows.

Once the data is in gpx format, we’ve been using GPSPrune to do a little bit of processing; things like removing duplicate points, changing the time offset and extracting a few stats. It’s quite cool:


So that’s all well and good, but we want to do something a bit more funky with this GPS data that we’re gathering. We’re going to have absolutely shed loads of it, spreading across most of Europe and we don’t want it to go to waste. Well… we’ll upload it to openstreetmap obviously, but there’s got to be something exciting and creative that we can do with it all. We’ve had a little bit of a play with gpxanim which animates a gpx track and that’s more along the lines of what we’re thinking maybe.

In the interests of getting more ideas, we thought we’d open it up to you and share our raw gpx data as we go round. We know lots of people who are creative and maybe a little bit geeky (in a good way), so if you would like our data, just let us know and it’s yours!

Maybe someone will come up with something as funky as one of Bruno Imbrizi’s experiments…?

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