Where 2.0: Figuring out how to blog with a GPS receiver

Qstarz's Bluetooth GPS Travel Recorder (BT-Q1000) - 1
Click for close-ups of the GPS receiver…

Other than the wifi antenna upgrade I recently added. I finally decided on which GPS receiver unit to compliment the sousveillance backpack… Qstarz’s GPS Travel Recorder.

Picking it up for around S$189, this is a newer breed of bluetooth GPS receiver units with the added ability to log your waypoints without a computer (i.e. you could plant it anywhere). Using the stand-alone travel recorder feature, this is ideal for travelers (e.g. Popagandi) who wish record the journey they’ve taken through the day (logs over 100,000 records).

A red button on the receiver lets you tag points-of-interest (POI) on the go so when you import the KML file into Google Earth, you can attach media such as photo annotations taken at that point in time. At Ming’s potluck party last night, Piotr warned me that Estee was hitting that button repeatedly thinking that it’d do something special 😛

This receiver also provides real-time tracking in Google Earth (had to pay US$20 for Google’s Plus version) and it works over Bluetooth with my Mac, though not so well with Windows XP (still trying to get it to work). There are plenty of features, so here’s a brief look at its specs:

Qstarz Bluetooth GPS Travel Recorder (BT-Q1000)
– MTK chipset with high sensitivity -158dBm and 32-Channel tracking
– Lower power consumption up to 32hrs for travel recording
– Stand-Alone travel recorder to log over 100,000 records
– Easily switch Travel Recorder to LOG mode or NAV mode (Navigation + Log)
– Support Multi-mode setting to record data Vehicle, Bicycle, Jog
– Support button push manually to memorize your location immediately
– Draw your navigation path immediately on Google Earth as default
– Active NMEA protocol VTG / GLL manually via Qstarz setup tool.
– Backup your travel record as CSV / NMEA / Google Earth file format.
– Fast Position Fix, Cold start 36s, Warm start 33s, Hot start 1s
– WAAS+EGNOS support
– Auto On-Off function for smart power control
– Personal/Portable Navigation (PDA, Smartphone, PC, etc.)

It’s no use having slick hardware without slick software. Besides Google Earth, I’ve been trying to find web services which would allow me to have a real-time GPS mapping on my blog. I’m hoping to integrate a real-time map overlay onto my livecasting videos in future. While I haven’t found one, I did come across some interesting web services that work with GPS.

bliin: GPS-based social network
Sadly, there’s no other bliin users in Singapore…

bliin lets you share your location and geo-tagged photos from your handset in real-time. You can find and follow your friends across the world and share photos, videos and messages via your phone and PC over the web. There’s POCKETbliin for GPS-equipped mobile phones, or bliinGPSXS for Mac and PC to show you’re out there and alive. Think of it as a friendster based on geography (technically, a GPS-based social network).

So far I understand that I could use this GPS unit for geotagging photos (and possibly videos), so it would be more searchable in places like Flickr and Youtube. Incidentally, services like Google Earth and EveryTrail let you upload GPS coordinates to share your photos too.

Another service I’ve been using recently upgraded. Called Plazes, this one pings network connections to establish your location and give you a neat map widget to plug on your blog. Great for non-GPS users who don’t need precision.

Still I wonder… has anyone has come across a real-time GPS mapping solution for blogs?

BTW: If you’re interested in the GPS unit I got, like the Solio solar charger I picked up last month, I bought this at Hardware House Computer, #02-001L. Suntec City Mall. Call to check at 6338-6267. I like how I can ask “is this the lowest price?” and they drop it like its hot.

24 thoughts on “Where 2.0: Figuring out how to blog with a GPS receiver

  1. Dude, does it run on batteries or do you need a charger? And how much can you record on it?

    I wanted to record the waypoints for my next camino in Spain. I don’t need the real time stuff but recording 8-10 hours of walking every day for like a month will probably overload the memories, unless there is a easier way to transfer them over (hopefully without the need of a laptop).

    Don’t want to carry any extra weight unnessarily.

  2. “it works over Bluetooth with my Mac, though not so well with Windows XP (still trying to get it to work). ”

    You expect it to work out-of-the-box? First day using MS-comp. product is it?

  3. @DT: Haha! Dangerous ideas may turn into creative solutions 🙂

    @Kenneth: Will bring to mac meetup 🙂

    @straydog: 32hrs on batteries as mentioned on the web site. It’s small and light, and it can record 100,000 waypoints without a computer. 🙂

    @numental: Ironic still that it works so easy on a Mac even though it was meant for Windows. 🙂

  4. @Kevin, What can i say, I am truly impressed by your mobility gadgets as each day passes. Despite it was Justine who pioneered the concept of mobile-casting, you definitely take this concept off the chart. 2 thumbs up!

    I am going to try to find the Qstarz unit here on the states to see how and if i can integrate it to my daily life.

  5. @Adriaan: Thanks man, I’ve been looking for something like that. Actually going to see if my designer / developer friends back in Buffalo can help whip up a custom widget for me. 😛

    @Yohannes: Just pushing the envelope dude. I’m tired of waiting for the future. Do try other units out, the Qstarz is quirky and to offload the kml data, you need to use a Windows app. 🙁

  6. Kevin, real cool device you got there. Was about to ask where you got it and saw your last comment 🙂 Am currently using the Sony GPS-CS1 for geotagging and route logging but the ability to have real time sync using bluetooth and POI capture intrigues me. I tried creating a georss feed in wordpress with the posts tagged with long/lat info and a yahoo pipes mashup based on info from the device @ http://pipes.yahoo.com/pipes/pipe.info?_id=xlroEw0g3BGp_0LWCB2yXQ

  7. Kevin, thanks for the info about this gadget. Even tho you got the BT Q1000 to talk to your Mac via Bluetooth for download, I presume one has to have a Windows PC to run the set up and configuration software and to install the USB driver for communication with the unit?

    Do you know if the Qstarz software works on a Mac with BootCamp or Parallels?

    Can you download the recorded data to a Mac without Google Earth Plus?

    Thanks for any info.

  8. Bob: Yes, have to use Windows for the software which downloads data off the GPS. It should work in Bootcamp or Parallels. I can’t download the recorded data to a Mac, only Windows. Google Earth Plus allows you to do real-time mapping only, at least from my experience.

  9. Hey what’s going on man. Congratulations on the toy. I just got mine today. Been having issues with an RFCOMM connection. So far I think it happens whenever the GPS loses signal. Do you agree?

    Also, were you able to access your log file through Mac or did you have to switch over to Windows to do that?

    Appreciate your assistance. Thanks!

  10. @Saad: I’m also trying to figure out the RFCOMM connection… it doesn’t transfer 100% of the time. Yes, it only works in Windows so far.

  11. I’m a little confused with the posts here. Some of the comments reference the fact that you CAN download the log data to a mac directly from the device using bluetooth and then there are some comments that say one cannot do that and need a parallels windows installation to get the log data off the gps device. Can someone clarify which statement is fact?


  12. I would say for live gps blogging (realtime trip tracking) check out poi66. It’s free and allows you to use any logger available. Logs directly to Google Maps, easily linkable to your web site. See the link.

  13. About that real time GPS tracking for blogs… I built meself something called blogloc.

    Static or interactive Google Map widget. Updates via Web, mobile Web (including Google Gears support), and GPS through Java-enabled mobile phone. Linkable to Fire Eagle. Maybe that’s close to what you’re looking for! If not: I’m open for additional feature requests 😀


    (BTW: for a preview of what the widget looks like check my blog at http://rainersimon.wordpress.com!)


  14. Rainer, I’m trying it out right now in the sidebar. I don’t have a Nokia phone for auto-updates, but since Blogloc works with FireEagle, it’ll work from my iPhone to BrightKite.

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