Putting GPS data on maps


Article from Issue 69/2006

Perl hackers take to the hills with a navigation system that provides a graphical rendering of a hiking tour.

Hiking with a navigation system is much more fun. A portable GPS device not only gives you your current position, but it can also tell you your altitude or the distance to a waypoint. Based on this data, the GPS device can also tell you your walking speed, the distance you have covered, and an estimated time of arrival. What’s more, once you get back home you can attach your GPS device to your PC, download the data you collected en route, and map the hike. Although the “eTrex” GPS receiver by Garmin is a low-budget device for beginners, it is perfect for the occasional hiker. The eTrex, which costs about 120 Euros (US$ 99 in the US), is handy, waterproof, and so robust that it will survive knocks and bumps without damage. To hitch up the eTrex GPS to your PC back home, you need a special interface cable that connects the eTrex to your computer’s serial port. The official cable for the eTrex is quite expensive (at about 25 Euros, US$ 32, GBP 17), and this explains the project at [3], which helps you do it yourself. I must confess that I was lazy this time: I just bought it.

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