New GPS Tracking Feature

January 12th, 2010 at 7:18 pm (AST) by Jake Richter

In preparation for our trip to the Antarctic circle, as documented in my previous post, I purchased a Garmin Oregon 550 handheld GPS a couple of months ago and have been playing around with it, tracking my location on planet Earth. The idea of the purchase was that using whatever Internet connection I could find en route, I would post updates as to what path we had followed since the last post using latitude and longitude information. The missing bit was finding a simple way to display that information on one of our multitude of web sites in a comprehensible form.

Last night I stumbled across a wonderful plug-in for WordPress (the software used to generate most of my blogs), written by Patrick Matusz from Switzerland. The plug-in is called “XML Google Maps“. The brilliant thing about this plug-in is that it takes .GPX files, such as those generated by my Garmin GPS, and displays the captured tracks and waypoints in Google Maps. That in turn means you can zoom in and out, turn on and off satellite views, and do pretty much anything else that Google Maps permits. Kudos to Patrick! I will note that since tracks and waypoints appear to be stored in separate GPX files, I use a program called EasyGPS to consolidate them into a single .GPX file which I can then submit to the XML Google Maps plug-in for viewing.

Below is an example of a track captured today while the kids and I went to a presentation at CIEE Bonaire on how to help the Bonaire National Marine Park capture lionfish:

If you click on one of the two pink light bulb things above, you will see a pop-up of the waypoints I stored at those two locations, including the latitude and longitude, and the elevation. Very cool, even if I say so myself.

For those of you who were notified about a Test GPS Map on the blog last night, my apologies – I accidentally published a test map, which I then later deleted, resulting in an error if you tried to pull up the link in the e-mail notification.


Tags: , , , ,

4 Responses to “New GPS Tracking Feature”

  1. LaDonna Says:

    you are TOO COOL!!! I want to be either a) one of your childen or b) you when I grow up!!!


  2. LaDonna Says:

    also….if you look closely at the “satellite” map… looks like you drive like a maniac!! Not staying on the road….especially at the new roundabout…which is not on the google map….too funny!!!

  3. Jake´s dad Says:

    I wish I knew what you are talking about 🙂

  4. Jake Richter Says:

    Dad – try clicking on the map and using the + and – controls 🙂

    LaDonna – there’s a waiting list for adoption. But seriously, we noticed the “wild driving” aspect of the mapping too. It has to do with the fact that GPS accuracy is in the 5-10m (16-32ft) range typically, once the satellites have been locked in, and thus it makes my drive path look “close enough”, but off road nonetheless (and I swear, I stayed on the road the whole time.

    I wonder now if I could use this thing to draw words on a map by driving out the individual letters…