Osceola Flyers R/C Club

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Just for Fun: GPS Data Logger Goes for a Ride

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R/C Modeling seems to provide an endless number of just for fun tinkering projects for the mal-adjusted modeler. One of my latest projects was in response to that voice inside my head that constantly asks “Wonder how fast that plane is going”? I could try to find a radar gun, but that seemed a little steep for my little voice’s budget. Well I guess some lower end radar guns can be had for around $100. Sounds like a future project. There are also some very interesting products on the RC market that measure airspeed, altitude, vertical velocity, and other parameters. Decisions, decisions!

CanMore GT-730FL-S

I finally settled on a GPS logger as a means to measure the models speed, altitude and track over the ground. That seemed like a good return for the money. After a thorough internet search, with a few diversions, I settled on a small GPS logger manufactured by Canmore Electronics Co. Ltd. that costs only $50.00. It was lightweight and self powered. Perfect! Let’s find the best price and put in an order.

It finally arrives and I waste no time checking this thing out. The device itself is slightly larger than a USB flash drive and in fact looks like a flash drive. It has a slide switch to turn it on/off and a button to record check points during operation. Its intended purpose is as a geo tagger for photographers. Anyway, the device needs to be charged so I connect it to my computer’s USB port, while I continue with the instructions. There is software that comes with the device called GPS Photo Tagger and a driver to allow serial port communication between the computer and the device. I learn that there are setup options that determine the parameters on which the device will record a data point. The parameters are time, a specified change in location, and a speed threshold. These can be manually set or you can choose between 4 predetermined log modes: General, Vehicle, Cycling, and Hiking. I also learn that recorded tracks can be overlaid onto Google Earth maps. This is going to be cool.

Recorded Track

Okay, the unit is charged and I’ve arrived at the field with my trusty Phoenix Models Sonic. I have already attached small video recorders to this plane so a patch of Velcro is ready to receive the GPS Logger, already prepared with its own Velcro fastener. I spend several minutes just flying the pattern trying to get a range of speeds from pre-stall to power dives with the wind. I’ll have to wait till I get back home to read the contents for post-flight analysis. Guess I should have brought a laptop with me.

Graph of Recorded Speed

After a little futzing with serial port settings and just overcoming a little ignorance, I am able to read the data recorded in the GPS Logger. I have a couple of different tracks on the device and read the logs into the GPS Photo Tagger software. Each track is identified with its own color. The software displays the selected track in the map pane of the window and speed/altitude can be viewed in another pane as a graph. After selecting a track it shows up in the map pane as an overlay to the google map as it zooms in to the recorded coordinates. I switch the map view to Satellite and voila’, there’s the Osceola Flyers field. Way cool! I can view the model’s track over the aerial view of our field.

Graph of Recorded Altitude

Now that little voice in my head will have to find something else to ponder while the GPS Logger takes a ride on the next aircraft and I’m sure this device will catch a ride on all my aircraft sooner or later. Why the GPS Logger may even serve duty in my teenager’s automobile when that time comes.

I’ve captured some of the features/specs from the CanMore website www.canmore.com.tw and listed them here for anyone who understands them and might be interested. My GPS Logger continues to work reliably and has provided me with yet another Just for Fun RC project.

FEATURES GT-730FL-S

  • Acquire and track 65 satellites simultaneously
  • SKYTRAQ low power chipset
  • Signal detection better than -160dBm
  • Reacquisition sensitivity –155dBm
  • Cold start < 30 seconds at –147dBm
  • Hot start < 1sec under open sky
  • 5m CEP accuracy
  • Support A-GPS function
  • SBAS (WAAS, EGNOS) support
  • 2M Bytes flash memory for data logging, with 16 bytes binary data per record that stores up to 256K data records
  • Log data can be exported to mapping software suchas Google Earth and TrackMaker
  • Logging data interval programmable: by time or distance
  • Data tag (start, stop point) can be set by user
  • Ultra low power consumption: over 18 hours continuous use by 450mAh battery
  • USB version 1.1/2.0 interface
  • Easy-plug-in Notebook
  • Super mini size:77.48x28x17.77 mm
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