Cycle GPS logger
June 11, 2008 2:18 AM   Subscribe

Best GPS data logger for (1) monitoring cycle commute and (2) local mapping

So I've started commuting by bike to work again, but this time it's a bit further than I've done before - ~12 miles each way - so I want to start logging my speed etc. Rather than getting a speedometer, I'm thinking of getting a GPS logger which can record my position and then I can look at my stats. I'd also love to be able to play around with local mapping using GPS - the sort of thing they do on I'm wondering what sort of hardware would be best for this. One limitation; whatever I get has to be linux-friendly, I guess ideally it would act as a USB mass-storage device, or write the data to an SD card in an easy-to-read format.

There seem to be plenty of cheap GPS loggers around (e.g. here ), but there are also units designed specifically for cycling (e.g. here). The cycle-specific units would obviously be nicer to use on the bike, since they'd show my speed in real time, but would they also be suitable for GPS mapping? Any suggestions for specific makes/models?
posted by primer_dimer to Technology (7 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Have you looked at the Garmin Edge 705?
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 5:53 AM on June 11, 2008

I've been using a Garmin Edge 705 for a while and have been pretty happy with it. I like it partly as a training tool, because it lets me track speed, elevation, cadence, power, heart rate, etc., and as a navigation tool, since I've been traveling a lot and find it makes it a lot easier just to hop on the bike and do 50 miles if I don't have to worry about getting lost in a place where I don't know the roads. The hardware used for mounting it to the bike is pretty slick and seems durable, and the unit itself seems pretty rugged. On my computer (mac) it plugs in via USB and looks like an ordinary disk. You can use their special software to download information from the device, but you can also just drag the history files off and open them any way you want. Presumably it would work similarly in a linux environment.

If you're not using it for navigation and aren't interested in those other data, the 705 might be a little more computer than you need, and might not be worth the extra cost. The 205, which you've linked, would probably give you everything you want without features you aren't going to use.

As far as suitability the gps mapping goes, I'll say 2 things. First, the 705 has proven very, very accurate. Sensitive enough that, at its highest resolution recording, you can see deviations in course to go around a pot hole, etc. Second, it looks like the formatting of the data coming off the device is Garmin's own special training format, but I'd imagine it's simple to convert to whatever format you want. (The free Garmin Training Center software that comes with the device can spit out gpx files, for example.) All that said, I haven't used it specifically for this purpose, so I can't say exactly how well it works for that.
posted by dseaton at 6:09 AM on June 11, 2008

Response by poster: The Edge 705 looks very cool, but I think it's overkill for what I need. The 205 look like a good possibility, and it seems to be supported by GPSBabel under linux:

Thanks for the suggestions.
posted by primer_dimer at 6:18 AM on June 11, 2008

You might want to at least get the 305, it can have the wireless cadence and heart-rate sensors used with it. It would stink if you really got into the fitness aspect and couldn't add to your unit.
You don't have to get the sensors when you get the unit but they can be added later.
The 205 has no sensor capability at all.

Don't forget the 205 and 305 do not have any sort of street map or map viewing type functions. The 705 has basic maps built in, and detailed regional maps can be installed.

Also the 705's can talk to each other so if you are going on a long group ride with other people you can just wireless send them the waypoints from one unit to the next, no PC/cables needed.
The 605 has the maps and color display, but no wireless functions.

Also, all the Edge's and Forerunners have a great site for tracking your results, Garnmin's Motion Based. You can also go there and find all kinds of rides and hikes all over the world and just download them into your unit.

You may also find that battery life isn't long enough for all-day activities, or all weekend activities away from power.
In that case get something like one of the Energizer Energi To Go products to extend the battery life.
posted by whoda at 6:59 AM on June 11, 2008

How about the Amod AGL3080 GPS Data Logger? Its got the SiRF III chipset for great sensitivity. Appears as a mass storage device when plugged into a computer. Log files are NMEA data in text format. 3 AAA batteries powers it for up to 15 hours. I've had my eye on this for a while for geotagging photos.
posted by jaimev at 8:12 AM on June 11, 2008

I've been very impressed with my Holux M-241. I'm using it with a D80 to Geotag images on my mac..
posted by dantodd at 2:18 PM on June 11, 2008

Don't forget gpsbabel for when you actually want to do something with the data.
posted by the dief at 6:31 PM on June 11, 2008

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