Category Archives: Maps and NAV

Another year…

It’s been another crazy year. I have been mostly focused on my master’s degree so I haven’t been able to participate outside of the basics and taskings. With the club, I have been keeping up but just barely. The same goes for ARES. My responsibilities in the field organization continue to expand, which is good, I’m not complaining about the responsibilities I have taken on, I just haven’t had much time to enjoy them. By in large, they have been administrative taskings so I haven’t been doing much building which has taken a toll.

At the weekly breakfast, I mentioned that the hobby has been more work than fun for a while. I think that may have put a few on edge, but it is true. School is a constant and I don’t see that going away for at least another year, I will complete my second master’s in May next year. I want to pursue a Ph.D., but I will need a break after grad school. I have some public history work lined up and I am hoping I will be more participatory in radio soon.

To that end, I am poking at PicoBallooning with some of the hams in the club. I ordered up a bunch of parts and pieces to get started in this segment of the hobby. I already have a lot of skills in APRS, packet, and sensors, microcontrollers, and singboard computers so I’m not blinded by a huge learning curve, and my aviation experience doesn’t hurt either. I would like to see us develop an actual aeronautical telemetry program but we will have to see where things go.

I also want to pick up on some of the projects that got left in the dust before moving like the Beach 40 which has been on hold since November 2015! Some of my original goals for that project have shifted, and I’m not so intent on using only discreet components as I was when the project started. There will be a reevaluation and planning period before melting solder on that project but it is on my list to get back to.

Also on the list and of greater urgency is the BPQ Node documentation project. I have three nodes to build as part of the club infrastructure upgrades in the late spring/early summer, depending on how soon we will have access to the mountaintops, enclosure roofs, and towers. This one comes first, well, parallel with some of the balloon experiments.

Added to the shack tools this year is a 3D printer, an ELEGOO Neptune 2S. It has already put in considerable benefit to the radio hobby by helping me provide cases for the BPQ upgrade project and other similar projects. I am just getting my feet wet in the 3D printing hobby but so far it is a lot of fun. I have avoided CAD for circuits and 3D modeling for a long time, it’s time to go down that road.

ARES has been tasked to provide asset tracking for a couple of parades and a foot race this year. A handful of us in ARES are working on building low-cost, low, power APRS units with an eye towards expansion into WX and sensor telemetry, multitasking the equipment. This tied into the balloon hobby as well so we have a lot of crossover in participants. I also submitted a grant for CDCA for an off-the-shelf tracker solution for the parades that we can expand on based on our other experiments in telemetry.

Lots to do, but for now, it’s back to the books.

GeoTag That Dude

Geotag Icon ProjectThis week has been full of GeoTag research and metadata editing. For the novice, let’s start with metadata.

As defined by Wikipedia

Metadata is loosely defined as data about data. Though this definition is easy to remember, it is not very precise. The strength of this definition is in recognizing that metadata is data…

… Metadata is a concept that applies mainly to electronically archived data and is used to describe the, definition, structure, administration, of data files with all contents in context to ease the use of the captured and archived data for further use…

…Description and keywords meta tags are commonly used to describe [a] Web page’s content. Most search engines use this data when adding [media] to their search index.

Its the bits of information appended to a file that gives you information about the file; who created it, how to contact them, copyright status, when it was created, with what software, and many other details including… drum-roll… where the media was created or another geographic reference relative to the media. This is where GeoTag comes in.

According to Wikipedia

Geotagging is the process of adding geographical identification metadata to various media such as photographs, video, websites, or RSS feeds and is a form of geospatial metadata. These data usually consist of latitude and longitude coordinates, though they can also include altitude, bearing, distance, accuracy data, and place names.

I have long been a huge fan of geospatial information/data, beginning with maps and charts and on into the use of satellite imagery and GPS. The ability to add geospatial information to metadata has been around for a while but its application in the consumer market is relatively new. Users of many social networking services may be a bit more familiar with this by adding map locations to there tweets and flickr uploads.

What I have been doing is adding geodata to my photo library and updating other metadata at the same time. Adobe Bridge (CS3) has been a great tool in editing almost all of the metadata but it does not allow me to edit the geodata. For the geodata, I have been using Microsoft Pro Photo Tools, like many Microsoft tools it does add meta data that you might not want, in this case it adds the name of the software into the Audio:Application meta space. Audio for photo software? Yup. That’s Microsquish for ya. Anyway, it has an easy to use map based drag-and-drop tool for adding coordinates to your images and the ability to read GPS track files and apply them to a bunch of images all automatically.

Let’s say you strapped on a hand held GPS and set it to record your “track”, grab your camera and start taking pictures. When you get back take all of the photos from the camera and open them in Pro Photo, then inside Pro Photo open the “track” and apply the location data to the photos.

Basically, the software reads the pictures creation timecode and compares that to the GPS track. Each point in the track contains a collection of information, what info is recorded depends on the GPS, simple track data will contain at least, latitude, longitude, altitude, bearing, and a timecode. It’s the timecode that is matched providing the lat/lon info for the geotag. Devices like PhotoTrackr can make the whole thing a little easier.

Geotag Icon ProjectMetadata and geotagging gives us the ability to put our world in clearer context. It is a bold new world we live in. Take a picture, geotag and share it.