i-Blue 747 A+ Bluetooth GPS receiver and logger
The i-Blue 747 A+ is a portable GPS receiver with the ability to send the data over wireless Bluetooth and/or wired USB connections, as well as log its position to its own internal memory.
This device can turn a suitable mobile phone (or PDA, or laptop) with suitable software into a satellite navigation system. It can also log its position by itself.
For the full feature list, see the manufacturer's link at the end of this article. Here I'll just go over the features that attracted me.
- 66 channels, although there are only 31 GPS satellites up at the moment and I've only seen a maximum of 14 at one time
- The European Galileo and Russian GLONASS systems will supposedly be compatible with GPS, so their satellites might be usable with this receiver. Or might not. I'm not sure.
- Bluetooth transmission of data to my phone
- Logging of position to its 32 Mb flash memory, enough for up to 125K points
- Can log many other pieces of information, which impacts the number of points that can be stored
- Can be configured to log based on time and/or distance since the last recording, and/or when the current speed is above a certain amount
- Data can be transferred over USB (very fast) or Bluetooth (not so fast)
- Good battery life - >24 hours
- Good sensitivity
- Good time to first fix (TTFF) - < 30 secs
- Good accuracy - ~3 m
So the idea is that I can stick this in my backpack or somewhere and have it communicate its/my location to my mobile phone. I can then use a variety of applications on my phone to show a map, etc.
- Compact, with a non-slip pad on the bottom
- Very good battery life so far
- Has a button on top for logging a âpoint of interestâ
- Being a standalone logger has turned out to be very useful since my mobile phone doesn't multi-task and its battery life (when running a Java app) is shorter than the GPS's
- Supplied software is Windows-only (and thus not very portable in a physical sense)
- The existence of the Open Source âBT747â software (with a J2ME version for a mobile phone) is the only reason I went with this device over the simpler, non-logging 737 model(s)
- Mini-USB plug â more common at the moment, but is being replaced by the more reliable micro-USB
- Slow charging
- Nokia Maps - came free with my phone but requires paying a subscription to unlock âextra featuresâ. I downloaded 104 MiB of map data for Australia but it only snaps my position to the nearest road; âwalk navigationâ is an extra feature. It lets me track my position on a map or calculate a route, but tracking while following a route (âcar navigationâ) is an extra feature. It's of no use to me with the free alternatives.
Linux/Unix or cross-platform
- BT747 - free, open source, cross-platform software for performing many of the same functions the supplied Windows software can supposedly do (and some it doesn't)
- Google Earth - great tool for viewing GPS tracks
- BT747 - see previous section
- GPSmid - Simple map viewer using Open Street Map (OSM) data. Downloading the data and processing it into a single JAR file isn't easy at first, but it means totally avoiding the "this app wants to access the memory card, allow?" prompts that would otherwise be created by a non-signed app.
- MapNav - a terse but powerful interface.
- GPS Track - displays the visible satellites and other simple data.