Friday, October 24, 2014

Using USB and Bluetooth GPS with Laptops and Netbooks (PC) - Part 1


After the success of the post on Using USB GPS on Android,  eventually I am going discuss the obvious - using the USB GPS receiver with your laptop or netbook, which this kind of GPS receivers were made for in the first place. I say laptop, because you are not going to go around with a desktop in the outdoors, otherwise these would work just as fine with any PC.

I am going to describe the workflow assuming you have a Windows PC, readers with other OSs (Mac or Linux) have to find out equivalent functions and software on those platforms. Now, first thing first, making your GPS to work with your PC, and you would want to plug the GPS in one of the PC's USB ports at this point. For the absolute beginners, please don't expect a new disk drive to appear in your My Computer like what happens when you plug in a USB Flash drive or external Hard Disk. Notice that when you plug in your GPS for the first time, Windows will automatically detect a new hardware and try to install an appropriate device driver so that it can communicate with the new device the way it should. In this case the GPS would appear as a COM port, which would maintain the communication between PC and GPS. Instead of looking into My Computer you have to look for the new device in the Control Panel > Device Manager > Ports (COM & LPT).

If Windows was successful in finding the appropriate driver, you would see a new serial (COM) port listed here. However, if Windows was unsuccessful, you would still see an unrecognized device marked with that infamous yellow exclamation sign, which means you have to supply (install) a device driver for your GPS. The driver CD may already have come with your GPS or you may have to download it from the supplier/manufacturer's website. One of the most common hardware that comes built-in with this types of GPSs is a small chip called PL-2303, which functions as a bridge between USB on the PC side and Serial Port on the GPS side. The device driver, therefore, you are looking for is a Prolific PL-2303 driver (other OS users may also benefit from this information). If it is not a PL-2303 on your GPS, you have to find out which USB-to-Serial hardware is used in your GPS, and download a generic device driver for that hardware from anywhere on the Internet. Once you install the driver from CD or download (or upgrade driver from Device Manager) the exclamation sign would go away, which would mean your GPS is now ready to communicate with PC. Remember the COM port number shown in the Device Manager list (in my case it is COM port 7, as shown in Figure 1).

Figure 1.

After having completed this preparatory step, fortunately which you have to do only the first time, the real communication with GPS might begin now. And this part involves a small software, which will allow you to see what the GPS is doing once connected, and what kind of data it is sending to your computer. If you are using Windows XP you already have a small software called Hyper Terminal; for Windows 7 or 8 download any free terminal emulator software. In this example I am using a nice little once called TeraTerm (you are free to use the terminal program of your choice). Unzip the downloaded file, and run TeraTerm by double clicking the ttermpro.exe executable file. As shown in Figure 2, select "Serial" as your preferred communication method, and select the COM port number to which your GPS is connected, in my case COM7. After clicking OK you may get something like what appears in Figure 3.

Figure 2.

Figure 3.

Now, this is not what you'd probably expected. You instead may be seeing something different, like in Figure 5; if so, you don't have to follow the next step. In either case, your GPS is sending data to your computer, it's just the difference how the data is being received. If you are in Figure 3 situation, that would mean your software is trying to receive data at a speed different than what the GPS is set up to send it. So, from the "Setup" menu, click "Serial port....", and change the Baud rate (speed) to what your GPS's manual suggests (in my case 4800 instead of the TeraTerm default 9600), as shown in Figure 4. If you are correct, you get this data stream as shown in Figure 5.

Figure 4.

Figure 5.

Most likely this is still not what you were hoping for. What you get here are called NMEA sentences. Most GPS receivers  are configured to continuously send these NMEA sentences at predefined interval (usually 1-2 sec) to whatever display/data terminal it is connected to. So, you are getting perfectly usual staff. These NMEA sentences carry all the information you would ever want from a GPS. At this point, however, you would require another piece of software to interpret this bizarre looking data into nicely formatted information on the satellites visible on your sky, their PRN numbers, satellite that are being used by your receiver, your location, your speed and direction if you are moving, GPS accuracy of your location (fix), date & time and a variety of other useful staff. This group of software is generally known as NMEA parser.

In the second part of this tutorial I shall recommend some beautiful GPS software, and show how to use and get the most out of them.

You might be wondering, what about the Bluetooth GPS receivers that I promised in the title. Well, that's simple, when you pair a bluetooth GPS with your PC, you get a COM port over bluetooth. Use that port the same way.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Busy Seascape of Bangladesh

Current, potential and future activities depicting multiple, competing and conflicting uses and required uses of space and resources of the Bay of Bengal in the Exclusive Economic Zone.



Sunday, July 27, 2014

Interactive Map: Test post


Thursday, July 10, 2014

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Monsoon cloud over coastal area of Bangadesh: Nowcast and Forecast

Monsoon cloud over coastal area of Bangadesh: 3 hourly 5 day Nowcast and Forecast; From 18 June 2014 0000 BST to 23 June 2014 2100 BST. data source NOAA-GFS.



Saturday, June 14, 2014

Surface Current in the Bay of Bengal (Animated)

Surface Current in the Bay of Bengal (Animated map, at 10 days interval). Generated from 2013 surface current images obtained from NOAA/OSCAR.


Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Sundarbans

Image map of The Sundarbans - World's largest compact mangrove forest.

As seen on Microsoft Virtual Earth.

As seen from Landsat 5 TM sensor 

As seen by ASTER sensor
Another imagery from unknown sensor


Saturday, May 10, 2014

Hilsa breeding grounds

Modelled likelihood of Hilsa breeding in the coastal waters of Bangladesh.

Please refer to: Hossain MS, Sarker S, Chowdhury SR, Sharifuzzaman SM (2014). Discovering spawning grounds of Hilsa shad (Tenualosa ilisha) in the coastal waters of Bangladesh. Ecological Modelling, 282:59-68. (http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2014.03.001)

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Damp Wall Map

The other day I was in this room in an old degraded building. The walls were mostly dampened and wall-paints were coming off creating all sorts of interesting patterns, here is one that drew my attention. It pretty much resembles a map of South & South-East Asia and the Indian Ocean.




Sunday, February 16, 2014

Bay of Bengal

Bay of Bengal (Map) by Sayedur R Chowdhury shows bathymetry (color coded shaded relief and detailed contour lines); adjoining Indian ocean and other seas, straits, channels & bays; surrounding countries; islands, physiographic features (ridges, trench, sea mount, canyon), Exclusive Economic Zones of all countries in the region including Bangladesh's settled line with Myanmar (ITLOS 2013); major sea ports and much more.

Please note that this map is not in the public domain, and is a copyrighted material. Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited. 



Saturday, February 15, 2014

Visitors Map

Maps&Maps has drawn visitors from 140 cities in 50 countries in just a month (January 14 - February 14). No blog would create a post with a map showing its visitors, but this would be fun for a mapping blog to share this information as a map. Thanks to Google Analytics and StatCounter.


Friday, February 7, 2014

Using an external USB GPS with Android devices (or Laptops)

The very first post on this blog Using an external bluetooth GPS with Android device is creating quite a bit of traction for my blog lately. This may be because not a lot of stuff on the Internet with appropriate keywords is available on the subject. This realization makes me write this post. What if you have a USB GPS instead? I am going to share my experience here.

Assuming that you have a USB GPS which can spit NMEA sentences (most of them do, as I know of), you can connect it to your Laptop through a standard USB port and use an appropriate software to collect location and other information from the GPS, or start logging data in a file for later use. I shall cover that in a later post.

What if you don't have a USB GPS already, and may be planning to have one? Well, go for it. Generally they come in two shapes: in a USB stick like your flash memory stick; and in a mouse-like appearance - GPS chip in a case connected to a long cable to USB port. Mine is of latter type, I bought it from Amazon (UK) for about 30 GBP, it looks likes this. Here is a picture of mine (with an OTG cable lying around).





Now that you have to connect the GPS with your Android tablet or Smartphone, you don't have a standard USB port on your device. What you will need is a small piece of hardware called OTG (on-the-go) cable. Here is an example on Amazon. This is a small cable with a micro-USB male interface on one end which plugs in to your Android device, and a standard USB female port on the other end to plug in any USB device, including your GPS - like I show in this picture.




Now that your hardware side is ready, you will need an appropriate App to communicate with the GPS. In the past I have used several Apps, e.g. USB GPS, USB Terminal etc., but lately I have come across a new and simple App which I would recommend for the purpose. It is called You Are Here GPS. To be able to use GPS signals with your other favorite map software, enable mock locations in Android Settings > Developer Options - as seen in this screenshot.




Now run You Are Here GPS and tap 'Connect'. You will start to see NMEA sentences appearing in the terminal. This app doesn't have a long list of settings, just the serial baud rate option. If nothing appears, or appears wrong on the screen, try changing the baud rate. Now send this running app to background without killing it, and open your favorite map software to receive data from USB GPS.







Thursday, February 6, 2014

The Geophysical World (Map)

The Geophysical World (Map)-Beta created by Sayedur R Chowdhury consists of oceans & continents, bathymetry & topography, rivers & lakes, tectonic plates, oceanic ridges & trenches, faults & fractures, earthquakes & volcanoes, hemispheres, and much more.

This is a down-sampled (2160x1440 pixels) highly compressed (0.5MB) web version of the original (10800x7200, 80MB) map.

Please note that this map is not in the public domain and is a copyrighted material. Reproduction in any form without explicit permission is prohibited, and constitutes an actionable offense.


Friday, January 31, 2014

A to B in Bangladesh: A quick reference to transportation



A to B in Bangladesh: A quick reference to transportation, is a simplified map of the modes of transportation being used, or potentially be used in concert to move people and stuff from A to B.

Please note that this map is NOT placed in the public domain, and is a copyrighted material which requires explicit permission for use. However, any reference to this web page can be made without an obligation.


This map was inspired by this horrible map that can be found on the official website of Bangladesh Railway.


Saturday, January 25, 2014

Beautiful Bangladesh (Map)

Beautiful Bangladesh (Map) by Sayedur R Chowdhury is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0-NonCommercial International License. See http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ for conditions of use.


Thursday, January 23, 2014

Earthquakes around Bangladesh: 300 years (1714-2014)

Earthquake around Bangladesh: 300 years (1714-2014) by Sayedur R Chowdhury is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0-NonCommercial International License. See http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ for conditions of use.


World's Population Density (Map)

World's Population Density Map by Sayedur R Chowdhury is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0-NonCommercial International License. See http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ for conditions of use.

Updated: September 2017, based on 2017 population estimates.


Administrative Map of Bangladesh on Google Earth

Now view the Administrative Map of Bangladesh on Google Earth. To view this, you must have Google Earth installed on your computer. 


Download this file (700K) and double-click to load in Google Earth.

Typogeography of Bangladesh (Stereo 3D Text Art Map)

Text Art Map of Bangladesh (Stereo 3D) by Sayedur R Chowdhury is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0-NonCommercial International License.  See http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ for conditions of use. This map is to be viewed cross-eyed.



Typogeography of Bangladesh (3D Text Art Map)

Text Art Map of Bangladesh (Analglyph 3D) by Sayedur R Chowdhury is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0-NonCommercial International License.  See http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ for conditions of use. This map is to be viewed through a Red-Cyan 3D glass.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Typogeography of Bangladesh (Text Art Map)

TextArt Map of Bangladesh by Sayedur R Chowdhury is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0-NonCommercial International License. See http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ for conditions of use.


Sunday, January 19, 2014

Halda River Basin (3D Map)

Halda River Basin (3D Map) by Sayedur R Chowdhury is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0-NonCommercial International License. See http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ for conditions of use.


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Kutubdia Island, Bangladesh (3D Map)

Kutubdia Island, Bangladesh (3D Visualization) by Sayedur R Chowdhury is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0-NonCommercial International License. See http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ for conditions of use.


Halda River Drainage Basin (Map)

Halda River Drainage Basin (Map) by Sayedur R Chowdhury is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0-NonCommercial License. See http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ for conditions of use.

An interactive online map can be accessed on ArcGIS Online.


A updated version of the watershed (2015). Digitization of features assisted by research students Razat Suvra Das, Milan K Shiuli and Shuva  Sarker.


Saturday, January 11, 2014

Chittagong, Bangladesh (3D Map)

Chittagong, Bangladesh (3D map) by Sayedur R Chowdhury is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. See http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/ for conditions of use.



Maheskhali Island, Bangladesh (3D Map)

Maheskhali Island, Bangladesh (3D Visualization) by Sayedur R Chowdhury is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. See http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ for conditions of use.

Maheskhali Island, Bangladesh

St. Martin’s Island, Bangladesh (3D Map)

St. Martin’s Island, Bangladesh (3D Visualization) by Sayedur R Chowdhury is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, see http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ for conditions of use.


Map of Bangladesh - Administrative units and Toponyms

Map of Bangladesh - Administrative units & Toponymy (Map) by Sayedur R Chowdhury is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 International License. See http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ for conditions of use.


Groundwater Arsenic Contamination in Bangladesh (Map)

Observed and modeled Arsenic concentration in groundwater wells in Bangladesh. Refer to Jia-Qian Jiang, S. M. Ashekuzzaman, Anlun Jiang, S. M. Sharifuzzaman and Sayedur Rahman Chowdhury (2013). Arsenic Contaminated Groundwater and Its Treatment Options in Bangladesh, Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health, 10:18-46; doi:10.3390/ijerph10010018 (http://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/10/1/18).


Coastal Erosion-Accretion in Bangladesh (Map)

Recent erosion and accretion prone areas in the coast of Bangladesh showing Central (left) and Eastern seaboards of Bangladesh. Refer to ECOBAS (2012): Eco-engineered coastal defense and food production (http://www.scribd.com/doc/113937078/Eco-engineered-Coastal-Defense-and-Food-Production).


Coastal Waters of Bangladesh (Map)

Coastal Waters of Bangladesh (map) showing different depth zones in the Northern Bay of Bengal. This map is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. See http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ for conditions of use.


Coastal Zone of Bangladesh (Map)

The coastal zone of Bangladesh is divided into exposed and inner zones, boundaries of which are shown in this map in yellow and  purple boundary lines respectively. This map is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. See  http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ for conditions of use.