SkyPod GPS logger

My favorite KAP camera for the past few years has been the Canon PowerShot S100. It has an integrated GPS receiver and I routinely had it attach GPS location data to each photo. Recently I have been flying a much better camera, the Canon EOS M, to exploit its bigger sensor and much better lens. But the EOS M does not have GPS. I listed these things you can do with GPS data from KAP flights in a post here

  1. Some structure from motion software (makes 3D models from photos) requires that photos have GPS data in the EXIF header.
  2. Some structure from motion software works faster or scales the final 3D model if GPS data are present in the photos.
  3. Some orthophoto mapping software can georeference the stitched image if GPS data are present in the photos.
  4. Mapknitter and Google Earth will automatically place photos if they contain GPS data.
  5. The track followed by the flying camera can be displayed in three dimensions, possibly with other data collected.
  6. You can learn how high the camera was.

These electronic components can be soldered together to make a device which records GPS location and barometric pressure to a microSD card.
So this winter I started playing with GPS receivers attached to Arduinos to see if I could make a little device to fly on the KAP rig and record location data when each photo was taken. I posted several research notes at Public Lab about this and eventually produced a very handy little logger which I called the SkyPod. The most recent post was a test of how long the SkyPod would operate on a set of batteries (several hours). 

I have not flown the SkyPod on a KAP rig yet (two attempts had inadequate wind), but it has proven itself in lots of terrestrial tests. I am eager to fly it on the next good day. I bought some extra components and made a few kits which can be assembled into SkyPods. These kits require a few hours of soldering, but have everything you need to start collecting GPS location data during kite or balloon photography flights.

The SkyPod Kit will build this GPS logger shown riding on the shoulder of a Saturn V Rig.
The SkyPod GPS logger also records data from environmental sensors. The kit includes a barometric pressure and temperature sensor and the Arduino Nano comes pre-programmed to record the GPS coordinates and air pressure and temperature every four seconds. Barometric pressure data are really good to have because they can provide better altitude information than the GPS does. 

Stay tuned for reports of the first SkyPod flight. It should be very soon.


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