More On Using Google Earth with a GPS Device Part II

Though it’s probably still not the hottest story in Hua Hin, I see that there is interest elsewhere about getting GPS Devices and Google Earth working together so I will add a little more based on some recent experience.

We did a little road trip last week and though I didn’t use the laptop and Google Earth in realtime, I did make use of the caching capabilities of GA and a utility I found called Google Earth Voyager 6.0.

GEV allows one to fairly painlessly create a cache of the area one intends to travel through. It does this by taking advantage of the Touring/Fly To option in Google Earth. As everything you see on your screen in GE is cached by GE, GE Voyager enables you to create a rectangle of the area you want to cache AND set a level of resolution of your cache. This is done with a combination of altitude, speed, and distance between points. If you want very rich detail, you’ll need to set a low altitude, a small distance between points, and a slower speed for the flyover. The speed of the flyover is also dependent on the speed of your internet connection–if you have low bandwidth, you may not be able to download the detail needed in the time allotted so you may need to give it more time. Once you’ve entered the parameters, GEV has GE fly, or more aptly, bounce over the grid you’ve outlined. It’s sorta interesting to watch at first though with a large rectangle you’ll get quickly bored and can go back to more interesting pursuits as GEV does its thing in the background. Rather than make a short story anymore endless and painful, GEV comes with good docs so it won’t take you long at all to start building up your cache sets.

One more thing on GEV and GE before we get back to the road trip. Though GE is fairly effecient in its caching, you can fill up that 2Gb limit but that’s not difficult to take care of.  GE uses two files for the cache. The cache is dbCache.dat and its index is dbCache.dat.index. These two files are found in the
C:\Documents and Settings\YOURUSERNAMEHERE\Local Settings\Application Data\Google\GoogleEarth directory though your mileage may vary a little. Should you reach the 2Gb limit caching say, Hua Hin, you simply rename those two files so you know they contain the cache for Hua Hin and then create new cache files for Korat or Pattaya, or whatever.

OK, a little about the road trip. I didn’t expect to be able to do any realtime Google Earth and didn’t expect much internet connectivity once we stopped and I was pretty much correct on both counts. However, due to a nice cache created by GEV before we left, once stopped, I was able to load the tracks of the days’ travels from the GPS to the computer and get a bird’s eye view of what we’d done in GE, even though I wasn’t on line. Now, if only GPSMapEdit and Google Earth used the same cache, I’d be able to make maps easier during the down time on the road.

Part I is here.

If anyone has anything to add to this post or the previous concerning any tips I may not be aware of, I’d appreciate hearing about them.

A Few More Maps of Places in Thailand

With a house full of folks and the accompanying interruptions, sometimes it’s easier to do maps rather than write anything. Also, as we recently returned from a little jaunt to Khon Kaen, Korat,  Pak Chong and Kanchanuburi, I had some new tracks on the GPS to add.

So, The Map Page has a few new Google Maps, including the floating market at Amphawa and the sandbar at Don Hoi Lot in Samut Songkhram, Pranburi and Dolphin Bay to the south, and Korat and Khon Kaen. As always, these maps are under construction and if anyone knows of any POIs to add or remove, please let me know.

More On Using Google Earth with a GPS Device

There’s probably a very limited audience for this but FBF thinks it’s pretty cool so will share it anyway.

Until a few months ago, Google required that one upgrade to Google Earth Plus in order to use a GPS device with Google Earth. However, Google Earth 5.0 was introduced in February 2009 and incorporated for free most of what Google Earth Plus had offered for a premium, including GPS services.

This means you can how run Google Earth on your laptop, connect your GPS device to the computer and monitor your movement on Google Earth in REALTIME while on the road. I’ve got a dinky little Garmin hand held device with a screen smaller than most modern cellphones. I usually pretty much know where I’m going anyway and the GPS is just another toy so it’s no big deal. Now, the sky’s the limit on the size of your screen. There’s got to be some fellow with a Winnebago somewhere who’s got a 47″ LCD monitor hooked to the video out of his laptop which is connected to a GPS. Talk about not ever having to ask for directions again.

Another interesting feature of the realtime tracking is that an internet connection is NOT essential. If one has the foresight to track the route in Google Earth prior to making the journey AND has set the option to store the largest cache possible, the maps will be in the cache and while Google Earth will give a couple of error messages about 1) not being able to connect to the server so will use cache and 2) another nag about not being to access the server, the realtime display will continue as long as the cache contains maps of the route taken. Of course, this will probably not work on a trip such as the one Al made to escape the ASEAN conference though updating the cache each night along the way would help.

This is very nice for those of us who don’t have unlimited budgets for mobile internet access or are outside say, the Hutch CDMA coverage area.

I don’t know what happens when one is using mobile internet access and moves from one cell to another. The cache may help here and may not.

At any rate, this takes GPS usage to another level and we can even do it here in Hua Hin.  FBF thinks that’s more than pretty cool.

A couple of privisos on the above mentioned use of a laptop in an automobile.

  • Having a laptop displaying maps in the passenger seat of a moving car is not very safe, especially if you’re already watching a DVD in the dashboard player and/or are talking on a cell phone.
  • You better have the mother of all batteries in the laptop as not only are you powering the laptop but also the GPS and mobile internet device, if used.

FBF is now looking for a mount for his laptop or, alternatively, a small LCD display that might be more easily mounted on the dash or console AND a converter/power supply that could power the laptop from the cigarette lighter socket.

For more information on using Google Earth with your GPS device click here.

Quiet in Bo Fai

Not a whole lot going on in Bo Fai or Hua Hin these days. The Bangkok hordes finally had to return to work after their 10-day Songkran holiday and the tourists have fled the scene once again so parking and traffic are back to just bad rather than terrible. They say tourists arrivals will be down at least 25% this year over last. Probably NOT a good time to buy that bar or open that restaurant you’ve been thinking about.

FBF has been spending much of his time working on a new page for the Hua Hin Pages on Thai Fruits.  It’s still under construction but is now up at Fruits of Thailand=”fruits”>. Those who don’t have Thai fonts installed on their OS will notice some odd characters as the Thai names have been included. Do not adjust your set, either ignore the odd characters or add Thai fonts.

FBF has also been working on getting his notebook to work as a real time GPS using Google Earth and his Garmin GPSr. The CDMA USB stick from Hutch may be the answer.

Trying to keep up with what the different colored shirts are up to has also taken a bit of time since our local press is so intent on sanitizing what we read and see. Former mayoral candidate, Nattakorn Devakula, had an interesting  op-ed in the Post the other day and the winner of that mayoral race, Sukhumbhand Paribatra, had an interview with Der Spiegel on a similar subject. Even the Nation slipped up and let Chang Noi get some words in that were pretty much opposite of what their headlines normally claim.

As always, where ever you are, if you’ve seen something that affects Hua Hin, let me know and I’ll do what I can to spread the word here.