Review: AMOD AGL3080 GPS Data Logger

I have to confess – I love that sites like Flickr and programs like iPhoto allow me to preserve the locations where photos were taken (aka geotagging).

I had been using several hacks to geotag photos in iPhoto because my Nikon doesn't support GPS locations. But… the days of sniffing the dirt are over.

Say hello to my little friend: the AMOD AGL3080 GPS Data Logger.

I picked up the AMOD AGL3080 GPS Data Logger on the recommendation of several folks on Flickr. I got mine on Amazon because they offered the best price. (And you know how I feel about Amazon's free shipping!)

To export the GPS files, simply plug the AMOD AGL3080 GPS Data Logger into your Mac or PC. The device shows up as a USB drive – just like a thumb drive or similar USB storage.

The AMOD logs position, altitude, heading, speed, and acquired satellites, as well as hdop & vdop, as frequently as the user specifies and saves it to its 128mb of flash memory. There are six configurable data settings and refresh rates, ranging from once per second all the way to once every ten seconds. A unique log file is created every time you restart the AMOD, so it's pretty simple to keep track of your log files in Finder/Windows Explorer (the log files encode the date in the file name).

One "hidden" feature is that you download updates to the AMOD's firmware. This doesn't impact the unit day-by-day, but it does mean that users aren't "locked in" to one feature set. Hypothetically speaking, additional functionality can be added to the unit via software updates.

The AMOD runs on three AAA batteries, but does *not* recharge via the USB. Personally, I could care less if it recharges via USB because I prefer to use my Eneloop AAA rechargeable batteries or buy batteries off the shelf as needed.

Important note – the AMOD does *not* lose data when you remove/replace batteries. Once data is written to the flash, it is there until you delete it, just like any USB drive.

If you're using it for hiking, geocaching, etc, there's a waypoint button on the side of unit, making it easy for you to instantly tag a location.

Favorite Features

  • AAA batteries – Lasts 30+ hours on one charge with my Eneloop AAA rechargeable batteries
  • Works like a USB drive – totally compatible on Windows, Mac, Linux
  • Configurable refresh & detail – easily change the frequency & quantity of data written to the log file
  • SiRF III – extremely accurate logging, at least as accurate as my Garmin

Depending on how I am going to use the data, I either use GPS Babel (free) to convert the file into whatever format I need – for example, Google Keyhole format for Google Maps/Google Earth.

Side note: GPS Babel (free) is the ultimate rosetta stone for dealing with GPS formats. Check it out regardless of what hardware you're using.

Or, if I'm going to use the AMOD to geotag photos from my Nikon camera for iPhoto 09, I have a complete geotagging workflow I use that utilizes HoudahGeo.

Others have suggested combining GPS Babel with GPS Photolinker (free – Mac) to geotag photos. This method works well, too, but I prefer my HoudahGeo workflow for geotagging with the AMOD because HoudahGeo is much more tightly integrated to iPhoto and Aperture.

Travel Journal

At Merrin's suggestion, I now have travel journal for the safari vacation. I'm glad I listened, because this Moleskine notebook is awesome. Just the right size (write size? ha!) for a travel notebook.

I have pants!

In preparation for our Safari next month, I've been researching pants.

Let's all pause to just let that statement sink in, because it's not insignificant.

MONTHSRESEARCHINGPANTS….

I mean, can you imagine spending MONTHS reading reviews, looking through detailed imagery, and analyzing fit… to buy pants? PANTS. Not a car or life insurance… PANTS.

(Yeah… I know what you're thinking: My poor, poor wife. Yeah… understatement of the year, dude.)

As I was saying, I've been researching pants. Not just any pants, mind you, but convertible pants. You know… those 2-in-1 pants that zip-off into shorts? Yeah, those.

See… while I hear the rains are blessed down in Africa, my detailed research tells me that 2-in-1 pants are the best option for equatorial Africa, where the temperatures can range from the mid 70s during the day and fall into the mid 50s at night.

After looking at roughly 75 different brands of convertible pants — yes, I'm serious… don't judge me — I finally decided to go with Cabela's 2-in-1 Outdoor Pants.

I have to say, I am EXCEPTIONALLY pleased.

First and foremost, the pants fit really well. The shorts have a 6" inseam and fall just where you would want them to – neither too long nor too short. As pants, the leg zippers are well hidden and protected both inside & out, ensuring that your leg is not rubbed raw and you don't look like someone in search of a Michael Jackson reunion tour. The pockets are outstanding and the weight of the cotton is just right for almost any climate.

Some reviewers cautioned that the waist measurement is slightly small and they may be. I ordered a size larger knowing that these pants also have adjustable tabs at the waist, allowing you to tighten the fit roughly one inch. They come in straight lengths and Cabela's hems down to quarter-inch measurements at no charge (ie 31.25").

If you're in the market for convertible pants that zip off into shorts, you don't have to spend months tormenting your family with your research, just buy the Cabela's 2-in-1 Outdoor Pants.

Note: This is *not* a paid endorsement or ad of any kind. I seriously love these pants. 🙂

Christmas Shopping the easy way

It's no secret that I like to do things the easy way. It's not (just) that I'm lazy, but I… appreciate efficiency. 🙂

So… as in years past, I'll be renewing my Amazon Prime membership again this fall.

Why? Well, it's simple really.

I like Amazon Prime because:

1. I get FREE two-day shipping on almost anything I buy at Amazon
2. I can upgrade to overnight shipping for just $3.99 per item (perfect for that last minute gift!)
3. I get the free shipping (or upgraded overnight shipping) regardless of how much (or how little) I buy, which is awesome because I generally buy one thing at a time 🙂
4. I can share my Amazon Prime membership with Merrin or anyone else in my household

I mean, think about it: Let's say I forgot to get you something for Christmas, and we're supposed to do a gift exchange tomorrow night. ACK! I can jump on Amazon, pick something you would like, and have it in my hands (gift wrapped, even!) tomorrow.

Or, let's say I ate the last popcorn in the house. I can order some Orville Redenbacher's Smart Pop from Amazon and have it delivered to the house with Amazon Prime. Not only would I save on the price versus the grocery, but I also save the gas, tolls, time, sanity, etc.

Pretty cool? You're damn skippy.

Now I bet you're thinking, "I wish I had Amazon Prime." Well… you can.

In fact, you can try Amazon Prime free for a month through a special promotion. Check it out, kick the tires, and see if you like it.

But… take it from an efficiency expert… you're gonna love you some Amazon Prime.

Stuff I Love: ResQMe Mini Escape Tool

Maybe it's the Boy Scout in me, but I picked up this ResQMe Mini Escape Tool a couple of years ago for the truck.

I'm sure I've watched too many investigative news stories, but living near a lot of lakes/retention ponds/bridges/etc, I guess I got to thinking that there might come a day where I could end up in one of them and need to get out of the truck. And how would I do that?

Or what if I came upon some fool who drove into a ravine or high water? How would I help?

The ResQMe fits on your keychain and easily pulls away for easy use if (God forbid), you ever need it. It has a seat belt cutter blade and a small, but mighty spring-loaded glass breaker – basically everything you might need in a pinch to get yourself (or someone else) out of a submerged car.

The ResQMe is roughly the size of a small Swiss Army knife or pocket Bic lighter. Even so, I don't like it on my keychain (I think it's a little bulky) but it is a great idea to have it somewhere that it can be reached quickly by yourself or your passenger (if you are… say… unconscious). So… I suggest a quick loop of fishing line around the column shift or even velcro. That way it is convenient and doesn't go flying through the car when you might really need it. I bought it in banana yellow so that I can see it even if I get conked in the head.

For $10 it's a great little add-on gift for a friend (for Christmas, birthdays, or the quickly approaching Mothers Day & Fathers Day!) or buy one for yourself for some pretty cheap piece of mind. Check it out at Amazon.

See even more "Stuff I Love" recommendations online.

Stuff I Love: Insta-Bed Queen Raised Bed

One of the great "Stuff I Love" entries (that you might actually get to use if our guestroom is occupado!) is the Wenzel Queen Raised Insta-Bed.

We bought this back during my "man fridge" days of living solo in Florida. (Actually, I got this when Merrin was finally moving down – had to upgrade for the wife, ya know?!)

Here's why I love this inflatable mattress:

#1 – It inflates itself in less than two minutes (and it deflates itself, too!)
#2 – It's raised like a standard mattress/box springs, so you really feel like you're in a "real bed".
#3 – Since it's a true queen size air bed, your standard queen sheets fit.
#4 – It's shockingly comfortable. I wouldn't think twice about making you sleep on this.
#5 – It does not leak. The two of us slept on this for several nights and didn't need to inflate it.

Not convinced? Well, since we only have one spare guestroom in the rental, come on over for a party or to see the Mouse. We'll put someone else in the guestroom (sucker!) and "relegate" you to the air bed. AND YOU'LL THANK ME FOR IT!!!

Seriously, if you are looking for a great spare bed (or a semi-permanent bed for your new apartment, maybe??), definitely check out the Wenzel Insta-Bed air mattress.

See even more "Stuff I Love" recommendations online.

Stuff I Love: Eneloop Rechargeable Batteries

One of the more recent additions to the "Stuff I Love" list are the Eneloop NiMH Rechargeable Batteries that I use in my Canon digital camera.

These 2000mAh rechargeable batteries have approximately four times more power than a regular alkaline battery. But, unlike other rechargeables I have tried, they have an extremely slow discharge rate (they stay 85% charged after even one year in storage), so — even if I don't pick up my camera for a month or more — there is still plenty of juice left.

Another great feature of these batteries are that – for all intents and purposes – they infinitely rechargeable. Unlike most NiMH batteries, these Eneloops can be charged and recharged 1,000 times without losing capacity. (For all you "save the environment" types, that means one Eneloop saves 999 alkaline batteries!)

If you're looking for OUTSTANDING rechargeables, definitely check out the Eneloop batteries.

See even more "Stuff I Love" recommendations online.