Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Google Earth with GPS: Earth Explorer?

I was just trying another Google Earth GPS support module available here when I realized that GE should have a way to handle the data by itself. There are at least half a dozen packages using which seems the only available way which is working through KML imports.

Google does give it to you when you pay an extra US$20 per year (like I did with the original Keyhole Pro) by activating Google Earth Plus.

With the upgrade you get a working GPS dialog (but not on the Mac) and can try to connect to a Garmin or Magellan receiver. Not all models are supported in fact based on the messages from the BBS Forum only old models are suppported.

(Is that because Google decided not to upgrade the GPS support code introduced by the time of the original Keyhole team? Guessing here, but does look like it. Why would they do it now that Volks is probably paying for its development?)

But reading those messages it doesn't look too promising to fork twenty bucks to try it out. And why not have a NMEA 0183 option available if you are supporting it?

Earth Explorer

nmeage, the KML workaround code couldn't get a hold of the GPS stream from the Bluetooth connection and that wasn't too fun. I remembered that Earth Explorer from Mother Earth was still installed and tried to find if it had GPS support. But no, neat interface but no GPS anywhere to be seen.

Earth Explorer does have a clean interface, you can't zoom down much with the trial version and you won't get photos if you do, but Digital Elevation Models (DEM) with 3D maps with 1 km resolution (not the higher 3-arc second data which is better, with approximatelly 90 meters resolution).

Is this the same DEM data used to create the terrain in a GE photo plane? Anyway, if you want to give it a try, prices of Earth Explorer start at $39.95 and in its Version 4.0 it runs on MacOSX and Windows.

You can double-click on a country name and get there, or city. There is a whole toolbar for you to mess with. It would be cool if the developers could add a filter of cities by country, instead of showing all at once.

If you add GPS support (NMEA Sentences) to it, things will get a lot better, specially because you can have the DEM files already loaded without the need for a working wireless connection to a server somewhere else.

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