Getting data from the GPS dongle

The Globalsat ND100 is a simple, well documented USB GPS dongle, that works out of the box on the Raspberry. One of the main reasons I chose this dongle :)
Basically, what all these simple GPS dongles do, is emulate a USB to serial device. After plugging it in to your Raspberry, you’ll probably end up finding something like this in the dmesg output:

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Ultimately, the Pi is going to be powered by a car battery. Because we don’t want to drain the battery when the car is off, I searched for a way to switch off the Pi as well. Of course, when you have a switched cigarette lighter socket on your car (as most cars do), it will never drain your battery. But it will also quite rigorously shut down your Pi by just killing the power to it. Not so nice when you’re in the middle of writing data to your database on the SD card…
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The Raspberry

Why a Raspberry Pi B+? For starters, that’s what I had lying around :) I ordered one for testing, and later decided to use it for this project. The project can be done on an A(+) or B model, but as the A(+) only has one USB port, you probably end up using expensive breakout boards and doing a lot of wiring. I plan to do as little as possible wiring, so the four USB ports on the B+ come in handy. Here in Holland, the prices for the four versions don’t differ that much, all versions are available just under € 30, so it makes sense to just go for the B+.

Getting started

Next year we’re taking part in the Carbage Run to the UK. We will be creating a website so friends/family/sponsors can track our whereabouts in real time. This is where the Pi comes in :)

For tracking, we need a GPS receiver, and a 3G dongle to upload the data to the website. And while we’re at it, let’s throw in a WiFi dongle as well, so we can all surf the net whenever we want and don’t have to worry about excessive roaming costs!

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Building a WiFi + 3G Raspberry Pi GPS tracker