Free GPS Datalogging Software - BT747 for Macs, Windows, & Linux

Bt747 - GPS data importing and geotagging software.The Good
To say I’m grateful that the free BT747 software exists would be an understatement. When I first started tinkering with my geotagging setup, BT747 software seemed to be the only solution for getting data from the Holux M-241 into my Mac. I own a copy of XP, but I try to avoid launching Windows unless absolutely necessary. I prefer to keep my projects on one operating system. Incidentally, BT747 also runs on Windows machines and other platforms as well.

The Bad
BT747 is open source software that caters to the tech hobbyist and it is not user friendly for the casual geotagger. It’s definitely getting better; for example, the latest version of BT747 allows me to skip opening a shell/terminal window and entering a computer line command every time I want the computer to recognize my Holux M-241 datalogger via bluetooth, as was required with earlier versions.

And the latest version of the software provides capabilities far beyond simply sucking GPS data into a computer and converting it to the various formats you need for other easier to use geotagging software.

BT747 is becoming a very powerful piece of software, but if it’s not fun and easy to use, there won’t be much use for it in the world beyond a small number of geotagging hobbyists. That’s even more true now that so many friendly software products are showing up.

The cryptic and unappealing name BT747, a name that only a software engineer could love, is probably enough of a clue to give you an idea about what you’re getting yourself into if you find yourself needing this tool.

Also worth mentioning, the latest version of BT747 typically downloads my GPS coordinates at much slower speeds than earlier versions of the software, taking at least 400% longer, possibly even more. Occasionally it downloads at the same speed as previous versions. This is not an issue of file size and I am not changing parameters in the interface. It is a very unpleasant mystery.

The Bottom Line
Though there are many new software tools appearing these days that work with GPS data, some web based and some that run on a desktop, it’s still possible that you may encounter difficulties pulling data from your GPS datalogger and other GPS devices. Geotagging is getting easier, but we’re still in the early stages and some geotagging puzzle pieces fit together better than others.

Initially, I needed BT747 to get my data into my computer from a Holux M-241. If you find that the software you’re attempting to use for geotagging with your computer will not also easily import data from your GPS device, then BT747 might be your next logical step.

Below are a few links to help you get the ball rolling if you want to try BT747.
You might want to set aside considerably more than 15 minutes for your first attempt. After you get it working once though, you’ll be fine. :-)

BT747 Main Page
BT747 Download Page
BT747 GPS Logger Device Compatibility
BT747 Official Documentation
I usually strongly recommend reading manuals and documentation, but in this case you’re likely to find the instructions unnecessarily confusing and reading the documentation may actually impede your progress in getting the software to work. I suggest avoiding the documentation unless you absolutely cannot make progress on your own.

Below are a couple of handy links from the Trick77 blog about BT747 that relate to my personal setup using a Holux-241 and a Mac.

How-To: Holux M-241 with BT747 v.1.52 GPS logger software over Bluetooth
This link contains information about Bluetooth pairing the M-241 with a Mac and then goes into details about using an older version of BT747.

BT747 GPS logger application with new user interface
This link is from the same website and discusses a few issues regarding BT747′s latest incarnation.

Keep in mind that when digging through any website’s recommendations that involve complex and often misunderstood topics, 100% accuracy is not guaranteed. Be prepared to drift and experiment away from step by step directions you find online or when looking for tips.

I appreciate some of the people who write as much as they do on the topic of geotagging, but I rarely find completely accurate accounts of how to proceed when reading technical information pages about geotagging. I suggest always remaining skeptical of what you read in the sometimes messy world of geotagging.

Soon on Learning to Geotag, I’ll be writing about HoudahGeo, a slick commercial software package for Macs that I use to work with GPS information after importing the data into a computer using BT747.

Houdah Software’s HoudahGeo and a standalone free tool HoudahGPS, both reliant on the open source software GPSBabel, claim to support importing data from Holux M-241 dataloggers. I’ll be testing those claims again with the latest versions after having no success importing with Houdah’s commercial Geo and free GPS software tools in earlier releases.

Dan Savage [email]

Image: BT747′s main screen visible upon launching program.


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