Mac GPS Geotagging Software - HoudahGeo & HoudahGPS - Holux M-241 Compatibility

HoudahGeo geotagging software - Holux M-241 datalogger compatibilityNote: I’ll be writing about the overall features and functionality of Houdah Software’s HoudahGeo geotagging application in the future, but to keep these posts manageable in size, I’m going to break things up and first address HoudahGeo’s compatibility with the Holux M-241 datalogger.

Because this is a new site and a few of the early posts have been about the M-241, a fair number of the first visitors are ending up here due to Holux M-241 searches. So I want to cover the M-241 compatibility aspect of HoudahGeo and HoudahGPS first. I intend to test a variety of GPS dataloggers, GPS software and GPS cameras with both the Mac OS and Windows operating systems as this site grows. Look for a general review of HoudahGeo’s features and performance soon.


HoudahGeo
is a full featured commercial Mac geotagging software product that is also capable of importing GPS data from GPS recording devices, including some dedicated GPS dataloggers.
HoudahGeo currently costs $30 for a single user license, but may be downloaded for free and used without a license for projects that require no more than 5 photographs to be geotagged at one time.
HoudahGPS is a free tool intended only for importing GPS data into your computer or for converting GPS data to a different format. HoudahGPS may be downloaded for free here.

HoudahGeo and HoudahGPS Compatible Device List
Garmin
GlobalSat BT-335
Holux GR-245
Holux M-241
MTK (iBlue, Qstarz, …)
Magellan
NaviGPS/LocoSys GT-11/BGT-11
Wintec WBT-100/WBT-200Wintec WBT-201/WBT-1000
iPhone – GPSRecorder


When I was initially trying to find ways to get GPS data into my Macbook and geotag the corresponding photographs, I came across HoudahGeo which at first seemed like the perfect solution.

HoudahGeo was quite friendly and easy to use as you would typically expect a Mac program to be, but at that time, Houdah Software’s developer had not yet established compatibility with the Holux M-241, my first GPS datalogger. I was surprised, because of the few dataloggers out there, the Holux M-241 was one of the more well-known in what was and still is a fairly small niche market. It turns out that HoudahGeo relies on an open source tool called GPSBabel, and GPSBabel was not yet supporting the Holux M-241.

I had to find another solution to get GPS data into my computer from the M-241.
BT747, another open source project, which runs on Macs and PCs (and supported the M-241) was not the elegant solution I desired, but it got the job done. I wrote about BT747 here just a couple of posts ago and until now I’ve continued to use BT747 as my exclusive means of importing data from the Holux M-241.

Though I could not import data using HoudahGeo, I have been using HoudahGeo to connect GPS coordinates to my photos after I get the GPS data into my computer.

Houdah Software did later attempt to add M-241 support because of M-241 support being added to the open source software Houdah’s geotagging products are based on, GPSBabel. I’ve attempted to use Houdah’s new option for importing data from the Holux M-241 with both HoudahGeo and HoudahGPS a few times, but to no avail. Houdah’s developer acknowledged in the Houdah Forums that he didn’t own an M-241 to test with and I presume that had something to do with the software not working for me after the first M-241 enhancements.

Recently I was tinkering with connecting a Holux M-241 directly to more recent versions of HoudahGeo and HoudahGPS, and I was pleasantly surprised to see the Bluetooth icon on my M-241 turn on when attempting connections with both.

I decided to test HoudahGeo and HoudahGPS more thoroughly and report here on whether or not BT747 is still needed by Mac users who use the Holux M-241 as their GPS datalogger. Can Houdah’s products finally eliminate the pesky BT747 step in my geotagging workflow?

 

 

HoudahGPS - Geotagging software for importing GPS data logs to Macs.HoudahGPS / Holux M-241 Compatibility
We’ll start with HoudahGPS because I like importing my data separately and saving a copy of the data with my photos before geotagging.

You’ll need to pair your M-241 to your Mac via Bluetooth first to use the Bluetooth option. This link will get you started in pairing an M-241 with Bluetooth. You can ignore the information related to an older version of BT747 found on that site’s page.

I must add here that at no time have I been able to get my Holux M-241 to be recognized via USB. My unit may have a defect, or… I may have simply not jumped through the correct hoops in the correct manner. (though how much more difficult should it be than plugging in a USB cable)

Bluetooth is working fine with my device, and I have had the unit far too long to return it. So I continue down the Bluetooth path. Bluetooth would be the connection method I would choose anyway, leaving one less wire to worry about at my workstation. But I do wish I knew why my USB connection attempts don’t work.

So, does HoudahGPS work?
Clicking on the acquire button in the top right corner of the interface after making the obvious parameter selections for a Holux M-241 does indeed result in the M-241′s log files being transferred to my Macbook and saved in the folder I select.

I easily saved a test data log in the GPX format as I do with BT747, and I was able to import the file into HoudahGeo, Houdah’s geotagging application. I then successfully geotagged the photos I took during the time frame the test log was generated.

HoudahGeo / Holux M-241 Compatibility
Next I tried to import the same data directly from the Holux data logger into the HoudahGeo geotagging software, bypassing the process of saving the log file in the computer first as is allowed by HoudahGPS.

3 main steps to geotagging with Houdah Software's HoudahGeo.This importing process worked seamlessly as well, though I prefer to import and archive my GPS data logs first with my photos, instead of importing directly to geotagging software.

Summarizing
1. For those M-241 users who are less concerned about archiving data
and simply want to tag their photos quickly so locations can be accessed by mapping software or online web galleries, importing directly to HoudahGeo‘s latest version is now an option. I experienced no difficulty in inputting GPS coordinates directly via Bluetooth from my Holux M-241. Tagging the corresponding photos with the latest version of HoudahGeo was automatic and hassle free.
2.
Using HoudahGPS instead of BT747 for importing log files for archiving now seems to be a legitimate and reasonable option. HoudahGPS has a much simpler and intuitive interface compared to BT747 and for most Mac users it will be a better choice for that single task.
3.
The latest version of the free BT747 application is a full featured software option compared to the free HoudahGPS importing utility. BT747 can be used for geotagging in addition to importing data logs. If your budget is limited and you’re willing to plod through its interface to figure it out, BT747 may be a good one stop option for some Mac based Holux M-241 users. I’ve written more about BT 747 here.
4.
For now I’ve decided to switch from using BT747 to using HoudahGPS for importing my GPS coordinates from the M-241. The main reason I’m switching is because the couple of downloads from the M-241 to my computer that I’ve done in testing with the latest version of HoudahGPS have both been quite speedy. Though BT747 has been generally reliable in its ability to get data into my computer, its speed has been erratic in the newest version.

Without changing any variables in the interface of BT747, I get surprisingly different speeds and I’ve confirmed that it’s not related to the size of the files being downloaded from the Holux M-241. Occasionally I get a rapid data transmission speed as I always did with the previous versions of BT747, but more typically I get an incredibly slow speed that is quite unpleasant to be forced to wait for. Perplexing.

Since I empty my data logger at the end of each shoot day and save the data log with each day’s photos, I’m quite happy to avoid the frequent data transmission delays of BT747 and stick with the also free HoudahGPS utility as my default importing tool for now. I’ll hope HoudahGPS maintains a consistent data download rate.

If HoudahGPS continues to work well for me when moving GPS data into my computer, I may be hesitant to upgrade when a new version is released.  After experiencing the degraded performance of BT747′s more feature rich latest version, I’ll likely follow the ain’t broke, don’t fix it mantra with GPS data log importing utilities in the future.

Dan Savage [email]

Images: Screen grabs from Houdah Software’s HoudaGeo geotagging application and HoudahGPS, their GPS data importing and file conversion utility. The last image is a composite showing the 3 straightforward, color coded steps used by HoudahGeo during its geotagging process.

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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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