BMOW title
Floppy Emu banner

Backcountry Business

Since a few people asked, I’ve posted the source code for the Backcountry Logger. In a first for me, the source is offered with a specific license. In this case, it’s the Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 3.0 license. I feel a bit silly discussing licenses here, but I see some possibility for the Backcountry Logger to turn into a bit more than just a personal project, and I’m attempting to protect that possibility. I’m happy to have people learn from the code, offer suggestions for improvements, and use it in their own hobby projects, but I’d hate to see it taken wholesale and turned into part of a commercial product.

The next step for me (once I’ve received the necessary parts) is to build a v3 logger prototype, which I’m calling the mini logger. The mini logger is the 2 x 1 inch version using an OLED display and a single AAA battery. In constrast, the classic logger that was demoed here earlier is 2.75 x 1.75 inches, and uses an LCD display and CR2032 watch battery. While reviewing the mini logger’s design yesterday to create the bill of materials, I realized that it’s really not all that much smaller than the classic logger. And the mini is actually just as thick as the classic, if not thicker, due to its AAA battery. It seems likely there will be further prototypes after the mini, attempting to get a good balance of size and features. I’ve been thinking about a version more like the classic, with the LCD and CR2032, but with all SMD parts and the mini’s extra EEPROM. That would require finding a primary source for the raw Nokia 5110 LCD, instead of buying it on a breakout board from Sparkfun.

Once I’ve got a few prototypes built, I hope to get them in the hands of some outdoorsy people who can put them to use, and offer feedback. What looks great on the bench may not work very well in the field, so real-world testing will be essential.

This is a device that should appeal to any outdoorsy people interested in examining altitude, temperature, or pressure movements over timescales from an hour to two weeks. That includes hikers, climbers, skiers, trail runners, cyclists, kayakers, snowmobilers, horseback riders, and probably many others. You can get similar information from your GPS or altimeter watch, but few of those offer detailed graph views, and GPS’s don’t have the battery life needed for long trips in the wild. An app for a GPS-equipped smartphone might work, but toting your smartphone on your adventure isn’t ideal. The closest similar devices are probably the Garmin Foretrex 401, Garmin eTrex Summit (discontinued), or Suunto Core.

I’m also thinking this project needs a better name than “Backcountry Logger”. Nobody wants something called a “logger”– that’s either a guy who cuts trees, or a tool for making boring lists. “Backcountry” is an awkward word as well. Besides being a mouthfull, it also sounds like it excludes potential uses in the civilized world like skiing or urban adventures. A good name is also probably a short name. Maybe something like “Sportview” or “Outdoor Tracker”. Bah, I’m no good at names!

Read 5 comments and join the conversation 

5 Comments so far

  1. Chris - June 30th, 2011 3:41 pm

    Love the project and I’m keeping an eye on it. Would be great for our hikes and running our quads.

  2. MG - July 1st, 2011 9:48 pm

    Thanks for sharing your code…

    Have you thought of anything for an enclosure? I’m a big fan of a watch format. I run with a Garmin forrunner 405. If I get around to working on my project that’s the form I would lean to.. Makes checking it easy and you don’t have to worry about it swinging on a lanyard like v2 did.

  3. MG - July 3rd, 2011 7:53 pm

    Also have you considered emailing Adafruit or Sparkfun and asking if the will sell you the Nokia LCD without the breakout board?

  4.   - July 6th, 2011 12:27 pm

    Creative Commons recommend against using their licenses for software. Plus it’s not GPL compatible.

  5. Steve - July 6th, 2011 12:37 pm

    Hmm, what might be equivalent to CC BY-NC-SA then? the main attraction to me of the CC licenses is that they’re easy to understand and come in many flavors for exactly what you need. The gnu etc licenses all struck me as more or less incomprehensible.

Leave a reply. For customer support issues, please use the Customer Support link instead of writing comments.