Ever since I bought my Nikon D200 camera last year I have been seeing more and more DIY projects trying to create the ultimate GPS (Global Positioning System) solution.
Geo-Tagging which is the term attached to having positional data in your images. For people like me who are useless at taking notes when out shooting – this embedded location data is excellent. Many image cataloging applications can now show your gps-tagged images on maps and by location.
Nikon users and lovers out there will tell you the standard Nikon GPS solutions for their range of cameras is pretty poor. Firstly you have to go out and buy a MC-35 which is no more than a break out box converting the 10-pin Nikon connector to a standard RS232 9-pin connector, to boot it is also a wallet skimmer at over £80 ($120). You need to then follow up by buying a GPS unit which has the relevant RS232 output.
Once you have gathered all these bits and pieces together, you are left with a huge tangle of cables, connectors, and extra batteries for the GPS unit to worry about – not very neat or cool!!!
Sadly the 3rd party commercial offerings have been pretty poor – yes you will see people raving about there GPS units that they just spent $300 on, but from my point of view these units are rubbish. They are no more then off the shelf GPS modules mounted in a box with a lead coming out of them. In no way are they worth $300 and for that sort of money I can develop a solution which I know will work better.
As always with these kind of niche products – you always end up with products which are expensive but extremely low quality poor value for money.
So as usual it is easier for me to design, development and make what I want – it ends up better and cheaper without any of the shortcomings.
Several people have managed to create some excellent DIY projects to correct the Nikon’s short falls. There are several approaches people have taken, simplest method has been to hack the MC-35 and hard-wire the GPS unit to it – removing the plethora of cables. The more complex being directly mating the GPS unit to the Nikon 10-pin connector removing the need for the MC-35. There are a couple of pages worth reading if you want more background information – Peter Miller and Stockholmviews.com.
Before I go on to describe my chosen solution I should point out, while this is a DIY project my solution will be beyond the ability of many people – I am an Electronic Engineer by profession and I also have an penchant for miniaturised electronics.