Amod GPS Photo Data Logger Review

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Peter Carey gives his impressions and a review of a simple and inexpensive GPS Data Logger, handy for geotagging images.

Amod GPS Data Logger I freely admit to being something of a gadget geek. And as such, I’m always on the lookout for justification for acquiring cool new gadgets. This week’s acquisition is an Amod GPS Photo Data Logger with bundled software to help geotag photos. If you’re new to geotagging, check out this Digital Photography School article by Collin Spencer entitled How to Geotag Images where he explains the how and why.

My main reason for grabbing this fairly inexpensive device ($70US at Amazon.com)is an upcoming trip to Nepal. I’ll be trekking for a total of 19 days and would love to have my photos marked with location data for possible use in mapping. I’ve fiddled with it before and posted some photos on my Smugmug account which will show geotagged photos, but I don’t want to have to carry around my large GPS on this trip. Part of me wants to be without gadgets this trip and part of me wants to bring them all, so the Amod is my attempt at a compromise. The Amod device seems to fit the bill as not complicated, but still techy enough to get the job done. This then is an out of the box, day 1 review of the Amod AGL 3080 GPS Data Logger in use for geotagging.

The box the logger shipped in is pretty spartan. It contained the logger in plastic wrap, a USB cable, keeper strap and a CD. Except for the CD, they probably could have fit all of this in a large box of kitchen matches. The device requires 3 AAA batteries (not included) and then it’s time to start playing!

The picture above shows the front of the device with its three LED displays. The top light is a memory full indicator (also doubles as a “Waypoint Marked” indicator when in use), the next is satellite signal status and the last is a battery light. On one side is a power button, on the other side is a waypoint button used to mark your exact location if needed. The back is the battery door for the 3 AAA batteries. The top has a loop for the keeper strap and also has the covered USB miniport. And that’s it. It’s real simple in design and a very shiny black plastic to boot (which I’m sure will not be so shiny after 19 days on the trail).

Operation is simple; hold down the power button for 3 seconds until all lights turn on. After which the satellite LED will turn solid green. Once the unit has acquired a good GPS signal (fairly quickly thanks to the onboard SiRF III chipset) the satellite light will blink green. And that’s all there is to starting the logging process! The green LED will go solid any time the unit can not acquire a signal, such as in a tunnel and most buildings. To turn the unit off, hold down the power button for 3 seconds, all the lights turn on and then the unit powers off. I doubt there can be a more simple unit to operate. The keeper strap feels ok but I’ll be upgrading it to a metal carabineer and strap to ensure it doesn’t break on the trail. The buttons are easy to press and have a good responsive ‘click’.

AmodGPSTrackerAdditional operation includes changing the frequency and data logged. New out of the box, the unit will record all information every second. This allows for approximately 72 Hours of run time before the memory is full. If recording just the basic information and only every 10 seconds, (the longest interval that can be selected) 2880 hours of data is logged.

I took the unit with me on a tour of lovely Clinton, Washington to see just how accurate the readings were. Most locations were free of trees but the unit was in the center consol of my truck after the initial photographs. After driving around for an hour I headed home to check the logged information for accuracy. At home I plugged the unit into a USB port on my PC and it showed up as a standard removable drive named GPS Tracker. This is heaven for those who have struggled with other GPS hardware and drivers. It couldn’t be more simple and it just works. The data is recorded in NMEA format with a different log file created for each use.

The unit comes with a free program called AmodGPSTracker which is simple to use. First point it to the photos (either on the camera or downloaded via your favorite downloader) and it will check the Exif information for date and time. Next, point it to the GPS data file by browsing to the GPS Tracker and then the appropriate file. It then tags all the photos with the appropriate information. There’s a button to view the images on a Google Map as well as a button to save geotagged the tagged photos. Lastly there is a button to synchronize the time between your camera and the GPS data. This is a very important step to make sure the images are synced correctly. To accomplish this simply type in the time your camera currently shows and the program does the rest!

Now that the photos are geotagged, let’s see how accurate the unit is. Live data for the test can be found on this Smugmug page. From my own experience having the unit record a track point every 10 seconds, I’d say the unit is very accurate in my location (open skies, fairly flat terrain). Some geotags were exactly on the spot or within 10 feet. An example can be found at left (click image for larger view). The unit was sitting on the hood of my truck almost exactly at the pinpointed location facing East for the photo of the ferryboat.

For my money, the Amod AGL 3080 GPS Data Logger is as simple and useful as they come. I will report back after the Nepal trek where its durability will be tested daily. For now, the small, innocuous device performs as advertised and present an easy, no hassle method for geotagging photos while on a trip or just around town.

Peter is an avid photographer who enjoys travel, portraiture and wildlife photography. A travel related blog of his past and current shenanigans can be found at The Carey Adventures.

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Peter West Carey leads photo tours and workshops in Nepal, Bhutan, Costa Rica, Panama, Alaska, Seattle and Los Angeles. He is also the creator of 31 Days to Better Photography & 31 Days of Photography Experiments, web-based tutorials taking curious photographers on a fun ride through the basics of learning photography.

  • This is the BEST GPS logger for Photographers. I own one and it works flawlessly (after the last firmware update). It has a huge space for data (128 MB) and it also works great on Macs and PCs, no drivers needed.

    I’m the administrator of the Flickr Group for thi GPS: http://www.flickr.com/groups/amod-agl3080/

  • Is there any GOOD software to geotag your photos (XP or OS X), the ones I’ve tested so far are not that good (Houdah Geo, GPS Photo Tagger)

    Any tipps appreciated! I own a Wintec WBT201

  • CJ

    Does it write to RAW files or only to JPEG?

  • Why do I get each time I visit this site a pop up asking me to subscribe by email? Once is already annoying, but each time is beyond annoying. Can’t you set a cookie or what?

  • Khedara

    christof.lapd check out Microsoft Pro Photo Tools, that works well for me.

  • lammy

    @christof.lapd: have a look at http://www.geosetter.de
    Its a free software for Windows and the best geotagging software I found so far.

  • Al

    What’s the battery life like on one of these babies?

  • John Bokma – that’s strange, it is only supposed to show once. have you deleted cookies by any chance?

  • Are there any geotaggers that tag the photos as you take them, or do they all have to use software too?

    I also get the pop-up and I haven’t deleted my cookies, its even more irritating when I am already subscribed.

  • Very cool new piece of gear and somewhat affordable too.

  • Zack Jones

    Check out RobGEO for tagging your images. It does RAW and JPG images.

  • I use the Trails Application on my iPhone to geotag my RAW files in conjunction with HoudahGeo. Works very well and is cheaper (1.99$) than a standalone version.

    http://trails.lamouroux.de

  • @Darren,

    Hi Darren, no. I visit your articles via the live bookmark feature in Firefox (your feed via Feedburner).

    Back on topic, thanks for publishing this, I was looking for quite some time for some kind of GPS solution, and this one fits my requirements so I’ve added it to my Amazon wish list :-).

  • I bought one of these for my trip to Greece and had great results.

    Mine was a 2-week trip. I wanted to bring along something that would track my route but did NOT want to bring along a computer. The AMOD device easily recorded the two weeks’ worth of track data (@ every 5 seconds).

    On fully charged NiMH batteries I only got a half to two-thirds of a day on a charge. Alkaline gives a bit longer charge, perhaps 1.25 to 2.0 days per set. If you can find a decent portable charger, NiMH keeps you from having to carry around a brick of Alkaline batteries.

    I bought 12 NiMH batteries for $9 (including shipping) from an eBay auction. My charger cost about the same. Be sure to test both your charger and batteries before you leave.

    Most mapping applications work in conjunction with Google Earth such that you can use the latter to fine tune the coordinates for your images. This meant I didn’t have to worry so much about always having reception. Google Earth is good enough that you can easily find your location if you know the general vicinity which the AMOD does quite well.

    I found that, once the AMOD had found satellites (green light started blinking), I could carry it in my front shirt pocket for the rest of the day (or until the batteries ran out) and it would track data just fine.

    For some reason, the device occasionally gets folders that I can’t delete. They don’t hurt anything and take up zero space so I just put them all in their own folder on the device. Perhaps the firmware update fixes this.

  • Gah, 3 batteries… 🙁 Couldn’t they have used just 2 ? This means they use 3/4 of what fits in a typical charger. Those dimwits.

    I just hate electronics makers. I’m also looking for a charger that will charge *several* of my camera batteries at once. Apparently nobody ever thought that photographers would go in the bush where there would be no power outlets. Or you have to bring 3 chargers with you (duh).

  • OTOH, battery woes aside, the GPS logger looks pretty nice for a change. Especially the “mounts like a disk” bit. Nice for us Linux users and for anyone who wants to plug it on a random machine (as in, not at home).

  • It contains the logger in plastic wrap, a USB cable, keeper strap and a CD. Except for the CD, they probably could have fit all of this in a large box of kitchen matches. The device requires 3 AAA batteries (not included) and then it’s time to start playing!but I don’t like these gadgets for geotagging.

  • Mike Sarv

    Has anyone tried the Columbus V-900 which is the voice-tag support?

    According to buygpsnow.com, the Time Album Java application is claimed to be compatible with Linux and Mac OSX.

    I found the Columbus v-900 here:
    http://www.buygpsnow.com/Columbus_V900_Bluetooth_GPS_Data_Logger.aspx

  • Al, I just got back from a 3 week trip to Nepal including a 19 day trek. The 1200mAH rechargeable batteries I used lasted about 10-12 hours on average. That’s with temps regularly around 30-40F. The unit took a beating and kept running, logging faithfully for over 76 miles of trekking.

    Fred, I understand the angst, but it’s a little thing. I’d just set aside the third battery and charge the other two. Then when the other batch was low I’d charge 4.
    In the devices defense, 3 is 50% more than 2 and 4 would have made it a bit too big. At least they don’t sell hotdog buns too. 🙂

  • I too purchased the latest iteration of AMOD AGL 3080 and it is indeed a fantastic device. Only complaint is it seems to take a long time for position acquisition after I have moved a long ways. I am currently traveling around Europe shooting photos.

    My question is: Has anyone found any way to transfer the files off tis unit without using a computer, say for example to another USB device like a small portable hard drive or SD Card. The reason I ask is that I will be traveling in France for 17 days and i am afraid if I log every day, all day, i will fill up the units memory. I would like to be able to dump the data off to a storage device every few days. Also, it would be nice to offload my cameras photos to another storage device as well. Of course I could just buy another 8G card for my camera…. but that won’t solve the logger storage issue.

    Thanks,

    Steve

  • Steve, you can set the frequency to something less than every second (I think I set mine is to every 5 seconds) which gives you far greater capacity. I did the math before my 2.5 week trip to Greece and figured I could run the thing 24×7 for far longer than my trip and still have space left over.

  • kujawat

    about batteries and battery life.. regular alkalines are 600 to 700 mah… rechargable NIMH’s are available up to 2600MAH… almost 4 times the capacity… sure they cost a little more, but you can get over 2 days on a single charge.. and, if you stop to sleep where you wont need use.. you might make it 3 or more.. invest in high capacity (mah) batteries and you’ll be thankful..

    just my 2 cents

  • @kujawat Where are you getting AAA NiMH batteries that are 2600MAh? Most of the ones I’ve seen on eBay are in the 1200MAh range. The larger AA batteries can easily be found in the +2600MAh range.

  • Super-Duper site! I love it!! I think I’m right when I say GPS is more accurate than GSM tracking?

  • ps4

    Wow – isn’t technology great? That thing looks awesome!

  • Stewart

    This worked perfectly for me in New Zealand, but without access to a computer there is difference in time zones between NZ and when I last time synced the Amod in Australia. Anyone know of a good way to convert the .log files to the correct time zone? I’ve seen software that can do this for other devices, but they couldn’t do anything with Amod’s .log files.

    Any help is greatly appreciated, please ask for clarifications if needed.

  • @stewart I didn’t realize you could change the time zone for the AMOD device. My understanding is that it uses GMT (UTC) and that your sync software utilizes an offset. At least that’s how I use it.

  • inca

    hi Peter.

    Thanks for this review which I read some months ago and decided to get 3 AMODs for a non-profit project helping the indigenous people.

    The third AMOD just caused a problem. I cannot find any information about the producer company to ask for help. Do you know who is producing AMOD?

    FYI, the problem: on my second tracking trial, i got an error message while dragging the log into my Mac and since then my tracking trials do not get recorded in the “GPS Tracks” folder. It seems to be empty. I could not read the error message because it happened too quickly, all I could catch was the word “corrupt”.

    I know you’re not the service center for AMOD, but perhaps you have had to deal with them. Otherwise, do not worry if you don’t know the answer.

    cheers,
    inca

Some Older Comments

  • inca October 12, 2011 09:28 am

    hi Peter.

    Thanks for this review which I read some months ago and decided to get 3 AMODs for a non-profit project helping the indigenous people.

    The third AMOD just caused a problem. I cannot find any information about the producer company to ask for help. Do you know who is producing AMOD?

    FYI, the problem: on my second tracking trial, i got an error message while dragging the log into my Mac and since then my tracking trials do not get recorded in the "GPS Tracks" folder. It seems to be empty. I could not read the error message because it happened too quickly, all I could catch was the word "corrupt".

    I know you're not the service center for AMOD, but perhaps you have had to deal with them. Otherwise, do not worry if you don't know the answer.

    cheers,
    inca

  • Sandro December 14, 2009 01:44 pm

    @stewart I didn't realize you could change the time zone for the AMOD device. My understanding is that it uses GMT (UTC) and that your sync software utilizes an offset. At least that's how I use it.

  • Stewart December 14, 2009 07:11 am

    This worked perfectly for me in New Zealand, but without access to a computer there is difference in time zones between NZ and when I last time synced the Amod in Australia. Anyone know of a good way to convert the .log files to the correct time zone? I've seen software that can do this for other devices, but they couldn't do anything with Amod's .log files.

    Any help is greatly appreciated, please ask for clarifications if needed.

  • ps4 December 13, 2009 06:49 am

    Wow - isn't technology great? That thing looks awesome!

  • gps tracking device October 28, 2009 01:35 am

    Super-Duper site! I love it!! I think I'm right when I say GPS is more accurate than GSM tracking?

  • Sandro September 21, 2009 05:04 pm

    @kujawat Where are you getting AAA NiMH batteries that are 2600MAh? Most of the ones I've seen on eBay are in the 1200MAh range. The larger AA batteries can easily be found in the +2600MAh range.

  • kujawat September 19, 2009 10:56 am

    about batteries and battery life.. regular alkalines are 600 to 700 mah... rechargable NIMH's are available up to 2600MAH... almost 4 times the capacity... sure they cost a little more, but you can get over 2 days on a single charge.. and, if you stop to sleep where you wont need use.. you might make it 3 or more.. invest in high capacity (mah) batteries and you'll be thankful..

    just my 2 cents

  • Sandro April 9, 2009 10:19 am

    Steve, you can set the frequency to something less than every second (I think I set mine is to every 5 seconds) which gives you far greater capacity. I did the math before my 2.5 week trip to Greece and figured I could run the thing 24x7 for far longer than my trip and still have space left over.

  • Steve April 8, 2009 04:16 pm

    I too purchased the latest iteration of AMOD AGL 3080 and it is indeed a fantastic device. Only complaint is it seems to take a long time for position acquisition after I have moved a long ways. I am currently traveling around Europe shooting photos.

    My question is: Has anyone found any way to transfer the files off tis unit without using a computer, say for example to another USB device like a small portable hard drive or SD Card. The reason I ask is that I will be traveling in France for 17 days and i am afraid if I log every day, all day, i will fill up the units memory. I would like to be able to dump the data off to a storage device every few days. Also, it would be nice to offload my cameras photos to another storage device as well. Of course I could just buy another 8G card for my camera.... but that won't solve the logger storage issue.

    Thanks,

    Steve

  • Peter Carey November 6, 2008 05:48 am

    Al, I just got back from a 3 week trip to Nepal including a 19 day trek. The 1200mAH rechargeable batteries I used lasted about 10-12 hours on average. That's with temps regularly around 30-40F. The unit took a beating and kept running, logging faithfully for over 76 miles of trekking.

    Fred, I understand the angst, but it's a little thing. I'd just set aside the third battery and charge the other two. Then when the other batch was low I'd charge 4.
    In the devices defense, 3 is 50% more than 2 and 4 would have made it a bit too big. At least they don't sell hotdog buns too. :)

  • Mike Sarv October 31, 2008 05:49 am

    Has anyone tried the Columbus V-900 which is the voice-tag support?

    According to buygpsnow.com, the Time Album Java application is claimed to be compatible with Linux and Mac OSX.

    I found the Columbus v-900 here:
    http://www.buygpsnow.com/Columbus_V900_Bluetooth_GPS_Data_Logger.aspx

  • Gadget News October 22, 2008 03:24 pm

    It contains the logger in plastic wrap, a USB cable, keeper strap and a CD. Except for the CD, they probably could have fit all of this in a large box of kitchen matches. The device requires 3 AAA batteries (not included) and then it’s time to start playing!but I don't like these gadgets for geotagging.

  • Fred October 22, 2008 12:25 am

    OTOH, battery woes aside, the GPS logger looks pretty nice for a change. Especially the "mounts like a disk" bit. Nice for us Linux users and for anyone who wants to plug it on a random machine (as in, not at home).

  • Fred October 22, 2008 12:22 am

    Gah, 3 batteries... :( Couldn't they have used just 2 ? This means they use 3/4 of what fits in a typical charger. Those dimwits.

    I just hate electronics makers. I'm also looking for a charger that will charge *several* of my camera batteries at once. Apparently nobody ever thought that photographers would go in the bush where there would be no power outlets. Or you have to bring 3 chargers with you (duh).

  • Sandro October 21, 2008 09:45 am

    I bought one of these for my trip to Greece and had great results.

    Mine was a 2-week trip. I wanted to bring along something that would track my route but did NOT want to bring along a computer. The AMOD device easily recorded the two weeks' worth of track data (@ every 5 seconds).

    On fully charged NiMH batteries I only got a half to two-thirds of a day on a charge. Alkaline gives a bit longer charge, perhaps 1.25 to 2.0 days per set. If you can find a decent portable charger, NiMH keeps you from having to carry around a brick of Alkaline batteries.

    I bought 12 NiMH batteries for $9 (including shipping) from an eBay auction. My charger cost about the same. Be sure to test both your charger and batteries before you leave.

    Most mapping applications work in conjunction with Google Earth such that you can use the latter to fine tune the coordinates for your images. This meant I didn't have to worry so much about always having reception. Google Earth is good enough that you can easily find your location if you know the general vicinity which the AMOD does quite well.

    I found that, once the AMOD had found satellites (green light started blinking), I could carry it in my front shirt pocket for the rest of the day (or until the batteries ran out) and it would track data just fine.

    For some reason, the device occasionally gets folders that I can't delete. They don't hurt anything and take up zero space so I just put them all in their own folder on the device. Perhaps the firmware update fixes this.

  • John Bokma October 14, 2008 05:45 am

    @Darren,

    Hi Darren, no. I visit your articles via the live bookmark feature in Firefox (your feed via Feedburner).

    Back on topic, thanks for publishing this, I was looking for quite some time for some kind of GPS solution, and this one fits my requirements so I've added it to my Amazon wish list :-).

  • Felix October 14, 2008 12:31 am

    I use the Trails Application on my iPhone to geotag my RAW files in conjunction with HoudahGeo. Works very well and is cheaper (1.99$) than a standalone version.

    http://trails.lamouroux.de

  • Zack Jones October 13, 2008 09:34 pm

    Check out RobGEO for tagging your images. It does RAW and JPG images.

  • evan j October 13, 2008 05:03 pm

    Very cool new piece of gear and somewhat affordable too.

  • Scott October 13, 2008 01:23 pm

    Are there any geotaggers that tag the photos as you take them, or do they all have to use software too?

    I also get the pop-up and I haven't deleted my cookies, its even more irritating when I am already subscribed.

  • Darren October 13, 2008 11:20 am

    John Bokma - that's strange, it is only supposed to show once. have you deleted cookies by any chance?

  • Al October 13, 2008 07:17 am

    What's the battery life like on one of these babies?

  • lammy October 13, 2008 05:52 am

    @christof.lapd: have a look at www.geosetter.de
    Its a free software for Windows and the best geotagging software I found so far.

  • Khedara October 13, 2008 05:35 am

    christof.lapd check out Microsoft Pro Photo Tools, that works well for me.

  • John Bokma October 13, 2008 04:16 am

    Why do I get each time I visit this site a pop up asking me to subscribe by email? Once is already annoying, but each time is beyond annoying. Can't you set a cookie or what?

  • CJ October 13, 2008 03:50 am

    Does it write to RAW files or only to JPEG?

  • christof.lapd October 13, 2008 02:14 am

    Is there any GOOD software to geotag your photos (XP or OS X), the ones I've tested so far are not that good (Houdah Geo, GPS Photo Tagger)

    Any tipps appreciated! I own a Wintec WBT201

  • Canelson October 13, 2008 12:50 am

    This is the BEST GPS logger for Photographers. I own one and it works flawlessly (after the last firmware update). It has a huge space for data (128 MB) and it also works great on Macs and PCs, no drivers needed.

    I'm the administrator of the Flickr Group for thi GPS: http://www.flickr.com/groups/amod-agl3080/

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