Jul 19, 2014

Introduction: Raspberry Pi drive recorder with GPS logger

Every year my wife and I go on a road trip with no detailed schedule or motel reservation; Just book our flight and rental car and the rest is up to us. Last time we started from L.A. airport, stayed one night at Las Vegas and won $15 at casino, stopped by some national parks, visited our college in Oklahoma, saw rodeo in Fort Worth and arrived at Dallas/Fort Worth airport.

We usually drive 2000 to 3000 miles in a week, which means we must spend most of the time in a mid-class rental car. We don't have time to pull over every time when my wife finds some fancy view. So, before the last trip in June, I came up with the idea of having a drive recorder record everything. If it works, we can concentrate on what we see and don't have to do something nonsense like looking into a tiny camera finder right in front of a great wilderness passing by.

It, however, didn't work well. I bought a cheap drive recorder with GPS module to start with, but it broke in 2 days. It was a shock. A tool that must have assisted my annual trip just became a piece of junk in a couple of days. This night at Anasazi Inn, my second idea came up: making a drive recorder myself.

After this trip I searched on the web and found out that Raspberry Pi and some handy peripherals can make cheap drive recorder with GPS logger. Raspberry Pi itself and peripherals are less expensive and easily obtainable so even when something breaks I can fix it myself, which I think is a great advantage after experiencing that terrible breakage.

I named my project Odyssey. I thought it would make perfect sense thinking about our unplanned annual trip. My favorite part is that Odyssey is attributed to Homer while my name is Oklahomer and people call me Homer. Coincidence? I don't think so.

This project includes features below:
  • Photo taking
  • Video/audio recording
  • GPS logging
  • Live preview
Later articles will cover my project. They should help beginners get used to Raspberry Pi since I am one, too. In next article we install Raspbian OS to SD card with Mac OSX.