September 2, 2008

OpenStreetMap is totally addictive

OpenStreetMap is totally addictive

Since I stated contributing to OpenStreetMap I got totally addicted to it :)

I just love driving around with my bike around the city and why not also make a map while I'm enjoying my ride? I also drive a lot when I'm at work so I also took advantage of that and made a lot of gps tracks while I'm just driving around town doing my regular work related tasks. I just returned from my holiday - you can probably guess that I tracked it the whole time, and it was a really fun thing to do.

I usually use my Asus Eee 701 to capture gps tracks in .gpx files and them upload them to OpenStreetMap site, and then work on those tracks to make maps from them. While Eee is a great and small gadget when compared to classic laptops it still doesn't fit in your pocket.

The good news for all OpenStreetMap nuts out there it that there a lot of options for making gps tracks; you can use your laptop, mobile phone, pocket pc or almost any other gadget out there. For the complete list of supported gadgets check out this wiki page.

Mobile phones that have gps embedded are hard to come by and are usually quite expensive, the good news it that there is an alternative - external bluetooth gps receivers. In Croatia the price of external gps receivers has come down to 430kn (60€ or 85$) so it is not prohibitively expensive to join OpenStreetMap and start contributing.

I have few mobile phones, LG KU990 Viewty, SonyEricsson K750 and Nokia 6230i. The older ones like Nokia 6230 (over 3 years old) and K750 you can pick for dirt cheap. Is almost impossible to find a mobile phone that doesn't have bluetooth and support for java applications.

One great java application for making gps tracks (you can use it also just as a classic gps app) is MobileTrailExplorer. You can easily transfer .jar and .jad files to your phone and just install them from there. Nokia is a bit more specific so you need to use a special software for installing applications to it. If you use windows then you need to use Nokia Mobile Suite and for Linux desktops there is gammu.

You need first to configure gammu for your specific phone and you can just start gammu-config or copy/paste this text below to .gammurc file in your home folder.


port = /dev/rfcomm0
model = 6230i
connection = bluerfphonet
synchronizetime = yes
logfile =
logformat = text
use_locking = no
gammuloc =

under "port" you need to enter your phones bluetooth mac address.

To find out what is your phone's bluetooth mac address just scan for bluetooth devices with:

hcitool scan
and now you just download your java app and install it from command line:
gammu nokiaaddfile Application TrailExplorer

In order for gammu to work properly you need both .jar and .jad files. In order for previous command to work you need to have TrailExplorer.jad and TrailExplorer.jar in your current folder from which you are issuing gammu command.

Hope this helps some body out there and I hope more people start contributing to OpenStreetMap.


  • OpenStreetMap
  • <li><a href="">OpenStreetMap Wiki</a></li>
    <li><a href="">Gammu</a></li>
    <li><a href="">List of supported gadgets and software for OpenStreetMap</a></li>
    <li><a href="">Mobile Trail Explorer</a></li>