Experimental music, photography, and adventures

Archive for the 'Mapping' Category


Thursday, August 16th, 2012

This post has been a long time coming. I started it back in spring of 2011, then got sidetracked. Here’s what I wrote them:

A combination of inspiration from Noah, being back in school, taking a “CyberSecurity” class, and getting a Netbook for school led me to try something different with my commute: Warbiking! Noah’s explanation of Warbiking (or WarCycling, as he calls it) is better than what I would come up with on my own, so I’m going to steal it. In this post, he says:

Wardriving: The act of driving around with scanning equipment, searching for wireless networks (usually of the 802.11 variety). The “War” part of the name comes from the age-old practice of setting up a computer to aggressively dial thousands of phone numbers in a row, looking for other computers or fax machines, or “War Dialing”. In and of itself, wardriving is not a malevolent practice. Wardriving, done passively, is totally legal in the US.

WarCycling, then, is the same tactic applied while riding a bicycle.

Current update

Warbiking is something I’ve been doing on and off since I wrote that. It’s a lot of fun, and it’s astounding how many networks you find. I know intuitively that there are thousands of wireless networks all around me, but it’s something else to see them all enumerated on a map.

I post the networks I find on wigle.net, a community site with a database that includes data about millions of wireless access points around the world.

This badge shows stats about what networks I’ve found. I added it to the sidebar of this blog:

Warbiking Setup

I started out using my Netbook running Linux, hooked to my Garmin eTrex Venture GPS. This works quite well and collects a lot of information about the networks. I now have an Android phone, so now I can use the Wigle WiFi app on my phone for warbiking/walking/etc. The Netbook is more accurate, collects more data, and probably sees more networks (though I haven’t done a direct comparison to verify this). But my phone is always with me, making it easy to start checking out wireless networks any time I want, without carrying the (relatively) bulky netbook.

Here you can see the Netbook/GPS on the left, and the Android phone on the right.

More recently, I’ve experimented with setting cameras up to take a photo every few seconds. I intend to try to correlate the photos with the network data, but I haven’t had a chance to do so yet.

One thing that’s very interesting is to load the data in Google Earth. I can then explore the networks within the Google Earth interface. Kismet even shows what clients were connected to the networks at the time I rode by.

Luzerne County Map for DirtData.org

Friday, June 26th, 2009

Some time ago, I stumbled across the very interesting site DirtData.org. The site is “An Experiment in Collaborative Cartography.” The idea is that people can create Google Maps of the gravel/dirt/fire roads in their area and submit them to the site. The more people who contribute, the better the maps will be. I’ve started a map of the Luzerne County area. It’s a work in progress, but so far, I’ve cataloged over 25 gravel roads in this area. Here’s the map. Note: there are two pages of roads listed. You have to open the map in Google Maps (click the link below the map on this page), and click on Page 2 at the bottom of the road list to see the rest.

View Luzerne County, PA for DirtData.org in a larger map

I’ve also started a map of the Bloomington, Indiana area, which I’ll post later. It’s fun making these maps, and I hope that they’ll come in handy in the future, both for myself and for others.

If you ride gravel roads in your area, I urge you to create maps to share with everyone.  Here are some useful links to help you get started.

Some GPS fun

Monday, December 8th, 2008

I’ve been really enjoying looking at the tracklogs captured by my GPS. It allows me to look at some interesting data about both my riding and the terrain. One common element in many of my rides is Bunker Hill Road. Have a look at it, as seen in Google Earth.

Bunker Hill Road, in Google Earth

As you can see, it winds its way up the mountain. Note: partway between Bunker Hill Road (in blue) and 309 (in yellow), you can see a greyish line. That’s the Back Mountain Trail, another way I often ride. I’m constantly amazed at the level of detail you can see in Google Earth.

Not as flashy, but at least as useful, if not moreso, is TopoFusion. Here’s a topographic view of roughly the same area.

Topographical map from TopoFusion

It struck me during my ride that it takes an awfully long time to get up the mountain, but a much shorter time period to get down. I didn’t think to time it, but by looking at the GPS data in TopoFusion, I can get the information I want.

The crosshairs on the lower left of the profile are pointed at the start of the climb. All data is as of that point.

Now, I look at the data at the end of the climb

As you can see, the climb lasted from 9:25 to 31:07, or 21:42 spent on this climb. Climbing-wise, at the beginning of the hill I had already climbed 218 feet. By the time I reached the top, I had climbed 1,000 feet, so the climb was 782 feet.

As I look at the descent in the same manner, I see that it took merely 6:48 to get down the mountain. This time, I “only” hit about 30 mph on the descent, but it was too cold to handle going any faster. Tears were streaming from my eyes and obscuring my vision. And with the twists and turns, 30 is plenty fast anyway.

A view, looking down (from a previous ride). it’s exhilarating accelerating down toward the valley/city

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