A small black module hung from my shoulder strap, its L.E.D. blinking as I hiked into the woods. With the push of a button — yes, one button only — I’d triggered the device to begin recording GPS points and track my route for an hour-long hike.
As GPS devices come, I’ve not found a simpler product than the AGL3080 Data Logger. Made by AMOD Technology Co. of Taiwan, the unit was brought to market initially for photographers looking to track exact geographic points where their pictures were taken.
It can do double duty as a basic GPS tracker for hikers, skiers, or backpackers as well. The device hangs on a clip and is constantly on while you move outdoors. It performs the simple task of recording your GPS position at a rate of up to once per second for many hours in a row.
The result, once downloaded at home, is a detailed GPS track with every twist and turn revealed. The track can be superimposed on a map on your computer screen for an accurate track of your route outdoors.
I track my routes and then upload the GPS data points to the mapping site EveryTrail.com. The AGL3080 Data Logger saves GPS points in a text format that can be read and interpreted by dozens of sites and similar map programs.
After a hike, I plug the Data Logger into my laptop with a USB cord. It then appears as a “storage device” on my desktop, allowing me to open and save complete GPS logs with a couple clicks.
The EveryTrail site takes the GPS points and automatically syncs them on a Google map. You can zoom in and out to study a route and also see your distance, speed, and elevation changes on the go. You can view my recent tracks, including “9 Mile Creek Hike” and “No Name Alleycat,” the latter which tracks an urban bike race I rode last week.
While the AMOD is a great solution for no-fuss GPS tracking, the device is far from an ideal device for the outdoors. The unit is not waterproof, so put it away in the rain. Its case is plastic and could break if dropped outside on hard ground.
Worse, I have found its GPS satellite connection to be finicky — it occasionally has trouble finding a signal. Multiple times the device has recorded routes with large inaccuracies where my track is off.
Overall, the Data Logger is a fun toy but I have trouble trusting it as a serious GPS tool. It has recording errors about one out of every five times I use it. But I love the unit’s no-fuss operation and because of that I use it a couple times a week to track my training routes or wilderness adventures.
Info on the Data Logger is on AMOD Technology Co.‘s site, www.amod.com.tw. Or stores like Amazon.com sell the unit for as little as $65 (what I paid) or $79 for a rechargeable model shipping new for 2012.