Playing with a SkyTraq Venus GPS logger under Linux

I got a new toy today - a GPS logger. Got it as part of a magazine subscription deal - two issues + GPS logger for about $12. That magazine was not my kind of magazine, but getting a GPS logger delivered home for $12 was worth having to throw away two magazine issues :-). For other people trying to get this to work under Linux, the magazine in question was Aktiv Träning.

After some fiddling, I came to the conclusion that the device is based on the SkyTraq Venus chipset:

skytraq: Venus device found: Kernel version = 1.3.3, ODM version = 1.4.5, revision (Y/M/D) = 07/12/11

After plugging the device into an USB port, it appears as a serial port, in my case /dev/ttyUSB0. The data can be retrieved using GPSBabel, but it has to be the development version - the stable version does not feature the skytraq driver required. The development version is available via CVS from sourceforge, see for details on how to access CVS.

Once you have the development version of gpsbabel, getting the data is as easy as:

./gpsbabel -D 9 -i skytraq,initbaud=38400,baud=38400,erase -f /dev/ttyUSB0 -o gpx -F out.gpx

This will write the GPS coordinate log to out.gpx in the GPS Exchange format - a lightweight XML format.

The above command will also erase the log from the device, so the next download contains just the latest log.

Since I like playing with Google Earth, I also learned that the GPX can be converted into KML - the format Google Earth can read, by running:

./gpsbabel -i gpx -f out.gpx -o kml -F out.kml

Just open out.kml with Google Earth, and you’ll see where the GPS logger has been.

On popular request, here’s a few images of the device.

Skytraq Venus device Inside the battery compartment of a Skytraq Venus device The label inside the battery compartment has the following text:

GPS Receiver(Data Logger)
Made in Taiwan CANMORE
Written on July 28, 2009