New Year, New Arduino Project

So Chrismas has come and gone and we are entering 2014, let's hope it is better than 2013! I posted previously about Arduino projects I was/am doing. They are still ongoing and for various reasons are now on hold. Over the last few months I have wanted to keep track of my health, the walking, cycling, etc. that I do. I know I don't need one, but motivation wise may help.  Anyway, I looked around for ready made solutions such as the Fitbit One, Nike+ FuelBand and even Amiigo.

Some of these devices require you use a smartphone, so they are out, and in anycase if I used a smartphone would there be any real benifit of a fitness device over using something like MapMyWalk? So I could still use one of these devices or a simple pedometer. Whilst looking at the various devices I came across the Bushnell BackTrack D-Tour. Okay so it is not a fitness device but what I thought was it could be used to record my walk/hike and then I could, at a later date, upload the GPS data to MapMyWalk, or similar. WRONG. After speaking with the manufacturer the software doesn't allow you to upload to MapMyWalk nor does it allow you to export your trail.

Now getting to the point...

I liked the idea of building my own fitness device. A project that would push my skills, get me building something, and more over, something that I would actually use. I am taking inspiration for the build from a few sources including Carlos Sancho (see GPS Toy and GPS Toy 2) and Mike Rankin. Their project is based on an Arduino and is fairly close to what I want in part of the project. So why then dont I splash out and buy one of their pre-made systems? Well where would the fun be in that?

I did consider it, but then there are other things I would like it to do, such as log a track to an SD card, possibly calculate calories burnt, steps climbed, heart rate, possibly have a compass and other sensors, and so on. Rather than jump straight into it, I will do as I do with most projects, start with a outline, and then build in phases.

What will it do?

The basics of what I want the system to be able to do:

  • Record a walk/hike or any other activity.
  • Identify the activity via selecting it in a menu - it maybe that with the aid of additional sofware and sensors that I will in the future be able to identify activities.
  • Calculate calories burnt.
  • Set way points.
  • Usable as just a compass.
  • Export GPS/KML files.
  • Save to a micro SD card.
  • Be expandable (software and hardware).

So very similar to the system by Carlos and Mike. Building in phases, this is what I plan to do:

  1. Phase 1 (Using Arduino UNO)
    • Read data from salvaged GPS
    • Log data to a micro SD card
    • Create an input (5 way navigation switch) and menu (with a small OLED) system
    • Connect all three together
  2. Phase 2
    • Replace Arduino UNO with a Leonardo Micro
    • Add LiPo battery and charger
    • Test in the field
  3. Phase 3
    • Create a custom PCB - that includes the Arduino and all sensors. Must be totally stand alone.
  4. Phase 4
    • Add other features, hardware as required, breadboard at first then custom daughter board.

Okay so fairly simple, nothing fantastic. But I can see this expanding. Another Arduino and gadget man, Andrew, suggested looking at his wireless display. I love this idea, chuck the GPS unit in the backpack, and just have the display in your hand. I may well integrate this at a later date. I can see a use for the wireless in monitoring heart rate and logging that together with the GPS information.

I will post as work progressess and other ideas come forward.