Geologger i-Blue 747 and 747A + in the field test

I used the opportunity to borrow the two iBlue Loggers 747 and 747A + from a friend for testing. Since both are very similar apart from a few details, a joint test offers itself.

My logger tests continue today with a double test. More specifically, with two GPS loggers with Bluetooth function from the company TranSystem from Taiwan. On the one hand the iBlue 747 (only needed) and on the other hand its successor, the current model i-Blue747A + . Both devices have MTK GPS chipsets.

 iBlue 747A + (left) and iBlue 747 (right)

Differences iBlue 747 and 747A +

The old model uses version 1 of the MTK chip, while the 747A + uses the MTK 3329 chip (version II).

With the current 747A + A-GPS has been added for a particularly fast GPS fix.

In the following I restrict myself to the functions of the iBlue747A +.

Features iBlue 747A +

The logger is charged with power via the USB socket. The delivery is usually only a car charger included. Some dealers also offer packages with a 230V charger. Otherwise, charging is possible via any standard USB port with a mini-USB cable.

Operation is via a slide switch on the side and a button. The switch has the positions OFF – NAV – LOG.

After switching on, Bluetooth and recording are active in both the NAV and LOG positions. In the NAV position, the track recording goes into idle mode when the Bluetooth interface is inactive. For logging tours such as geotagging so the LOG position is better suited.

Waypoint button on the i-Blue 747A + Data Logger

The button on the top is for setting waypoints. Useful for positions to be marked in the track or to perform time alignment in geotagging waypoint based. (Described in Geotagging book on page 21)

New on the 747A + models is Assisted GPS. A-GPS makes it possible to determine your own position very quickly after switching on. For this purpose, orbital data (almanac) of the GPS satellites are downloaded from the Internet to the logger. The data is then valid for one week. The fix with current data then happens really fast.

To control the logger, there are three LEDs on the top.

The blue LED on the left indicates the status of the Bluetooth receiver. If it is lit, the device is in the process of establishing a connection. If the connection is established, it flashes every second.

The middle LED indicates the GPS status. The LED will be solid yellow as long as the device has no position and will flash as soon as a position is available.

The right LED is for charge status information. It glows green during charging, flashing green when the battery is charged and red when the battery is low.

Technical specifications:

  i-Blue 747 i-Blue 747A +
GPS chipset MTK I MTK II (MTK 3329)
A-GPS    
battery pack BL-5C compatible BL-5C compatible
mass 65 grams 65 grams
size 46.5 x 72.2 x 20 mm 46.5 x 72.2 x 20 mm
display    
Waypunkttaste    
memory size 2 MB 4 MB
Number of track points Depending on settings Depending on settings

Identical loggers are also available from QStarz and Blumax:

  • Blumax GPS-4044
  • QSTarz BT-Q1000X

Battery and alternatives

The battery is changeable and sufficient for a recording time of 30 to 40 hours. The power source is a Nokia BL-5C compliant model. This battery is used, for example, in the Nokia 6230. Thus, replacement or additional batteries and external chargers are cheap to get.

i-Blue 747A + as a GPS mouse

To be able to use the GPS data in other devices, both 747 loggers also offer a Bluetooth mode. For example in connection with the Bluetooth Geotagger unleashed by foolography. This connection went well in the test. Advantage of this combination: Geotags directly in the pictures and track for presentation on the logger.

Software:

Here we come to the noralgic point of these two loggers.

A connection can be established via USB as well as via Bluetooth. Where USB should be preferred because of the higher data transfer rate. But beware. It is not a USB mass storage device. Here’s an old-fashioned USB-to-UART virtual COM port driver is used.

With my main computer (WinXP) it was not possible to get the logger to read the data. Apparently here drivers have disabled each other.
On a Win7 netbook, the connection via USB or Bluetooth did not always work either. Sometimes no device was found.

Included are the two tools GpsView and GpsPhotoTagger.
With GpsView statuses can be viewed, settings changed and the AGPS data updated.

In the section AGPS the auxiliary data can be downloaded from the Internet and copied to the logger on the Setup Screen (Update)

I can not say anything about GpsPhotoTagger. Either no connection was possible or I got the message that too little system resources are available.

Alternative software

Luckily, there are some alternatives to the bad original software.

For Windows, Mac and Linux:
BT747 Control Program is an open source project that handles a cross-manufacturer tool. The tool can do both, setting the logger and reading the memory. BT747 is available free of charge as well as various desktop variants for mobile devices. Among others for Windows Mobile and J2ME phones.

More in a separate BT747 article .

For Mac:
The GPS all-rounder MyTracks for Mac can directly read both iBlue 747 Geologger.

More in a separate MyTracks for Mac article .

Also HoudahGPS can read the 747 on the Mac.

To the HoudahGPS article .

For Android:
The 747 GPS logger can also be read out via Bluetooth with the AndroidMTK app on the go.

More on this in the AndroidMTK app presentation .

Meaningful logger settings

The fix should stay at 1s. For geotagging, a time gap of 5s has proven to be a good compromise between accuracy and memory requirements.

From both setting groups there are about 140,000 records. That’s enough for about 194h, which corresponds to about 24 days photo tour (8h per day).

Test Round:

Both loggers were side by side, lying flat in the handlebar bag of the bicycle. Due to the current A-GPS data of the iBlue 747 A +, the first fix was made before leaving home. The deviations of both loggers were minimal under the given circumstances. So here’s just the record of the 747A + logger. The time alignment was done with the waypoint-based method.

Show options Hide options more options Avoid highways Avoid tolls KM miles Calculate route Print route

Conclusion i-Blue 747A +

Great hardware faces miserable software. The iBlue747A + is an excellent logger. The welcome features are beyond reproach. The storage space is neatly large.

With the free alternatives is sufficient alternative software ready. For both beginners and casual users, both Mac programs are ideal. With BT747 even professionals get their money.