Month: February 2016

A (tentative) GPS navigator for bicycles

Few weeks ago I participated at an hackathon about bicycles called “Pedalling Innovation Oxford“. A friend of mine and I presented the idea of a navigation system for bicycles.

The idea is very similar to some existing products like hammerhead, beeline, smart halo or onomo. We wanted to make everything open source, starting from the hardware.

The idea:

The initial idea was to have some kind of device to be mounted on the handle bar with Bluetooth connection to a smartphone. The device would have two bright lights, indicating when to turn (left or right), but the navigation software and the GPS would be in the phone. As microcontroller we chose RFduino because it includes Bluetooth LE and it’s low cost and low power. As navigation software we chose OSMAnd because it’s open source, it uses the wonderful Open Street Map maps (also offline) and has turn-by-turn navigation.

The reality:

we spent about 5 hours only trying to compile OSMAnd. It’s quite a complex project, with lots of dependencies and, eventually, we gave up.We decided instead to use some online navigation system, with turn-by-turn instructions like mapzen. It’s less optimal and requires  frequently querying the route (in case you miss the turn), but it’s OK for a first prototype!

As for the hardware, we managed to put together an RFduino with a couple of bright LEDs and a simple firmware that flashes the lights based on the received command.

I’ll try to put all the code on github, but it’ll need some polishing first…


Here’s some pictures of the event: