Gearing up our Gear

by: April 12th, 2010 comments: 0

Who knew the pleasures of looking after gear?! Inspired by the awesome HOT Haiti Pelican Case, we went out town to snag a budget hard-top brief case, and some foam pillow filling, and went to work with a bread knife. The result is a solid carrying case for up to 14 GPS units, with space for cables, extra batteries, installer discs and documentation. We did up the same for the Flip cameras. In the range of $20-$30, and solid enough.

Gear management needs thought, which would’ve been obvious to anyone keeping track of assets in a school or company. It’s largely ad-hoc in Kibera, and we’re trying to institute systems for daily and longer terms check outs of GPS. Under what criteria and length of time do people get access to a GPS library? For the moment, we keep track of who has what on the wiki.

We’ve settled on Garmin eTrex Legend HCx as our GPS of choice. Color screen, AA battery slots, MicroSD slot, USB interface … and less than $200 each. Been purchasing on Amazon, along with the cheapest MicroSD cared I can find.

The GPS don’t come ready to use. It’s a 10 minute process to configure from factory presets, to settings appropriate for OpenStreetMap mapping. We’ve documented the GPS setup process

Everything within the group is labeled. Everything. The GPS and cameras of course, but also every rechargeable battery, clipboard, and pen. It is shocking how easy these go missing. Our label maker may be our most precious piece of equipment.

Batteries are another management challenge. We now have three chargers, and dozen of NiMH batteries. The Eveready charger seems to work faster than Eneloop. On days before mapping, we’re pretty much loading these up all day long. We also need to make sure all the GPS are loaded with new maps, takes a bit of time!

Hopefully just a few tips that will help others in their gear prep and management.

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