This is a post about the tech setup used, rather than the trip itself. Feel free to skip.

totally not filler content


The timelapses are captured on a GoPro Hero 7 Black, at either 1 or 2 FPS depending on whether it's expected to be scenic. At 1 FPS it takes about 16 hours to fill a 128GB MicroSD card with images. There's several cards, which are swapped out as necessary. Periodically, all data is copied on to a pair of external 4TB HDDs (one from Seagate, one from WD)*

The images are put in folders named with a date stamp and a sequence number for the card (eg, 2019-12-03a), so they're roughly in order. It's not meant to be precise. On one of of the backup disks, the data is processed further (cluster) to rename files in to a more accurate timestamp, and the contents are batched in to individual recordings (a gap of 7+ seconds is a "new recording")

This makes it easy to mark the start and end of scenic bits, by just stopping and starting the recording.

The images are then all rendered in to a raw timelapse video, which can be quickly reviewed for good bits. This is very CPU intensive, processing at about 4-8 FPS, and my poor laptop has spent considerable time doing it.

Once good bits are found, another rendering can be done by specifying a specific timeframe. This is done at multiple resolutions, and uploaded to S3. I might switch to Bitchute at some point, but they are only 720p.

There's no map attached (example from last trip), because I didn't prepare the geographical database on my laptop, and it takes about 28 hours to import on a 12 core server, so I'm not even going to try.

I have however had all the footage up until now (about 2-3TB, 810k images) uploaded to my friends server, and I'll be able to push it home over the next few(?) days. That will ensure that no matter what happens, there will be a good copy of the data up until then. It also means maps can be rendered at home.  We'll see how that turns out.


The GPS logging is done through a Wintec WBT-202. Periodically I collect the data off it. This hasn't been seen much in the blog, but it's a key part because it helps remind us where we've been. It will also be used to provide the map overlay data later.


My camera is a basic Canon rebel T6. Most shots are taken on the basic 18-55mm lens that came with it. I've purchased a new 50mm f1.4 lens, which should help with night shots coming up, but it lacks image stabilization, so it's not useful for basic point and shoot.

I didn't realize how useful stabilization is until it's wasn't there.

Phone pictures also feature occasionally.


The GoPro is mounted to the van with Ram mounts. These things are awesome and everyone should have $300 worth of mounting equipment, just in case they ever want to attach something to something else.

Outdoor shots will take over in a while, as the image quality is so much clearer. When mounted outside, the camera is primarily held stable by a magnetic mount, but also has a claw mount for redundancy, because it's not cheap.

The vehicle

The van is a 2011 Toyota Sienna.

It's white.


There's a whole bunch of small tools I've written to manage things

  • exifcache loads the image timestamp data of all the images in to a cache.  This lets me split some of the processing (ie, spend an hour during the day loading EXIF data, then 6 hours rendering timelapse overnight)
  • stitch renders the timelapse images in to a video, with optional map overlay
  • gpstrail renders GPS points on to a static image (example)
  • gpsrender renders just a map from GPS data without embedding it on to timelapsed images.
  • cluster organizes all the images by timestamp
  • sdcopy a WIP which will detect when an SD card is inserted and copy data to the right place, so I don't need to open my laptop and deal with it manually.  This will probably be more useful with my camera SD card than my GoPro cards, because organizing that is more fiddly.
  • combine merges multiple GPS log files in to one
  • simplify simplifies a GPS log by removing redundant points that can be re-extrapolated if needed.  Mainly to make google earth not die.

At some point I'll probably open source them, but for now they're super adhoc.

* last time I purchased a brand new WD disk on the trip and used it for similar purposes. It failed while copying data off it after returning home. About 1/3 of my trip was lost, including most of the Blueridge Parkway, which was the most beautiful and scenic part of the trip.