We live in a futuristic utopia where all of the world’s knowledge is constantly at our fingertips. Naturally, we mostly use our fancy pocket computers to post selfies nobody wants to see and to pull up real time, step-by-step directions to whatever restaurant is nearest to us. Surprisingly, however, you don’t need a newfangled pocket computer to do the latter, as proven by Patrick McDavid’s Cheeseburger Compass.
Patrick’s wife Briana is a GIS (geographic information systems) analyst, and knows a thing or two about mapping geographic data. After a particularly vexing project involving discrepancies between physical locations and their corresponding coordinates, she and Patrick determined that Google’s Geocoding API could be used in conjunction with a Python application to look up the precise location of street addresses. That solved Brianna’s problems at work, and they decided they could use the same process for a more interesting application.
That is the Cheeseburger Compass, which can direct you to the closest hamburger joint without using an internet connection. The device is comprised of a Raspberry Pi 3 Model B, a small 16×2 character LCD and keypad HAT, a GPS module, and a lithium-ion battery/charger. For it to work, they started by compiling a list of every Five Guys, In n Out, and White Castle location. Those were then fed into the Python program, which used the Google Geocoding API to look up the GPS coordinates of those locations. With the coordinates ready, using the Cheeseburger Compass is as simple as turning it on. The display shows which restaurant is nearest to the device’s current GPS position, how far away it is, and what direction it’s in.