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Posted 3 Jan 2003


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Add GPS support to your desktop

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18 Feb 20033 min read
Use serial ports to add GPS (Global Positioning System) support to your desktop computer by using NMEA0183 protocol

Sample Image - GPS_support.jpg


GPS stand for Global Positioning System and is a device for finding useful information about geographical location (in other hand, Longitude and Latitude). But these information are not limited to Longitude and Latitude. Some other information like Time, Date, Compass information, Speed and etc. can be obtained from GPS.

GPS devices use satellites (minimum of 3 and maximum of 14) to find your location on the earth. Most modern GPS devices now support a protocol called NMEA0183. This protocol used to transfer geographical location information from GPS to your desktop computer or PDA.

Connecting GPS to your PC

To transfer data from GPS to your computer, you need a serial cable that can connect to your GPS. After this, you must configure your serial port to communication go right. In this project, I configure my serial port as follow:

COM Port: COM2
Baud Rate: 4800
Data Bits: 8
Parity: No Parity
Stop Bits: 2

You must refer to your GPS manual to configure your serial port properly.


As I mentioned before, NMEA0183 is a standard protocol to transfer location information from GPS to your PC. I use a free library that can be added to your project without any modification.

you can find this library in above file. Thanks Sam Blackburn for his nice library. This protocol consists of several sentences that every sentences start by $. For example the sentence


has these informations (in other hand, translated to):

Time: 10:44:35 AM UTC
Latitude: 33 37.19 North
Longitude: 111 58.43 West
Number of satellites: 6

Using Library

First of all, you must add nmea0183.lib to your project. For this reason, Select Project, Settings and then Link Tab. In Object/Library Modules type path of nmea0183.lib library (for example: .\NMEA0183\Debug\NMEA0183.lib).

Then press OK to return to project.

If you use a dialog in your project, Add "NMEA0183.h" to your dialog header file. In other cases add "NMEA0183.h" to main header file.
Now, Add a member variable named nmea0183 with variable type NMEA0183, like this:
NMEA0183 nmea0183;

After this, you must add header and implementation files for serial communication. I use CSerialCom from Shibu K.V. Find his article at this URL: A simple Class for Implementing Serial Communication in Win-9X/2000

Add a member variable named Serial with variable type CSerialCom, like this:
CSerialCom Serial;

Now configure your serial port by:

//Open Port: COM2

//Configure COM2
Serial.ConfigurePort(4800,          //Baud Rate
                     8,             //Data Bits
                     FALSE,         //Has Parity
                     NOPARITY,      //Parity Bits
                     TWOSTOPBITS    //Stop Bits

If anything goes right, you can obtain information from GPS by Read member function, as follow: Note: any NMEA0183 sentences will finished by "\r\n" characters.
//Read data from GPS 
char Data[100]="\0";

BYTE DataByte='\0';
int nIndex=0;

//Obtaining information from GPS character by character
//Note: NMEA0183 sentences will finished by "\r\n" characters!
BOOL Return=Serial.ReadByte(DataByte);
while (DataByte!='\r' && DataByte!='\n' && Return==TRUE)

//Remove garbage characters if any exists!
while (Data[nIndex]!='$' && nIndex<100)

Now, it's time to work with nmea0183 member variable. NMEA0183 class has two very important member functions and one member variable:

  1. AddTail() to add strings retreived from GPS.
  2. Parse() to parse retreived strings. And
  3. PlainText a member variable that stores plain text of translated string.


I use a thread in my dialog based project that it's duty is to communicate to GPS and show location information in a plain text. My thread function is as below:

UINT MyThread(LPVOID pParam)
    CSerialCom Serial;
    NMEA0183 nmea0183;
    CStringList StrList;

    if (!Serial.OpenPort("COM2"))
        AfxMessageBox("Can't Open Port!");
        return 0;
    Serial.ConfigurePort(4800, 8, FALSE, NOPARITY, TWOSTOPBITS);
    //Read data from GPS
    char Data[100]="\0";
    BYTE DataByte='\0';
    int nIndex=0;
    BOOL Return=Serial.ReadByte(DataByte);
    while (DataByte!='\r' && DataByte!='\n' && Return==TRUE)
    //Remove garbage characters
    while (Data[nIndex]!='$' && nIndex<100)
    //Parse strings    
    POSITION position = StrList.GetHeadPosition();
        nmea0183 << StrList.GetNext(position);
        if (!nmea0183.Parse())
            AfxMessageBox("Can't parse!");
            if (nmea0183.PlainText.GetLength()!= 0)
                CString sMsg;
                sMsg.Format("%s",(const char *) nmea0183.PlainText);
    return 0;

When you want to show GPS Information, use this thread as below:


Linking NMEA0183 Library

We can link NMEA0183 library in two ways: Statically Linking and Dynamically Linking. For both of these situations, you must choose proper switches for compiler to compile NMEA0183 library. If you want to compile your application and link it statically with MFC, NMEA0183 should be compiled and linked statically. And if you want to compile your application and link it dynamically with MFC, you should compile NMEA0183 library dynamically.

Further Information

For further information about NMEA0183 protocol and new specifications, visit



This article has no explicit license attached to it but may contain usage terms in the article text or the download files themselves. If in doubt please contact the author via the discussion board below.

A list of licenses authors might use can be found here


About the Author

CEO Solaris Electronics LLC
United Arab Emirates United Arab Emirates
I was born in Shiraz, a very beautiful famous city in Iran. I started programming when I was 12 years old with GWBASIC. Since now, I worked with various programming languages from Basic, Foxpro, C/C++, Visual Basic, Pascal to MATLAB and now Visual C++.
I graduated from Iran University of Science & Technology in Communication Eng., and now work as a system programmer for a telecommunication industry.
I wrote several programs and drivers for Synthesizers, Power Amplifiers, GPIB, GPS devices, Radio cards, Data Acquisition cards and so many related devices.
I'm author of several books like Learning C (primary and advanced), Learning Visual Basic, API application for VB, Teach Yourself Object Oriented Programming (OOP) and etc.
I'm winner of January, May, August 2003 and April 2005 best article of month competition, my articles are:

You can see list of my articles, by clicking here

Comments and Discussions

QuestionGPS software can use software on desktop Pin
dtcweb10-Dec-15 23:40
Memberdtcweb10-Dec-15 23:40 
GeneralMy vote of 5 Pin
Manoj Kumar Choubey26-Feb-12 19:58
professionalManoj Kumar Choubey26-Feb-12 19:58 
QuestionProblem - information [modified] Pin
pentagona22-Jun-11 0:56
Memberpentagona22-Jun-11 0:56 
QuestionHow does the program know if its GPGGA data? Pin
wollow18-Aug-10 15:12
Memberwollow18-Aug-10 15:12 
AnswerRe: How does the program know if its GPGGA data? Pin
wollow18-Aug-10 15:21
Memberwollow18-Aug-10 15:21 
GeneralCan't Parse still a problem... Pin
jo3ran7-Oct-09 0:04
Memberjo3ran7-Oct-09 0:04 
GeneralRe: Can't Parse still a problem... Pin
Mozartjpn29-Oct-09 4:36
MemberMozartjpn29-Oct-09 4:36 
GeneralNeed HELP Pin
Bui Tan Duoc7-Dec-08 20:29
professionalBui Tan Duoc7-Dec-08 20:29 
Generalcricket Pin
givitha12-Aug-08 19:53
Membergivitha12-Aug-08 19:53 
QuestionA C program to read GPS data Pin
roopan_data26-Jul-08 9:57
Memberroopan_data26-Jul-08 9:57 
QuestionHow to use this code in VS2005, Smart device platform, MFC or win32 Pin
susilrani8-May-08 17:15
Membersusilrani8-May-08 17:15 
Questionone receive data, one time display "cannot parcing" ...what problem? plz help me Pin
psmst13-Mar-07 16:53
Memberpsmst13-Mar-07 16:53 
AnswerRe: one receive data, one time display "cannot parcing" ...what problem? plz help me Pin
Abbas_Riazi15-Mar-07 8:49
professionalAbbas_Riazi15-Mar-07 8:49 
Questionhow can I link the nmea0183.lib Pin
jhualiu12-Nov-06 22:42
Memberjhualiu12-Nov-06 22:42 
Generalask about making thread Pin
libbey20-Sep-06 18:17
Memberlibbey20-Sep-06 18:17 
Questioni need your help plz Pin
brahimi moussa10-Jul-06 8:58
Memberbrahimi moussa10-Jul-06 8:58 
AnswerRe: i need your help plz Pin
Abbas_Riazi18-Jul-06 7:57
professionalAbbas_Riazi18-Jul-06 7:57 
QuestionOptimization? Pin
Marcello Faga10-Jul-06 8:00
MemberMarcello Faga10-Jul-06 8:00 
GeneralGPS Pin
k.sushma7-Jul-06 21:21
Memberk.sushma7-Jul-06 21:21 
GeneralCan't Parse msg. Pin
Andrew Qu30-May-06 23:54
MemberAndrew Qu30-May-06 23:54 
AnswerRe: Can't Parse msg. Pin
Abbas_Riazi31-May-06 3:54
professionalAbbas_Riazi31-May-06 3:54 
GeneralRe: Can't Parse msg. Pin
Alastair Stell18-Oct-06 11:21
MemberAlastair Stell18-Oct-06 11:21 
GeneralRe: Can't Parse msg. Pin
Andrew Qu24-Oct-06 0:35
MemberAndrew Qu24-Oct-06 0:35 
GeneralRe: Can't Parse msg. Pin
rajarcr21-Jun-07 18:35
Memberrajarcr21-Jun-07 18:35 
GeneralRe: Can't Parse msg. Pin
Andrew Qu21-Jun-07 23:19
MemberAndrew Qu21-Jun-07 23:19 

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