LK8000 and XCSoar on an Unmodified Kobo Mini

This is a guide on how to run LK8000 and XCSoar on an unmodified Kobo Mini. This should work on the Kobo Touch and Glo model as well.

Shopping List

You will need the following parts:

  • USB GPS dongle capable of outputting in NMEA format. I have used a U-blox7, which I bought from ebay for £10 here.

IMG_20160621_190414

  • Micro USB OTG cable with a Y-split for power input. You need the split cable as unfortunately the Kobo USB doesn’t supply power to the GPS. There are some really cheap ones on ebay but I went with a slightly higher priced and higher quality one. I think it is important to get a 90 plug on the Kobo end as it helps to protect the socket more. The USB socket on the Kobo is pretty weak so it is important to protect it as much as possible. The one I bought cost £6 and can be found on ebay here.

IMG_20160621_190406

  • USB battery pack. You need this to power the GPS, but it also charges the Kobo at the same time so the battery lasts ages! I use a tiny 3000mah battery and after 12 hours the Kobo was still at 100% and the battery had more than half it’s charge left. It is important to get a simple battery pack with no power button as these switch themselves off when they detect that a device is fully charged. I used this one from Aukey for £6.99 and it has been perfect. Obviously you can use bigger battery packs but I am just showing that you don’t need to.

Edit: It has been pointed out that the design of the battery pack that I used may have been changed. The version I have has no switch for on and off but a version that someone else bought has an auto cutoff and the charge indicator also turns off the charging. The amazon page still indicates it has no power switch so if you order one and it does you are well within your rights to return it for refund.

Plug it all together and it looks like this:

IMG_20160621_190247

You can easily tuck the battery pack and dongle into your flight deck and you will be left with a nice neat install.

Software Installation

This setup works with both XCSoar and LK8000 so you can choose your favourite software. I personally prefer LK8000 as it is more geared towards the needs of paraglider and hang glider pilots. If you fly competitions then LK8000 is a must as it is the only one that does start cylinders properly.

LK8000

  • Download the latest release of LK8000 from here (currently 5.3U).
  • Unzip the downloaded folder and you will find the Kobo-install-otg zip file inside. You need to unzip this into the root directory of the Kobo.
  • You should end up with an LK8000 folder and a file called KoboRoot.tgz in the .kobo folder. It is important that you have both the LK8000 folder and the KoboRoot.tgz file  on the Kobo or it won’t work.
  • Eject and unplug the Kobo from the computer and it will display updating on the screen for a short while and then boot into the LK8000 start menu.
  • Click ‘fly’ on the menu and plug in the gps dongle and battery as shown in the photo above.
  • Wait for the GPS to lock on to a signal (indicated by flashing green led on this dongle).
  • Go into the device settings and use these settings:IMG_20160621_190515
  • Click terminal to check if the GPS is sending data to the Kobo. It should look something like this:IMG_20160621_190528
  • Exit out of the settings and you should now have a working GPS!IMG_20160621_190325.jpg

XCSoar

XCSoar is exactly the same process of install and setup as LK8000 except that OTG is enabled in the startup menu instead of installing a special version. The option you need is here:

IMG_20160620_175104

The port settings are identical to LK8000 also:

IMG_20160620_175136

 

Early testing seems to show that this setup works reliably and produces a clean track. I have yet to try it in the air but will update when I do.

I want to say a massive thank you to Bruno de Lacheisserie from LK8000 for helping me to get this working on LK8000. Hopefully this will help more people to benefit from the excellent combination of LK8000 and Kobo.

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35 thoughts on “LK8000 and XCSoar on an Unmodified Kobo Mini

  1. Chris Kaminski says:

    Please, re-consider your battery recommendations!
    I bough exactly the one you have suggested
    it switches itself off automatically 😦
    it also switches itself off if you accidentally come anywhere near 4 LEDs on top
    They indicate charge, but also are on/off switch

    I have used another one:
    http://www.verbatim.com/prod/accessories/power-pack-chargers/ultra-slim-power-pack/
    it has a switch (mechanical and very safe, not like the LED things on top Aukey) and it doesn’t switch off when it feels like 😦

    • Interesting information Chris. Maybe they have changed the design since I bought mine as it is permanently on and the led sensor is only for indicating charge and does not switch it off.

      I would recommend trying to find a battery pack with no switches at all, as even a mechanical switch can be accidentally switched off.

      I would also add that the Kobo usb socket is pretty delicate so make sure to use low profile usb leads and treat with care.

  2. Chris Kaminski says:

    It works fine and connects automatically when charging my mobile.

    Maybe it was “Intelligent Touch-to-Wake LED indicator” combined with 100% charged Kobo that was causing problems?

    I know for sure that just plugging the battery into GPS is not enough to wake the “Intelligent system”. It needs Kobo battery load as well as GPS to wake itself up.

    I agree with “no switches” and KISS principles but this “Intelligent system” is dodgy.

    ps Bruno just updated instructions for installing OTG on Kobo:
    http://www.postfrontal.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=8269

  3. I’m struggling to get my Kobo Glo to connect to the GPS dongle, I expect I’m overlooking something basic. Can anyone confirm they’ve got this working on a Glo and whether there’s anything different from the instructions above. Tx.

  4. ccouenen chris says:

    Perfect TUTO, thanks for the job ! Works fine on Kobo Glo HD,personaly I prefer Lk8000 : the reading of the map looks better for me…
    Some problems at the beginning because I used a different OTG cable !

  5. Nick says:

    For some reason I am not seeing the /dev/ttyACMO as a port option for my unit. I can confirm that I am on a KOBO N905C with LK8000 version 6.0b (Nov 11 2016) and have these ports available in the ddl. ttymxc0, ttymxc1, ttymxc2, ttyp0, ttyp1, ttyp2, ttyp3, ttyGS0, TCPClient and TCPServer. Can anyone advise what I have done wrong and how to rectify things so my unit does see the GPS shown in this great article?

  6. Nick says:

    Thanks. I can confirm that I am on a KOBO N905C with LK8000 version 6.0b (Nov 11 2016). The Kobo-install-otg.zip file is now showing as modified on ‎11 ‎November ‎2016, ‏‎20:01:38 after I completed another download. After extracting it to the route folder and re-starting the unit (and seeing the update and re-starting messages) I still have the same list of ports available. I can’t see the ttyACMO as a port option. The dongle still has the green LED pulsing. I must be missing something, apart from my marbles.

  7. Nick says:

    Yes I did, as your article has everything (links) so always use the tried and tested items. I am gradually working through every port combination that I have available with every baud rate, but am still seeing ‘GPS: No Data Rx’. I really do appreciate you taking the time on this. If you think I should get another cable I can do so. I disconnect the battery and then plug that into my PC using that cable. My PC does not pick it up after shutting down and going to Kobo. Is that correct? Obviously I can see the KOBO with another cable as that is how I got the files on there. Does that prove the cable is a duffer?

    • I don’t think that does prove the cable is not working as I believe the usb plug is just for power not data. I haven’t tried it myself but I will try and give it a go soon and see if it works on my Kobo mini.

      I do remember that the ACM port does not show up until you get a lock on the GPS (green flashing light) so if you go into the settings menu before that it won’t show up. From your post it sounds like you are doing it correctly though.

      • Nick says:

        I will keep plugging away for now and thanks for your attempts to fix the issue. Maybe others have suffered the same? I would like to start again but even after I delete the LK8000 folder there must be numerous files hidden as LK8000 still initiates with messages saying files are missing before then falling over. On wards and more importantly, upwards.

  8. Nick says:

    “My PC does not pick it up after shutting down and going to Kobo.” but the Kobo offers the option to connect to the PC – which I try to no avail.

  9. Nick says:

    I have manually deleted various folders and I have installed XCSoar in order to wipe out what I had for LK8000. After the XCSoar install I did not go into the configuration / setup but XCSoar did not detect a GPS either after I set enable OTG USB. I then once again installed LK8000 ver. 6.0b (Nov 11 2016). I am still unable to find the option to use the /dev/ttyACMO port option. I really don’t have a clue but can confirm that I have been through all options in the 9600, 57600 and 115200 baud rates (8bit). Each eventually resulted in either a ‘No Data Rx’ or ‘No ComPort’ message. Totally baffled. I do hope others are not struggling in the same way and it will be great to post a cause and solution post sometime. Thanks for you help dukeofted.

  10. Hi, It doesnt seem to work on an n905c, XCSoar does.

    If you install XCSoar and then enable the OTG, the ports will appear if its connected correctly if the GPS is connected via a cable that works and has power, try USB0 and ACM0 first , one should work.

    n905c – the ports dont appear but on the mini they do.

      • Sorry for all the comments, but I have merged the OTG kernel bits and pieces with the kobo touch executable and OTG seems to work ok, will create a KoboRoot.tgz file and upload to a file soon for you Nick.

      • Nick Simmons says:

        Hello Mr Colbert

        Thanks for your email.

        I must admit I had given up and have got two units that are just sitting in a plastic bag and making me wish. Luckily I have an old tablet thingy which LK works on great. But hard to see in bright light. Your revised /merged tgz will be very welcome. I will keep an eye out for it every day. Thanks again Mr Colbert and have a great New Year.

        Kind regards

        Nick Simmons

      • Hi Nick,

        Its actually really easy to sort, I have made a launcher with the OTG kernel in for the touch, I have a touch unit sat on my desk thats been working for 4 days now, no problems.

        Pop onto http://www.air-ware.co.uk/airware-downloads.php

        Download :-

        Complete install for XCS/LK8000 – with OTG and UK Maps

        At the first menu, system i think and then enable to OTG kernel and then boot to XCSoar or LK8000, plug your usb in and when you go to devices, you should have a /dev/USB0 or /dev/ACM0.

        choose this option and the baud rate of your device ( usually 9600 ) and then your away.

        send me an email @ phil@niviuk.co.uk if you dont get it working.

        Phil.

        ( Are you sure you have an OTG lead ? )

    • Nick says:

      Hello Mr Colbert

      I must admit I had given up and have got two units that are just sitting in a plastic bag and making me wish.
      Luckily I have an old tablet thingy which LK works on great. But hard to see in bright light.
      Your revised /merged tgz will be very welcome. I will keep an eye out for it every day.

      Thanks again Mr Colbert and have a great New Year.

  11. Nick says:

    Happy New Year with safe and fun flying to you all. Just a quick update for my problem case.

    Following Phil’s assistance and enhancements to software, I now have units that are fully functional following this article. Another area that was of a little concern to me was the problem batteries. I managed to find one, on one of those known web sites, and now have a unit that will power my Transceiver, Kobo, and GPS. EC Technology 22400mAh power bank that measures 160 x 80 x 22 mm and weighs 449 g. A bit Over The Top but it does not cut-out when just the Kobo and GPS are connected via the lead shown above. Maybe it will jump start my car too? :-))

    Thanks to time and effort by both the Duke and Phil (and others) this has a great outcome. I would guess the new version of the install, and exe, will be available sometime shortly after February 2017 thanks to all the contributors. What an amazing self-help group this has turned out to be.

    Nick

  12. Stephan says:

    Hi,

    thanks for your great documentation.
    Do you know whats wrong if there is no /dev/ttyacm0 port on my Kobo Mini. I installed the right version (OTG) and the message -USB host kernel- appears on the start page? The U-blox7 connected throught the micro USB OTG is blinking green.

    Kobo model N905

    Thanks

  13. JK says:

    Hi.

    This is Jörg from Mönchengladbach/Germany

    Thx for that tutorial. Great!!!

    But:

    NEVER TRY THAT WITH A KOBO AURA!!!!!! Model (N514)

    You`l have to buy a new one.

    It ois perfidious that everything works out fine. Until the Moment you enable the USB-OTG in the Settings.

    The Screen gets blank an that was it.

    No reset possible!

    • Have you installed the OTG version? Also, I have found that you have to wait for the GPS to get a lock before it shows up in LK8000. Wait until the GPS led is flashing before you setup the port in LK8000.

  14. svoop says:

    Prior to potentially bricking my Kobo: Is it possible to install XSoar on it and still use the Kobo as an e-reader or would it be better to get a dedicated Kobo for this purpose?

    • You can still use the kobo as an ereader with XCSoar or LK8000 installed. When you switch them on there is a menu where you can either load XCSoar/LK8000 or load the original kobo reader software.

      Make sure you make a backup of the internal sd card before you install the software, that way you can recover if you brick it.

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