I am looking for a data recorder that can be programmed to send a serial data request to a field computer and then accept and record an incoming data string and tie it to GPS location and then save the data as a shapefile at the end of the logging period. Any recommendations or places I can start looking?

I tried to keep my original post relitivley general to reduce confusion. The field computer I refered to in my original post is a spray control console that controls spray application in agricultural fields. it has a speed sensor, flow meter, control valve, and gps receiver attached to it. its purpose is to maintain a given application rate regardless of changes in speed. The console has in the past had an onboard CFcard reader/data recorder that initiated a shapefile on power up of the console and closed the file on power down of the console. on the next power up a new shapefile. The CF card readers are no longer being produced so the consoles are now being produced with out them, thus creating the need to come up with an alternative. The console has a serial comunications connector on it that will output a string of data. the current onboard recorder did this at programamble intervals, internally and also collected the location information from the connected gps receiver and ultimately created a shapefile consisting of a SHP, DBF, SHX files. As this is what we are accustomed to working with, and my customers are fairly tech handicapped, it seemed easiest to keep things as similar as possible. Once the files have been produced they open the files with a GIS software package to view the application data, usually in a color coded map format, but also open the DBF file up directly to view the database lines directly.
So what ideally I need is a recorder with 2 serial connectors. one to receive the console data string and one to accept the GPS string, on completion of the job the recorder will need to save the collected data to a Shapefile.
If there are simple way to collect the data from the unit and location stamp it in a way that can be viewed by a shapefile viewer that would be fine to. Thanks

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    Can you elaborate on your requirements? What hardware and software are you currently using or looking to replace? – blah238 Sep 4 '12 at 21:18
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    Why a shapefile? For data capture (presuming you are talking about continuous logging), it is a seemingly complicated format. Perhaps shooting for gpx or kml would be more achievable. Shapefile would be suited to analysis of the data. It is trivial to convert to shapefile from kml using QGIS. – Willy Sep 5 '12 at 10:19
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    Much free and simple equipment and code outputs gpx and kmls, in my experience. – Willy Sep 5 '12 at 10:27
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    Dan- do the recorder and 'field computer' have to be separate units? There are quite a few Android platforms that have integrated GPS and (with the right app) can save in multiple spatial formats, including shapefiles. However, shapefiles are a little limited compared to a GPX file for storing movement and position data. – Simbamangu Sep 6 '12 at 5:55
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    Unfortunately my expertise in this field is very limited, and my customers who will be using the equipment and viewing the files is even more so. I currently have the customers using a very limited and simple shapefile viewer that allows them to choose the field they are interested in and view it graphically on a map generated by the viewer. For instance, they may be interested in seeing how fast the tractor was traveling in the field. They can choose the speed field and the software will generate a colored map based on the tractor speed at each data point. With this in mind, if another format – user19642 Jul 1 '13 at 23:27

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