Getting a POSM

Interested in getting a POSM? This involves a little bit of DIY, but advanced tech skills are not required. This site has instructions that walk through the whole process.

First, you order the hardware kit (you’ll have to assemble a few things). Next, you load the core software onto the device for a first-time install. This transforms the unit into a POSM. After that, the POSM is ready to go and can be used over and over again.

Anatomy of a POSM

Hardware

We used the following hardware components for the original version of POSM, which cost about $300 in total:

If you want to be able to use OpenDroneMap with POSM, then you will want slightly more souped-up hardware with greater processing power. Instead of the NUC unit above, order the following, somewhat more expensive model:

Software

Once you’ve ordered and assembled the components, you’ll load the device with a core software package that transforms it into a POSM. The package includes the core POSM software, all of the tools that POSM supports, and other downloads/apps to support mapping and mobile data collection.

The POSM download is here and instructions are in the following section.

For developers: the POSM software is free, open-source, and available through the POSM GitHub organization with technical documentation and a variety of other resources. If you want more technical info or a less GUI-oriented means of setting this up, then head over to GitHub.

Other things you will need

The POSM hardware is a mini-computer. To set it up for the very first time, you’ll need to plug in the following:

  • USB keyboard
  • external monitor or TV with an HDMI input
  • USB stick (minimum 4 GB)

You’ll also need an internet connection with an ethernet cable to load an area of interest onto the POSM and set it up for the field.

First-time install

First, download the core POSM software. This will download with the file name posm-0.7.2.iso. You’ll need to extract it into a set of folders on your USB, but first you’ll have to change the USB formatting (UEFI booting is the technical term for what’s being facilitated).

Configuring the USB stick

Mac

On a Mac, plug in your USB stick and open Disk Utility. Navigate to the USB stick and click “Erase”.

Give the USB stick a name. Set the format to MS-DOS (FAT) and the scheme to GUID Partition Map. Then click “Erase”, which will delete all existing files and reformat the drive to make it compatible with the POSM. See below:

Windows

On a PC, connect the USB drive, then go to “Computer” or “My Computer”, right-click the drive and select “Format…” from the menu. Set the drive to FAT.

Moving and extracting the POSM download (AKA “ISO file”) onto the USB stick

If you don’t use command line, then moving the POSM download bundle involves downloading a file extractor to extract it (we use The Unarchiver for Mac or 7-Zip for Windows).

On a Mac, open The Unarchiver and navigate to the Extraction tab. Where it says “Create a new folder for the extracted files”, select Never. The reason we do this is because the POSM download has to be extracted and moved onto the USB stick. Most file extractors will place extracted files into an overall folder. The POSM unit can’t handle this, and you can’t just manually move everything one level up because there are hidden files that will get missed.

Use your extraction client (The Unarchiver or 7-Zip) to extract the download (posm-0.7.2.iso) from your computer onto the USB stick… again, making sure that the files do not end up in an overall folder. On a Mac, you do this by right-clicking the posm-0.7.2.iso file and selecting Open with...The Unarchiver. Set the destination folder to the USB stick and press “Extract”. If you don’t see the option in the right-click menu, then open The Unarchiver app and go to File then select Unarchive To... and first select the iso file and then select the USB drive.

As an alternative to The Unarchiver, on a Mac you can install 7z with homebrew and then use it to extract the contents:

brew install p7zip
7z x PATH/TO/FILE/posm-0.7.2.iso -o/Volumes/NAME_OF_USB

Regardless of the extraction method, the contents of your USB stick should look like this:

POSM first-time install

Alright, you’re finally ready. Take the Intel NUC unit that you’ve assembled and plug in an external monitor, a keyboard, and the USB stick you’ve prepared. Turn the power on.

You’ll see a dark boot screen appear on your monitor with the Intel NUC logo and a few options in the bottom-right corner. Press F10 when prompted. You’ll have to be quick on the draw with this because the prompt only lasts a few seconds. If you miss it, then just turn the power off and try again.

This will open a menu (see below) where you have to select which device to boot from. Use the arrow keys to select your USB stick, then hit enter.

You’ll be prompted by a screen that says GNU GRUB at the top and asks if you want to do an automated install. You do. You can also wait 10 seconds and it will take matters into its own hands.

That’s it. The software will install onto the NUC unit, transforming it into a POSM. This can take several minutes. When it’s complete, you’ll be prompted with a screen asking you for login credentials. You can log in if you want. The username is root and password is posm.

Finally, the screen will look like this when the whole process is complete. You can now power-down the POSM, disconnect the USB stick and keyboard and monitor. It is set up and ready for use.

Reminder: you only need to do this the very first time you take your POSM out of its cardboard box and set it up (or upgrade the core POSM software). After that, it’s just a matter of loading areas of interest and creating deployments.

Note: if you ever want to wipe and reinstall the core POSM software (to install a new version, etc), then it’s the same process - prep the USB stick, plug in the monitor etc, and press F10 when prompted. The NUC unit will overwrite the existing installation with new software from the USB stick.