Tag Archives: GPS

Meet Spritzer, Sony New Arduino

Sony has recently launched one of its new products, Spritzer! Spritzer is an Arduino-compatible board for IoT applications that has built-in GPS, audio codec, and low power consumption.

While it is Arduino-compatible, the board allows any developer to easily start app development using the free Arduino IDE and an ordinary USB cable. In fact, the board features a processing chip with a unique combination of low power consumption and a rapid clock speed of 156MHz. Thus, it is extremely versatile and it can be deployed for a vast range of use cases.

For the first time, the company demonstrated the board at Tokyo Maker Faire last month with a drone utilizing the GPS and the 6-axis sensor support, a smart speaker utilizing the audio functions, a self-driving line-tracing miniature car, and a low-power smart sensing IoT camera using the camera interface of Spritzer.

Sony Spritzer specifications

  • MCU – Sony CDX5602 ARM Cortex-M4F ×6 micro-controller clocked at up to 156 MHz with 1.5MB SRAM
  • Storage – 8MB Flash Memory, micro SD card
  • GNSS – GPS, GLONASS, supported
  • Audio – 3.5mm audio jack
  • Expansion I/Os
    • Digital I/O Pins – SPI, I2C, UART, PWM ×4 (3.3V)
    • Analog Pins – 6ch (3.3V range)
    • Audio I/O – 8ch Digital MICs or 4ch Analog MICs, Stereo Speaker, I2S, CXD5247 audio codec with 192 kHz/24bit High-Resolution audio
    • 2x camera interfaces
  • USB – 1x micro USB port for programming
Spritzer Block Diagram

“You’ll have to connect external module to get Bluetooth, WiFi, and LTE, a display up to 360×240 resolution can be used via SPI, all sort of sensors can be connected via the expansion header, the board is suitable for microphone arrays, and it can be powered by batteries thanks to a charger circuit and fuel gauge inside CXD5247 audio codec / PMU chip.” – CNXSoft

More details about the board will be available by 2018. Until then, check this Japanese official page about Spritzer, or this translated page.

GPS vs. Beacons vs. Wi-Fi: Three Location Identifier Technologies

In IoT and digital age, location-based services applications are widespread: starting from Google maps to anti-loss devices and not ending with location-based marketing. The most common technologies used for user location identification are: GPS, WiFi and Beacons (a custom BLE profile).

Location-based (geofencing) marketing is a new way to enhance the personal experience while shopping. For example if you were near the shampoo section you will get on your mobile exclusive offers about that section.

Choosing the right location detection technology needs to take into consideration that GPS works optimally in the open sky environments and WiFi and Beacons can work probably indoors (and outdoors but within inhabited areas with hotspots). Now let’s get a brief look at each technology:

GPS

Thanks to on-the-shelf GPS modules/receivers from vendors like: Neoway and u-blox it’s easy to embed a GPS receiver into your project. What you need is a module sending its messages via UART to the MCU and a ready-made antenna attached to the module. There is a standard format for these modules messages called NEMEA. These messages contain information about the location that includes longitude, latitude, direction, speed … etc. These receivers need to see at least 4 satellites to compute a position.

There are many navigation systems like the Russian GLONASS, the European Union’s Galileo and the American GPS.

gps system how it works
Image courtesy of: Geneko

GPS is mainly designed to be an outdoor location detection system. Therefore, its performance decreases in enclosed places and across crowded areas with buildings.

WiFi

WiFi can be used in location detection (AKA Wi-Fi positioning system) when your phone or WiFi transceiver module like ESP32 or ESP8266 is near hotspots. You can consider WiFi like a coexisting system with GPS for indoor areas. Moreover, WiFi can be used to detect the location inside the enclosed/underground area; you can see the SubPos project on Hackaday to know how.

Image Courtesy of Blecky

Location detection systems using WiFi use techniques based on received signal strength indication (RSSI), angle of arrival (AoA) and time of flight (ToF). You can read more about these techniques from the Wikipedia article.

Bluetooth Beacons

Beacon technology is enabled by Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) and it’s one of the BLE custom profiles. Beacons are used for proximity-aware applications like positioning indoors, and for location based advertisements. The idea behind this technology is to calculate the distance between the receiver and the transmitter by calculating the difference between the power of the sent and received signal (comparing the Received Signal Strength Indicator (RSSI) to a transmit (Tx) power). Knowing that, the power information is available in Apple iBeacon advertising packet (for example).

 

To know more about Bluetooth beacons please refer to our previous post about Beacons.

Read more about these three technologies in the DZone’s article.

Open-Hardware Reaches The Outer Space with UPSat Satellite

Libre Space Foundation completed the mission of building a completely Open-Source 2U CubeSat Satellite from scratch. It’s called “UPSat”.

On April 18th at Cape Canaveral in Florida, Atlas V Rocket launched Private Cygnus Cargo Ship, and UPSat was among its cargo.

Subsystems of UPSat. Image courtesy of UPSat

With both software and hardware parts published on github. UPSat seems to be a real open hardware project.

Let’s have a quick overview of the UPSat’s subsystems:

  • Electrical Power Subsystem EPS: This subsystem controls the CubeSat’s electrical power. UPSat is powered by 7 PV solar cells and 3 Li-Po rechargeable batteries (3.7V, 4Ah).
  • Image Acquisition Component IAC: The goal of the IAC is to shoot relatively good quality images pointing down to the Earth. IAC consists of a linux embedded board( DART4460 running OpenWRT), and a USB camera Ximea MU9PM-MH with attached lens.
  • Attitude Determination and Control Subsystem ADCS: The ADCS is armed with 3-axis digital gyroscope, magnetometer, Sun Tracker’s pointing vector GPS and Magneto-Torquers. This subsystem is responsible for stabilization of the cube satellite and orienting it in the desired direction.
  • On Board Computer subsystem OBC:  The brain of the satellite for decision making and monitoring of all subsystems. It’s based on STM32F4 microcontroller and uses FreeRTOS firmware.
    OBC PCB

     

  • Communications Subsystem COMMS: It’s based on CC1120, the TI’s High-Performance RF Transceiver.  Because of the low current consumption, the success of employing it in previous missions and other couple of reasons, the folks behind this project selected CC1120 among the others.

The project is completely open-Hardware and even the UPSat’s structure design files are available.

Source: Open Electronics

Sonnet Off-Grid Device, The Smartphone Walkie-Talkie

At Sonnet Labs, a group of avid outdoor enthusiasts aim to democratize mobile communication with technologies that enable smartphones to send text messages, image data, and GPS locations without Internet connectivity, cellular coverage, or satellite reception.

No need for cellular grid with Sonnet

Therefore, they launched their product, Sonnet, the smartphone walkie-talkie! Sonnet is a wireless device that brings the long-range wireless communication capability of the 2-way radio (walkie-talkie) to smartphones. In addition, it enables device-to-device data transfer through low-power, long-range radio frequencies dependently on cellular grids and infrastructures.

Accordingly, Sonnet can connect wirelessly to any smartphone. Also, it allows sending data up to many miles in distance to other smartphones that already are using Sonnet.

More features to come…

Sonnet uses mesh networking in order to reach users out-of-point relaying on sending data privately through other users in area. This data travelling through Sonnet is already end-to-end encrypted with AES. At the same time, the Sonnet Wi-Fi connection is protected with WPA/WPA2.

It also has the ability to charge your phone. Thanks to the 4000mAh battery capacity, Sonnet can charge your smartphone through its USB port.

Moreover, you don’t need to install software in your smartphone. It is enough to have an access to the app through your browser. The team tailored this feature to allow users who don’t have internet access to use the device easily.

Above all, one of the amazing features included is SOS mode. In case of emergencies. you can press the panic button. Next, Sonnet will send your GPS location and your message to all users in range.

Full specifications of Sonnet below:

In conclusion, Sonnet is the wireless device that enables you send instant messages, voice recordings, image data and GPS coordinates even if you don’t have cellular coverage or Internet access.

Sonnet is now live on a Kickstarter campaign and has already achieved 290% of its required funds. The campaign still has 28 days to go, where you can pre-order two pair of Sonnet for $89! Also check the official website for more details.

GPS tracking with an MSP430F5510 over GPRS

Bluehash over at 43oh.com writes:

I found a tiny gem while browsing Github for MSP430 projects. This one is a GPS tracker based on a MSP430F5510 with a GPRS cellular connection for reporting and command input. The GPS is a FGPMMOPA6H from GlobalTop and the GPRS module is a SIM900 from Simcom.
The Github link has details from code to schematics and board files.

GPS tracking with an MSP430F5510 over GPRS – [Link]

PingPong IoT Development Board – Connecting Hardware to the Cloud

Germany-based Round Solutions developed the PingPong, a powerful and flexible hardware platform for IoT and machine-to-machine (M2M) applications. The PingPong can be used for both wired and wireless connections. The modular hardware design can integrate custom-specific applications and communication standards into a single solution platform that has a very small form factor.

The basic hardware platform of PingPong has a 32-bit 200MHz Microchip PIC32MZ microcontroller unit (MCU) running C/C++ code. It supports RTOS or Real Time Operating System which is available as Open Source Software so that developers can adapt their applications individually and bring them to market more swiftly. The base board of PingPong has following features:

  •  A high-speed cellular module
  • A component for high-precision Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS)
  • An Internet connectivity module
  • USB
  • CAN-Bus and many other components

    PingPong - The IoT Development Board RTOS 3G Version
    PingPong – The IoT Development Board RTOS 3G Version

One amazing feature is, the high-speed cellular module and the numerous interfaces can be controlled over the cloud. So, you don’t have to keep it wired all the time in order to control all those modules.

Technical Information:

Having an area of 85×52 mm², the PingPong is really tiny in size compared to its features. It has a booming 4 MB flash memory which is perfect for IoT purpose. PingPong beats other IoT modules with the wireless technologies it possesses – 2G, 3G, Galileo E1, GLONASS, and GPS. Supported bands(MHz) for cellular communication are 1800, 1900, 2100, 850, and 900. It communicates with other MCUs over I²C protocol which is widely used by almost all types of MCUs.

The greatest strength of PingPong is its expandability. The developer can overcome all the limitations of PingPong by adding a variety of expansion cards to the PingPong platform. Some examples of expansion cards are, wireless local area network (WLAN), Bluetooth, input/output (I/0), Iridium satellite communications, ISM/RF, SigFox, near-field communication (NFC), radio-frequency identification (RFID), and camera connectivity.

Applications:

  • Send and receive data: Pingpong offers different possibilities for sending and receiving data. Whether it’s wired over Ethernet or on the go with built-in GSM/GPRS module, PingPong does its job of exchanging data continuously.
  • Remote control: The PingPong can be used to control processes remotely via its outputs. Using the digital output with a relay can either enable or disable the power supply of an application.
  • Positioning: With its built-in GNSS and GPS module, the PingPong can also be used to determine position, motion, speed and acceleration.
  • Telemetry: The PingPong can be connected to a wide variety of sensors to process digital and analog measurements. Thus, for example, temperature values collected from a temperature sensor can be transferred via analog input to the PingPong.

And there are much more applications. From hobby projects to industrial development, sensor data collection to the smart home project – anywhere you can use this versatile board.

PingPong supports numerous expansion cards
PingPong supports numerous expansion cards

Important Links:

To learn more on this amazing IoT board, watch these three videos:


Conclusion:

The PingPong is a surprisingly powerful IoT module. It’s a developer’s dream. Having all these features in one package is truly outstanding. The feature of adding expansion cards makes it even stronger.

You can purchase your own PingPong from roundsolutions.com at €199.00. It may seem to be a bit overpriced, but it’s really not. Just consider the features you are getting in a single package and you’ll realize it.

GPS RECEIVER TO FM RADIO (88-107 MHz) AUDIO + RDS TRACKING V2

Today I made some modifications to this is a new project for a GPS to FM radio tracking device for rockets i.e. the V2. The initial design lacked the antenna impedance matching circuit which caused problems with the end amplifier. Also I increased the possible choices of frequencies, see the table further down. Now instead of soldering and de-soldering tiny resistors, the frequency and the transmitting modes are selected via a DIP switch.

GPS RECEIVER TO FM RADIO (88-107 MHz) AUDIO + RDS TRACKING V2 – [Link]

MINI PIC GPS DATA LOGGER WITH MICRO-SD CARD

Based on my first GPS data logger  I made a new version which is even smaller than the initial design and should be able to fit in any rocket, RC model etc. The new GPS data logger uses micro-SD card and 3.7v LIPO battery as power source. The board was also optimized and the new size is 20mm x 27mm – less than a standard SD card as you can see on the picture to the right.

MINI PIC GPS DATA LOGGER WITH MICRO-SD CARD – [Link]

Collecting GPS Data Using GPS Module With Windows IoT

Bardaan A published a guide on hackster.io showing full instructions for developing a Windows IoT application that receives and extracts essential GPS data from a connected serial GPS module.

To follow this guide, you have to use Raspberry Pi 3 model B with Andoer NEO-6M GPS module, and also have Microsoft Visual Studio 2015 installed on your computer.

Application Interface
Application Interface

The Raspberry Pi 3 model B is a $35 single board computer with the size of a credit card. It is an improved version of Raspberry Pi 2 Model B and it features a 1.2 GHz 64-bit quad-core CPU,1GB RAM, integrated Wireless LAN, and Bluetooth 4.1 supporting Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE). The main board contains 4 USB ports, 40 I/O pins, HDMI port, Ethernet port, 3.5mm audio jack, and microSD card slot.

Raspberry Pi 3 model B
Raspberry Pi 3 model B

Andoer NEO-6M is a standalone GPS receiver module that implements the NEO-6M position engine developed by u-blox. It supports UART, USB, DDC (I2C compliant) and SPI interfaces and has low power consumption with high performance capabilities. NEO-6M’s strength point is that one of the received NMEA sentences is the GPGGA sentence, Global Positioning System Fix Data, which provides essential fix data.

Andoer NEO-6M GPS Module
Andoer NEO-6M GPS Module

The received GPGGA sentence will be send by Raspberry Pi to the application which processes it and extracts the essential information such as time, geographic coordinates, and altitude, and eventually displays them on a GUI with the connection status .

The GPS receiver must be connected to the Raspberry Pi as shown in the figure:

schematic

The source code with the detailed tutorial can be reached here.

DIY Altimeter using a NEO UBLOX GPS module and a Color OLED

In this video educ8s.tv is going to build a DIY Altimeter using the UBLOX NEO-6M GPS module along with a color OLED display with the SSD1331 driver.

About a year ago, I built some GPS projects using this GPS shield. This shield is great but unfortunately it is no longer available for sale. Also its size is big so it is not ideal for smaller projects. So, while searching on Banggood.com I discovered this tiny GPS module. It costs around $16 and Banggood.com was kind enough to send me a sample unit in order to test it

DIY Altimeter using a NEO UBLOX GPS module and a Color OLED – [Link]