Tag Archives: GPS

Volterman, Your Personal Smart Wallet

With the rapid growth of technology, smartphones and e-payments are replacing cards, cash, and wallets. However, developers are still trying to keep wallets relevant in the 21st century, and Volterman is the newest attempts. Besides WiFi hotspot and power bank, Volterman also provides novel security features to protect your phone and wallet from loss.

Similar to other smart wallets, Volterman has a GPS tracking capability, so you can find it easily in case it lost. Through Bluetooth connectivity, it connects to the smartphone to ensure that you will not forget one of them. An alarm will start ringing to notify you and pick up what you have missed.

The new innovative idea on Volterman is a small built-in camera. It captures everyone trying to open the wallet while “lost mode” is running. The pictures are sent directly to the paired smartphone, meaning that you will know who is using your wallet and where is he. With an embedded SIM card, you are also able to track your wallet via the website.

Volterman’s Embedded System Specification

Inside the wallet, there is a full computing system to do all the stuff. The main components are:

  • CPU: ARM Cortex A9
  • Memory: 512MB RAM, and 32GB ROM
  • SD card: 64GB embedded card
  • Bluetooth: 5.0
  • Camera: 4MP
  • Mobile Network: Worldwide 2G, 3G
  • Wi-Fi: 802.11 BGN, Hotspot
  • GPS: A-GPS, GLONASS
  • Connector: magnetic connecter by Volterman
  • Power Bank: 2000mA, 2600mA, 5000mA, in addition to the capability of wireless charging.
  • Input voltage: 5V, 1A
  • Output voltage: 5V, 500mA

An interesting point is that the purchase price is covering the data charges for the GPS tracking and sending of photos to the Volterman server. According to the makers, Volterman will automatically connect to local networks in 98 countries, but at the moment the exact tariffs from country to country are unclear. However, it is offering up to 3 times cheaper internet cost than the regular price, with an early estimate of around $15 per 1 GB.

The Volterman comes in three different sizes: a small cardholder model $98 with 2,000-mAh power bank, a conventional bifold wallet $135 with 2,600-mAh power bank, or a larger travel size $157 designed to hold more cards, a passport and with a 5,000-mAh power bank.

After reaching more than one million dollars on IndieGoGo, Volterman is now ready for mass production and estimated to start shipping and the first quarter of 2018.

Take a look at the crowdfunding campaign video below:

2018 Will Mark A Milestone in GPS Technology with 30-centimeter Accuracy

You’re in a crowded street with many high buildings around you and you find your car position on Google maps is wrong. That’s usual, right? This is caused from (fake/distorted) GPS signals reflected from the high buildings around you which make your GPS receiver do some wrong calculations. So be careful don’t always listen to what GPS assistant says!

GPS MEMES

Even with no wrong calculations, the current GPS accuracy is about 5 meters, but this is going to change in next year 2018; where, a new set of satellites with enhanced GPS signals will be available for public use.

The enhanced GPS signal can make the GPS receivers do position calculations with 30-centimeter accuracy instead of today’s 5 meters. Moreover, it solves the problem of reflections inside crowded area with buildings with narrow window to the sky.

The global navigation satellite systems: Europe’s Galileo, Russia’s Glonass, China’s Beidou and US’s GPS transmits information about its position, the current time and more. The receiver, then, uses these signals to calculate the distance from each satellite based on how long the messages took to arrive. However, knowing the distance from 3 satellites is enough to calculate the position using geometric process called trilateration. This message broadcasted by a satellite called L1 signal. where, L band is a range of frequencies from 1 to 2 gigahertz.

To know more about navigation message data structure on L1, read this guide (page 19).

How trilateration works in GPS
How trilateration works. Image Courtesy of Tim Gunther, National Geographic

The next generation set of satellite will broadcast, in addition to L1 signal, a higher frequency signal called L5; where, GPS signal carriers are in the L band and are centered at 1176.45 MHz for L5 and 1575.42 MHz for L1. The following image is going to explain why the new signal can solve the old problem of reflections.

How L5 GPS signal helps
Image Courtesy of Broadcom

Silicon chips market and specifically Broadcom provides BCM47755, the first chipBCM47755 that support the new generation GPS. However, BCM47755 seems interesting not only as a GPS receiver only but also as a sensors hub, where the new chip has 2 cores inside, ARM-based 32-bit Cortex-M4F (CM4), an ARM-based Cortex-M0 (CM0), to implement the ARM big.LITTLE architecture which considered as a new battery-saving method consist of slow processor cores (LITTLE) with relatively more powerful and power-hungry ones (big).

BCM47755 supports GPS,GLONASS, BeiDou (BDS), Galileo(GAL), and SBAS satellite systems and has an operating frequency 150 MHz for Cortex-M4F and 75 MHz for Cortex-M0 CPU. Regarding the peripherals, the new chip provides a set of features like any other off-the-shelf MCU:

  • Up to 50 programmable GPIOs.
  • 2 channel ADC with 12 bit resolution.
  • Flexible interfaces including:  3 SPI ports, four UART ports and four I2C ports.
  • 4 different timers.

Finally, the new chip is available in 77-pin WLBGA package.

To read more about the new GPS generation, check IEEE’s report.

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]