Tag Archives: GPS

MobileNode is a circular IoT board

This open source, Arduino-compatible GSM/GPRS and GPS/GLONASS device provides real-time data anywhere, about anything.

The MobileNode is an open source IoT board, which was named a semi-finalist in last year’s Hackaday Prize and is now live on Indiegogo. Measuring just seven centimeters in diameter, the circular device is equipped with an ATmega32U4 MCU at its core, a GPS/GLONASS module for tracking and a GSM/GPRS chip for data transmission.


Makers can easily attach a variety of sensors to the MobileNode, including air quality (CO, CO2, O2, etc.), temperature, humidity, fire and motion, as well as add lights, servo motors and other electronic circuits. This enables the Arduino-compatible board to monitor air pollution, reduce energy consumption, collect real-time data, and even control food production machinery. What’s more, there are four holes for M1.2 or M1.4 screws, making it possible to house the MobileNode inside a box or case.


Every MobileNode comes with an attached tag, which contains both a public and private key. As its creators Oscar Rojas and Camilo Rojas reveal, you can push data to the cloud with the private key, while accessing such information via the public key. Meanwhile, GPS coordinates are shown in a Google Map along with the board’s orientation data given by its e-compass.


Aside from all that, MobileNode features an electret microphone that lets users hear what is happening nearby, a Nano SIM card socket, TVS diodes and Bluetooth. It is also possible to connect an external antenna to the GPS module, since some applications call for the MobileNode to be used indoors.

Intrigued? Head over to its Indiegogo page here, or watch the video below.

SmartEverything is like the Swiss Army knife of IoT boards

The SmartEverything dev board is an Arduino form-factor prototyping platform that combines SIGFOX, BLE, NFC, GPS and a suite of sensors.

Announced earlier this year, SmartEverything is an IoT development platform from Arrow Electronics. Living up to its name, the latest iteration of the SoC, dubbed the SmartEverything Foxboasts a familiar Arduino form-factor with an array of factory-bundled I/O ports, sensors and wireless connectivity.


Impressively, the kit combines SIGFOX, Bluetooth and NFC technologies with GPS and a suite of embedded sensors. An Atmel | SMART D21 at its heart is used to integrate the featured devices, while a SIGFOX module provides IoT enablement.

The SIGFOX standard is energy efficient and wide-transmission-range technology that employs UNB (Ultra Narrow Band) based radio and offers low data-transfer speeds of 10 to 1000 bits per second. However, it is highly energy-efficient and typically consumes only 50μW compared to 5000μW for cellular communication, meaning significantly enhanced battery life for mobile or portable smart devices.


A Telit LE51-868 S wireless module gives design engineers access to the rapidly expanding SIGFOX cellular wireless network and covers the 863-870MHz unlicensed ISM band. It is preloaded with the SIGFOX network stack and the Telit proprietary Star Network protocol. What’s more, the Telit cloud management software provides easy connection up to the cloud.

Truly like the Swiss Army knife of the IoT, the SmartEverything board is equipped with: an Atmel Crypto Authentication chipset; an 868MHz antenna; a GPS module with embedded antenna for localizations applications, which supports the GPS, QZSS and GLONASS standards, and is Galileo ready; a proximity and ambient light sensor; a capacitive digital sensor for humidity and temperature measurement; a nine-axis 3D accelerometer, a 3D gyroscope and 3D magnetometer combination sensor; a MEMS-based pressure sensor; an NTAG I2C NFC module; and a Bluetooth Low Energy transceiver.


The SmartEverything measures only 68.8mm x 53.3mm in size, and includes USB connectors, a power jack and an antenna extending that extend the board. The unit can be powered in one of three ways, either through two AA 1.5V batteries (1.4V to 3.2V), a 5 to 45V external supply or a 5V mini-USB connector.

For quick and easy software development, the SmartEverything Fox board is fully supported by the Arduino IDE and Atmel Studio. Can it get any better than that? If you’re looking for an IoT board that does just about everything, you may want to check this SoC out.

GeoThings lets you bring your outdoor IoT ideas to life

GeoThings is an ATmega328P based, solar-powered platform for creating outdoor Internet-connected sensors and hardware.

Has an awesome outdoor IoT project ever come to mind yet you were left unsure how to bring that idea to life? Well, one Miami-based startup has developed a powerful platform that will alleviate all the hassle and allow you to seamlessly connect your gadget to the web in no time.


Meet GeoThingsan Arduino-compatible board that comes fully equipped with GPS, solar power and wireless connectivity, enabling you to monitor, control, automate and explore countless things outside all from the comfort of your home, office or even on the go.

Measuring only 1.5” x 1.7” x  0.4” in size and weighing less than an ounce, this super compact board boasts ultra-low power consumption. With an ATmega328P at its core, built-in 2G/3G and GPS with antenna, a USB port for programming and charging, a microSD socket and a 1000mAh battery, all housed inside a rainproof case.

Not only compatible with Arduino, GeoThings supports more than 200 different sensors. And thanks to its solar capabilities, you can run these sensors comfortably without ever worrying about recharging or batteries.


What’s more, you can easily integrate your device with the GeoThings API, as well as develop your own app either using of the platform’s open source libraries or its accompanying app, GeoApp. Simply connect any sensor to the web and observe your data in real-time.

“Our GeoThings Cloud Platform is our online tool that allows you to work with our REST API and mobile apps, interact with IFTTT, etc. It enables you to see your geo data over the web,” the startup notes.

Each GeoThings unit comes preloaded with a global SIM card as well as three months of their basic data plan (1MB/month). Those requiring more data can select an affordable package from one of the platform’s carrier partners.


As to what you can create with GeoThings, the sky is the limit. Some sample use cases already include tracking your pets and receiving a message if they wander off, monitoring your garden soil and turning on the irrigation system when dry, keeping tabs on your swimming pool and activating the filter, as well as securing your car and receiving an alert if tampered with.

“GeoThings works with all outdoor things. Small, almost invisible, solar powered, GPS-powered and mobile chip linked. It easily attaches to cars, trucks, gardens, boats, pets, wildlife, helium balloons, floating devices, waterproof,” the team explains. “Remote travel projects are thrilling and easy. Mountains, wind, pollution, stratosphere, birds, trees, trips, sea, travel… project kits are easy to assemble and launch.”

From analyzing air pollution and radiation to detecting water leaks and traffic congestion, GeoThings does it all. The question is: Are you ready to bring your outdoor IoT idea to life? If so, check out the platform on Kickstarter, where its team is currently seeking $190,000. Delivery is slated for April 2016.

C-way is a plug and play wearable for kids

C-way is a GPS wearable that allows kids to have fun and parents to check their whereabouts.

It’s tough being a parent these days — a glimpse of the news makes that abundantly clear. Parents have the responsibility of protecting their children, but it often requires a fine balance. Kids also need their space in order to develop their independence and to experience their childhood.


Luckily, C-way is a device that can help with balancing these two challenges. The stylish wearable allows kids to enjoy themselves with various add-on modules. The product is geared towards children, providing a plug and play concept that enables 3-6 year olds to personalize their gadget with LEGO figurines along with games like hide and seek. As for the 8-10 year old crowd, the device becomes a bit more advanced as it displays icons, text messages and even the time.


Not only does C-way function as a wristband, watch, compass, scheduler and entertainment console, its GPS locator feature lets parents monitor their children’s location and the approximate distance between them using its accompanying mobile app. You can even keep tabs on up to three kids at once! What’s more, should the wearable ever be removed, an alert will be immediately sent with their last whereabouts.

Upon opening the unit, simply scan the QR code with your smartphone to directly link the two. As its creators reveal, “No need to enter any number, IMEI, or phone number. No Wi-Fi or Bluetooth pairing needed.”


In terms of hardware, the C-way is equipped with a GPS and GSM antenna, a GPS locator, a SIM card and a 330mAh lithium-ion battery with a lifespan of about a day. Meanwhile, its watch add-on sports an 128 x64-pixel LCD screen and Bluetooth Low Energy connectivity.

Interested? Head over to C-way’s Kickstarter campaign, where the team is currently seeking $111,638. Delivery is slated for February 2016.

Introducing a personal assistant to help you remember your things

THE O will make sure you never leave your valuables behind again.

With people always on the go and in a rush these days, it’s easy to leave important things behind by accident. Even if you’re on alert, an item can slip out of your pocket or purse without your knowledge. But thanks to THE O, not anymore.


Billed as “a comprehensive virtual personal assistant,” the smart accessory will notify you as soon as you forget or misplace one of your belongings. THE O can easily attach to just about anything, from your keys and wallet to your jacket and briefcase. The wearable unit comes in three different models: original and octopus (gunmetal rhodium), luxury (gold plated), and light (rubber).

The accessory works by connecting to an accompanying mobile app via Bluetooth and alerting you only when it needs to, acting as a virtual leash when you’ve moved too far away from your item. THE O can also check your essentials for you before leaving the house in the morning or after getting up from lunch, storing GPS location and time then marking needed items on appropriate days.


Focusing on a minimized size and a waterproof feature, its creators have designed a custom PCB to fit into its special ABS shell. The devices are assembled through ultrasonic welding, and a small PET slip is used to connect to the circuit. THE O itself measures only 4mm x 39mm x 29mm in size, so it’s certainly mall enough to be slipped into a pocket, sewn onto an umbrella or clipped onto a bag. Aside from that, the device’s coin-cell battery boasts a life of around 18 months.

Currently live on Kickstarter, THE O team is seeking $48,606. Pending all goes to plan, the first batch of units will ship in February 2016.

Buddy is the smartest dog collar ever

Buddy is a fully-integrated LED dog collar that’s connecting humans to their dogs like never before.

Currently live on Kickstarter, Buddy is a fully-integrated LED dog collar that does a whole lot more than simply light up with vibrant colors. The latest wearable for pups from Squeaker uses GPS, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi technologies to keep our four-legged friends safe while tracking and organizing their activities in real-time.


Did you know over six million dogs are injured or killed on our roads each year? Unfortunately, a large number of those incidents occur at night where visibility is hindered. We can’t always trust the judgement of others, so why take a chance with your beloved pets safety and well-being? That’s why Buddy offers owners a peace of mind by monitoring their daily activity and whereabouts in real-time via GPS, so you know where they are and what they are up to at the press of a button.

While up until now LED collars have been a one color proposition, Buddy is changing the game with a stack of individually programmable lights that allow the device to display an almost infinite amount of unique patterns and color combinations. Meaning, not only will it keep your dog illuminated and clearly visible from potential mishaps with cyclists, vehicles and other hazards, it can do so in style. These hues and sequences can be selected and managed via an accompanying app on your iPhone, Android smartphone or Apple Watch.


In terms of hardware, Buddy is equipped with a microprocessor, a Bluetooth Low Energy module, an OLED display, a three-axis accelerometer, a temperature sensor, a light sensor that can detect the time of day, and a rechargeable battery life of 14 days. Like a Fitbit for dogs, the collar can also track steps, distances traveled and activity loads by collating data from its accelerometer and gyroscope, as well as analyze sleep patterns and vital signs.

To conserve battery power, the Squeaker team developed a Wi-Fi charging dock that communicates with the collar while handling all of the Wi-Fi power demands. Not only does the Buddy base station have its own nifty RGB lighting effects, it can visually alert you if a pet has left the geo-fenced area.

Speaking of which, Buddy enables users to set custom safe zones for their pet. This creates a virtual boundary around specific areas that you setup and control, using geofencing technology built right into the collar and app. Should good ol’ Fido venture out of these pre-defined areas, you’ll be notified instantly and prompted to their location with step-by-step instructions.


Additionally, the Buddy app has built-in barcode scanning functionality and contains an up-to-date database of the most popular pet foods by vets and other dog professionals. In other words, you can input their daily calorie intake so Buddy can offset this against their daily exercise for a clear picture of their health. This information can then be provided to your vet.

As if all that wasn’t enough, Buddy was designed with the Internet of Things in mind. And so, the intelligent collar easily integrates with your smart home devices. For instance, its embedded temperature sensor will let a Nest thermostat know if your canine companion is either too hot or cold, then adjust accordingly. The wearable can even alert you via your LIFX or Phillips Hue smart bulbs if something goes wrong.


Whew… that’s a lot. But as those with pets know, there’s no such thing as having too much safety and fun when it comes to man’s best friend. Interested? Hurry over to its Kickstarter campaign, where Squeaker is currently seeking $281,233. Units are expected to ship to backers in December 2015.

Why do drones love the Atmel SAM E70?

Eric Esteve explains why the latest Cortex-M7 MCU series will open up countless capabilities for drones other than just flying. 

By nature, avionics is a mature market requiring the use of validated system solution: safety is an absolute requirement, while innovative systems require a stringent qualification phase. That’s why the very fast adoption of drones as an alternative solution for human piloted planes is impressive. It took 10 or so years for drones to become widely developed and employed for various applications, ranging from war to entertainment, with prices spanning a hundreds of dollars to several hundreds of thousands. But, even if we consider consumer-oriented, inexpensive drones, the required processing capabilities not only call for high performance but versatile MCU as well, capable of managing its built-in gyroscope, accelerator, geomagnetic sensor, GPS, rotational station, four to six-axis control, optical flow and so on.


When I was designing for avionics, namely the electronic CFM56 motor control (this reactor being jointly developed by GE in the U.S. and Snecma in France, equipping Boeing and Airbus planes), the CPU was a multi-hundred dollar Motorola 68020, leading to a $20 per MIPS cost! While I may not know the Atmel | SMART SAM E70 price precisely — I would guess that it cost a few dollars — what I do I know is that the MCU is offering an excess of 600 DMIPS. Aside from its high performance, this series boasts a rather large on-chip memory size of up to 384KB SRAM and 2MB Flash — just one of many pivotal reasons that this MCU has been selected to support the “drone with integrated navigation control to avoid obstacle and improve stability.”

In fact, the key design requirements for this application were: +600 DMIPS, camera sensor interface, dual ADC and PWM for motor control and dual CAN, all bundled up in a small package. Looking at the block diagram below helps link the MCU features with the various application capabilities: gyroscope (SPI), accelerator (SPI x2), geomagnetic sensor (I2C x2), GPS (UART), one or two-channel rotational station (UART x2), four or six-axis control communication (CAN x2), voltage/current (ADC), analog sensor (ADC), optical flow sensor (through image sensor Interface or ISI) and pulse width modulation (PWM x8) to support the rotational station and four or six-axis speed PWM control.

For those of you who may not know, the SAM E70 is based on the ARM-Cortex M7 — a principle and multi-verse handling MCU that combines superior performance with extensive peripheral sets supporting multi-threaded processes. It’s this multi-thread support that will surely open up countless capabilities for drones other than simply flying.

Atmel | SMART ARM Cortex M7 SAM E70

Today’s drones already possess the ability to soar through the air or stay stationary, snapping pictures or capturing HD footage. That’s already very impressive to see sub-kilogram devices offering such capabilities! However, the drone market is already looking ahead, preparing for the future, with the desire to get more application stacks into the UAVs so they can take in automation, routing, cloud connectivity (when available), 4G/5G, and other wireless functionalities to enhance data pulling and posting.

For instance, imagine a small town tallying a few thousand habitants, except a couple of days or weeks per year because of a special event or holiday, a hundred thousand people come storming into the area. These folks want to feed their smartphone with multimedia or share live experiences by sending movies or photos, most of them at the same time. The 4G/5G and cloud infrastructure is not tailored for such an amount of people, so the communication system may break. Yet, this problem could be fixed by simply calling in drone backup to reinforce the communication infrastructure for that period of time.

While this may be just one example of what could be achieved with the advanced usage of drones, each of the innovative applications will be characterized by a common set of requirements: high processing performance, large SRAM and flash memory capability, and extensive peripheral sets supporting multi-threaded processes. In this case, the Cortex M7 ARM-based SAM E70 MCU is an ideal choice with processing power in excess of 640 DMIPS, large on-chip SRAM (up to 384 KB) and Flash (up to 2MB) capabilities managing all sorts of sensors, navigation, automation, servos, motor, routing, adjustments, video/audio and more.

Intrigued? You’ll want to check out some of the products and design kits below:

This post has been republished with permission from SemiWiki.com, where Eric Esteve is a principle blogger as well as one of the four founding members of SemiWiki.com. This blog first appeared on SemiWiki on July 18, 2015.

These robotic swans could be the future of water testing

These sensor-laden, robotic swans could one day provide essential, real-time water testing in reservoirs around the world.

The next time you see a swan swimming around a nearby lake or pond, you may want to look again, especially if you live in Singapore. That’s because researchers are employing robotic swans as a way to conduct water testing in reservoirs around the country, and eventually, the world.

(Source: Jack Board / Channel NewsAsia)

(Source: Jack Board / Channel NewsAsia)

Though the idea was first conceived back in 2010 in collaboration with the country’s water agency PUB, the National University of Singapore team only began piloting the so-called NUSwan last year. Equipped with a series of sensors and actuators, the robotic bird moves about the water while monitoring conditions like pH, dissolved oxygen, turbidity and chlorophyll to determine whether there are problems with the source.

Among the advanced technology embedded inside the lifelike animal is a fresh water phosphate sensor, which happens to be the brainchild of a separate NUS team. Phosphates are key nutrients in the development of blue-green algal blooms, which can be devastating for reservoirs. Fortunately, sensor-laden swans would be able to provide immediate alerts to such murky bodies of water, allowing officials to quickly respond to a contamination. As Channel NewsAsia points out, a proliferation of algal blooms caused thousands of fish to die earlier this year.

(Source: National University of Singapore)

(Source: National University of Singapore)

The swans are equipped with GPS for navigation, which its creators reveal is much more advanced than a Roomba, and will not duplicate an area unless otherwise programmed. For hours on end, the autonomous bird swims around, collecting and sending wireless data to researchers through the cloud in real-time. It can also be controlled both via online and a handheld RC device. And just like a robotic vacuum, NUSwan will return back to its docking station and recharge after a day’s work.

On top of all that, the NUSwan platform is entirely scalable.

Video: Check out this dead-bugged GPS/GLONASS/Geiger counter

Maker creates a GPS/GLONASS/Geiger counter mashup dead bug-style with tiny 0402-sized parts.

Even if you’re a champ when it comes to soldering uber mini parts onto a PCB, you’ll be left scratching your head after watching the video below. That’s because, a Maker by the name of Shibata recently devised a GPS/GLONASS and Geiger counter mashup dead-bug style with tiny 0402-sized parts.


As our friends at Hackaday note, the device is comprised of an extremely small GPS/GLONASS receiver, an ATxmega128D3 MCU, a standard Nokia phone display and a Geiger tube with a mica window to track its location and the current level of radiation.

“The idea behind this project isn’t really that remarkable; the astonishing thing is the way this project is put together. It’s held together with either skill or prayer, with tiny bits of magnet wire replacing what would normally be PCB traces, and individual components making up the entire circuit,” Brian Benchoff writes.

While there’s not much detail around what’s actually going on in the build, the Maker’s soldering skills are certainly worth checking out… You’ll have to see it to believe it! (You can also read more on Hackaday here.)

Creating a machine to track activities in lower Earth orbit

SATELLITEN works by tracing the paths of satellites in real-time on a paper map.

Satellites are used for nearly all modern-day achievements, from communication and navigation systems to environmental monitoring and military purposes. Since the launch of the Sputnik 1 in 1957, more than 6,600 of them have gone into orbit, of which about 3,600 remain in space with only 1,000 or so still operational today. Yet, GPS accounts for just 24 of these active extraterrestrial objects. That’s why Berlin studio Quadrature has developed a custom-built machine that is capable of keeping tabs on the number of satellite flyovers and plotting them in real-time.


SATELLITEN works by tracing the satellite pathways on a paper map with pen, all within a 10 centimeter square area, as they fly overhead. By scribbling the journeys in ink until each capsule leaves the horizon will eventually result in an almost entirely blacked-out square, or as its creators call it, “a temporal window, showing the seemingly arbitrary but highly structured activities in lower Earth orbit.” The device uses its own position as a starting point and old atlases of the area as a benchmark for its drawings, while relying on a database maintained by the U.S. Air Force to track the lines of satellite activity.

“For a long time, maps and atlases used to be one of the only sources for geographical knowledge. Now the paths of the satellites start to form on top of the familiar neighborhoods, thus setting the normally invisible traffic in relation to our usual habitat. But as time passes the lines of the satellites will obliterate the well-known streets and cities, overwriting not only the information the map originally contained but as well the marks left by the preceding satellites,” the team shares.


In order to make this project possible, Quadrature used a number of stepper motors, motor drivers and sensors, which were driven by a combination of Arduino and Raspberry Pi.

Interested? Check out the project’s official page to learn more.