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Saturday, March 22, 2008

Concept designs: candy for the eye

Here is a first draft of the package for the current PCB design for the GPS module. I thought giving it an iPhone look would be attractive. The intention was to have it look like a MiniPhone (a Miniature iPhone). The size is about 1in x 1in.

Concept 1

3D View:

Front view:

Side view:

Bottom view:

Now, if we really want to push the limits, I could come up with a different package design, but this would require a new design of the PCB board for a smaller GPS chip and a smaller antenna. The resulting size would be about 46mm x 15mm. Note that I haven't really looked into this re-design in detail, so these numbers are preliminary. Concept 2 shows this alternative design.

Concept 2

3D View:

Front view:

Side view:

Bottom view:

And lastly a few notes:

  • Extending the package all the way to the edge of the iPhone doesn't look good due to the fact that the corners of the phone have a fairly large radius of curvature.

  • Due to the curvature of the iPhone itself, the speaker and microphone at the bottom of the phone will not be interfered with by the package, even if the package overlaps those areas. You can try this out yourself: just press a flat object against the areas while playing some music or making a call to your home.

  • I haven't forgotten about the iTouch. The iTouch has a smaller thickness than the iPhone (8mm instead of 11.6mm) and there is the headphone jack in the bottom. Due to this, it will require a different kind of antenna and a re-design of the PCB board. As such, it might be better to go with a Concept 2 approach for the iTouch. I still need think some more about how to integrate/pass-through the headphone jack...

I encourage everyone to post their comments on the current two package concepts. And also, if you have more friends with an iPhone/iTouch, tell them about the site and have them vote. The more people who want a GPS module, the better, since it will make it worth my effort and time and it will also reduce the cost for everyone.


indiekiduk said...

The GPS would get a stronger signal and a more accurate fix if the antenna was at the top of the phone.

Simba said...

indiekiduk, you can rotate your iPhone upside down, so the GPS module will be on top. I hope that the upcoming software will support iPhone rotation.

Marco said...

Concept 2 looks nicer

wlyeo said...

I prefer Concept 2 design

Anonymous said...

Concept 2 - the problem I have is how strong will the conection between the phone and the unit be - you really wouldn't want to snap it off.

Another thing - I would simply make it all matte black - keep it simple, keep costs down, improve signal - I don't think you will be able to get the same finish if you try to make it look like a mini iPhone, it may end up looking tacky.

Very nice work though and cannot wait to get mine.

PS - This needs to work with Google Maps App - that would be 100% perfect.

Anonymous said...

Very nice!
And what about software? Will it really be Open Source as promised?

Anonymous said...

It's coming along just great. I agree with the first anonymous individual (lol) in stating that maybe sticking with an all black finish would be beneficial. That way it keeps costs down and the chance of it looking tacky...I just want something that works, I care less about it looking all great. Decent is good enough. As far as letting people know about this site, I have 5 family members that own iPhones, each and everyone of them would get one of these, no need to visit website, they get all the information they need from me :)

Anonymous said...

Wow! This is coming along much quicker than I anticipated. But I agree with some of the other comments, I am worried about how stable and secure this will be on the touch/iphone. Maybe you should take a look at the touchmods mic, very nice form factor and secure on my touch. Just a suggestion but it looks as if it would fit the components.

GPS said...

To address a few of the concerns/questions:

- Regarding the package: indeed, the simpler it is, the cheaper. So if you don't care too much about looks, we can go the simple route.
- Regarding software: in the short term, what will be available is a program that will read out the GPS unit and display your coordinates, velocity, etc. on your screen as well as a button that will transfer you to Google maps. I will make the code available for people who want to do their own development based on that.
- Regarding the connection to the iPhone/iTouch: the module will use the same connector as the Touchmods mic (i.e. the dock connector), but with a different housing as the mic housing (25.8mm x 17.5mm x 6.8mm) is simply too small and not high enough to put all the components in. The GPS housing won't have the "click"-pins either due to lack of space, but this should not be a problem. The connector sits very securely inside of the iPhone/iTouch dock connector. If needed, I can extend the bottom of the housing to follow the iPhone/iTouch's curvature for more stability.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for explanation! Can't wait for release. But will your software be compatible with the Holux gps that can also be connected to iPhone, according to this blog:

Is this the same software you've talked about, or there are two different projects, and you make your own software independently?

Anonymous said...

I would prefer Concept One for design reasons, but also for lower cost. Mabye it would also come sooner.

Anonymous said...

Do I have to jail break my iPhone in order to use this GPS module ?

GPS said...

To anwer the additional questions regarding software:

The software is a separate project that has not yet started. The software will be compatible with any GPS module that delivers NMEA data over the serial port. The hardware module will be compatible with any GPS software that uses this standard NMEA protocol (most of them do nowadays). So you could potentially use the GPS module with commercial navigator software if you wish.

You will need to have a jailbroken iPhone/iTouch unless Apple will open up access to the dock connector at some point in the future.

David said...

Either concept works. I definitely think the housing should "...extend the bottom of the housing to follow the iPhone/iTouch's curvature for more stability." As once that connector gets broken, you have to buy a new phone.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for keeping us all updated and for the hard work you are putting into it.

Will the software work like the current Navizon app does - i.e. actually loads with Google Maps and has a little toolbar from which you can update location?

If so this would be amazing, also I am sure if this is the route you take having an option to auto-update every 5 seconds or so would not be too hard to program.

Anonymous said...

concept 2 is definitly more pleasing to the eye, it looks great and I would definitly invest in one. Keep up the good work fella.

Anonymous said...

I guess many want to use it when driving and since it most likely will be a rather power consuming unit - it is possible to add a dock connector to the unit for charging?

Den said...

concept 2 is really hot