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Saturday, August 16, 2008

Put to the test!

A brief update for today:

The four CNC machined housings arrived this week and all of them make a nice fit as you can see in the photo (I masked off the LED opening with some tape to simulate the lens effect as those lenses were to small to be CNC'ed). I have been in touch with the housing manufacturer this week as well to iron out the last details of the drawings. They will start cutting steel upcoming week! Once that is done, I will visit them to take a look at the molds before we get our first parts.

I built three additional GPS modules this week as well and the new upload tool for A-GPS data from the manufacturer seems to work a lot better now. After having uploaded the latest A-GPS data to each of the modules, I have performed open/clear sky testing with the modules and am very happy with the results! Typical time-to-first-fix (TTFF) with A-GPS enabled is ~10sec average on a cold start. Average signal-to-noise-ratio (SNR) is ~42dB (note that both the TTFF and SNR numbers are open/clear sky numbers and can vary in practice depending on surroundings and GPS satellite strength). Performance is thus very good for such a small unit! After the antenna tuning process, we might gain a little more on the SNR, but we will wait for those results first before concluding anything.

I also had to place a special purchase order (PO) for the high brightness/low current bi-color LEDs this week as they only had 200 in stock (delivery is scheduled for September 15, 2008). As I thought the green/orange color combination was a little too ordinary, I have chosen a blue/red LED which looks really cool. The blue LED will be on as power-on indicator and the red LED will flash when searching for satellites (it will be off after a GPS lock is found). So while searching for satellites, the combined blue/red LED will flash purple. Power consumption of the LED will be a little less than 1mA when the module is tracking. The rest of the module consumes ~36mA while tracking for a total of 37mA for tracking.

Power consumption, size and performance have all been traded off against each other, but it looks like the final results are pretty good in my humble opinion!

The estimated-time-of-arrival (ETA) for the modules is still set for the end of September. Let's hope there will be no further delays; thanks everyone for hanging in there!


james said...

great!!! can't wait for release!!!

your idea for the LEDS is great.

your whole project is well structured.

wishing you luck and hope there is no delays.

Chuck said...

I'm with james on this one, keep up the great work.

I think I speak for a lot of the fans out there when I say, it feels like a well taken-care-of project and we much appreciate the hard work and serious enthusiasm you put into creating a proper gps device for us.

Thanks for keeping us updated.

- Chuck

Vincent said...

Excellent news as always...

Add to this the latest rumors from TomTom saying that they have a version of their software ready for the iPhone (but still pending from Apple's answer) and we could get a killer couple here !

@GPS : I remember once that I was asking if some kind of housing or Keychain (for when the module is not in used and not connected to the iPhone/Touch) would be offered and it seemed you had something in mind... Is it still part of the project ?

Owen said...

I am so happy to find this project close to completion! I have registered to recieve one of the first run down here in Australia and will definately spread the word in this nation! ipod touch has always needed this!

J D said...

Kick ASS!

Great stuff, PmgR. Really looking forward to this.

I also hope that other people who are thinking about doing device development learn from your excellent example. Have you documented how the serial port works? I'm hoping the iControlPad folk talk to you for advice so that this process can be streamlined to an extent.

Really interested too to see if anyone is doing kernel extension development. I don't think you need it for this project, but I hope this kind of low-level development would attract the kernel developer types :)

Plak said...

Everything looks extremely good to be true.I have only one concern about the price of each module(nevertheless I've already preordered 2 and you can count on another 5!)

ian said...

This is fantastic news.. i do hope i am in the running for the first batch.. i just got my Ipod Touch.. and like in my earlier post, i am hoping to get the unit in October..

Like Vincent suggested, it would be nice if we had some kind of keychain or something to hang on to the GPS if and when its not being used..

@PmgR - Great Work..

Anonymous said...

Just found the site and I am excited with the development of this product. I was expecting gomite to release their product but there has been no news from them as to when they will release their product so it looks like I will be waiting to see which one comes out first.

great job so far on the fabrication I would love to see this thing have a keychain option so as to be able to carry it somehow when it's not attached to the phone

Richard said...

Seriously nice work, I've followed this website for a while and wish you success - you deserve it for your dedication.

What will you do with all your free time once this is selling? ;-)

Interesting idea about the keychain when not in use. I'm guessing more housing would be needed though.

GPS said...

@all: thanks for the compliments and positive feedback!

@vincent: a "smart" key-chain is in the works. However, this will have to wait a little longer since all my attention is on the GPS module itself right now and getting it to market asap. The key-chain will require a custom housing which means there needs to be enough interest for it otherwise it would not be worth the expense for the mold.

@plak: price will be $75 + shipping and this includes the USB cable.

@ian: if you have a low database entry number, you should be set for the first batch. For the key-chain, see above.

@anonymous: gomite is no longer making the direct plug-in. They have switched to a WiFi GPS now. For the key-chain, see above.

@richard: thanks for the compliment. Regarding free-time, this project is keeping me busy full-time, even over-time. I always have to make sure I don't neglect my family. Even after this is selling, managing the supply chain and testing the modules takes time as well. Then there is the website, software I am going to start on, the key-chain... so lots of things to do, and after that we can start on the next gadget that you guys want :)


Alban said...

As usual, you're my iPhone guru :)

I've advertised that your GPS module will be soon ready and many of my friends are just waiting for you to buy a ... V1 iPhone. They don't like the V2 iPhone and they don't like the GPS in it :P

Right now my only concern is about finding a software that will work with "offline" maps because an edge connection will not be good enought for loading live maps.

I know that TomTom will release theyr software for the iPhone but I would love to find a way to get my maps from google and put them in my iPhone. As soon as I will have a crystal clear how-to I'll post it here and let you all know.

Just continue the good work.

I must confess that being involved in the making of this GPS module (by supporting your efforts and buying a couple of modules when they will be ready) makes me feel addicted. I'm coming every single day on the blog to check the comments and the progresses :)

Cheers from Paris !

Alban said...

Just another idea ...

Have you considered to make a "contributors list" on your web site ? :)

That could :
- Show how many people are REALLY interrested in your GPS solution and,
- Kinda "reward" those who have already gave you a couple of bucks :)

Just an idea, while my eyes openning under the heavy load of cafeine I'm drinking right now :P


Vincent said...

@GPS: I was checking my mail for my preorder confirmation (done on the very first day), and can't find anything in my mailbox...
So I tried to order again but the system tells me my email is already used so I guess I'm IN but don't know with which "database entry number" I have...
Could it be sent again ?
Thanks in advance.

mayday said...

Great News !!!
As an israeli, i'm looking forward to this fine looking GPS, especially after the release of FREEMAP, a freeware navigation software with voice turn-by-turn option. this will complete my iphone and will make it the ultimate phone by far !!!!

Meidad Pariente
Space engineer and a GPS expert

GPS said...

@alban: regarding offline maps, I have been through this process and found a neat way to get maps on your iPhone/iTouch. It is pretty straightforward, but depending on how large of a map you download, it can take a few hours and some disk space (see my last comment on the previous post). I will post instructions in an upcoming post once I have more time. Regarding the list of contributors, I have a record of all of them (it's a short list...). I will give an update later on the numbers of modules ordered to this date.

@vincent: make sure you white-list any emails from the domain I have sent you another copy.

@mayday: thanks for the compliment and spread the word among the Israeli iPhone and iPod Touch users!

Anonymous said...

I installed the xgps software from installer just to look at it. When I go to run it, at first it crashes. Then when I try it again, it loads, but no maps show. Only grey and white squares show. Any advice would be appreciated. I plan on getting the gps module, but there's no point if I can't get the software to work.

I'm using 1.14 ipod touch.

Thanks in advance.

Alban said...

Sorry to hear that your "contributors" list is a short one :S

At least you know there's a list of people supporting your effort :)

Cheer !

P.S. : Once the module will be sold I'll be ready to translate anything you need in french :) Just to let you know. :)

Nicola said...

any plan to make a data logger software?
Thank you