Applications of GPS + XBee: deposit your ideas here!

Ken GraceyKen Gracey Posts: 5,970
Hey there,

This weekend I was working with Blockly and made a small project consisting of a GPS, FLiP and XBee with battery power. This device transmits the GPS string to a receiver with an XBee, FLiP and OLED. It's a wireless locating device. Carol Hazlett made one too and we shared a few ideas back and forth.

What are the applications of this kind of project? I can imagine putting it on a drone as a "Drone Down" locator, or for outdoor robot location finding, etc. The examples are situations where RF works, cell doesn't have coverage, etc.

There must be more applications - what are they? Would appreciate hearing your ideas.

Thanks,

Ken Gracey GPS.jpg
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Comments

  • 30 Comments sorted by Date Added Votes
  • Stumped for additional ideas at the moment, but here's a thought: Add a local GPS as well so you can calculate distance to target and heading for your downed drone concept. Would create the next version of my handheld GPS project.

    Trying to think of how to utilize this for scavenger hunt games or maybe a some sort of new version of "capture the flag".

    Realtime outside Cat tracker? I saw a GPS tracker someone put on their cat on Hackaday a few weeks ago.

    Have you used this setup to test the XBee range? Web page states 1200 meters or 4000 feet, but my last project with XBee was working fine almost 1 mile (~1600 meters) across open, nearly flat land, minimal trees. Both XBee modules had wire antennas and were exposed to open air about 8 feet off the ground. That was 5 years ago, wow time flies.
    Andrew Williams
    WBA Consulting
  • I can see this on the ELEV8 if you do not use Ground Control. Then you could use the 900 Mhz Xbee .
    Infernal Machine
  • I agree it's a "project without a need" application to some extent. The purpose is use the project as a tutorial for XBee and GPS, with OLED, built in pieces to be building blocks in education.

    I like the reverse geocache application. More ideas? Bring them!

    Ken Gracey
  • Tracy AllenTracy Allen Posts: 6,020
    edited April 3 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Ken, the photo shows one end that has an OLED, XBee and FLIP. Sorry, what is a FLIP? A search of Parallax.com turns up only a mention in a blog about plans for 2017.

    What is on the other end, the same thing? And where is the GPS (electrically, not lat/lon!)? I'm imagining A GPS out there streaming coordinates via an XBee, no propeller involved, and on the near end sits the other XBee with the OLED and Prop/FLIP.

  • Ken, the photo shows one end that has an oled, XBee and FLIP. Sorry, what is a FLIP? A search of Parallax.com turns up only a mention in a blog about plans for 2017.

    What is on the other end, the same thing? And where is the GPS (electrically, not lat/lon!)? I'm imaging A GPS streaming coordinates to an XBee, no propeller involved, and the business with the other XBee and oled and Prop at the user end.
    Agreed, what is a flip?
  • Andrew Williams
    WBA Consulting
  • Thanks for the pointer Andrew. It was that very blog post that came up when I searched at at Parallax.com "Parallax Into 2017: What we've got planned for the New Year" . You really do have to scroll the images all the way to the right to see the photo of the "flip side" of the FLIP.

  • Ken GraceyKen Gracey Posts: 5,970
    edited April 3 Vote Up0Vote Down
    This is the FLiP: the USB is underneath. It's coming soon!

    FLIP.jpg
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  • A silly idea is to put the parts in an Easter egg for a sort of geocache Easter egg game.

    People could take turns hiding the egg with the GPS unit in a park and others in the group could try to find it based on the coordinates broadcast from the egg's electronics.

    Of course it doesn't have to be an egg. You could use some sort of box.
  • MikeDYurMikeDYur Posts: 1,953
    edited April 3 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Is this strictly Blockly? It could take the place of a Propeller Mini and PropPlug, but this is just to handy for the breadboard. Nice price too.
  • It would be nice if this is meant for everyone.
    1013 x 1013 - 117K
  • PublisonPublison Posts: 9,448
    edited April 4 Vote Up0Vote Down
    MikeDYur wrote: »
    Is this strictly Blockly? It could take the place of a Propeller Mini and PropPlug, but this is just to handy for the breadboard. Nice price too.

    Since it's a Plain Jane Propeller, Spin , SimpleIDE , and all the others will work with it.

    Infernal Machine
  • Publison wrote: »

    Since it's a Plain Jane Propeller, Spin , SimpleIDE , and all the others will work with it.



    This is a breadboarders dream come true. The silkscreen print makes all the difference. So handy to have pin reference that easy. Is there any documentation yet?
  • "This device transmits the GPS string to a receiver with an XBee, FLiP and OLED".
    Build a PC (or VGA) interface for the receiver FLiP module to plot realtime or periodic points on a google maps or self-drawn map screen.
  • jmgjmg Posts: 10,045
    Shawn Lowe wrote: »
    Agreed, what is a flip?

    Good question, Google of Microcontroller Flip, lands you here
    http://www.atmel.com/tools/flip.aspx

    seems Parallax forgot that simple test, and will have many confused users out there.

    You will not, for example, be able to use FLIP(Atmel.Microchip) to talk to FLiP(Parallax) ....
  • MikeDYur wrote: »
    It would be nice if this is meant for everyone.

    It is meant for everyone. You'll see most of our marketing energy focused on Blockly with educational customers. This doesn't exclude anybody. However, if we presented it for hobby or industrial uses then educators wouldn't be interested in getting into it.

    Ken Gracey

  • jmg wrote: »
    Shawn Lowe wrote: »
    Agreed, what is a flip?

    Good question, Google of Microcontroller Flip, lands you here
    http://www.atmel.com/tools/flip.aspx

    seems Parallax forgot that simple test, and will have many confused users out there.

    You will not, for example, be able to use FLIP(Atmel.Microchip) to talk to FLiP(Parallax) ....

    You weren't confused :)

    Ken Gracey

  • JonnyMacJonnyMac Posts: 5,716
    edited April 5 Vote Up0Vote Down
    You could create a geo-location game. Enter the coordinates of a known location into the device and use the OLED to give hints. If the device it moved close enough to the target location within the prescribed period, the user "wins."

    Of course, this predicates mounting everything into a lockable box, and making the OLED visible so that it can provide hints. I coded something like this (in Spin) for a friend who gave it as a Christmas gift. The actual gift was a coupon for dinner at the restaurant that was the intended target -- when the box was open his friend found the coupon. A servo was used as the lock mechanism.
    Jon McPhalen
      *It's "Jon" or "JonnyMac" -- please don't call me "Jonny"
  • MikeDYurMikeDYur Posts: 1,953
    edited April 5 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Ken Gracey wrote: »
    MikeDYur wrote: »
    It would be nice if this is meant for everyone.

    It is meant for everyone. You'll see most of our marketing energy focused on Blockly with educational customers. This doesn't exclude anybody. However, if we presented it for hobby or industrial uses then educators wouldn't be interested in getting into it.

    Ken Gracey


    We just won't tell the teacher we're playing with it.

    Good luck with the Flip Module, It looks like it will be popular for all of us. If it is directed towards the educational environment, you guys are going to be busy packaging in large quantities. Will there be single units available to Joe Shmoe's like me, from the inception into the marketplace. I will be saving up my fun money awaiting a release date.

    Ken, do you see any problems with keeping up with demand?


    Mike Y.
  • Ken GraceyKen Gracey Posts: 5,970
    edited April 5 Vote Up0Vote Down
    We just won't tell the teacher we're playing with it.

    Good luck with the Flip Module, It looks like it will be popular for all of us. If it is directed towards the educational environment, you guys are going to be busy packaging in large quantities. Will there be single units available to Joe Shmoe's like me, from the inception into the marketplace. I will be saving up my fun money awaiting a release date.

    Ken, do you see any problems with keeping up with demand?

    Mike Y.

    We need to sell 10,000 of these modules per year to make this barely viable. You guys are all engineers and could reverse-engineer the BOM and figure out that our cost of building these is probably around $16.00 including our labor. This product represents a couple of business "firsts" for Parallax:

    - the highest intellectual value and capability for the lowest cost (value ratio is so much more than anything we've produced)
    - the lowest margin ever of a high-volume Parallax product (meaning we make about 35% margin based on average selling price).

    These are lower margins than WalMart makes on a pair of jeans. We're truly giving the store away this time in an effort to proliferate use of our Blockly system. It's amazing how the world of electronics value favors the customer so well these days.

    About keeping up with demand - the big issue is parts supply. If we can get all the parts, we're set. If not, supply will be limited. For all of our products parts obsolescence is a continual battle for every person involved in a product: purchaser, engineer, PCB designer, documenter, etc. As for production capability there's no issue and we have the capacity.

    Mike and others: though we're pitching this largely for education, we really need you guys to help us spread the news this time. We're counting on the community to make this go, to some extent, which should happen properly and organically if we did a good job with our scope/design/documentation/USA manufacturing.

    Ken Gracey
  • Tracy AllenTracy Allen Posts: 6,020
    edited April 5 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Nice product, Ken. Good luck with it. I will certainly want to check it out. iI'll also want to see the schematic if you post that. I do know what you mean about the headache of parts procurement, the bane of obsolescence and extended lead times.

    I'd like to attach a GPS to a kite. Stream back the altitude and the path up and around. Here in Berkeley we have the Cesar Chavez park, a favorite kite spot, which faces into winds coming through the Golden Gate. Sometimes I see school groups out there. Oh--day before yesterday was the Qingming festival in China, during which some people fly kites with little lanterns attached and sometimes cut the string to set them free. Where does it land?

    It would be nice to stream back other kinds of data, definitely possible once you have it streaming back GPS.




  • Love the kite idea Tracy! add temp and humidity using those Sensirion toys that you and I are fans of. ;-)
    Andrew Williams
    WBA Consulting
  • jmgjmg Posts: 10,045
    Ken Gracey wrote: »
    We need to sell 10,000 of these modules per year to make this barely viable. You guys are all engineers and could reverse-engineer the BOM and figure out that our cost of building these is probably around $16.00 including our labor.
    One trend I've noticed recently, to drive down BOMs on these Eval-Boards, and raise their usability, is to drop the UART bridge, and instead use a small USB-MCU.
    What do you pay for FTDI parts ? I see the EFM8UB1 is ~ 60c/1k, and it can swallow other BOM elements too.


  • Let me put my two cents in here. I was very impress with the price of the GPS unit. It was not your normal $24.99 price tag. In facet I have it on my list to purchase one since I would like to build my own NEMA parser for the fun of it.

    I like building things and figuring things out and I think there needs to be more projects that people can put together and tinker with.

    I am looking to build a GPS for displaying the distance to the hole for golfing. I know many people have them these days but building one is so much more fun. I also want it to record my scores and be able to upload them to a main computer. I also want the screen to work with a Tee and not my finger since that's what I have in my hand. Many people try to use there phones only to find out they are hard to see and wear the battery down.

    Could use the Xbee to transmit the scores back to the main computer after it recorded them.

    You could also get on the health band wagon and track your walk around the block displaying distance traveled and time.

    Mike

  • jmg wrote: »
    One trend I've noticed recently, to drive down BOMs on these Eval-Boards, and raise their usability, is to drop the UART bridge, and instead use a small USB-MCU.
    What do you pay for FTDI parts ? I see the EFM8UB1 is ~ 60c/1k, and it can swallow other BOM elements too.

    Probably around $1.70-$2.20 but I'm not really sure.

    The USB bridge is an absolute necessity for this customer type, but if the primary focus were for drop-in embedded product-based applications we may leave the bridge off. This is one of those round-and-round discussions in Parallax usually.
  • jmgjmg Posts: 10,045
    Ken Gracey wrote: »
    There must be more applications - what are they? Would appreciate hearing your ideas.
    Part of this is demonstration, so I'd add Time to the display.

    There also seems to be a 1pps signal from the GPS, that should also be usable as a timebase calibrate.
    (eg quite simple to display cycles of 80MHz in 1 second)

    What Crystal/Osc? does FLiP use, with what ppm specs ?

  • That's a nice little project are you going to post your code, spin file, pasm, etc. for it
  • jmgjmg Posts: 10,045
    Ken Gracey wrote: »
    jmg wrote: »
    One trend I've noticed recently, to drive down BOMs on these Eval-Boards, and raise their usability, is to drop the UART bridge, and instead use a small USB-MCU.
    What do you pay for FTDI parts ? I see the EFM8UB1 is ~ 60c/1k, and it can swallow other BOM elements too.

    Probably around $1.70-$2.20 but I'm not really sure.
    Digikey show them at ~ $1.50/5k (varies +/- 5c with package)
    Ken Gracey wrote: »
    The USB bridge is an absolute necessity for this customer type, but if the primary focus were for drop-in embedded product-based applications we may leave the bridge off. This is one of those round-and-round discussions in Parallax usually.
    Yes, the small USB-MCU has code that looks just like a UART to the PC side.

    It can swallow things like Reset components, and could provide a 4.8MHz/6MHz selectable clock to the Prop, that will be of lower precision than crystals, but quite OK for uarts.
    Removes Xtal from the BOM, but I'd keep the PCB option.

    I think it could also support a dual-memory-footprint PCB, where you have a 24C512 Prop-connected and a SPI Flash connected to USB-MCU, and at reset, it checks which one is fitted.
    If 24C512 fitted, it can pgm directly if needed, otherwise it sleeps.
    IF SPI_Flash and no 24C512, the MCU can emulate 24C512, which saves the difference (presently ~22c/1000 diff)
    SPI_Flash is so cheap, it can store a lot more code (32x), for much less money.
    The MCU can also allocate as another i2c address, allowing the Prop to use the ADC, or other peripherals.
  • Ken,
    How about a game of hidnseek, or blind man's bluff. The Individual doing the seeking only has a pair of stereo headphones and is guided by clicks of beeps. Stronger left ear move left stronger right ear move right. Closer, beeps get faster, farther away slower. Position of seeker is tracked by gps. The hider has reported the hidden position via gps/Xbee and the seeker locates with gps. Only hardware required, GPS, Xbee, Flip, stereo headphones push buttons for start/stop headphone jack miscelaneous resisters. If you want to make it all visual, 2 WS2812 and color code the left/right and rate control blinking closer/farther signals. This avoids the expensive oled display.
    Jim
  • Thank you to everybody who provided comments on this thread. You provided plenty of material around which we can craft several good examples!
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