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#1 kromuald13   User is offline

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GPS Guided vehicles

Posted 15 June 2010 - 12:11 PM

Good Day
Dear Members

I am Romuald , a student in mechatronics engineering and i plan to develop GPS guided sea surface vehicle .
I have been proposed by Martyr2 , and i found them very interesting and helpful ; therefore i was wondering if there would be anything extra or additional information that may help me to figure out properly how to interface my GPS receiver with the computer particular and how the main software structure may be .
thanks.

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Replies To: GPS Guided vehicles

#2 Munawwar   User is offline

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Re: GPS Guided vehicles

Posted 15 June 2010 - 12:27 PM

Which GPS module do you have?
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#3 kromuald13   User is offline

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Re: GPS Guided vehicles

Posted 16 June 2010 - 09:21 AM

concerning the gps module , i haven't bought one yet , just at the starting point ; looking for infos and advices .
thanx
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#4 NickDMax   User is offline

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Re: GPS Guided vehicles

Posted 16 June 2010 - 09:24 AM

To be honest this is a very specific request and I doubt that you will get much of a response. A quick google seems to find a couple of libraries for GPS receivers (like this one) via a serial (RS232) port but the chanses are you will be doing something with an embedded micro controller?

Basically to even begin to help you would need to know what are your design ideas, what limitations/constraints do you have, what hardware will you be using, what functionality were you looking for etc.

For a project like this you need to have a plan -- you need a design, you need to think things though, and while we can have a discussion about ideas and suggestions -- you have to make decisions.

It sounds like a cool project though.
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#5 NickDMax   User is offline

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Re: GPS Guided vehicles

Posted 16 June 2010 - 09:36 AM

kind of completely off topic though -- I have been thinking of getting myself a micro-ATX motherboard for some robotics projects... microcontrollers are great and all but I am a PC developer and honestly I am scared of a new foreign environment -- I want to stick to things I know like USB and video drivers and OS's like linux and DOS (possible even windows).

I figure that for about 200$ though I could have myself a nice little control unit for various robotics projects... (WAY more expensive than microcontrollers I think). -- I just need a way to hide it all from my GF.......
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#6 Munawwar   User is offline

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Re: GPS Guided vehicles

Posted 16 June 2010 - 09:57 AM

Here's a link on how to make a GPS logger/tracker using an Arduino.
You can choose between 4 different GPS modules to work with. For a project I would use ETek EB-85A
FV-M8, for ommercial use Sirf III chipset modules are better.

Ardunio is great since it simplifies programming a lot.I mean, you don't have to deal with assembly. You get to work with C, and you also get lots of libraries for it.

I was thinking of making this for my 4th year project. But since I ain't that great with electronics and computer organization, I am not very confident.
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#7 NickDMax   User is offline

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Re: GPS Guided vehicles

Posted 16 June 2010 - 10:20 AM

You know -- I think that I will have to check out that Arduino! Looks neat, inexpensive, and has quite a lot of support (books/websites/tutorials) just a short little look into it and I already feel pretty comfortable (as opposed to the ancient 1980s serial micro control that I have now that I really never learned much about and can't find any info on).

maybe I will hold off on buying that microATX board for a while :)
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#8 Munawwar   User is offline

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Re: GPS Guided vehicles

Posted 16 June 2010 - 10:39 AM

@Nick: Check out the crazy stuffs which people do with them.Video. Inspiring! I don't know what is holding me back from buying one.
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#9 Welly   User is offline

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Re: GPS Guided vehicles

Posted 16 June 2010 - 10:50 AM

In my theory, i would buy an android, the android has software to interact with the phones utility's (GPS, Google maps, Navigater) I would make an application to query the location and if nothing is in danger of being hit, continue on coarse. So the second part of what i think you would need is a pc connected to your vehicle of choice that not only operates the Gas, Steering, Breaks etc, but has a scanner on the boat that constantly scans for obstructions that might not be on google maps, also you would need to interact with a depth scanner to find out how close you are to ground. This is all hypothetical but if you need more information on how i think it should work just ask me on this thread and ill go into more detail. The android phone can be connected to the pc the whole time and directly send information to pc via USB. If you want however you can buy a gps system for your pc and figure out how to program it but that could be a daunting task as more information is out for android than some no name gps you might go buy.

What you need:
Laptop connected to automobile
Android phone(any), Android SDK
Professional attention on hooking up laptop to operate vehicle based on commands from cell phone
Boat scanner (Depth, and 360 around boat)
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#10 Munawwar   User is offline

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Re: GPS Guided vehicles

Posted 16 June 2010 - 12:03 PM

Having a laptop connected to the vehicle and an andriod phone is a nice idea.

But I don't think it would sell as a commercial product when there are already lots of stand-alone GPS trackers in the market. Stand-alone trackers are better in many ways:
1) Easy to install. All it needs is 12V power supply from the car battery.
2) Cheaper than a phone. Most GPS trackers comes with a built-in GSM module too, so you can track via internet.
3) It can be hidden anywhere within the vehicle, so it is great for anti-theft systems.

Besides many phones comes with built-in GPS modules and maps that can locate you in real-time. For example the N95,N97,N82 it also comes with nokia maps (or should be downloaded, but its free) that can used for locating yourself. You can also make symbian or python S60 application that can connect to the internet and send updates to a remote computer. But hey, Romuald is doing a mechatronics project.
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#11 Banfa   User is offline

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Re: GPS Guided vehicles

Posted 16 June 2010 - 12:56 PM

This all depends how you are going to build your project, there are at least 3 ways of interfacing to a GPS unit that I am aware of depending on the hardware platform:

You could have a micro-controller connected on board to a GPS chip, this would most likely communicate using a TTL level asynchronous serial interface (think RS232 at TTL level). It would probably use either a propitiatory protocol or NMEA0183 as the data protocol.

It you have something a little larger than a micro-controller, anything from a little VIA box running embedded Linux or some other embedded OS up to a PC then you might get an off the shelf module.

An off the shelf module is likely to either have an RS232 interface again using either proprietary data protocol or NMEA0183 or an NMEA2000 interface running over CanBus.

In the case of the RS232 interface most of the like platforms will either have a RS232 port or a USB port you can plug a USB <-> RS232 converter into.

For CanBus you can get modules that will convert CanBus to USB or CanBus to ethernet allowing your higher level box to interface to them.


Most GPS modules are very simple, you switch them on, after a warm-up time while they acquire sat-lock they start chucking a continue stream of data at you and you pick out what you want. You can normally send some configuration parameters too.

The important thing is aerial location, the GPS signal is quite weak and the antennas tend to be small (although you can get high gain antennas) so the just being inside can block the signal. Make sure you develop next to a window so you can dangle your antenna out of it.
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#12 kromuald13   User is offline

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Re: GPS Guided vehicles

Posted 17 June 2010 - 10:12 AM

Hey guys , just want to say thanks for ur suggestions and advices , they are very helpful in the sense they orientate me towards to interfacing task. As go on with the system design you will be informed much more in details .
thanks
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#13 kromuald13   User is offline

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Re: GPS Guided vehicles

Posted 22 June 2010 - 09:13 AM

Mr Banfa , can you tell me more about the scenario you describe as you were mentioning
" You could have a micro-controller connected on board to a GPS chip, this would most likely communicate using a TTL level asynchronous serial interface (think RS232 at TTL level). It would probably use either a propitiatory protocol or NMEA0183 as the data protocol."
Actually , i think this is the one that fits with my project exceptations and requirements

thanks
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#14 Banfa   User is offline

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Re: GPS Guided vehicles

Posted 23 June 2010 - 02:53 AM

Certainly.

Most (all but the most basic) micro-controllers (think PIC or AVR or Rabbit) tend to have a UART or USART which among other things can be used to run an RS232 connection. However the output of most USARTs is at TTL level which is low ~= 0 - 0.4v, high ~= 2.2v - 5v, additionally IIRC UART outputs are often inverted.

However RS232 runs one of +-5v, +-10v, +-12v or +-15v with negative indicating low and positive indicating high, -3v - 3v is an invalid RS232 voltage level.

To convert from TTL to RS232 voltage levels there are standard buffers such as the Maxim MAX200 range which convert TTL level to RS232 line level as well as providing buffering to protect the UART from and shorts that appear on the line.

Many (most?) GPS (and GSM/GPRS/3G/HSDPA modem) modules come with an on board UART that also runs at TTL level.

Obviously you could put an line buffer IC on the GSM module output and connect it to a PC (or similar) however it you are connecting to an IC and both chips are on the same board then rather than buffering up to RS232 line levels you can simply connect the 2 UARTs together tx to rx etc and run the link at TTL levels across the PCB (or breadboard).

I have even see TTL level links run across cables between boards but only for a couple of cm between boards mounted in the same box.


So once you have your GPS connected to your micro-controller via a TTL link then you start receiving data (hopefully) when they are switched on. You will need to know the format of this data, however most GPS chips will support the NMEA 0183 data specification for communication between marine electronic devices.

This is not a strongly specified protocol and many manufacturers have non-standard extensions but the basic messages are the same between modules on the whole such as position. The protocol is ASCII based and sends text messages, modules tend to send unsolicited data, for example you will receive a stream of current position messages and current time messages.

Alternatively some manufacturers also support their own propitiatory protocols.

So slap a voltage regulator, micro-controller, GPS module and some motor control IC plus a bunch of other passive components onto a board and you will have the beginnings of a control board that will perform the task at hand.
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