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NavSpark: Arduino Compatible with GPS GNSS Receiver

Packing 32bit Features and GPS GNSS into 8bit Size and Price


PRESS RELEASE

EnglishSimplified Chinese (简体中文), Traditional Chinese (繁體中文)


For viewers in some region having problem seeing the above YouTube video, the contents is here: Powerpoint (简体中文), Youku Video (简体中文). NavSpark 点名时间上中文說明: http://dwz.cn/navspark_demohour


WHAT IS IT?

NavSpark is a small, powerful, breadboard-friendly, 32bit development board that is Arduino compatible, with a world class GPS receiver as on-board peripheral, and under $15. 

There is also NavSpark-BD, a variant model having world-class GPS/Beidou receiver as on-board peripheral, that enables you to adopt new GPS/Beidou satellite navigation technology when Broadcom Qualcomm just recently came out with solution supporting Beidou to their tier-1 smartphone customers like Apple and Samsung.

NavSpark puts leading edge satellite navigation technology in the hands of the makers.

...

Up until now, adding GPS to an Arduino requires additional GPS shield, which adds cost and size. NavSpark has GPS built-in, so there is no need for an additional GPS shield. And it's cheap enough to leave in any project.

This little NavSpark board packs big features: 100MHz 32bit RISC/FPU, 1024KByte Flash, 212KByte RAM, high-performance GPS, many peripherals and I/O pins. With 32bit processing power, number crunching capability, and very large memory, NavSpark takes your projects to a whole new level.


THE STORY

We have been developing GPS related products for some years. The GPS chipset nowadays are quite powerful. Seeing many small development boards on the market with limited memory space and low computation power, we believe a small low-cost 32bit development board using our new more powerful Venus 8 chip, integrating GPS library into Arduino IDE, offering at near 8-bitter price and with GPS functionality, may serve as an useful and attractive building block for the maker community. 

The Venus 8 chip is built with enough MIPS and memory to process signal from combination of 34 GPS, GLONASS, Beidou, and Galileo satellites in parallel simultaneously. It is the reason why it has more memory and computation MIPS than most popular low-cost embedded microcontrollers on the market.

Unsure if there will actually be sufficient interest in small low-cost development board built from powerful satellite positioning processor chip (like GPU used in non-graphic applications), this Indiegogo campaign is our approach to find out. 

If you like the idea and find it could be useful for your applications, please support this campaign to let us know. With sufficient interest, NavSpark will go into production and be made available.  


The NavSpark is essentially an easy to use, breadboard-friendly version of our Venus838FLPx GPS module with GPS library SDK integrated into customized Arduino IDE.


ARDUINO COMPATIBLE

NavSpark is designed to run Wiring, the same simple code as the Arduino platform. There is no need to learn any new programming language or environment. Your standard Arduino sketches run on NavSpark.


TECHNICAL SPECIFICATION:

GENERAL SPECS

·  Support Arduino IDE (custom integration of Wiring libraries, Windows & Linux)

·  GPS on board

·  Breadboard compatible

·  38mm x 18mm size


HARDWARE SPECS

·  100MHz 32bit LEON3 Sparc-V8 + IEEE-754 Compliant FPU

·  1024KB Flash Memory + 212KB RAM

·  ~80uA/MHz @ 3.3V

·  Powered and programmed by mini USB connector

·  1 full duplex asynchronous UART

·  1 asynchronous UART transmit

·  2 SPI with master/slave mode configurable

·  1 I2C

·  1 24bit PWM

·  17 digital I/O pins (shared with above functional pins)

·  Atomic clock synchronized P1PPS time reference with +/-10nsec accuracy

DESIGN FILE AVAILABILITY

NavSpark hardware design files (schematic, board design, and bill of materials) will be released and made available to users. Source code of the customized Arduino IDE will also be made available; the GPS / Beidou / GLONASS navigation kernel library integrated will remain in library file format. Users are free to extend, adapt and redistribute the hardware and software for any projects, commercial or non-commercial. 


POTENTIAL APPLICATION EXAMPLE

Data Logger: Log the position, velocity, time information to an external SPI Flash; later read out the logged data to find out where it has been. With UAV, R/C plane, or paragliding, you can replay the flight path. For marathon running or skiing sporting event, each contestant’s performance behavior can be analyzed. It might also help answer question of where the dog has gone during the day…

Outdoor GPS Clock: When gotten position fix, the date and time is always accurate, in sync with the UTC or GMT time. One never needs to manually adjust time once properly programmed, even when turn on after power loss.

Time reference: After getting GPS fix, the P1PPS 1Hz pulse is synchronized to atomic clock within +/-10nsec. Date and time in the NMEA sentence corresponds to occurrence of the rising edge of just occurred P1PPS pulse. Thus for under $20 you have a precision time reference nearly as good as atomic clock to +/-10nsec! For hardware in different locations that need to be time synchronized in operation, this provides a low cost method to achieve it.

Below is a data logger back track device using something equivalent to NavSpark without extra microcontroller. Instead of Venus 822, previous generation 0.13um Venus621 chip is used inside; it has 60MHz 32bit RISC, no FPU, 512KB Flash, 96KB RAM.

http://www.znex.de/

http://wandermagazin.de/downloads/wander/88-93_Service_Praxistest_163.pdf

Above is a long term 3 ~ 6 months test by a famous German hiker magazine. Competing against 3 big and expensive GPS devices, Garmin Etrex 30, Magellan Explorist 610 and Falk Ibex 40. Eventually Garmin Etrex 30 and Venus621-based miniHomer convinced jury and received test seals; published in March/April 2012 edition.

NavSpark uses latest generation low power 55nm Venus 822 chip; could design into more complex devices such as fitness GPS watch like applications.

NavSpark provides accurate position, velocity, and time for applications in need of this information. Even if used without GPS, NavSpark’s 100MHz RISC/FPU + 1MByte Flash + 212Kbyte RAM + UART + SPI + I2C + GPIO hardware has less restrictive use than a typical 8bit development board.


DEVELOPMENT TIMELINE


HARDWARE DEVELOPMENTS

NavSpark is a shrink down version of the bigger Venus 822 development board. With Venus 822 board already working, the design of NavSpark hardware is rather straight forward.


SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENTS

We are currently customizing the Arduino IDE to work with the Sparc-V8 compiler and Venus 822 hardware; it is expected to be finished before end of January, 2014.


MANUFACTURING

If the NavSpark funding campaign is successful, we will:

Place order for BOM to manufacture NavSpark on Feb 7, 2014

Send BOM to factory for production, March 17, 2014

Ship out NavSpark, March 27, 2014


PROJECT HISTORY (Updated When New Application Developments Available)

The 55nm Venus 8 returned in May of 2013. It has been packaged into small 5mm x 5mm QFN40 package, with very limited I/O, for standard global navigation satellite positioning module applications. 

The 7mm x 7mm QF56 packaged Venus 822 has more I/O pins, suitable for small global navigation satellite positioning application development. The earlier model of Venus 822 development board for internal use is much larger in size as shown below:


For NavSpark, optimizing the circuitry and moving some components to the back-side, we reduce the size to 38mm x 18mm. Below is the 1st hand-made NavSpark prototype:


NavSpark prototype receiving GPS signal:


NavSpark-GL prototype:


NavSpark-GL prototype receiving GPS+GLONASS signal:


NavSpark-BD prototype receiving GPS+Beidou signal:


THANKS TO OUR SUPPORTERS

Thank you for taking time to find out what NavSpark is. We hope you're excited about NavSpark and will back our project for us to make it available for the maker community.


PERKS

5 major types:

NavSpark: with GPS receiver, max 10Hz update rate

NavSpark-GL: with GPS/GLONASS receiver, max 10Hz update rate

NavSpark-BD: with GPS/Beidou receiver, max 10Hz update rate

NS-RAW: carrier phase raw measurement GPS receiver, max 5Hz update rate, RTKLIB supported S1315F-RAW in the form of plug-and-play NavSpark

NS-Sparc: NavSpark without GPS, for use as very low cost development board


USD$15   Early Bird 1pcs Set (with Antenna)

Choose this if you never used GPS in your project before and want to give it a try. You’ll receive 1 NavSpark and 1 active antenna* at early bird special price.


USD$17   Early Bird 1pcs Beidou Set (with Antenna)**

Choose this if you never used satellite navigation in your project before and want to give GPS/Beidou a try. You’ll receive 1 NavSpark-BD and 1 active antenna* at early bird special price.


USD$17   Early Bird 1pcs GLONASS Set (with Antenna)**

Choose this if you never used satellite navigation in your project before and want to give GPS/GLONASS a try. You’ll receive 1 NavSpark-GL and 1 active antenna* at early bird special price.


USD$29   Early Bird 2pcs Set (with Antenna)

Choose this if you feel the NavSpark processing power and memory capacity alone might come in handy and worth checking out. You’ll receive 2 NavSpark and 2 active antennas* at early bird special price.


USD$33   Early Bird 2pcs Beidou Set (with Antenna)**

Choose this if you feel the NavSpark processing power & memory capacity alone might come in handy and worth checking out, and like to try out with GPS/Beidou technology. You’ll receive 2 NavSpark-BD and 2 active antennas* at early bird special price.


USD$33   Early Bird 2pcs GLONASS Set (with Antenna)**

Choose this if you feel the NavSpark processing power & memory capacity alone might come in handy and worth checking out, and like to try out with GPS/GLONASS technology. You’ll receive 2 NavSpark-GL and 2 active antennas* at early bird special price.


USD$35   Regular 2pcs Set (with Antenna)

Choose this after Early Bird Sets are gone. You’ll receive 2 NavSpark and 2 active antenna* at Indiegogo promotional price.


USD$39   Regular 2pcs Beidou Set (with Antenna)**

Choose this after Early Bird Beidou Sets are gone. You’ll receive 2 NavSpark-BD and 2 active antenna* at Indiegogo promotional price.


USD$39   Regular 2pcs GLONASS Set (with Antenna)**

Choose this after Early Bird GLONASS Sets are gone. You’ll receive 2 NavSpark-GL and 2 active antenna* at Indiegogo promotional price.


USD$50   NS-RAW 2pcs Set (with Antenna)

Due to numerous requests asking availability of carrier phase raw measurement output capability, we decided to add an additional perk, NS-RAW, a 5Hz capable S1315F-RAW (RTKLIB compatible) carrier phase raw measurement GPS receiver module with USB interface in the same form factor as NavSpark. NS-RAW is to be used as it is without Arduino programability, due to some technical issue yet to overcome and we prefer not to over-promise. You’ll receive 2 NS-RAW and 2 active antenna* at Indiegogo promotional price.


USD$220   NS-Sparc 21pcs Set (FedEx Shipping included, no Antenna)

Several people asking if we could provide very low cost development board no more than $10, simply for using Venus822's powerful 100MHz 32bit RISC/FPU + 1MByte Flash + 212KByte RAM + other peripherals resources without using GPS/GNSS. The NS-Sparc is our answer. You’ll receive 21 NS-Sparc at Indiegogo promotional price, FedEx shipping is included. We’ll combine all your other perks and ship together along with this one. If you already chosen $20 FedEx perk previously, drop us a private comment letting us know which of the NavSpark, NavSpark-GL, or NavSpark-BD 1pcs Set Perk you like to swap. Below is a handmade prototype showing what NS-Spark will look like without GPS/GNSS. All I/O functions in NavSpark remains the same, just lack of 1PPS function that needs GPS/GNSS.


Note *: The active antenna receives GPS / GLONASS / Beidou signals. 1”x1” ceramic patch internal active antenna, 10cm length, U.FL connector. 

Note **: Yes! NavSpark-GL and Nav-Spark-BD are for those of you wondering "My iPhone and Galaxy phone has GPS/GLONASS. Why isn't there GPS/GLONASS for my Arduino projects?"  NavSpark-BD allows you to jump ahead of your iPhone and Galaxy phone and early adopt GPS/Beidou technology!


SHIPPING

All perks has airmail postal shipping fee included, to be shipped from Taiwan. Postal shipping is not trackable. Please additionally choose the $20 FedEx shipping perk if you want your selected perk to be trackable.


RISK and CHALLENGES

We at SkyTraq have years of experience bringing GPS/GNSS chipset and module products to the market, shipped over 7 million pieces to-date globally. We have working prototype of NavSpark, so there should be little chance for surprises later on. That being said, no contract manufacturing could be guaranteed without hiccups or delay beforehand. It could due to other sudden large order shortening originally planned capacity, or delay in receiving ordered materials, and so on. We have sufficient experience to reduce such risk to minimum. If there is a delay that will shift our shipping timeline, we will update you. We'll bend over backwards to get NavSpark to you.


UPDATES 

1. Following current trend and suggestion from our supporter, micro USB connector will be used in NavSpark shipment.

2. If Indiegogo's funders count for the NavSpark campaign surpass 4000 backers, we’ll provide 2 antennas for each NavSpark board instead of 1, as bonus for all. Excessive plug/unplug of the antenna may wear out the U.FL female connector on the antenna side, a 2nd antenna at hand will come in handy.

3. From numerous requests for an micro SD card holder, the concept of an Adapter Board for NavSpark is born. The Adapter Board will have micro SD card holder + through holes for battery connection + Li-Ion battery charger IC, as below link shows. 2 Adapter boards with 2 battery connector cable is provided as $12 perk, postal shipping included. April 10 for combined perk shipment if this perk is picked, due to 5 kinds of boards we need to prepare; we will try to meet March 27 delivery if possible.

http://t.cn/8FVyxQ3

     Select this Adapter Board perk only if you gotten a NavSpark, NavSpark-GL, or NavSpark-BD; otherwise you have no need for this Adapter Board.

4. GPS is designed to work outdoors and can take longer time to get position fix in signal attenuated indoor environment, and might not be able to get position fix if signal becomes too weak. Due to some backers asking if we can provide active antenna with longer cable, making it possible to do GPS testing at some distance from the window (with antenna placed by the window of course) we added an extra $15 perk consisting of (external GPS/GLONASS/Beidou active antenna with 2.5 meter cable and SMA connector) + (15cm SMA-to-U.FL connector cable).

 SMA-to-U.FL connector cable example: http://goo.gl/VAKrwG

internal active antenna example: http://goo.gl/4Iwhht

external active antenna example: http://goo.gl/O0qbue


NavSpark drawing Mandelbrot figure in 48x84 pixel resolution: each point computed and drawn, after completion pause for a while, clear entire screen, pause for a while, then repeat. As the figure appear almost instantly, computation with an FPU is quite fast.



COMMONLY ASKED QUESTIONS (click to view PDF file)

The above PDF contains aggregate of useful Questions & Answers which came up in the Comment page, which might recur, with newest on the top for easier reading by those who occasionally wish to keep track of the discussions on NavSpark.

John Beale, a very supportive backer with no affiliation to NavSpark nor SkyTraq, is very kind to make a compilation of the discussed items into a more structured FAQ to assist later supporters or visitors to the page. This structured FAQ will be easier for first time reading: http://pastebin.com/raw.php?i=1f5iXwiT   Thanks John, much appreciated !

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