New board to allow use of 5Hz GPS modules with ArduPilot

(Shown at left above, with a Locosys LS20033 GPS module for size comparison)

ArduPilot is designed to use the solid and reliable EM406 GPS module, which is a 5v, 1Hz device that works well under most conditions. But if you want more precise navigation, you may want to upgrade to the 5Hz Locosys module that Dean Goedde is using with AttoPilot. That's a 3.3v module, so you can't just plug it into the ArduPilot board. Instead, Jordi has designed a special daughterboard that does the following:

--Converts ArduPilot's 5v power to 3.3v power
--Provides a EM406 connector, so it's a direct plug-in replacement for the EM406
--Provides a break-out connector so you can add a wireless modem, such as a Zigbee.
--Power LED

We may release this as a pre-made product, but in the meantime you can make your own.
Buy the board from BatchPCB here.


Eagle files (schematic and PCB) are here.

Views: 4300

Comment by tychoc on January 6, 2009 at 7:03pm
Do you have a time estimate for when you will have pre-made boards available?

Comment by Nick Sargeant on January 7, 2009 at 2:38am
tychoc, where abouts do you live?
I want to buy a daughterboard too but individually ordering just one is quite expensive.
Comment by tychoc on January 7, 2009 at 7:18am
Nick, I'm in Austin, TX.
I was hoping they would sell an already populated board, but we might have to put our own together. The post mentioned "We'll be releasing this as a pre-made product soon" and that was back in early December.


3D Robotics
Comment by Chris Anderson on January 7, 2009 at 8:06am
I wouldn't expect this board for months. It's an easy board to make and Sparkfun isn't that interested in selling it, given its limited appeal. This is a good time to try your hand at soldering!
Comment by Nick Sargeant on January 9, 2009 at 12:49am
I know your not selling a populated board but could you possibly sell kits with maybe the PCB and SMD power regulator.
All up, If i were to buy everything individually (assuming buying components in minimum quantity) and processing costs and postage to Australia, the daughterboard would cost substantially more than the ardupilot itself...
Chris, I would be willing to supply the funds of ordering the components for maybe 10 of these boards if you handled the logistics.
Cheers and congrats on releasing the ardupilot.
Comment by Nick Sargeant on January 10, 2009 at 2:00am
If this board isnt sold anytime soon by Sparkfun/Diydrones perhaps we could find say 5-10 of us that wanted one and get one person to buy the components (and maybe even solder up some boards if requested and for extra cost) and then send them out to everyone else?
Comment by tychoc on January 10, 2009 at 10:52am

I'm getting close to ordering a board or two and since most of the components from digikey comes in lots of 10, then maybe I should get a couple of extras. I'll let you know what I end up doing.


3D Robotics
Comment by Chris Anderson on January 10, 2009 at 11:14am
Just to update you guys on the status of this board, it works fine as a stand-alone, but we have a small problem when it's connected to ArduPilot. The power polarity protection diode on ArduPilot has the effect of dropping the board voltage to 4.1v, rather than the designed 5v (we'll probably switch to a germanium diode in the next production run that doesn't drop the voltage as much). That has the effect of dropping the daughterboard voltage below the designed 3.3, so we're suffering GPS crashes. To be clear, that's not a problem with the daughterboard, so this board works fine. Also ArduPilot works fine as it is. But the combination of the two is not working fine at the moment, so until we switch diodes on ArduPilot we are going to recommend that people not use them together.
Comment by tychoc on January 10, 2009 at 11:36am
se switching to a germanium diode involve a re-layout of the board, or can I just unsolder and replace the diode myself? My ArduPilot was shipped yesterday from Sparkfun.


3D Robotics
Comment by Chris Anderson on January 10, 2009 at 11:46am
No, it won't involve a new board layout--we'll just swap out components. A simple solution is just to bridge diode D2 (just solder a little wire across it). This will bring the board voltage up to 5v and everything will work fine, but you won't have any polarity reversal protection. So BE CAREFUL when you're plugging in your connectors!


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