New GPS module--Tiny 10Hz Mediatek unit (just $38.95!)

Great news! Jordi has now released the awesome new (and tiny!) 10Hz Mediatek GPS module attached to an adapter that makes it 100% ArduPilot (and ArduIMU and ArduPilot Mega) compatible. All in one--no soldering required--and you won't believe how small it is! (And just $38.95!) It's preloaded with custom DIY Drones firmware so it outputs an efficient binary protocol optimized for UAV use. Sample code is provide here and will be added to ArduPilot, ArduIMU and ArduPilot Mega over the next month.

We like this one a lot. It's nearly as good as the uBlox module, but cheaper and smaller. We'll be supporting it as a recommended GPS module going forward.

Here's the product description:


State-of-the-art 66 channels MediaTek MT3329 GPS Engine

High sensitivity: Up to -165dBm tracking, superior urban performance
USB/UART Interface
Build-in patch antenna for optimal sensitivity
DGPS(WAAS, EGNOS, MSAS) support (optional by firmware)
Maximum update rate : up to 10Hz (optional by firmware)
RoHS compliant

Note that the new MediaTek has custom and exclusive "DIYDrones" firmware that allows the unit to output an efficient and very compressed binary protocol. You can still change between NMEA and Binary protocol with standard MTK messages, and switch the refresh rate between 1hz to 10hz, or set any standard serial baud rate (by default is set to 38400 bps and custom binary protocol).

Features:
-Based on MediaTek Single Chip Architecture.
-Dimension:16mm x 16mm x 6mm
-L1 Frequency, C/A code, 66 channels
-High Sensitivity:Up to -165dBm tracking, superior urban performances
-Position Accuracy:< 3m CEP (50%) without SA (horizontal)
-Cold Start is under 35 seconds (Typical)
-Warm Start is under 34 seconds (Typical)
-Hot Start is under 1 second (Typical)
-Low Power Consumption:48mA @ acquisition, 37mA @ tracking
-Low shut-down current consumption:15uA, typical
-DGPS(WAAS, EGNOS, MSAS) support (optional by firmware)
-USB/UART Interface
-Support AGPS function ( Offline mode : EPO valid up to 14 days )

Views: 4438

Comment by Jonathan Lussier on June 25, 2010 at 12:08pm
Again about the custom firmware, do you know if it supports High Altitude Operation (100,000ft for balloon launch?)

thanks
Comment by Lew Payne on June 25, 2010 at 12:12pm
Jason - During the course of my chat with the manufacturer (I wanted to see if they could provide a point-source solution via a customized MT3329 firmware engine), they informed me that my best bet (for one or two units) was to use the one they had modified for a certain open-source project (not DIYDrones), featuring binary output and a modified clustering algorithm. Out of courtesy, I didn't ask them if that was the same modification that the DIY store claims is "exclusive to DIYDrones." I thought it best to let you guys try and explain your sales and marketing tactics, after the facts were collected.

There's also code which closely resembles that of some open source projects (except for names and credits stripped out), and (to be clear about it) where the open source project code came first. Would you guys care to comment on the use of other peoples' open-source code with credits stripped out? It would appear to me that you're making at least $250,000/year in revenue from this, from derivative works that were not intended to be commercialized.

It's not just this one thing, by the way. I also see things like this, where the board is available without the pin headers for $139.95 or here for $149.95 with FREE (highlighted in red, all-caps) pin headers. Since when did the meaning of "free" change to "$10 more?"

XV - Yes, I have several good points actually, some of which I'm saving for the right time. I would rather let the DIY retail group first make certain claims (as was the claim with the "exclusive" firmware) before showing all of my cards. It's a shame that people like Torin start crying whenever someone is critical of a business. By that same token, people who receive the wrong product from the store (like Thomas Coyle did here) should just shut up. After all, they're "doing so much for us" and the community. I'd rather live in reality, and realize these guys are out to make a profit, which comes out of the customer's pocket. There's nothing wrong with that, per se, except for how it's done (with claims of "free" when it's $10 more, claims of "exclusive to DIYdrones" firmware, near cloning of boards from other companies, and certain software/firmware practices that leave the original authors without credit).
Comment by Lew Payne on June 25, 2010 at 12:31pm
Jonathan - Regarding high altitude Operation (100K feet): I'm sure you're probably familiar with FAR Part 101 related to unmanned free balloons (annotated for your convenience). In addition, there are government-set (DOD?) limits on non-military GPS operation above 60,000 feet or 999 knots. From what I've read, most manufacturers treat this as an OR and stop providing data above 60K'. Some others have been trying to find a viable (and legal) solution, in this forum.

From what I'm seeing, the constraints on the MT3329 firmware engine also includes a 60K' limit. I'm under the impression that if the manufacturer removes this constraint, it would be subject to government import regulation. If you find out something to the contrary, please update us here!

Developer
Comment by Jason Short on June 25, 2010 at 12:37pm
I don't know which code you're referring to. Can you be more specific? As for v2.5 of Ardupilot I wrote virtually everything from scratch, sans the GPS parsers. Even then, I completely reworked them many times over. Doug has built on 2.5 with his own work.
Comment by bGatti on June 25, 2010 at 12:47pm
@Lew,
You raise a gaggle of perennial "Open Source" questions; some of which may seem to pit "insiders" against consumers of Open Source.

Can I suggest a deep breath and a more patient review of these questions.
First - yes - people in the Open Source community are desperately trying to feed their families while giving away their work product - essentially for free. This is not easy, and for those who can manage it - it is quite a balancing act. There is much discussion, and plenty of debate and friction about how and where one draws the lines between profit and open. One can have a different view of the line without taking offense at other views: In large part, these projects are a popularity contest, and team leaders will (try to) tow a line between financial ruin and the loss of project popularity.

You're right in some respects - "Open Source" can be reduced to nothing more than a particular marketing pitch in which the buyer is protected against obsolescence by the strength of an empowered user group rather than the reputation of the manufacturer.

I for one think it's pretty cool that small electronics are creating jobs in the US, and while a perfect webstore may be someone's goal - surely time is better spent on products then the endless pursuit of petty discrepancies.

3D Robotics
Comment by Chris Anderson on June 25, 2010 at 1:12pm
Guys, a housekeeping note. I've now banned Lew Payne for a number of offenses, which he's already been warned about, including personal attacks, accusations and basically being a jerk to everyone (including me). But I've left his posts here, so people can judge for themselves.

This thread has spun badly out of control. Jordi posted the new GPS module and forgot to put the binary protocol in the product listing. Within a day people are accusing us of being secretive and worse. Crazy.

As I said, we'll release all the necessary code within the month, including everything about this protocol you'll need.

As for this site being a profit-making company, that absolutely is the aim. But right now our $250,000 of revenues has been matched by about $400,000 in costs. That means that so far we've donated $150,000 of our own money to making as much open source technology available to everyone for the lowest cost.
Comment by Torin Segstro on June 25, 2010 at 3:04pm
I agree. Profit or not, Chris and Jordi are helping to pave the way for this hobby.
Comment by Daniel Gru on June 25, 2010 at 3:25pm
I like the way people are deleted, who have a slightly different view then the masses or the people in charge /Irony off

Anyhow, Mediatek GPS looks good, waiting if it could be used nicely for an ardumega setup, cheaper then Ublox, smaller and looks nicer ;-)
Comment by Riccardo Kuebler on June 25, 2010 at 3:34pm
Hi,

Chris, profit or no profit at least Jordi and you are contributing to the site, the community and the drones cause. The same is true for a lot of people here.
I'm wondering which is the real, concrete contribution of people who only criticize.

This way of communication does not contribute to the discussion and the good information.
This way of communication only divide people and provide unuseful debate.
How much time do you have to waste in your life ? In this moment I'm wasting mine ...

I would like to say that I like very much this community for the mutual respect and the level of civility, politeness, gentility and courtesy that distinguishes the majority of the members here.
I like a little more artistic way of communication / promotion, without the need to be always finicky / nerds / swot.
Thanks for that and don't feed the trolls !

Best regards,

Ric
Comment by Matthew M on June 25, 2010 at 5:28pm
I have to agree Lew Payne's attitude was counter productive but on the other hand might it not have been possible to give him a warning or a public reminder of standards for the community? I can't help think that Lew had some constructive input that minus some of the slant would positively effect every one's goal in developing a DIY drone. I know it's extremely difficult to reverse such a drastic move but you really are running the risk of intolerance for a difference of opinion / view. In the end if this were to keep up we might end up with skewed Chris and Jordy fan vs. DIY drone developer ratio.
I appreciate how difficult managing all this must be but from experience I also know that when it comes down to it you can do what you want. Taking this specific case in point.

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