Tuesday, August 28, 2012

New shield (2.2 BETA) and firmware (1.4) are up

If you have tried to build a Trackuino board, you will have noticed that the Venus GPS part from Sparkfun (GPS-09133) has been retired and replaced with GPS-10921, which has in turn been replaced with GPS-11058.

Unfortunately, the engineers at Sparkfun have deemed necessary to reshuffle the pinout and make the newer board incompatible with existing designs that used the older boards, including Trackuino. I'm still puzzled at this decision, this is like the 7805 reversing in and out just because it "makes more sense".

If you already have a board designed for GPS-09133 or GPS-10921 and want to use GPS-11058, there are two solutions: either run small cables instead of pin headers, or build a small adapter board to rearrange the messed-up pins.

The GPS chip has also been replaced (634FLPx becomes 638FLPx), but this should not be a problem.

Although I plan to run away from this problematic part, I have uploaded the Eagle files of a new design that is compatible with GPS-11058. Look for trackuino-shield-2.2.zip in the downloads area.

I have not tested this design yet. I will remove the "BETA" label as soon as I get some boards tested.

Since I haven't built any 2.2 board yet, all I can show is this nice 3D rendering from mayhem labs:

The complete feature set of the Trackuino Shield 2.2 is:

  • Replaced Venus GPS 634FLPx (sparkfun #9133) with newer 638FLPx (sparkfun #11058).
  • Auto 3.3/5.0v operation for Chipkit Uno32 compatibility
  • Eagle files converted to 6.x format.
  • Use Arduino's own 5V regulator to power the HX1.
  • Replaced TO220 3.3V regulator with SMT + board sink.
  • Added bleeder resistor for passive piezo speakers.
  • Battery (Vin) sensing (through a resistive voltage divider).

Matching this new shield, there is also a new firmware version: trackuino-firmware-1.4.zip in the downloads area. The new features are:

  • NEW: Support for PIC32 / Chipkit Uno32 platform
  • NEW: Support for active or passive buzzers (DC or PWM driven)
  • NEW: Battery voltage sensing
  • NEW: Slotted transmissions for multilaunch events
  • REMOVED: Support for the MX146 radio

Find more information in the project page at google code, and enjoy!