Fast location fix and greater accuracy

Louise Smyth

Alpha Micro Components announces the availability of evaluation kits for the newest u-blox M8 series and u-blox 8 GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) positioning technology modules.

These comprehensive kits allow easy evaluation of the modules’ performance, in both real-world and test conditions, and provide a base for application development.

Each kit includes everything needed – hardware, software, drivers, documentation, and accessories – to quickly integrate these modules into a typical Windows-based testing and development environment.

The u-blox M8 is designed for applications that require the best navigation performance and the highest accuracy.

The u-blox 8 provides a very similar feature set, but with more emphasis on power sensitive applications. Evaluation kits are available to support all the M8 product variants.

Both series of modules support assisted GNSS (A-GNSS) for fast location fix and greater accuracy, via a connection to the u-blox AssistNow service. When you’re ready to implement your application, the u-blox 8 and u-blox M8 modules are also available from Alpha Micro.

Each evaluation kit packages the module plus support electronics in a sturdy but compact (105 x 64 x 26 mm) enclosure that provides easy access to standard inputs and outputs as well as internal pins. There are external reset and boot buttons, and a GNSS fix indicator LED.

Connectors include a USB 2.0 port for power input and high-speed data transfer (cable included), and a 9-pin D-SUB UART port for RS232. There is also a combined I²C or SPI port (selectable via an external switch) – this 14-pin ESD-protected connector allows direct access to internal interface pins, for signal monitoring and current measurement.

All kits include an active antenna, connected via a supplied 5 metre coaxial cable that screws into the external SMA RF connector. The EVK-8 kit’s antenna supports GPS and GLONAS, and the EVK-M8 kits’ antennas support BeiDou, GPS and GLONAS.

Developers and testers working with the EVK-8 and M8 kits can use u-center, a free Android or Windows-based software application that supports all stages of the positioning system integration process, and makes evaluation and design as easy as possible by providing support for configuration, visualisation, testing, and data analysis of modules.

The u-center software is highly interactive and user friendly. Its extensive configuration and control features are backed by display of real time data from the evaluation kit’s GNSS receiver via the RS232 and USB interface. Data visualization features include graphical display of location data and satellite status, and comparative chart views. Data recording and playback are also supported.

Designed for use with Android versions 2.3 to 5.1 and x86 and x64 Windows operating systems, from Vista onwards, u-center has cut-and-paste clipboard support for quick and easy exchange of data with other applications.