Getting Started with NavSpark mini GPS Module
I noticed NavSpark mini GPS module a couple of weeks ago, and since it was free, not including $10 for shipping, I went ahead and ordered. Since the freebie got popular, SkyTraq took some time to ship it, and when they did they provide a “not trackable” tracking number, which I’m not sure what that mean as I could track the parcel from Taiwan to Thailand using 17track website without issues.
The packages included NavSpark mini and a USB to TTL module as described, so I insert both and connect VCC ,GND, and UART as shown on the pictures on the product page.
I also connected the GPS antenna from LinkIt ONE development kit to the uFL connector on NavSpark mini, as well as a micro USB to USB cable to my computer. If you don’t have such antenna, you’ll need to add the $9 GPS/GLONASS antenna on NavSpark website to your order.
The easiest way to get started, and make sure the board works is to use GNSS Viewer program. The downside for a Ubuntu guy like me is that it only runs on Windows. But no problem, I started my Windows 7 virtual machine in Virtual, enable the USB to TTL port with Devices->USB menu, and installed Prolific drivers. However, I never managed to make the driver works, with Windows 7 complaining that:
Windows cannot verify the digital signature for the drivers required for this device. A recent hardware or software change might have installed a file that is signed incorrectly or damaged, or that might be malicious software from an unknown source. (Code 52)
I did not want to mess with Windows in the evening, so I simply started an old Acer netbook with Windows XP. No problems with drivers, but GNSS Viewer did not like my netbook resolution (1024×600), and the program is poorly written as it does not allow you to resize the window.
So I decided to just use the Arduino IDE in Ubuntu by following the instructions in the User’s guide:
- I already had Arduino 1.6.6 installed from https://www.arduino.cc/en/Main/Software
- You’ll also need the LEON3 sparc toolchain to be install in /opt:
Shell1tar xvf NavSpark\ Mini/sparc-elf-3.4.4-33.tar.gz -C /opt
- You are also asked to install the 3-bit version of openJDK:
Shell1sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install openjdk-7-jre:i386
- Finally, you have to install NavSpark board manager (http://navspark.mybigcommerce.com/content/package_navspark_index.json) and configure the Arduino IDE to use NavSpark mini.
This looks good, except for the Invalid library found message…
- The next step is to find some hello work app to check GPS connectivity, and this is where I stopped, simply because there aren’t any available samples according to the user’s manual, except demo_hello_world_nmea.
But when you download the samples, they are all there, except the working one :)…
I’ve ask what need to be modified for partially compatible samples on the forums.
Finally, I remembered I still had a Windows 10 TV stick, I tried GNSS Viewer yet again in MeLE PCG01, and I was happy that after 3 hours of messing around, I finally managed to get a signal, and could make sure the board was indeed working.
All I had to do was to select the COM port for Prolific, and click on Scan All which connect the COM port @ 115,200, and got a very fast fix indoor.
If you are interested in such GPS module, the “freebie” is still available, and you just need to pay for $10 for shipping, and remember to add a u.FL GPS antenna if you don’t have one.