Design ESP32 LoRa GPS Tracker Applications with TTGO T-Beam Board

TTGO introduced a small ESP32 LoRa board with OLED display last year that is still selling  for around $14 shipped. But the company is now back with a similar board called TTGO T-Beam that does without the display, but adds GPS support, and a 18650 battery holder, so it should be ideally suited for all sorts of LoRa GPS tracking applications.

ESP32 LoRa GPS Tracker
Click to Enlarge

TTGO T-Beam board specifications:

  • SoC – Espressif ESP32 dual core Xtensa LX6 processor with WiFi and Bluetooth
  • Memory – PSRAM
  • Storage – 4MB SPI flash
  • Connectivity
    • 802.11 b/g/n WiFi up to 150 Mbps +  Bluetooth 4.2 Classic and LE with “3D antenna” soldered on PCB
    • LoRa
      • 433, 868, and 915 MHz versions with SMA antenna
      • Transmit current – 120 mA @ +20dBm; 90 mA @ +17dBm; 29mA @ +13dBm
      • Receive sensitivity
        • -139dBm with LoRa & 62.5Khz & SF=12 & 146bps
        • -136dBm with LoRa & 125Khz & SF=12 & 293bps
        • -118dBm with LoRa & 125Khz & SF=6 & 9380bps
        • -123dBm with FSK & 5Khz & 1.2Kbps
  • Location – Ublox NEO-6M GPS module with ceramic antenna
  • Expansion – 26-pin header (unpopulated) with GPIO, ADC, VP/VN, DAC, Touch, SPI, I2C, UART, 2x “LoRa” pin, and power signals (5V/3.3V/GND)
  • Debugging / Programming – micro USB port with CP2104 chip
  • Misc – Two buttons (power and GPIO39)
  • Power Supply – 18650 battery (not supplied)
  • Dimensions – N/A
TTGO T-Beam Pinout
Click to Enlarge

The board can be programming with the Arduino IDE, and you’ll find code samples on Github showing how to receive and send data over LoRa, and get GPS data.

TTGO T-Beam is sold on Banggood for $30.89 and ships with a LoRa antenna, and two unsoldered headers as shown below. The GPS antenna is already attached to the boards, and the WiFI/Bt antenna is soldered to the board, so all you need is a 18650 battery, and some good idea to implement. The board is also sold on Aliexpress’ LilyGO store, but for around $36 shipped.

LoRa GPS Tracker with 18650 Battery HolderAgain there’s no specific version for frequencies like AS923 (Asia), KR920-923 (Korea), or IN865-867 (India), but I’ve recently realized those work with the 915 MHz (first two) and 868 Mhz (last one), and just need a specific firmware, which as I understand it needs to be flashed by the manufacturer. For example, I’m soon expecting  a RAK811 LoRa tracker board, and RAK Wireless told me they’d send the 915 MHz version with firmware for AS923. The same is true for gateways. I just don’t know if this is a possibly for TTGO T-Beam board.

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10 Replies to “Design ESP32 LoRa GPS Tracker Applications with TTGO T-Beam Board”

  1. It’s kinda ironic that Region-3 (Asia) is the worst supported in terms of available products when nearly all of the boards are produced here. 🙁

    Anyone found a source of 920MHz modules that -don’t- cost an arm and a leg yet?

    1. If the modules are done right, they should be software configurable for the frequency. The issue is that the board makers might not supply the right antenna, so the range might be reduced, in some cases significantly.
      LoRA is really quite an annoying standard in the sense that almost none of the board makers seems to undertand that it’s not a fixed frequency thing, unlike say Z-Wave, where you have to get a specific SKU for a region/frequency.

      1. I’ve just contacted LilyGO about that today, and it looks like we can set the frequency band in the Arduino sketch. They added a LoRa-923-Mhz branch for me.
        I’d also have to figure out how to change the Tx power.

  2. Hello Jean-Luc,
    I’m searching for a product similar to this one. The idea is to gather GPS data using a custom GPS antenna, then process and send them to the LoRa Network with a custom LoRa (868MHz) antenna.
    Do you think I can use the ESP32 LoRa GPS Tracker but with my own antennas ?
    The best thing would be to have a trackerboard with single multiband antenna which works at both GPS and LoRa frequencies. I made this antenna already but didn’t find any board that could handle it. If you have any idea about this, I would be very pleased to hear it too.
    (I can reply in french or in english, at your convenience.)

    Best regards,

    François Eichinger

    1. I’m not really a specialist in antenna design… But I don’t see why you could not use your antenna with this board, or other GPS / LoRa boards as long as they are within specs. For reference, previously I’ve read that using a LoRa board without antenna could damage it, but maybe it was specific to that board whose name I can’t remember.

      1. Hi again Jean-Luc,
        I’ve just received a TTGO-TBEAM and I wondered : is there any userguide on how to upload the GitHub code to the board ? (
        The README doesn’t give any installation steps.
        I’ve been told to use PlatformIO on Atom, but I’m not sure on how to use it.

        Best regards,

        François Eichinger

  3. I have TTGO T-Beam ESP32 868 Mhz with Gps Neo-M8N.
    How can I send GPS data from TTGO by Wi fi or bluetooth to my smartphone with android ?
    Is It possible ?

  4. Hello, I would like advice on a project with TTGo T BEAM with TTN with anemometer and wind direction.

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