The SparkFun SAM-M8Q GPS Breakout is a high quality, GPS board with equally impressive configuration options. The SAM-M8Q is a 72-channel GNSS receiver, meaning it can receive signals from the GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, and BeiDou constellations. This increases precision and decreases lock time and thanks to the onboard rechargable battery, you'll have backup power enabling the GPS to get a hot lock within seconds! Additionally, this u-blox receiver supports I2C (u-blox calls this Display Data Channel) which made it perfect for the Qwiic compatibility so we don't have to use up our precious UART ports. Utilizing our handy Qwiic system, no soldering is required to connect it to the rest of your system. However, we still have broken out 0.1"-spaced pins in case you prefer to use a breadboard.
U-blox based GPS products are configurable using the popular, but dense, windows program called u-center. Plenty of different functions can be configured on the SAM-M8Q: baud rates, update rates, geofencing, spoofing detection, external interrupts, SBAS/D-GPS, etc. All of this can be done within the SparkFun Arduino Library!
The SparkFun SAM-M8Q GPS Breakout is also equipped with an on-board rechargeable battery that provides power to the RTC on the SAM-M8Q. This reduces the time-to-first fix from a cold start (~30s) to a hot start (~1s). The battery will maintain RTC and GNSS orbit data without being connected to power for plenty of time.
The SparkFun Qwiic Connect System is an ecosystem of I2C sensors, actuators, shields and cables that make prototyping faster and less prone to error. All Qwiic-enabled boards use a common 1mm pitch, 4-pin JST connector. This reduces the amount of required PCB space, and polarized connections mean you can’t hook it up wrong.
If a board needs code or communicates somehow, you're going to need to know how to program or interface with it. The programming skill is all about communication and code.
Skill Level: Rookie - You will need a better fundamental understand of what code is, and how it works. You will be using beginner-level software and development tools like Arduino. You will be dealing directly with code, but numerous examples and libraries are available. Sensors or shields will communicate with serial or TTL.
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If it requires power, you need to know how much, what all the pins do, and how to hook it up. You may need to reference datasheets, schematics, and know the ins and outs of electronics.
Skill Level: Noob - You don't need to reference a datasheet, but you will need to know basic power requirements.
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Because I do not have an Arduino, I connected the u-blox UART lines up to the UART1 pins of my programmed PIC (a CCS compiler makes it very easy to program).The GPS data was then massaged and sent via the PIC's UART2 pins to a PC for display. Even before all this hookup the SAM-M80 module worked right out of the box! It's presently, working inside my house with a couple of floors and a roof between the receiver and the satellites. For anyone wanting to learn and to develop a GPS system I'd recommend not only the SAM_M8Q but to connect the u-blox module to one's own microcontroller instead of an Arduino. That way you will really learn GPS and have a lot more fun besides.
Sadly, our SAM-M8Q experienced rapid unscheduled disassembly just a week after entering service as the rocket-launched Tanky McTankface payload but that's a different story.
Prior to an untimely demise, this board functioned flawlessly. Position lock was fast, and shockingly accurate. Graphing the data in real-time, I walked a smiley face pattern in the street in front of my house! Also, if you've ever had troubles with an older serial-based board, the I2C interface on the SAM-M8Q is an absolute pleasure to work with and the libraries are very clear. I would purchase this product again ... and maybe pad it with foam just in case of freakishly high impact.