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The SparkFun NEO-M8U GPS Breakout is a high quality, GPS board with equally impressive configuration options. The NEO-M8U takes advantage of u-blox's Untethered Dead Reckoning (UDR) technology. The module provides continuous navigation without needing to make any electrical connection to a vehicle, thus reducing cost of installation for after-market dead reckoning applications.
The NEO-M8U module is a 72-channel u-blox M8 engine GNSS receiver, meaning it can receive signals from the GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, and BeiDou constellations with ~2.5 meter accuracy. The module supports concurrent reception of three GNSS systems. The combination of GNSS and integrated 3D sensor measurements on the NEO-M8U provide accurate, real-time positioning rates of up to 30Hz.
Compared to other GPS modules, this breakout maximizes position accuracy in dense cities or covered areas. Even under poor signal conditions, continuous positioning is provided in urban environments and is also available during complete signal loss (e.g. short tunnels and parking garages). With UDR, position begins as soon as power is applied to the board even before the first GNSS fix is available! Lock time is further reduced with on-board rechargeable 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 NEO-M8U: 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 NEO-M8U GPS Breakout is also equipped with an on-board rechargeable battery that provides power to the RTC on the NEO-M8U. This reduces the time-to-first fix from a cold start (~26s) to a hot start (~1.5s). 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.
The dead reckoning calibration is intended for automobiles and is not supported for other modes of transportation such as walking, bicycling, or e-bicycling. The dead reckoning has been factory calibrated but the extra calibration steps, shown in the hookup guide, are intended for automobiles only.
Once calibrated, the NEO-M8U's readings will not be accurate if it is mounted on a different vehicle. You will need to re-calibrate the NEO-M8U should you decide to use the GPS module on a different vehicle. For more information, check out this post in the SparkFun Forums.
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: Competent - The toolchain for programming is a bit more complex and will examples may not be explicitly provided for you. You will be required to have a fundamental knowledge of programming and be required to provide your own code. You may need to modify existing libraries or code to work with your specific hardware. Sensor and hardware interfaces will be SPI or I2C.
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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: Rookie - You may be required to know a bit more about the component, such as orientation, or how to hook it up, in addition to power requirements. You will need to understand polarized components.
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Upon its arrival I attached it to a handy spare Seeeduino MCU I had lying around and got it going. I connected a Molex flexible antenna to the device and tried it out in one room of our house adjacent to a north facing window. I found it achieved a first, accurate first fix within a few readings. This device will ultimately form part of a Smart Citizen environmental sensor, when I'm able to integrate it into the system. Them I'll be able to use the sensor in a mobile context. I'm pretty pleased that it seems well up to the task.