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Small Is Beautiful

Dr. Satyaprakash
GIS Institute
[email protected]

The advent of small GPS (Global Positioning System) is analogous to the shrinking of the computational devices, which started with giant sized ENIACs and are now available as PDAs (Personal Digital Assistants) delivering power and enhanced utility. Miniaturisation has been fancied by the virtue of easy handling and has been cherished by the market forces as reduced cost leads to increase in sales volume. Besides computers, there are a host of electronic devices, which have undergone sea change in their size, utility and market penetration. We have also witnessed convergence of technologies playing important role in the breeding of new application areas. However miniscule the push factor for the development of small ICs using VLSI, technology has been influenced by secondary factor, but once there in the domain of awareness it benefits all the peripheral devices which did not have enough threshold energy to fuel the research for use in its own domain. But once it was there, it did benefit from the increased utility and expansion in sales volume.

It has been seen that market opens up many doors as products become affordable and easy to handle. The applications start emerging in an endless stream. Thanks to the fertile human head and its never-ending appetite for something NEW.

Next to this has been the convergence of technologies, which has had a deciding impact on the development of products. The convergence of GIS and cell phones to provide the “Killer App” LBS (Location Based Services) or be it GIS, GPS and PDAs to provide mobile mapping, they have all had their own impact on a product development.

Over the last couple of years there has been a substantial effort from the industry players to introduce miniature GPS and GPS chips, which will open new avenues in their areas of application.

Miniature GPS

GM 200 from Holux
GM-200PS GPS Receiver from Holux, Taiwan (https://www.holux.com.tw) claims to be compatible with any navigation system built in Laptop/ Desktop/ PDA. Just by using various connectors, it can easily be changeovered from one machine to the other. In addition, a direct output with USB/COM port is also available. It includes a built-in antenna in a waterproof gadget. The GM-200PS is a 12 parallel channel receiver with an update rate of 1 second. It has a positional accuracy of 5-25 m in standalone mode and 2-5 m with DGPS correction. The differential capability utilises RTCM (Radio Technical Commission for Maritim) services correction. The accuracy in time is 1msec and its velocity is 0.1m/sec in standalone mode and 0.05m/sec in DGPS mode.

Dimension: 106 (L) x 62 (W) x 37 (H) mm
Weight: 150 gm
Power Consumption: 150 mA to 60 mA (Programmable)
Interface: NMEA 0183
DGPS Correction
Battery: Rechargeable that sustains internal clock and memory.
Memory: FLASH based program memory.
Communication: Dual communication channels and user selectable baud rates. The GPS-003 Mobile Locator

The GPS-003 Mobile locator by Nagasaki International Corporation, Taiwan (https://www.nagasaki.com.tw) is the smallest high precision GPS mouse. The GPS-003 is 12-channel GPS receiver with RS-232 port for communication. It consists of a high performance GPS engine board based on industrial leading architecture, a low profile patch antenna and a RS-232 transreceiver. It provides fast positioning and instant real time navigation capability, even in urban canyon, while consuming very little power. It provides real time GPS positions, speed, distance travel and heading information in NMEA-0183 protocol. The GPS-003 Mobile locator is a low cost/high quality GPS solution for integrating to an AVL (Automatic Vehicle Location), Fleet Management System and Marine Navigational Aid. The unit is a single GPS Receiver/Antenna in a low profile waterproof completely sealed enclosure with a magnetic base mount. It interfaces to a serial port RS 232 of computing device that requires GPS NMEA 0183 data input sentences.

Sapphire from RoyalTek

Sapphire is a small GPS mouse, released in the end of 2000 by RoyalTek (https://www.royaltek.com) It is designed for Laptop, Notebook and PDAs. It is based on SiRF Star II solution. Sapphire has 12 parallel channels, built-in active antenna, Super-cohesive magnetic for installation and high sensitivity to satellite signal. It has two kinds of interface connecting cable, RS-232 and USB, for different applications. It can be placed on the dashboard of any vehicle with necessary fixture accessories.

Features Supported Protocol: GGA,GSA,GSV,RMC,4800, and SiRF Binary 38400, USB, iPaq 3630, Casio E-125, Jornada 540, Plam Vx, Plam III, WaveCom GSM
Power Consumption: 3.3 – 5V
GPS Pathfinder Pocket

The GPS Pathfinder Pocket receiver is a small, lightweight, and portable GPS receiver from Trimble, USA (https://www.trimble.com). Rugged and weatherproof, the GPS Pathfinder Pocket receiver is built to work in tough and demanding environments. The GPS Pathfinder Pocket receiver integrates seamlessly with Trimble’s TerraSync data collection and data maintenance software and also with ESRI’s ArcPad software. It also integrates with GPS Pathfinder Tools software development kit, and the sophisticated GPS Pathfinder Office data processing software. It is also configurable for use with third party mapping products, with Trimble’s free GPS Pathfinder Controller software.

Features Channels: 8 parallel C/A code receiver.
Accuracy: 2–5 meters accuracy after differential correction, Autonomous accuracy to 10 meters.
Update Rate: 1 second position and velocity update rate.
Supported Protocols: NMEA 0183.
Accessories: Includes battery, compact antenna with 1.5 m cable and antenna cap.
Optional: Splitter cable lets you combine RTCM devices such as BoB (Beacon-on-a-Belt) with handheld controlling devices.
Miniature GPS Chips


GPS-MS1E is a fully self contained receiver module for GPS, fitting onto the footprint of a PLCC84 package (30 x 30 mm) developed by m-blox, Switzerland (https://www.u-blox.ch). GPS MS1E, has an integrated datalogger and a AT command interface for direct connection to a GSM modem. This speeds up design cycles and enables one to design integrated systems with a minimum amount of external components. The GPS-MS1E has an additional crystal on, that allows shutting off the RF sections separately from the digital part. This allows operating the GPS-MS1E in a 3 stage Power Save Mode, which further reduces power consumption. It supports differential GPS (RTCM Input), 3.3 Volt Power Supply, Backup battery input for Real Time Clock, Passive or active antenna

GPS Chip Set: SiRFstar/LX (GSP1/LX & GRF1/LX)
Memory: 1 MBit Static RAM, 4 MBit FLASH Memory
RF Interface: M/A-Com SSMT Coaxial Connector
Data Interface: 4 Serial Ports, 12 General Purpose I/Os (4 are configurable as interrupt inputs),
Data Protocols: NMEA & SiRF Proprietary Format for GPS-Data, RTCM for DGPS Correction Data
Operating Voltage: 3.3 Volts (3.0 – 3.4 V)
Power Consumption: – Continuous Mode: 140 mA
– Power Save Mode:
  50 mA (at 1 sec. up-date)
  10 mA (at 8 sec. up-date)
Mechanical Specifications
Dimensions: 30 mm x 30 mm x 7.7 mm
Weight: 8 g
Footprint: PLCC84 Package with 42 leads on two sides
DGPS: Supports Differential GPS (RTCM Input)
Antenna: Passive or active antenna

iTrax02 GPS receiver is roughly the size of a stamp, 26x26x4.7mm by Fastrax Ltd, Finland ). The small foot print combined with ultra-low power consumption and low cost make it feasible to apply GPS positioning technology in mass-market application for the first time. With ultra-low power consumption and tiny form factor, the iTrax02 design is ideally suited for battery operated, handheld appliances where the objective is attaining the smallest area/volume and the longest battery life in a GPS application. The addition of an antenna, reset pulse and power supply is all that is needed to make the iTrax02 operational.

Features Form Factor: Tiny PCB form factor 26 mm x 26 mm x 4.7 mm (including RF shield and system connector).
Power Consumption: Ultra-low power consumption 100 mW @ 2.7 V in continuous operation.
Chip: Based on two-chip GPS solution, mN8021 RF chip and mN8031 Baseband chip, mN8021 RF Front end chip in 20-pin QLP-package, mN8031 Baseband Processor chip in 144-pin BGA package.
Architecture: Modular ASiS (Application Specific Integrated System) architecture in 0.35mCMOS technology.
Channels: 12-channel parallel receiver.
Memory: On-chip memory (X/Y-Data and Program SRAM).
Clock: Low power real-time clock.
Dedicated search engine for extremely fast signal acquisition.
Proprietary, ultra-low power, 32MIPS integrated 16-bit DSP-core.
RISC-like programming under Pre-emptive Real Time Operating System Control (VSDSP RTOS).
Versatile low profile system connector including RF and I/O.
16-bit GPIO-port.
Dual UART.
Dual Pulse Measurement inputs.

Trimble’s new Lassen SQ (https://www.trimble.com) module adds complete GPS functionality to your mobile product in a postage-stamp-sized footprint with ultra-low power consumption.

Using Trimble’s breakthrough FirstGPS architecture, the module delivers complete position, velocity and time (PVT) solutions for use in the host application. The Lession LQ module uses minimal power and space and delivers a robust, releiable PVT solution. Lassen SQ is a stamp-sized GPS product with standard protocols: TSIP (Trimble Standard Interface Protocol) and NMEA 0183.

Power Consumption: 100 mW @ 3.3V
Form Factor: 26 mm x 26 mm x 6 mm
Protocol: TSIP and NMEA, 0183 protocols
Memory: Flash memory
Antenna: 20.1 mm x 20 mm x 8 mm
GPS 2020

GPS 2020 from Sychip, USA ), offers a fully integrated GPS receiver module, the GPS2020, in the smallest form factor available today (13mm X 15mm X 3.75mm). This module solution requires only the addition of power, an antenna and the Real Time Clock to provide a fully fledged GPS receiver solution. SyChip’s chip-on-chip technology and RF expertise are used to make this miniature product demonstrating true system-level integration. It can be integrated on the main circuit board of any cellular phone or PDA, reducing the overall size and power requirements of future appliances. The module is available in a BGA package for ease of assembly. The module has low power consumption, high signal sensitivity, and all the desired attributes of a larger sized system. The SiRFstar /LX architecture supports advanced tracking capabilities through fast recovery times combined with reliable operation in “urban canyons” and areas of dense foliage.

The module contains two integrated circuits, an RF receiver and a base band processor. The latter includes an ARM processor and a DSP engine. Customers can further reduce their cost of ownership by being able to load their custom firmware into the available flash memory thereby removing the need for additional circuitry.

Channels: 12-channel, digital radio receiver, with on-board radio-frequency function
Memory: 8-Mbit flash memory, processor, low noise amplifier (LNA), filter and GPS crystal. Processor: The central processor section is a 32-bit, 50-MHz Applications:
Automotive and Marine Navigation
Automotive Vehicle Tracking
Emergency Locator
Geographic Surveying
Personal Positioning
Sporting and Recreation

Next Generation Cell Phones and Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) are expected to deliver additional functionality in the form of Location Based Services. Such services will require enhanced location technologies such as GPS. The size of the GPS and its chip will enable the manufacturers of Wireless Internet Appliances (i.e. Cellular Phones, Palmtop computers as well as other vertical applications), the ability to integrate the module on their main circuit board, thus reducing costs linked with the addition of the second board.