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u-blox NEO-M9N GPS Featherwing

Using some of the newest GPS tech from u-blox, you can add global positioning to any Adafruit Feather!

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This project is another GPS Featherwing using a GPS module from u-blox. By attaching a GPS antenna, you can measure where in the world your Feather is!

This project is another GPS Featherwing using a GPS module from u-blox. This project uses the recently announced NEO-M9N GPS module from u-blox. Capable of meter level accuracy while using 4 concurrent GNSS, this module provides impressive statistics in such a small package. While still in development and datasheet/documentation still being completed, it appears to be an improvement over previous NEO-Mxx GPS modules.

This board does work as a stand alone GPS board, as it can be powered via USB. It can also be powered/controlled by a Feather, making it a Featherwing as well!

This board does require an external GPS antenna. The board contains a U.FL connector which can be connected to this external GPS antenna.

This board contains two status LEDs, one which indicates the power status of the board and one which indicates the fix (PPS) status of the GPS module.

The GPS can be controlled using the Sparkfun Ublox Arduino Library. The user has the option of talking to GPS using UART or I2C. The default communication method is I2C. Due to size constraints, the SPI comms option was removed, even though the GPS module supports it. There are also 4 additional digital I/O pins to control/measure GPS status.

The board also has a microUSB port, which allows the GPS module to communicate with u-center, u-blox's Windows GPS software. While this port powers the GPS board, it does NOT power a connected Feather. This is because using the GPS USB to power the 3.3V rail of the Feather is not recommended. While powering the Feather from the GPS is do-able, it has potential to damage the Feather. The current configuration also allows the GPS to act as a standalone board.

schematic-rev2.3.pdf

Schematic of Revision 2.3 Note: project is currently in design phase, has not been built or tested yet

Adobe Portable Document Format - 113.43 kB - 02/28/2020 at 14:56

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Feather-NEO-M9N-GPS-KiCad-Files-2.3.zip

KiCad Archive files for Rev2.3 Note: project is currently in design phase, has not been built or tested yet

Zip Archive - 1.06 MB - 02/28/2020 at 14:55

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Feather-NEO-M9N-GPS-Rev2.3-GBR.zip

.GBR files for Rev2.3 Note: project is currently in design phase, has not been built or tested yet

Zip Archive - 160.17 kB - 02/28/2020 at 14:54

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  • Revision 2.3: Ready for Assembly and Testing

    sirmylesavery02/28/2020 at 14:53 0 comments

    I finally have gotten around to designing Revision 2.3!

    Changes include:

    • Proper Shielding on I/O lines
    • Resistors close to module on I/O lines
    • Shortened Vcc line
    • SPI option for comms

    This version is mostly thanks to some connections Miguel from smartcore.com.br made with u-blox and has been rightly added as a contributor to this project. I would also like to thank the u-blox sales office in South America for helping connect me to members of the u-blox, mainly Mr. Zagnit and Mr. Protopsaltis, who provided me with great design feedback. This design would not be what it is now without these people!

    Next steps:

    • Look into having this board manufactured, so I can physically test this design.
    • See if Adafruit is interested in this design, as it is designed as a FeatherWring. It would be a dream of mine to have it on their store!

    Below are some photos of the most recent version:

  • Revision 2!

    sirmylesavery01/06/2020 at 22:56 7 comments

    Revision 2 has been designed! After some very helpful feedback from Michael, who is an expert in u-blox implementation, and has been made a co-contributor to this project!

    Modifications made to this Revision include:

    • Fixed unconnected grounds around the RF traces
    • Added connection of reset GPS pin to be controlled by an attached Feather
    • Board can now be powered by USB! Note that the Feather can power the GPS board, but the GPS board can NOT power the Feather

    Design Files have been uploaded to the project page.

    Included below are some images of the design for Rev 2

  • KiCad Design Files and .GBRs

    sirmylesavery01/05/2020 at 21:51 0 comments

    I have uploaded an archive of the KiCad Design files and .GBRs for this project. Please note that at the current state, the hardware has only been designed, but not built or tested. Because of this, I can not guarantee that hardware will work 100% as intended. But feel free to use these files to make your own boards/build upon them!

    Because I have not built or tested this project yet, project specific software does not yet exist. Feel free to make your own though!

    If anyone ends up building this, feel free to let me know, as I am interested to see how many errors/improvements can be made.

  • Components Selected

    sirmylesavery12/28/2019 at 15:32 0 comments

    Components for this GPS board have been selected. It is viewable here from Octopart. The current price for the board components sourced from DigiKey is 8.33 USD. Keep in mind that the GPS module is not currently considered in that price, as it is not yet available at any major distributor. It is only available from u-blox, as an engineering sample, as of 12/28/19. U-blox lists price breaks as 1-9 pieces at 25 USD, 20-49 pieces at 21.56 USD, 50-99 pieces at 17.67 USD, and 100-249 pieces at 14.15 USD. I'm going to guess that similar prices will become available at DigiKey, Mouser, etc. once the module is ready for commercial release.

  • Revision 1!

    sirmylesavery12/27/2019 at 03:56 0 comments

    Rev1 is designed! I just recently discovered that u-blox announced a new GPS module. Thought I'd try and make a Featherwing out of it, with what  time is left in the "Take Flight with Feather" competition.

    Components list will be coming tomorrow!

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Discussions

edreed wrote 09/05/2020 at 17:31 point

very nice - have you had any made yet.  can I buy one?

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jibril wrote 03/01/2020 at 00:23 point

nice!

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Henrik Johansson wrote 02/26/2020 at 07:34 point

I joined Hackaday when I saw this project :)  Great work!

I am curious, what is the current status of the project? Has anyone tried to build it yet? Is the version 3 mentioned in some of the comments still in the works?

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sirmylesavery wrote 02/29/2020 at 21:48 point

That’s great to hear, welcome! Revision 2.3, the most recent version, is about ready to potentially be assembled. I just posted a new project log the other day. It took much longer than expected due to school, but it’s in a state I’m happy with right now. I don’t know if anyone else has tried to assemble it, please let me know if you do! I think my next step is probably talk to Adafruit to see if they’re interested in the design. I’m currently approaching finals week and have gotten sick, so I don’t know how much work I’ll be able to  do in the next week

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Henrik Johansson wrote 03/01/2020 at 13:54 point

That's great news! Again, excellent work! And it sounds like a good plan to talk to Adafruit. I really hope that they will be interested. I can picture myself putting together a few prototypes, but I'm currently swamped with other projects and doubt I will have time before at least the summer. Actually, I'm currently working on a project that includes Adafruit's Ultimate GPS featherwing, and although that is a good and easy to use board, I would exchange it for your u-blox one in a heartbeat if it was available. Sorry to hear that you're not well. I hope you will feel better soon. And good luck with your finals! If they're in PCB design I think you will do well. ;)

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sirmylesavery wrote 03/02/2020 at 23:08 point

Thanks for the feedback! I have just recently send this project over to Adafruit. I plan on posting another project log once I hear back from them. 

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Miguel Wisintainer wrote 01/22/2020 at 18:02 point

Hi, i sent you a e-mail, from suporte@smart...
About the revision on the revision 2.0 :)

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sirmylesavery wrote 01/07/2020 at 14:51 point

Looks good, lots of great info on there!

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Miguel Wisintainer wrote 01/04/2020 at 17:01 point

btw, wich is your Name to put in the blog ? I have the nick

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sirmylesavery wrote 01/04/2020 at 17:28 point

You could just put "sirmylesavery" or just "Avery W.". I'm trying to figure out where people keep getting "Nick" from, I thought my profile says sirmylesavery everywhere I look. Maybe there's just something I am missing

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Miguel Wisintainer wrote 01/04/2020 at 18:07 point

changed!

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sirmylesavery wrote 01/04/2020 at 18:53 point

Awesome, thanks!

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Miguel Wisintainer wrote 01/04/2020 at 16:56 point

Thank you so much to the fast answer! Btw, i am teacher and i give support to the smartcore.com.br, an u-blox representative. Now i am starting the M8N study to be support too to this M9N, then i am doing the BLOG now, i am searching documents, tips, libraries to help smartcore.com.br clients to start with M9N. If found your Hackaday project that is very interesting.

Well, this the blog (beta), i still have to test the libraries, one are to m8n series, other m6, and sparkfun has to m9, but uses i2c.

https://neo-m9n-gps.blogspot.com/2019/12/neo-m9n-gps.html

I got today the M9N starter kit to u-blox to start the tests of libraries next week!

Yes, a great Module!  Btw, i had done a blog to F9 too

https://u-blox-zed-f9p.blogspot.com/2019/02/zedf9p-with-gps-you-are-able-to-know.html

About the M9N, you will see in the blog good tips!

We can work together, if you want!

thank you!

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sirmylesavery wrote 01/04/2020 at 17:29 point

The blog looks very interesting, got some useful info on there! Some stuff I didn't even know about

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Miguel Wisintainer wrote 01/04/2020 at 18:07 point

nice hear this!

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Miguel Wisintainer wrote 01/04/2020 at 15:27 point

The same to F9P

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Miguel Wisintainer wrote 01/04/2020 at 15:26 point

If you can do some breakout without components, we want to order some pieces!

Let me know the price!

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Miguel Wisintainer wrote 01/04/2020 at 15:24 point

Excelent! Will be openhardware ? Or, will you sell the breakout ? I am doing a blog about M9N resources

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sirmylesavery wrote 01/04/2020 at 16:01 point

This project is intended to be open hardware, I would just like to get this design to a state where I'm confident with it to share/publish the design files. This goes for the ZED-F9P board board as well. Once design files are uploaded, you will be free to make/order your own boards.

If you are going to discuss my boards in a blog, all I ask is that you mention me as the author/designer and provide a link to this project page. Otherwise, feel free to use it however!

If you could also send me a link to this blog once it is posted, I would love to take a look at it, as I'm interested to see what other sources about the M9N module, given its recent release. It looks like a great module that has some great potential.

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