Figure 30 - The stealth GPS logger prototype can track you around the globe
Figure 30 - The stealth GPS logger prototype can track you around the globe

The stealth GPS logger prototype performed as well as the breadboarded version and as well as my handheld GPS unit. Only once did the GPS lose the signal, but this was because the antenna was almost fully blocked by some metal objects in one of my test runs. To gain a bit more memory on this simplified prototype, I changed the AVR324p (4K internal SRAM) to an AVR1284p (16K internal SRAM) so that I could record four times as many NMEA strings, allowing about 20 minutes of decent resolution recording. This is still far from being much use in the real world, but did allow a much longer path to be shown on Google Earth (Figure 30).

The stealthy GPS tracker project was a great success. The simple microcontroller program can be much expanded on to offer greater control over recording frequency and operation. With the addition of an external EEPROM memory or Flash memory, the GPS tracker could be made to store hours or even days worth of information. By adding two way communications between the microcontroller and PC, a complete terminal based menuing system could easily be made that would allow the GPS tracker to be configured on the PC, adding features such as scheduling, motion detection, light detection, direction and speed logging, and many other features that would only take minimal extra hardware. Using surface mount components and a lithium battery pack, the GPS tracker could be made as small as a matchbox, yet run for days using some power saving microcontroller features. There is no limit to what can be done with this project, so warm up that soldering iron and put your ideas in motion.

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