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I got the Sparkfun GPS-RTK-SMA board working! Now I have 1/2-inch GNSS accuracy!

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AbbieNormal1960
(@abbienormal1960)
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I need to build a "Rover" like surveyors use to get CM-level accuracy. I purchased the SparkFun GPS-RTK-SMA board and downloaded the U-Center software from UBlox. I installed U-Center and connected the RTK board to my PC with a USB-C to USB-A cable (make sure it's a DATA cable and not just a charging cable!). I also bought a SMA Male to SMA Female coax cable to hook my L1 GNSS antenna to the RTK board. Once this was all connected and I placed my antenna outside my window, I had to go into my Windows DEVICE MANAGER to see which com port the RTK board was using. I then started U-Center and in Connections, I set it to the com-port I found in Device manager. Immediately I was receiving information about my location. I found I was getting about 6-9 feet location accuracy (2-3 Meters). However, I subscribed to the State of Ohio's Department of Transportation CORS system (just google 'your-state' CORS and it should pop up in the results). I requested an account and in about a day or two I had a login account. Then, in U-Center, I clicked on RECEIVER at the top then on NTRIP Client. I entered the IP address and Port# I was given with my login credentials, entered my username and password also. I clicked on "update source table" in the NTRIP client screen and then I could use the drop-down next to that update button to select the "MountPoint" that had the RTCM3 (make sure you choose an RTCM3 mountpoint) and clicked OK. Now, at the bottom of U-Center it showed that my NTRIP client was connected and after a few minutes I was getting a 3D/DGNSS/FIXED status indication in U-Center and my 2D accuracy was .0104 meters (about 1/2 an inch) and it was rock-solid! It's amazing to me. I am 3D printing an enclosure for this small RTK board, an ESP32 with BlueTooth/Wifi and the e-Paper display on a surveyor's pole.

 

So now I am watching the DroneBot Workshop videos on how to connect an e-paper display to the RTK board via SPI (again, my RTK board is the SparkFun GPS-RTK-SMA board - I paid $274 USD plus tax).

 

The ESP32 will provide the wireless link I need to access the internet via my phone or Laptop to get the CORS correction data over the internet. SparkFun has an "Arduino GNSS Library" that also runs on the same ESP32 module that accesses the information on their RTK board the same way that the U-Center software does on my PC, just without the GUI. So, with the RTK board, my antenna, the ESP32 board, the e-Paper diplay and a USB-C connection from my Samsung Galaxy Note20 phone, I have a very portable RTK-accurate Rover stick for right around $320 USD. My cousin is a land surveyor and he uses the same type of Rover stick from a company named TRIMBLE that does the same thing and no more bu they paid over $5,000 dollars US for that! He surveyed a rock quarry with it about a week ago and I am going to meet him in about a week to "Shoot" it again with my rover and compare it to the results he got. To me, having a proffessional use it and comparre the reults of his exspensive rover to my DIY rover will be the ultimate test.  I have been wanting to make this for so long and it WORKS! I have a DJI Mini 2 quadcopter I have been testing to make orthomosaic maps of different areas. That is what land developers pay professional drone pilots hundreds of dollars to do. But to get the most accurate results, you need to have "Ground Control Points" or CCP's in your drone images that are visual targets you know the absolute position of. It's a whole other topic but that is why I needed this rover stick. Now I can get the most accurate GCP's possible!

 

Anyway, that is my project. Below are the links to the parts I bought (NOT affiliate links).

Just google "SparkFun GPS-RTK-SMA" to find their board.

I'll comeback and give an update later with the results of "Shooting" the rock quarry.

Kind regards to all:

AbbieNormal1960

 

(Antenna $22 USD - https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0BRYWHQDY/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1)

(Antenna Cable with Adapters $14.79 USD - https://www.amazon.com/dp/B086JHJJ9X?psc=1&ref=ppx_yo2ov_dt_b_product_details)


   
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Inq
 Inq
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I would be interested in the links as well.  On this forum, Amazon links get removed.  You must put them in quotes.  i.e...

"https://www.amazon.com/HiLetgo-GY-NEO6MV2-Controller-Ceramic-Antenna/dp/B01D1D0F5M/"

 

3 lines of code = InqPortal = Complete IoT, App, Web Server w/ GUI Admin Client, WiFi Manager, Drag & Drop File Manager, OTA, Performance Metrics, Web Socket Comms, Easy App API, All running on ESP8266...
Even usable on ESP-01S - Quickest Start Guide


   
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Ron
 Ron
(@zander)
Father of a miniature Wookie
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@inq Or use the Amazon URL shortener available HERE

First computer 1959. Retired from my own computer company 2004.
Hardware - Expert in 1401, and 360, fairly knowledge in PC plus numerous MPU's and MCU's
Major Languages - Machine language, 360 Macro Assembler, Intel Assembler, PLI/1, Pascal, C plus numerous job control and scripting languages.
Sure you can learn to be a programmer, it will take the same amount of time for me to learn to be a Doctor.


   
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Ron
 Ron
(@zander)
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Joined: 3 years ago
Posts: 6495
 

@abbienormal1960 Unfortunately all I hear is blah blah blah, $EXPENSIVE, USA only, blah, blah lot's of acronyms, blah.

Photo's ?

Diagrams ?

First computer 1959. Retired from my own computer company 2004.
Hardware - Expert in 1401, and 360, fairly knowledge in PC plus numerous MPU's and MCU's
Major Languages - Machine language, 360 Macro Assembler, Intel Assembler, PLI/1, Pascal, C plus numerous job control and scripting languages.
Sure you can learn to be a programmer, it will take the same amount of time for me to learn to be a Doctor.


   
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AbbieNormal1960
(@abbienormal1960)
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@inq Thank you for letting me know how to post Amazon links. Here they are.

Antenna $22 USD: "https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0BRYWHQDY/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1"

 

SMA cable and connectors $14.79 USD: "https://www.amazon.com/dp/B086JHJJ9X?psc=1&ref=ppx_yo2ov_dt_b_product_details"

I didn't think a picture was needed to show an antenna cable and a USB-C cable connected to a board.

@zander Yes, I do get wordy. I should have broken it up into different sections, also, to make it a little easier to read. As far as expensive, yes, more than say an ESP32 board or something, but compared to a Trimble Rover at over $5,000 USD it's actually quite a bargain if you need something with this kind of accuracy like I do..

And there is a notice that "No more attachments allowed today" on my reply "Window".


   
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(@dronebot-workshop)
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@abbienormal1960

Posted by: @abbienormal1960

And there is a notice that "No more attachments allowed today" on my reply "Window".

That limit will expire after you make a few posts!

😎

Bill

 

 

"Never trust a computer you can’t throw out a window." — Steve Wozniak


   
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Inq
 Inq
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Posted by: @zander

@abbienormal1960 Unfortunately all I hear is blah blah blah, $EXPENSIVE, USA only, blah, blah lot's of acronyms, blah.

Photo's ?

Diagrams ?

@zander, I interpret this as being rather rude to our new member.  That kind of behavior is not very inviting or conducive to his staying on the forum.  If you don't know something about an acronym... look it up... or ask the O.P.  He probably would be glad to discuss it with you/us.  I didn't know all of them, but am interested enough to do my own searches.  If you're not interested enough... don't add your negativity to a thread and move on to some other thread.  This isn't a competition to add posts to reach Nirvana or the next Member level before everyone else.

 

3 lines of code = InqPortal = Complete IoT, App, Web Server w/ GUI Admin Client, WiFi Manager, Drag & Drop File Manager, OTA, Performance Metrics, Web Socket Comms, Easy App API, All running on ESP8266...
Even usable on ESP-01S - Quickest Start Guide


   
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AbbieNormal1960
(@abbienormal1960)
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@dronebot-workshop Thank you, Bill, for explaining. By the way, I posted this here because of your YT video on positioning accuracy. I think you had said something about a future video on the subject. I know you have been busy and probably have not had the time, (or maybe not enough interest from others?) to make it yet. Since I got my DJI Drone (I got it at quite a bargain on ebay), I thought I'd use it to make money. I found out people were using these drones to do aerial surveying work but needed to have very precise accuracy to be valuable to potential clients. That's when I remembered your video on RTK and GNSS (for any readers wondering, RTK= Real Time Kenematics. GNSS= Glabal Navigation Satellite System... Basically GPS, which is the USA system, but also includes the same type of satellites from Russia, China, the EU). I searched and searched YouTube and the internet in general and did not find any step-by-step process to using the SparkFun board I have. So, I thought I'd did in and figure it out. And after that was completed, I thought I'd share my results on your forum, since you were the one that first got me interested. Anyway, thanks for providing this forum. I learn a lot from your videos and will come here more often when I have the time.  I will also probably post a step-by-step video on my YouTube channel. Cheers!


   
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Ron
 Ron
(@zander)
Father of a miniature Wookie
Joined: 3 years ago
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@inq I think it was because it was a first post that caused me to be more critical than, in hindsight, I should have been. Also, the cost of the sensor was disclosed by you in another post a while ago and was deemed to be too expensive, but I am not quoting, it's just my vague memory.

Asking for pictures and diagrams is rude? 

I am interested in general because I saw 'rover' and 'rock quarry', which is very close to the entire environment where I will soon be living and I have been wondering what kind of device would be successful at moving through that terrain. The comment re 'State of Ohio' and "'your-state' CORS" I admit, did put me off since that assumes all the readers are Americans. Yes, sometimes we Canadians are not so nice, I apologize for being not a Canadian this time.

I think I use google a hundred times a day to look stuff up, this post did upset me as it was so packed with information that was specific to the project and would require a lot of looking up. Should I have handled it differently, yes in hindsight, I should have been more diplomatic.

My apologies to the op @abbienormal1960.

Regarding your last sentence, I don't know where the next member levels are. I post a lot because at the moment I have nothing else to do. When I get settled in our new apartment, and I am well enough to take up other activities, I will be here a lot less or I may just leave since almost none of my questions ever get answered and a one way flow is tiring.

 

First computer 1959. Retired from my own computer company 2004.
Hardware - Expert in 1401, and 360, fairly knowledge in PC plus numerous MPU's and MCU's
Major Languages - Machine language, 360 Macro Assembler, Intel Assembler, PLI/1, Pascal, C plus numerous job control and scripting languages.
Sure you can learn to be a programmer, it will take the same amount of time for me to learn to be a Doctor.


   
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byron
(@byron)
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@abbienormal1960

Good to hear of your success with RTK GPS. I had a look at this a year or two back as the positioning system for my outdoor roaming wheeled bot. It would certainly do the job, but, here in the UK the only correction data provided was through a subscription service, meaning I would have to have 2 RTK boards, one on the bot and the other acting as a base station. A tad expensive so I was hoping Dronebots would produce the 'future' video to learn some more before committing.

In the meanwhile I have had some quite good results with plain old GPS by starting the bot in a google maps GPS position, calculating the offset to the GPS coordinates being received from a GPS sensor, and getting the bot to trundle along to set targets coordinates, also obtained from google maps. However, I've only done this in a field where I cant do much damage.

Ultimately RTK GPS may be the way to go so any info you may give on this will be avidly read. And doing a step by step youtube video, as you suggest, will mean you will get at least one subscription. (and a like 👍  )

PS. GPS works just fine in UK and indeed Europe (probably the whole world) so not just for the USA.

( And Ron, apparently you've been sentenced to hard labour and will end up in a rock quarry. RTK works in Canada too, so if you don't spend your $$ to help you escape, your doomed 😵  )


   
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AbbieNormal1960
(@abbienormal1960)
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@zander no worries. My post left a lot to be desired. I was very excited to finally get it working and no one I know is a an electronics enthusiast like myself. I just needed to get my success out there.  I am currently working in a free software called OBS that a lot of streamers use to record a step-by-step instruction. Enjoy yourself, @zander.


   
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AbbieNormal1960
(@abbienormal1960)
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@byron Actually, I think you might be in luck. Ublox, the manufacturer of the ZED-F9P board and the U-Center software now offer a service to provide the correction data to your mower RTK receiver at a reasonable price. I'm not a salesperson for them or anything but I got a card with my SparkFun RTK board that had a 1-month free subscription to a UBlox service called "PointPerfect" It is accessable from their "ThingStream.com" website. It provides an internet stream of the RTCM correction data your board needs to get the .0104 meter accuracy I am getting now. When I have my ZED-F9P board plugged into my PC and I have U-Center open (I'm using version 22.07) I was wondering about this thing called AssistNow Online. I tried it and I couldn't get it to work. The UBlox tech support person who basically held my hand to get everything else working showed me how to sign up. So I ended up going to the website and signing up for their PointPerfect 60H (60 hours) plan. It is only $3.90 USD per month and you can stream the correction data over the internet to your ZED-F9P board. i was using it for several hours and getting a 2D accurracy, like I said, of .0104 meters! I think that's 10 mm, right? After two or thre hours of using it I went back to my account and looked at my activity. It showed only a tiny fraction of the monthly allowance.

AND they have coverage for this service in the EU, the south-west of Austrailia, parts of Russia, I think? And North America. They say they are increasing their coverage map all the time.

For you, and me actually since my end goal is to also have a robotic mower very soon, is to somehow get that correction data wirelessly to the Zed-F9P board on the mower. My best guess at a solution for this right now, though I haven't tried it, is BlueTooth. Put a cheap ESP32 or even an ESP8266 (?) with bluetooth on the mower also then transmit the serial correction data over BlueTooth to your mower's receiver.I'm not to that stage yet fow a mower, I need to get, (or make) a mower first. I figure it's just an RC Car with a spinning disc with razor blades on it or the lawn-trimmer string. "Have 3D Printer Will make!", right. Anyway, I hope that helps. contact UBlox tech support. The technician I sent emails back and forth with was very patient and helpful once he understood what a noobie I was! Good Luck!

One more thing, there is this farmer down in Tennesee, USA. He has an older version of a UBLOX GPS module before the ZED-F9P. He used a 400 Mhz low power transceiver to broadcast the correction data all over his fam. I have heard other have had success sending correction data over LoRa transceivers. LoRa is slow, not much bandwidth, but it has a very long range of coverage.

 

Once again, good luck and share what you learn to help me out when I start my autonomous mower! Cheers!


   
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AbbieNormal1960
(@abbienormal1960)
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@byron You might want to check this out. At least they know what CORS is (Continuously Operating Reference Stations).

"https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/10.1098/rspa.2020.0248"

Also, check out the YouTube channel for Drone Dojo. He used the same board we have to make a RC car autonomously paint a smiley face (using chalk paint) in the grass of a park. Pretty amazing! he used free software called ArduPilot or ArduRover, I forget which one, to create the map and trigger the paint can and something called a PIXHawk. I don't remember what that was for. Anyway, it was very instructional if you get past his youthful exuberance!

This post was modified 11 months ago by AbbieNormal1960

   
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AbbieNormal1960
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@byron I don't know if you can private message me here. If you do, I'll send you the code for the free month of Thingstream's PointPerfect. I got so excited I forgot to use it. You can have it.

 

Also, I mis-spoke in an early post. Yes, you would have to have two ZED-F9P boards in what I was proposing then. One to receive the correction data to your PC then, wirelessly transmit it to your mowers ZED-F9P board.

The other option is the Arduino GNSS library from Sparkfun. If I understand correctly, you can load that software from your PC using the Arduino IDE onto an ESP32 with WiFi functionality. I would get an ESP32 board that had a connector for an external WiFi antenna to increase your range. You remote into the ESP 32 Boards Wifi connection and configure it. It is like a command line version of UBlox's U-Center, but it lives and runs on the ESP32 with the same functionality of U-Center. Then, because the ESP32 has WiFi, it connects to your home Internet via WiFi and gets the correction data from the ThingStream point Perfect internet service. That's what you need! That would work! As long as your WiFi from your house can reach your robot with the ZED-F9P board. And you wouldn't have to use data charges from a Cell phone on your mower doing the same thing.  I would look into that.

 

ALSO... That guy in Tennessee, he noticed that the spinning blades of his mower threw off the compass accuracy a little. It affected the magnetic properties of the digital compass. I don't know if a robot lawn mower has large spinning metal blades. I my mind, I thought they all have a spinning disk with replaceable razor blades on the outer rim of the disk. I know about that. Anyway, he jerry-rigged a platform that was on the back-end of his mower to house his GNSS antenna and the RTK/GNSS hardware and he got a better digital compass. That seemed to work.

This post was modified 11 months ago 2 times by AbbieNormal1960

   
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AbbieNormal1960
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I just got a CRAZY idea. It will probably never happen, but I have seen such a keen interest in autonomous robotic lawnmowers. The stupid ones that look for a dog-fence wire and meander aimlessly are not the solution. A methodical, intelligent mower that mows the yard in a pattern is the best way to go, in my mind anyway. It is more energy efficient. I like to go into a sore and head straight for the things I need and get outta' there. A robot mower with an accurate RTK system is ideal as far as robot mowers go.

The problem is getting the correction data to the mower's RTK GNSS receiver so it can accurately follow a waypoint mission.

What if a company that made these RTK capable mowers made a deal with local AM radio stations? AM signals are in the HF band and travel over 50 to 60 miles. AM HF radio also has what are called sidebands. AM stations used to sell their sideband services to building to broadcast music into them.

What if the company that makes intelligent RTK mowers made a deal with AM radio Stations to broadcast correction data on one of their sidebands? The mower would have an AM sideband radio receiver in it that fed the serial data to the RTK GNSS board. This is getting off-topic of my original post. Maybe A new one is needed. How to mass-produce robotic lawn mowers affordable, or even to come up with an Open Source project so people can make their own. But have the correction data sent over the powerful AM radio stations. Wow! What a wonderful world!


   
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