Makerfabs Launches the Maduino Zero SIM868 GPS Tracker with Bluetooth Low Energy and Cellular Modem

Upgraded design now available, with board layouts and schematics on GitHub.

Educational and embedded electronics specialist Makerfabs has announced a new open-hardware GPS data logger and tracker, the Maduino Zero SIM868 GPS Tracker — offering Arduino compatibility thanks to a Microchip SAM D21 microcontroller at its heart.

"Our team has previously created a Maduino Zero SIM808 GPS Tracker V3.5which integrates [the] microcontroller [Microchip] ATSAMD21G18, [SIMCom] SIM808 [GPS module and cellular modem], power management, and storage, to make it ready for a real project for IoT [Internet of Things] projects," the company writes by way of background to its latest launch. "But our team wasn't satisfied with [the design], and has now created an upgraded version with better BLE [Bluetooth Low Energy] & GNSS [Global Navigation Satellite System]: Maduino Zero SIM868 GPS Tracker."

The new design is built around the SIMCom SIM868 GNSS receiver, which includes the same quad-band reception as its predecessor but adds support for the Beidou and GLONASS GNSS constellations in addtiion to GPS. The integrated Bluetooth radio is also improved, switching from the Bluetooth 3.0 Enhanced Data Rate (EDR) model in the SIM808 to a Bluetooth 4 version with Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) support.

The Microchip ATSAMD21G18 driving the logger is the same model as found in the original SIM808-based variant, offering a single Arm Cortex-M0+ core running at 48MHz with Arduino compatibility. For remote tracking, the board includes a cellular modem with micro-SIM slot — and three external antennas, for the GNSS module, Bluetooth radio, and cellular modem, are included in the bundle.

According to Makerfabs, the tracker offers a 32 second typical time to first fix from a cold start, which drops to five seconds from a warm start and just one second from a hot start. Its accuracy is rated at 2.5 meters (around eight feet), and there are 18 general-purpose input/output (GPIO) pins, plus I2C, SPI, and UART buses, available for use with external hardware.

The company has released schematics and board layout files for the new tracker on GitHub under an unspecified open source license; assembled units are available to order on the Makerfabs store at $28.80.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire:
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