SparkFun Aims at the Stars with Satellite-Based MicroMod GNSS Carrier, Artemis Global Tracker Boards

Two new boards for two ecosystems, Arduino and MicroMod — but both offer satellite-based tracking capabilities.

Gareth Halfacree
10 months agoInternet of Things

SparkFun has announced the launch of two new satellite-connected development boards, one which adds Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) support to the MicroMod ecosystem and another that uses the Iridium constellation to offer global location tracking and data transmission.

"The SparkFun MicroMod GNSS Carrier Board raises the bar for high-precision GPS and is in a line of powerful RTK [Real-Time Kinematics] boards featuring the ZED-F9P module from u-blox," SparkFun writes of its latest MicroMod board. "The ZED-F9P is a top-of-the-line module for high accuracy GNSS and GPS location solutions including RTK that is capable of 10mm, three-dimensional accuracy. With this board, you will be able to know where your (or any object's) X, Y, and Z location is within roughly the width of your fingernail!"

The board is designed for the MicroMod ecosystem, accepting a modular MicroMod Processor Board into an M.2 slot — meaning that different processor boards can be swapped in and out on-demand, allowing projects to be built around one processor then upgraded or downgraded should requirements change. There are two USB TYpe-C connectors for power and programming, an SMA connector for an antenna, and a Qwiic connector for add-on hardware.

The Artemis Global Tracker, by contrast is an entirely stand-alone device - promoted by SparkFun as "[possibly] the one tracker to rule them all." The board is powered by an Artemis Module, onto which SparkFun has added an Iridium 9603N Short Burst Data modem, u-blox ZOE-M8Q GNSS receiver, and a TE MS8607 PHT sensor — enabling you, in SparkFun's words, to "do an incredible number of things that used to be very difficult."

The Artemis Global Tracker connects to the Iridium network for short messaging anywhere in the world. (📹: SparkFun)

Designed to connect to the Iridium satellite network — which draws with it a charge of around $17 per month, and is locked to provider Ground Control (also known as Rock Seven) unless you pay a $60 unlocking fee - the Arduino-compatible board offers the ability to send and receive short data messages anywhere in the world, providing there's a clear view of the sky.

The GNSS system provides location tracking, including triggering on four configurable geofence areas, while the in-board sensor offers temperature, humidity, and pressure readings — and the board has Qwiic headers for external hardware, along with I2C, SPI, five digital input/output, and five general-purpose input/output pins.

The MicroMod GNSS Carrier Board is available now on the SparkFun store at $324.95, with more information available in its hookup guide; buyers will also need a MicroMod Processor Board, starting at $11.95 for an RP2040 model. The Artemis Global Tracker is available from the store at $399.95, with its own hookup guide also available.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire: freelance@halfacree.co.uk.
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