SparkFun Delivers Ultra-Precise Location Measurements On the Go with the RTK Torch

It's not a device that'll help you see in the dark, but at least you'll know exactly where you are to millimeter precision.

Gareth Halfacree
1 month agoHW101

SparkFun is continuing to expand its RTK range of high-precision Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) surveyors' tools, launching the RTK Torch — which, despite its form factor, won't help you see in the dark but will tell you exactly where you are with up to millimeter-grade precision.

"This is a big week for us because we are finally releasing our latest enclosed GNSS surveyor, the RTK Torch," says SparkFun's Chris McCarty of the company's latest launch. "You may have seen this kit on our site last month as a beta version, but thanks to your feedback from that, we have made a few upgrades and adjustments to the full release. Needless to say, we are extremely happy with the results!"

If you're looking for a portable tool delivering ultra-precise location data, the SparkFun RTK Torch is for you. (📹: SparkFun)

The RTK Torch, which uses a rounded-square form factor looking not dissimilar to a flashlight but with a solid black plastic cap where the bulb should be, is built around an Espressif ESP32 microcontroller connected to a Unicore UM980 L1/L2/L5 GNSS receiver with an IM-19 sensor for tilt compensation. The housing, meanwhile, is IP67 rated — meaning waterproof to a depth of one meter for up to 30 minutes, providing its USB port cover is closed.

The positioning accuracy available using the RTK Torch depends on its mode. At its least accurate, used as a standalone device, the tool can deliver up to 400mm accuracy (around 15.7"). When paired with a local base station in RTK mode, it offers accuracy down to 8mm (around 0.31") — and if you lack your own base station, it can connect to the u-blox PointPerfect system over Wi-Fi for 14-60mm (around 0.55-2.36") accuracy. This does, however, require a subscription, with a one-month free subscription included with the device.

NMEA location data from the RTK Torch can be read over a Bluetooth connection, SparkFun has confirmed, and is compatible with "any GIS [Geographic Information System] software that uses Bluetooth SPP or BLE [Bluetooth Low Energy]." The receiver includes 1,408-channel concurrent reception of the GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, BeiDou, and QZSS constellations.

The SparkFun RTK Torch is now available to order on the company's store at $1,499.95 before volume discounts, including the unit itself, a hard-shell carry case, 65W USB PD charger, cables, and an antenna thread adapter.

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