Category: Telit GE865

GPS Tracker update

5. October 2012 9:16 by Jens Willy Johannsen
Categories: ARM | Projects | Telit GE865

Success! More or less, anyway.

Using the nxpUSBlib (having made a few modifications – I'll do a post on that soon) I've managed to get USB CDC working and I got the GSM initialization and SMS receiving working.

At the moment, on receiving an SMS, the system will reply to the sender with the current GPS status regardless of the contents of the SMS.

(The GPS has no fix because it is on my workbench with no satellites in view.)

Power supply considerations

But: I need to do some careful design of the power supply. The GSM module is extremely power hungry. Especially when registering on the network or doing any other network related tasks – like sending or receiving SMSes. And the battery I'm currently using can not supply enough power for both the GSM module and (through a linear 3.3 V voltage regulator) the MCU and GPS module.

So I'll have to get a beefier battery (this 2000 mAh one) or this 6000 mAh one) and also add a low ESR capacitor (as recommended in the GSM module datasheet).
And I'll also add P-channel MOSFETs as high-side switches for the GSM and GPS modules in order to be able to switch power on and off to these modules.
At the moment I run the prototype off two separate power supplies: the 3.7 V LiPo battery directly connected to the GSM module and a 9 V battery supplying the MCU and GPS module through a 3.3 V LDO voltage regulator.

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New project: GPS tracker

10. August 2012 12:15 by Jens Willy Johannsen
Categories: Projects | Telit GE865

It’s about time for a new project and I’ve decided to dust off an old project that I never really got started: a GPS tracker with a GSM/GPRS phone module.

Sure, there are plenty of GSM enabled GPS trackers available – both comercially (like this one) and as hobby projects (this one for example) but that doesn't mean that I can’t 1) learn a lot from making one myself, 2) have fun while doing it and 3) make something better than what is out there…

Initial requirements

So the initial high-level requirements (aka “what’s it gonna do”) are:

  1. Get current position from GPS module.
  2. Accept commands as SMS messages from a GSM module.
  3. Send position info back as SMS.
  4. Continuously send position info to a webserver.

Design considerations

And my initial design considerations (aka “keep this in mind when designing the thing”) are:


Everything must be run off a 3.7 V LiPo battery. So think about power consumption and battery capacity.
The LiPo will be charged with a mini-USB cable.


Think about the size and mounting of GPS and GSM modules as well as antennas for GPS/GSM.
We’ll also need access to a USB socket for charging.
Also, the LiPo battery needs to fit in the enclosure.

I’m thinking either laser-cut acrylic case from Ponoko or 3D printed box from Shapeways


The components I have in mind for this project right now is:

  • MCU: NXP LPC11U24 ARM processor. I’m thinking that is a good project to start switching from AVR to ARM.
  • GPS: SUP500F GPS module since that’s what I already have in my parts box. Otherwise I would probably choose a more modern module.
  • GSM: Telit GE865 on breakout board – again the reason is mainly that this is what I already have. But it’s still nice.
  • LiPo charging IC: The Microchip MCP73831 looks like it fits my purposes perfectly: it is designed to charge one LiPo cell from a USB port and it has bi-directional status output.
  • Status LEDs: a couple of 0805 or 1210 SMD LEDs. The exact model is not critical.
  • SIM holder: a generic SMD SIM holder. Something like this.
  • Battery: 1000 or 2000 mAh 1s LiPo battery. This one for example.

Next steps

The next step is, of course, cobbling together a prototype. And in order to do that, I will:

  • Get the GSM module working: find a suitable SIM, figure out how to send and receive SMS'es and get HTTP GET and PUT working using GPRS.
  • Verify that the GPS module works.
  • Create block diagrams for hardware and firmaware (i.e. identifying components and dependencies)

Stay tuned…

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16. July 2010 13:36 by Jens Willy Johannsen
Categories: Arduino | Telit GE865

I connected everything – that is: battery, SIM card, push button, LED and transistor and level shifting for 2.8V <-> 5V logic. And considering how much trouble people seem to have had I was surprised how quickly it worked!

The only two things I ran into was:

  1. The first SIM card I used didn't want to talk to the GE865. Probably because it is for a 3G modem and not a phone. Anyway, the second (normal) SIM card worked perfectly.
  2. Using the Arduino IDE's serial monitor as terminal interface didn't really work. But using "screen /dev/tty.usbserial-A9007ND2 9600" from the Terminal prompt worked flawlessly.

I had zero problems with the power supply. Even though I'm not using the recommended low ESR capacitor. Maybe because I'm in a densly cell-phone-covered area. Or maybe because the battery is capable of delivering up to 2A by itself.

And everything worked: sending and receiving SMS'es, retrieving a web page using GPRS. Nice! Now I just need to connect it to a DTMF decoder and a Speakjet :-)

Here's a picture of the breadboard setup:

(click to view large version)

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11. July 2010 22:10 by Jens Willy Johannsen
Categories: Telit GE865

Continuing work on the simple-simple setup, I needed to connect the GE865 to the breadboard. And preferably in a non-permanent way.

I decided to go with 0.1" MOLEX connectors and I chose to use three connectors (only two of which is connected in the simple setup).

Read the entire post »

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Keep it simple

8. July 2010 15:49 by Jens Willy Johannsen
Categories: Arduino | Telit GE865

– at least to begin with.

I have received the stuff (from Lawicel in Sweden since they had everything in stock) so let's fire it up...
Having read about how many problems can arise with these modules, I have decided to try out a simple-simple test first.
That means connecting the GE865 to a 1000 mAh LiPo battery (without the low ESR cap which I haven't received yet), connecting a manual push button on the on-off pin and a LED to the status LED pin (and a SIM card, obviously).
And then use the Arduino's serial monitor to send and receive commands.
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“ET phone home…”

4. July 2010 15:33 by Jens Willy Johannsen
Categories: Arduino | Telit GE865
When SparkFun had a SM5100B module on sale I thought it would be fun to make some sort of device that can provide feedback by way of a cell phone.
But having looked around a bit most people seemed to recommend skipping the SM5100B in favor of one of the Telit modules (GM862, GE864 or GE865). Apparently, the Telit modules have better documentation and there are more information about projects using those. Unsurprisingly, they are also more expensive...
Both the GE864 and GE865 needs an external SIM card holder. The GM862 has an internal SIM card holder and also includes a GPS (there is also a non-GPS version).
Most projects out there seem to use the GM862, but I settled on a GE865. The reasons: it's cheaper and smaller due to its having fewer connection pins (most of which I won't use anyway).
There are a few issues to pay special attention to when using this module (or any of the other Telit modules). Two main concerns are: 1) power supply and 2) logic levels
  1. Power supply
    The power supply is ciritial. Firstly, the module requires 3.8V (will accept 3.4V - 4.2V). Secondly, the power supply has to be able to supply 2 Amps in peaks. This is way more than most simple power supplies can handle. This seems to be the single most common source of problems people have when the module does not work properly.
    I will power the module from a single 3.7V LiPo battery. The hardware guide recommends a battery capacity of 500-1000 mAh in order to handle an output of 2A. Therefore [this] battery looks ideal.

    In order to handle the current spikes a capacitor must be fitted. It is crucial that the capacitor is a "low ESR" type. The hardware guide recommends a 100 µF 10V tantalum capacitor.

  2. Logic levels
    The module uses 2.8V CMOS logic levels. That means that logical high is nominally 2.8V (specified as between ~2.2V and 3.0V). This is different from the ATmega168 levels where output high is close to Vcc (required input high when supplied at 3.7V is ok at approx. 2.0V).
Off to click the "put in basket" button a few times...
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