Review: VPN1513 GPS receiver module

The VPN1513 GPS Receiver Module is a newly released combination GPS receiver and Parallax Propeller mini dev board. It uses a SiRF Star III chipset capable of tracking up to 20 satellites. The module supports both “raw” output mode for raw NMEA 0183 strings and the default “smart” mode for specific user-selected data through a serial interface. The VPN1513 GPS Receiver Module also features a Propeller co-processor for easy interface with any BASIC Stamp 2 module. The Propeller is also fully reprogrammable and includes access to all 32 IO pins, allowing the GPS Receiver Module to be easily transformed into a standalone device. An external antenna with MCX connector and 9 foot cable is included. The module interfaces with external devices via a single SIO pin.

By default, users receive GPS data utilizing a serial interface through a Propeller processor (also known as “Smart” mode) using commands found in the datasheet. Users may also choose to receive raw NMEA0183 strings utilizing the /RAW pin.

Power requirements are 5 VDC @ 80 ma.

This module is one of Parallax’s open source projects, with schematic and board files available online.

The .spin source code is also provided, whic is the factory code file found on the Propeller chip’s EEPROM out of the box.

Our observations: The stock factory demo code is designed to interface the module’s SIO pin with a BasicStamp 2, with data relayed via the BS2 to a PC serial port for display in any terminal program. In this mode you could also interface the module with your own MCU project using the standard commands in the datasheet.

The module’s true potential is realized when you take advantage of the reprogrammability of the Propeller processor, augmented by the included GPS code library, which makes this hardware highly hackable. The Propeller can be programmed via the PropPlug connector, and the 32 I/O pins are broken out for direct attachment to other devices or the installation of male/female headers. This seems to be a good platform for robot enthusiasts.

Parallax specs the satellite lock time as 47 seconds from a cold start, and 1 second from a hot start. Our observations confirmed these lock times. The hot start time is made possible by an onboard SRAM backup battery.

The VPN1513 (Product #28506) retails for $59.95 from Parallax. TODAY ONLY (October 2, 2011) PARALLAX IS OFFERING THIS MODULE FOR $47.99 (A 20% DISCOUNT.)

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.