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Picture of Old Man and the Arduino GPS

So this Lazy Old Geek (L.O.G.) hasn’t been able to do an Instructable for a few years. At 70 years old, the brain doesn’t work as well as it used to and it’s hard to focus on big projects let alone try to write about them.

(I am entering Arduino Contest.)

But with the help of my loving dog, Sadie and my CPAP machine, I’m going to give it a try. Sadie is my anti-depressant, keeps my spirits up and we walk every morning. My CPAP helps me sleep better and therefore, think a little better.

GPS: Well, I’ve always been interested in GPS. Most commercial GPS can only pinpoint down to 2-3 meters. My cousin, who’s a big time farmer says his equipment can do a lot better. I know one of the local farmers uses his John Deere tractors to plant crops in furrows using custom GPS.

I spend a lot of time surfing the Internet and have been reading about reasonably priced GPSs that can measure down to centimeters! Incredible. On the practical side, I don’t really need that. When I go for walks I don’t really need to know exactly where I am. Even on road trips, I use my smartphone with Android Auto to let me know where I am.

But I’m also a technogeek, so I started looking at GPSs for hobbyists. One of the most popular was Adafruit Ultimate GPS.

Step 1: Adafruit Feather

Picture of Adafruit Feather

Well, one of the versions of the Adafruit Ultimate GPS is the Featherwing. Now I’ve never heard of the Adafruit Feather series, so more surfing. Wow, Adafruit and Lady Ada have developed a whole bunch of microcontrollers and accessories based on a small platform called Feather. For Arduinoites, it’s similar to the basic Arduino UNO platform but smaller and more up to date. Adafruit also developed all of the software so they could be compatible with the Arduino software.

I really appreciate the work Adafruit and Lady Ada have done for DIYers and I really liked the Feather M4 Express:

Unlike the standard Arduino with 16mHz clock, it’s superfast with 120mHz clock. It’s 3.3V which is pretty much the new standard for new DIY electronics. It’s compatible with Arduino which I’m pretty familiar with plus it can also be programmed with Circuit Python (Adafruit’s custom version of Python). I am old and have a hard time learning new stuff but this would give me a chance to branch out.

So I ordered a used one on ebay and also ordered one from Mouser. Amazon, Mouser and DigiKey carry some of the Adafruit products. I would’ve liked to buy one directly from Adafruit but at the time, they didn’t have all the FeatherWings I wanted to get. In this case it’s cheaper to order a lot of stuff at one time so you don’t have to pay as much shipping costs. In my case three items cost as much to ship as one.

PROBLEM: JST2.0 battery connector on M4express. A long time ago I bought a bunch of JST2.0 power connectors like the picture. Unfortunately, the red/black is opposite what the M4express uses, and I have a lot of batteries and projects using this polarity.

Oh, well. It’s fairy easy to remove the wires from the connector and switch their positions. So I did this with several batteries and one LiPo charger. I put some red nail polish on them so hopefully won’t get them mixed up.

For the M4express, I elected to use the female headers with long pins. See picture. This allowed FeatherWings like my GPS to plug into the top. Plus the M4express can be plugged into FeatherWings like the 3.5” TFT which I bought.

For this application, the pins aren’t used so I had a small Protoboard and plugged the M4express into this so the pins aren’t exposed and can’t get bent when I carry it around.

jessyratfink4 months ago
This sounds like it was a fun project to work through!
msuzuki777 (author)  jessyratfink4 months ago
It was and is, an ongoing project.