iSeeYou

RF based GPS tracking system which does not rely on GSM communications.

This Gizmo was initiated by Gizmo For You more as an experiment. We wanted to try using other means of sending GPS data and display it on an LCD without subscriptions and complex devices. We shall describe here the general operation as well as the user guide of the device so that everyone can understand how it works and what it's implementations could be.

At that time we were just starting out and basically were just falling and swimming rather than actually surfing.

So in one of those situations i went in with strong winds and lost my board, slowly i was watching it swim away while i was struggling with my Kite. That was a real bummer, i just bought that board the same day and lost it also the same day. And it wasn't cheap either. So after some walks down and up the beach i came up with a simple idea.

"Let's make a Gizmo that would be a cheap tracking solution with a small range, maybe 5km and make a small device with an LCD to search and find stuff like .... MY BOARD !!"

Firstly we had to find the right components for the job. And so we did.

1. An XBee Pro for the data transmission

2. An All in One GPS IC with an internal LNA - Something like a 20 Channel

3. Micro-miniature MN5010HS

4. A Low Power Micro controller - PIC16LF877A

5. And a Couple of REALLY small Li-Po Batteries

Now there would be 2 parts to this..

Transmitter

This should be as small as possible, enclosed in a Key fob enclosure, so that i could stick it anywhere like.. ON MY NEW BOARD, on my dog, or to see if my wife cheats on me  (the last one was a joke)

While designing this part i thought "Why not make this LOG the GPS as well" maybe i will loose the range or just want to log data. So we incorporated a small Data Flash IC into the design. Then another thought came to mind "What if it's dark and after long walks on the beach i can't see anything?" so we put a small buzzer and a High luminance LED on it. and here was the result.

Receiver

The receiver should also be small in size but not too small since there would be an LCD on it and a couple of navigation buttons to go through menus.

The right parts for this were already selected for the transmitter so we only had to find a nice monochrome LCD to go with it.
We found a nice LCD that did the trick. PLUS it had a nice Back light to go with it (for those walks in the dark) so the LCD we decided to use was the CFAX12864CP1-TFH.

OKAY. Now let's make an enclosure for this that would look nice and be as small as possible. So we decided to make a custom Enclosure for this with CNC machined ABS material. After some design work we made it happen:

After that it was all Downhill. We made the PCB's and ordered the Enclosures. We haven't assembled the PCB's yet but will do so soon. We have some parts that we still need to order. But after they come in we shall be testing it and USING it.

Before we begin explaining the User Interface of iSeeYou and how to use the Gizmo we firstly need to explain how it works and why it works that way. The software and generally the way that this Gizmo operates is similar to other conventional tracking systems but has some important differences and concepts.

The Gizmo that is available in our shop comes in two parts. The Hand-Held Device and the Transmitter. Most tracking devices rely on GSM connectivity and through GPRS send their coordinates to a central server, which in turn translates those coordinates into graphical points on a map for the user to see. This process is done continuously so the tracker will send this data in time intervals or based on configurations that the device has.

iSeeYou operates in a different way and is completely self contained without the need of servers or GSM networks. There are such devices in the market with advanced LCD displays and Graphical representations of maps and areas. These devices often cost more than is actually necessary and have their own applications. The idea behind iSeeYou was to have a relatively cheap, self contained unit that can do the basic tasks of tracking something and displaying it in a simple way on an LCD. iSeeYou has many applications and can be used with other tracking devices that have RF, instead of the Transmitter included in the kit. Also it is worth noting that the Xbee PRO RF modules in iSeeYou are completely MESH compatible and an entire network of these devices can be achieved with many Hand-held devices or Transmitters.

Due to power limitations on the Transmitter with only 200mA available from the on-board Li-Po battery included in the set we had to find a way to have an efficient tracking solution and try to keep the power consumption to the minimum. As you may know GPS and especially RF require substantial amounts of power to transmit or receive anything, so sending data in intervals of seconds or even minutes would be out of the question. In our case you don't need to have the device send data all the time since you are about to go find it and just need to know where it is and how to get to it.

To explain better how the two systems work and what are the differences take a look at the illustration below which is an operational comparison between a standard GPS-GSM tracker and iSeeYou:


As you can see the operations are different. iSeeYou Transmitter doesn't send data every once in a while but waits for a handshake to occur between the Hand-held device and sends it's position. After that it goes to sleep. Mainly this is done to keep the battery consumption to minimum. After the Transmitter has sent it's coordinates, the Hend-held unit doesn't need any more information than it's own. Based on the coordinates it has of the Transmitter and it's own coordinates, it only needs to update the coordinates on the Hand-Held device in order to calculate the distance between 2 two points.

This method is applied to the Transmitter which is included in the iSeeYou package. The more advanced method of sending GPS data constantly is applied to our Transmitter V2 (The Beast) which has a 2000mA battery and extended range of data transfer.

In General the only difference between the GSM trackers and RF is the Range. With a GSM tracker you can locate it's position wherever there is GSM coverage but you shall have to pay for the service and have a DATA Sim card for which you shall also have to pay. With the RF method although you have range limitations you can still do what you need depending on your application. You don't need to pay for any tracking service and no additional cards or subscriptions are needed. It all depends on your application.

The iSeeYou Gizmo has two parts, the Hand-Held device and the Transmitter. We shall explain each one and how they should be used together. Please note that this explanation is based on the v1.1 Firmware and if there are any differences from what you currently have then consult the description of your Firmware to find out what they are.

There are two available menus on the hand-held device. The Compass menu ,which uses the on-board digital compass and displays the heading and the tracking menu which tracks the Transmitter and displays you and the transmitter as moving dots on the LCD. The hardware features list of the device is as follows:

Num
Name
Description
1
Power Switch
For turning ON & OFF the device
2
Charge Jack
Requires a 5V power source for charging the internal Li-Po battery
3
Navigation Side Switch
Switch for navigating inside the User Interface
4
Charge LED
This LED lights as RED when the device is charging
5
Power LED
This LED lights as Green when the device is powered up
- - -


The navigation is quite simple. Once you have powered the device, the logo of GizmoForYou and the Firmware version appears. After that you are taken to the Main Menu where you can choose what you need to do. By sliding the navigation switch Left or Right you select the appropriate menu and by pressing it you enter into that selection.

Compass Menu

Once inside the compass menu you shall see the directional display and the arrow, showing you where is North. You might need to calibrate the compass before using it since surrounding objects and interference might distort the readings. For calibrating the Compass simply slide the navigation switch to your LEFT. Text shall appear saying "Calibrating", during which time you have to rotate either the device or your self holding it 360 degrees. The more times you make a full circle the more accurate the readings shall be. When you are satisfied simply slide the navigation switch to your RIGHT and the compass menu shall appear with the Arrow.

To exit this menu and go back to Main Menu simply press the navigation switch. You shall be taken back.

Tracking Menu

Before using iSeeYou for tracking make sure both the Hand-Held device and the Transmitter have a clear line of sight with the sky for best GPS lock. Navigate to the " Tracking" menu and you shall get a text message saying "Searching GPS..." This is when the Hand-Held device is searching for satellites and waits for a good lock in order to have it's own GPS coordinates. Once the GPS Lock is Found another Text Message shall appear saying "Searching RF!". The device shall send a handshake Byte to the transmitter and wait for it to reply. Unless you press the Navigation switch this process shall go on until the battery runs out. After the Transmitter is Found a text message shall appear saying "Waiting for RF.." During this time the transmitter is activated and it searches for GPS satellites to get it's position. Once the lock is accomplished you shall see 2 points on the LCD, yours in the center and the Transmitter. By walking towards the transmitter its distance and direction should change accordingly until they (you) find each other. To exit this menu simply press the navigation switch.

Below is an illustration and description for the available hardware features located on the Transmitter included with the unit:

Num
Name
Description
1
Charge Jack
Requires a 5V power source for charging the internal Li-Po battery
2
Power & General Purpose Button
For turning ON & OFF the device or for other operations
3
MCU Reset Button
Reset switch for updating the firmware or simply resetting the unit
4
Power LED
This LED lights as GREEN when the device is powered up
5
Charge LED
This LED lights as RED when the device is charging
- - -

On the operational side of things the Transmitter is pretty simple. After charging the device simply press the Power button. The unit should initiate it's operational cycle and you should see the Power LED flashing in intervals of 9 Seconds. If the Hand-held device has sent the Handshake byte then the Transmitter should stay powered until it has found a GPS lock. After the GPS lock it should continue cycling the power and flashing in the specified intervals. In order to turn off the device simply leave pressed the Power button until the Power LED Powers UP and then Switches OFF after 1 second.