Thursday, April 28, 2011

Fastrax IT600 Integrates GPS and Glonass in a Single GNSS Receiver Module

Fastrax is a leading provider of high performance GNSS receivers, Software GNSS solutions and tracking systems for device manufacturers and device designers, unveiled the Fastrax IT600, including GPS, Russian-based Glonass, Japanese QZSS and SBAS in a single receiver module. The chip is an advanced multi-constellation positioning receiver IC. It has an embedded RF input with separate GPS/Galileo and GlonassIF outputs combined with 32 dedicated tracking channels that can be assigned to acquire and track any mix of GPS, Galileo, QZSS and Glonass signals. In addition to currently supported Global Navigation Satellite Systems, the Fastrax IT600 is designed to also support other positioning systems such as European-based Galileo and Chinese Compass/Beidou2 in the future.

The new Fastrax IT600 receiver module is specifically designed to serve the needs of the automotive industry. It uses STA8088EX IC from ST. Optionally an AEC-Q100 automotive qualified IC from ST can also be used (STA8088EXA). Manufacturing is done in an ISO/TS 16949 qualified site. Qualification tests on IT600 module are performed as stipulated in the ISO16750 standard: “Road vehicles – Environmental conditions and testing for electrical and electronic equipment”. Enabling both GPS and Glonass generally doubles the number of visible satellites compared with using GPS only, reducing the time to first fix and increasing positioning accuracy, especially while driving in urban canyons. Fastrax IT600 provides ultimate level of reliability and highly accurate positioning even in challenging environments.

The FASTRAX IT600 can utilize an analog gyro and odometer pulse and can later be complemented with a digital 3-axis gyro and differential wheel pulse from a vehicle’s CAN interface in order to compensate for possible unavailability of GNSS signals.Fastrax IT600 supports DR using traditional 1-axis analog Gyro and Odometer Pulse from car. Support for DWP (Differential Wheel Pulse) based DR through CAN interface will be available later.Advanced dead reckoning estimates the position of the vehicle when satellite signals are unavailable – which inevitably happens in tunnels and parking garages.

Fastrax IT600 features 32 dedicated tracking channels that are dynamically assigned to acquire and track a mix of GPS, Glonass, QZSS, Galileo and Compass/Beidou2 signals. The module is able to operate normally with only one of the Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) or utilize several systems simultaneously.Fastrax IT600 is also Galileo and Compass/Beidou ready with future software upgrades.

Fastrax IT600 is based on the newly introduced ST Teseo II GNSS chipset (STA8088EX), marking the first time a Fastrax module is based on a chipset from STMicroelectronics. The support for multiple GNSS systems and advanced dead reckoning enables module customers to benefit from additional satellite systems and improved tracking capability and accuracy, without having to make different designs for different markets.

Fastrax IT600 supports Assisted-GPS technology, able to provide both fully-autonomous Ephemeris prediction and server-based, predictive assistance using GPStreamTMServer technology provided by Rx Networks.The autonomous predictions are providing accurate fix for 5 days on observed satellites with no server needs.Using server-based GPStreamTMtechnology from Rx Networks, the access of a very compact information (2KB payload) ensures full-constellation predicted ephemeris valid for 7 days.

Fastrax IT600 offers a wide range of interfaces in a tiny form factor. Two UART’s are available for NMEA and RTCM104. A third UART/USB is also available. I2C provides a convenient interface for adding for instance MEMS sensors, EEPROM or other I2C compatible peripherals. A standard 1PPS output is also available. CAN bus is available for DR. The I/O voltages are 3.3V CMOS levels.

Fastrax IT600 features same small form factor as other Fastrax IT multiplatform modules, 16.2 x 18.8 x 2.3 mm, however the pin-out is different. The low power consumption of 80 mW is further decreased with the ability to turn off unused tracking channels.A JTAG interface is also available for custom firmware implementations and debugging. Currently ARM Realview 3.1 compiler and Lauterbach ICE are supported. Support for GNU compilers will be available later.

Unused tracking channels can be turned off for power saving. Enabling Glonass in urban canyons with limited visibility of the sky, the number of visible satellites go up typically with a factor of two compared to, for instance a GPS-only receiver. This means that your fix is guaranteed in most cases.

“The cooperation with STMicroelectronics and the new Fastrax IT600 are important milestones for us towards the automotive market”, said Taneli Tuurnala, CEO and President of Fastrax. “A single module supporting multiple GNSS systems shows that the development of satellite based positioning is on a strong upward curve. Adding full blown dead reckoning support is much appreciated among our existing customer base, in addition to the new customers that have already shown interest in the new product.”

“Fastrax’s worldwide sales channels help bring our GNSS technology to a wider customer base”, said Antonio Radaelli, Navigation & MultiMedia BU Director of STMicroelectronics. “We are selective in choosing partners, and the decision to cooperate with Fastrax for GNSS modules is based on their high level of technical expertise.”

Samples of Fastrax IT600 are available in September 2011, and volume production is estimated to start in October 2011.

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Thursday, April 07, 2011

Spot Satellite Communicator Recalled - not to work below 40 degrees Farhrenheit/4.44 degrees Celsius

Spot LLC has issued a product RECALL on the SPOT Satellite Communicator which is bundled and sold exclusively with the DeLorme Earthmate PN-60w. Spot LLC has discovered that a part, which does not meet operating specifications, was substituted in some SPOT Satellite Communicator devices during the manufacturing process.

Good thing the company is righting a wrong and compensating owners of the affected models.In certain incidents, intended messages may not be transmitted, including requests for help or emergency assistance, when the SPOT Satellite Communicator is used at temperatures below 40 degrees Farhrenheit/4.44 degrees Celsius.Please note this DOES NOT impact the DeLorme Earthmate PN-60w handheld device itself or any other DeLorme product.

SPOT Satellite Communicator RECALLED

Spot LLC is conducting a complete product replacement of all SPOT Satellite Communicators within ESN range:0-2000000 and 0-2019999.As GPSTracklog points out, hopefully this flaw wasn’t discovered during a real emergency.As a DeLorme and Spot LLC customer with a registered SPOT Satellite Communicator account, you are being notified with important safety information regarding your registered SPOT Satellite Communicator device(s).

Please stop using the SPOT Satellite Communicator and follow the instructions below to promptly return the device for an immediate replacement of a new SPOT Satellite Communicator at no charge. Customers who return their affected SPOT Satellite Communicator devices by June 1, 2011 will receive 6 FREE additional months of SPOT service automatically with a new SPOT Satellite Communicator device.

This product recall is limited to the SPOT Satellite Communicator sold exclusively with the DeLorme Earthmate PN-60w handheld GPS only. This DOES NOT impact the DeLorme Earthmate PN-60w handheld device itself or any other DeLorme product. Additionally, this does NOT impact any other SPOT product including the SPOT Personal Tracker, SPOT Satellite GPS Messenger, SPOT IS, SPOT HUG or SPOT Connect.

You must complete the registration at and follow SPOT Recall Replacement Program guidelines. Spot LLC is not responsible for any data loss. Once you complete the registration, you will be forwarded shipping material. You can expect to receive your new SPOT Satellite Communicator within 7 to 10 business days upon receipt of your return. Spot LLC has chosen to self insure the shipment of your SPOT Satellite Communicator, and will assume the risk of loss for any SPOT Satellite Communicator lost during shipment.

If you have an activated service for a recalled SPOT Satellite Communicator, then Spot LLC will extend all active services to which you have subscribed by an additional six (6) months at no cost to you. (e.g. a 12 month service contract will be extended to 18 months). After receipt of the affected SPOT Satellite Communicator, Spot LLC will automatically apply the applicable service extension to your account with no further action from you.

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