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An Arduino and Netduino shield that provides data, voice, text, gps, and 3-axis sensing data to your projects.

The G-Duino project 

A little history about ME

I have been fascinated by electronics for as long as I could remember, writing games in basic on an Atari 400 with a membrane keyboard and saving the code to tapes.  Prior to those days, I was building alarm circuits to detect intrusion into my bedroom.  If there was anything in the house that I wondered how it worked, it was not safe around me.  I would dismantle electronics and mechanical items to learn how they worked.  Unfortunately for my parents, back when I was under 11 years of age, only about 30 percent of the items I re-assembled would ever work again.  Fortunately for you reading this article, I have learned a lot since then.

I have been working with embedded systems and micro-controllers since 1990 starting with the 8051 mcu.  I have a laundry list of experience with many different micro-controllers and processors over the years and have always been involved one way or another in embedded systems.  Recently, the embedded scene has made its way to novices in the form of easy-to-use kits such as the Arduino and the Netduino.  These small credit card size boards have an embedded mcu and a little bit of firmware that allow hobbyists to get up and running with an embedded system rather quickly.  I wish these things were around in my younger years.  These would have been way more fun than the 40 in 1 electronic lab kits.  

These embedded systems have a modular interface and are very flexible by design, allowing hobbyists to connect shields (a variety of interchangeable add-on modules) to provide the mcu with the capability to interact with the environment.  Many different types of shields are available, but I was having a problem finding a GPRS shield that also was capable of providing GPS, accelerometer and gyrometer data .  I wanted my Netduino to be capable of autonomous vehicle control while having full communication with a remote site.  I also wanted to use my device for some home security projects along with using it as a black box for an automobile.  I could do most of what I wanted with multiple shields and third-party modules, but no all-in-one solution existed.  A nice feature that I also wanted is to provide battery charging capabilities, so that this device could be designed around a lithium-ion battery and be recharged by plugging your Netduino into the computer via it's USB port.

The G-Duino is born

While researching a solution to my problem, I found a chipset that pretty much met all the requirements; it was the SIM908.  This chipset allows me to have data, text, and voice capabilities for my Netduino along with the ability to provide accurate GPS positioning data.  On top of these vital requirements for the project, the SIM908 provides battery monitoring and charging capabilities.  Using the ST Micros LIS302DL I was able to satisfy the remaining requirements for the project (accelerometer and motion data).  Therefore, with the SIM908 chipset and LIS302DL I began building a shield that would satisfy all my project requirements.  I ended up putting the project on hold for a little bit due to other projects taking precedence.  Then the day was upon me, again , where I needed similar functionality for a work project, and the G-Duino project was back in the spotlight with top priority.  I have built three of these boards based on G-Duino PCB rev 1, shown in the photo, and am building up revision 2 of the board with the accelerometer and motion data sensor prior to launching my Kickstarter campaign.  I am currently building the software libraries for the Netduino to simplify and demonstrate the use of this shield with all of its capabilities.  My Kickstarter Video shows the device being used as a vehicle black box, capable of tracking the vehicle that it is in and allowing the interested party to communicate with the device in real-time and also receive alerts from the device.  I also show how it can be connected to a smoke detector and can alert you when the alarm is tripped, which is a great feature if you are not using a monitoring system such as ADT.  The device could be set up to dial 911 and communicate the alarm and location of the house.  The last demo that I plan on video-taping over the next couple weeks of my campaign is one where the Netduino and the G-Duino shield is used to navigate a rock crawler with live interactivity with the rock crawler from your smartphone or internet connected computer.  

The G-Duino, with it's integrated TCP/IP stack, only requires a simple AT command set to establish connectivity for your projects, simplifying development and minimizing development time for almost any project that you can dream up that requires data or voice communication capabilities (the second revision provides audio jacks and headers for full use of the SIM908 voice capabilities).     

This shield has many more possibilities and can be used to add connectivity, geographical positioning data, and detection of movement and acceleration to your Netduino projects.  Having two-way communication with your product without the need of a network and the ability to accurately track the location of your project opens up a whole new realm of possibilities for the inventor creating devices.  Some application ideas for the G-Duino shield are a GPS tracking devices, unattended vehicle operation, remote data acquisition, SMS remote control, security system, voice command recognition, voice communication, and the list goes on.  The next section talks about the technical specifications of the G-Duino.

Technical specifications for the G-Duino

General Specifications

  • Quad Band 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 Mhz
  • GPRS Multi-Slot class 10
  • GPRS Mobile Station class B
  • Compliant to GSM phase 2 / 2+
  • Class 4 (2W @ 850 / 900 MHz
  • Class 1 (1W @ 1800 / 1900 MHz)
  • Low Power Consumption
  • Normal Operating temperature: -40ºC to +85ºC
  • Control via AT commands

Specifications for SMS via GSM/GPRS

  • Point-to-point MO and MT
  • SMS cell Broadcast
  • Text and PDU mode

Specification for Audio

  • Tricodec Half rate (HR), Full rate (FR), Enhanced Full rate (EFR)
  • Echo Cancellation

Specifications for Data Transfer

  • GPRS Class 8/10: max 85.6 kbps downlink
  • PBCCH support
  • Coding Schemes CS 1, 2, 3, 4
  • CSD up to 14.4 kbps
  • USSD
  • Non Transparent Mode
  • PPP-stack
  • Integrated TCP/IP stack

Specification for GPS

  • Receiver  type: 42 Channel, GPS L1 C/A code, High-performance STE engine
  • Sensitivity Tracking:  -160 dBm, Cold starts: -143 dBm
  • Time-To-First-Fix Cold start: 30s (typ), Hot starts: 1s (typ)
  • Accuracy Horizontal position: <2.5m CEP

Specification for Accelerometer

  • <1 mW power consumption
  • ± 2g/± 8g dynamically selectable full-scale
  • Programmable multiple interrupt generator
  • Embedded self test
  • 10000g high shock survivability

Other Features

  • Input power 5-12vdc
  • low power consumption 1.0ma in sleep mode with gps engine powered down.
  • Battery monitoring and charging capability
  • Real Time Clock
  • 2 GPIO lines and 1 ADC that can be accessed via AT commands
  • LED's indicating power status and network status
  • Easy accessible SIM socket

Making the G-Duino a Retail Product

The G-Duino will be released as an open hardware platform and all libraries, schematics, and board layouts will be made available for everyone as a free download.  The G-Duino can be purchased from us as a blank PCB board (a do-it-yourself kit) or a complete shield with accessories.  The complete shield with accessories will be sold as a standard shield and come with an internal active GPS antenna, quad band cellular antenna, and a UFL to SMA adapter cable so that a third-party external antenna could be connected.  The G-Duino wiki page will contain getting started guides and the software libraries for both the Netduino and eventually the Arduino (this shield is fully compatible with Arduino).  Our Suggested Retail Price of $139.99 usd is for the complete shield kit with accessories.  We will also sell the blank PCB for $29.99 usd for those of you who want to build the shield. 

The G-Duino is in the prototyping phase with the first revision completely prototyped and functioning, along with the second revision built and currently being tested.  We are putting together the libraries for the G-Duino with sample projects so that using the shield with your projects will be greatly simplified.  We will be posting updated videos of our project throughout the funding process.  Rev 2 of the PCB is currently being produced and will be completed, during the funding process.  We have built a relationship with all suppliers and have the capability of receiving enough part to produce 1,000 boards per week.  Making this product reach the production phase is where we need your help.  In order for us to send this product to production, we need to raise enough capital to get through the first production run of units.  Our pledge goal is for $15,000, which will get us through the first batch of 100 boards and get the project into the production phase.  As a reward and thank you for helping us reach the production phase pledges greater than or equal to $25 usd will receive product from the first production run based on the pledge level (see rewards on the right for more details).  Help us get this product into production so that many more hobbyists can have access and use of this technology for their own projects.

Breakdown of the manufacturing costs per 100 boards and timeframse

  • Administration                                                                      $1280.00
  • PCB Layout  (5 day lead time)                                               $1800.00 
  • PCB Manufacturing per 100  (10 day lead time)                       $526.00
  • PCB SMT Assembly per 100 (10 day lead time)                      $1480.00
  • SIM908 IC per 100   (15 day lead time)                                   $3000.00
  • GPS Active Antenna  per 100  (15 day lead time)                    $700.00
  • GSM Antenna  per 100 (15 day lead time)                              $400,00
  • U.FL to SMA adapter cable  per 100                                      $300.00
  • Remaining components per 100                                             $1300.00
  • In-house through-hole assembly per 100 (5 day lead time)       $480.00
  • testing the device and burn in (10 day lead time)                     $960.00 
  • Packaging & shipping of rewards per 100 (5 day lead time)      $700.00
  • Kickstarter & Amazon fees 10%                                            $1500.00 

Total cost for going to manufacturing $14,426.00

Total Time from receiving funds to product shipment 45 business days

With funding being released by the end of August 2012 (30 day funding period). Shipments will be ready by the last week in October of 2012.

Thank You for all your support,

George Vigelette

CEO Vigeltek Inc.

A detailed resume of George can be found at 

http://vigeltek.com/resume/George%20Vigelette.htm

FAQ

  • This question has popped up and is definitely relevant for the do-it-yourself bare PCB. I have listed the component pitch and sizes below. I will also add two more reward levels with partially built PCBs for the do-it-yourself version of the shield.

    - All capacitors, resistors, and LEDs are 0603 SMT components

    - SIM908 Telcom Chip is 30mm x 30mm and has pads .6mm wide at a .4mm pitch

    - MEMS Motion sensor is a BGA measuring 3mm x 5mm

    - Transistors are SOT23-3 SMT components

    - The audio jack, supercap and sim-card holder are all surface mount but larger parts and are manageable with a basic soldering iron.

    - Remainder of the parts Headers, and switch are through hole parts.

    Last updated:
  • If you currently have a GSM based cellular service provider your sim card will work with the G-Duino and you can swap sim cards between devices. I have tested it with the following:

    - Go phone Card (full functionality voice, text and data)

    - IPad Sim Card (this would only allow me to do data only, since it was a data only plan)

    - 3G card from a Motorola Razor flip phone.

    All the sim cards I tested were 3G cards, I will have to see if I can find some more cards to test with. I am using the pay as you go plan for daily testing.

    Last updated:
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  • Pledge $1 or more
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    A pledge at this amount will get you a sincere thank you for helping this project to get to production. You will be updated on the release progress and have access to all the libraries, schematics, and layout files to create your own G-Duino shield. We will send you a personalized thank you and keep you updated on when purchase of the G-Duino is available.

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  • Pledge $20 or more
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    2 backers

    A pledge at this amount will get you a blank PCB of the G-Duino from the first production run, so that you can build your own G-Duino. We will send you a personalized thank you for supporting our project and keep you updated on when the G-Duino product and access to all the libraries, schematics, and layout files are available. (International backers outside the US please add $10 to your order)

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  • Pledge $30 or more
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    A pledge at this amount will get you a PCB of the G-Duino from the first production run with the MEMS Motion Sensor (LGA package) installed on the board, so that you can build your own G-Duino. We will send you a personalized thank you for supporting our project and keep you updated on when the G-Duino product and access to all the libraries, schematics, and layout files are available. (International backers outside the US please add $10 to your order)

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  • Pledge $60 or more
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    1 backer

    A pledge at this amount will get you a PCB of the G-Duino from the first production run with the MEMS Motion Sensor (LGA package) and the SIM908 Telcom chip installed on the board, so that you can build your own G-Duino. We will send you a personalized thank you for supporting our project and keep you updated on when the G-Duino product and access to all the libraries, schematics, and layout files are available. (International backers outside the US please add $10 to your order)

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  • Pledge $110 or more
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    A pledge at this amount will get you a fully assembled G-Duino with accessories from the first production run for use with your Arduino or Netduino. The accessories included with your assembled G-Duino include a GPS internal active antenna, GSM antenna, and a U.FL to SMA adapter for using external active antennas. You will be updated on the release progress and have access to all the libraries, schematics, and layout files to create your own G-Duino shield. We will also send you a personalized thank you for supporting the project.

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  • Pledge $175 or more
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    A pledge at this amount will get you an Arduino Uno and a fully assembled G-Duino with accessories from the first production run for use with your new Arduino Uno. The accessories included with your assembled G-Duino include a GPS internal active antenna, GSM antenna, and a U.FL to SMA adapter for using external active antennas. The Unit will be tested for functionality and shipped to you ready to go. You will be updated on the release progress and have access to all the libraries, schematics, and layout files to create your own G-Duino shield. We will also send you a personalized thank you for supporting the project.

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  • Pledge $185 or more
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    A pledge at this amount will get you an Netduino and a fully assembled G-Duino with accessories from the first production run for use with your new Netduino. The accessories included with your assembled G-Duino include a GPS internal active antenna, GSM antenna, and a U.FL to SMA adapter for using external active antennas. The Unit will be tested for functionality and shipped to you ready to go. You will be updated on the release progress and have access to all the libraries, schematics, and layout files to create your own G-Duino shield. We will also send you a personalized thank you for supporting the project.

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Funding period

- (30 days)