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What Is a GPS Arduino®?

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  • Written By: N. Kalu
  • Edited By: Allegra J. Lingo
  • Last Modified Date: 25 August 2016
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A GPS Arduino® is any project that combines the Arduino® platform with a GPS receiver. Due to the relatively low cost and general availability of both components, GPS Arduino® devices are common. Numerous inventors have created projects that integrate this combination.

Arduino® is a popular open source microcontroller platform used by both professionals and amateurs. Common uses for the platform include robotics, home improvement devices, and programmable appliances. Like other open source hardware projects, Arduino® components are produced non-exclusively by several manufacturers.

These devices can interface with GPS units several ways. One way is to manually wire a GPS chipset into a board. This method uses very little in terms of power or additional components, but it is technically complex and more difficult than alternatives. Another way to implement a GPS Arduino® is by connecting a handheld GPS unit to the board via a USB or serial cable. A cable connection is useful for users who already have a handheld GPS device.

The most common way to create a Arduino® GPS is to use a GPS shield. Shields are not fully functional boards, but can be used to add features to other boards. Popular shields include the Wifi® shield and the LCD shield, which respectively allow inventions to interface with wireless networks and LCD monitors.

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Regardless of whether a GPS shield or another method is used to connect the GPS to the board, the GPS Arduino® is a useful combination. By making these boards, which are already extremely versatile and able to integrate GPS data into their programming, a wide array of projects are made possible. Some users have used it to create sensor networks which accurately record the locations of collected data. Others have built robots capable of long-distance navigation. One inventor used a GPS Arduino® to create a wooden gift box that would only open and reveal its contents when taken to a specific location.

The growing popularity of smartphones provides another way to create this combination. Some Arduino® boards are capable of using Bluetooth® to interface with smartphones. If the phones are configured to share GPS data over that connection, the device would have location data that is only slightly less accurate than using its own on board sensor. This combination is only useful for projects that always move with a person because Bluetooth® has an effective range of only a few feet.

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