More online services than ever are based on location awareness being integrated into M2M systems and other IoT devices. The tiny CAM-M8 module from u-blox available at Alpha Micro Components offers a quick and easy way to add reliable global positioning in these applications. It offers the option of concurrent operation with any two of the three main satellite-positioning systems currently in operation - GPS, GLONASS and BeiDou - to provide accurate positioning data anywhere in the world.
In addition, the module supports satellite-based augmentation systems (SBAS) that combine data from ground stations with satellite signals for better positioning accuracy. The CAM-M8, which delivers positioning data accurate to within 2 metres, updates at 18 Hz when connected to a single satellite network and at 10 Hz in multi-GNSS mode. Acquisition time is just one second from a hot start.
The module is 9.6 x 14 x 1.95 mm, so requires very little space, and it has an in-built chip antenna with an omnidirectional radiation pattern, which means that it is effective in any orientation. The integral antenna has comparable performance to a patch type, so it will function as the main antenna, or as a standby if an external antenna becomes damaged.
CAM-M8 modules come in two versions. The CAM-M8C uses a crystal oscillator and the CAM-M8Q employs a TCXO. The latter also has slightly lower power consumption.
Both versions can be used with u-blox’s free-of-charge AssistNow assisted GNSS (A-GNSS) service. This makes calculating position much faster by delivering time and status data to the module over wireless networks of the Internet.
When satellite reception is weak or intermittent, it means that the modules are still able to calculate position within seconds – something that might otherwise take several hours.