GPS is synonymous with navigation. The first satellite of the Navstar Global Positioning System was launched in 1978. Today, The US maintains a constellation of at least 24 operational satellites in orbit. But since a few years ago there’s a competing system: GLONASS. GNSS click, carrying Quectel’s L86 module, lets you use both.
Every day millions of smartphones, cars, fitness trackers etc. make complex calculations to help people find their way. The owners of these devices are typically oblivious to the fact that a swarm of satellites silently circle the earth above (and below); the mute tick of atomic clocks transmitting current time and position.
As a hardware developer though, you’re not in that bunch. You’d be interested to know that L86, the Quectel module aboard GNSS click (acronym stands for Global Navigation Satellite System) uses an onboard patch antenna or an external antenna to receive signals from both GPS and GLONASS satellites.
GLONASS (short for Globalnaya Navigatsionnaya Sputnikovaya Sistema) is the Russian alternative to the US GPS system. It was in development since 1976 but it didn’t achieve global coverage until fairly recently — 2011 (coincidentally, the year when we released EasyGPS, the first click board.)
What that means is that the module benefits from being able to receive signals from a larger number of satellites, increasing its speed and precision.
It’s not just the number of satellites though. Firmly grounded to the click board PCB, the L86 module can automatically predict the orbits of satellites from data stored in its internal flash (Quectel’s Easy™ technology). It can balance positioning accuracy and power consumption by adaptively adjusting the on/off time (AlwaysLocate™ technology). And it can automatically switch between the internal patch antenna and external active antenna, keeping track of positioning during the switching process.