Need Suggestion for external Cell and GPS antennas locations


#1

Happy Friday Particle People.

Here is my project version 1. I am about to drill the holes for the external cell and GPS antennas. Before I do I thought I would post a pic first and see if anyone had suggestions to the locations I have proposed.

Can you have the cell and GPS antennas this close together? I am more concerned about the cell antenna than that of the GPS. As my application will be sending logged data and the unit will not really be moving. I am only adding the GPS so I can track the dang thing down if, A: I forgot where it was installed, or B: If the client says its not at the facility anymore. :slight_smile:

Hope you all have a great weekend and if you see anything else in this pic that needs addressing please comment. I have only gotten this far with the help of the people in this community.


#2

Huge thank you to the following people that helped me learn along the way.

@gusgonnet for writing the awesome post about publishing to google docs.
@Jseiler for helping me learn the proper way to write a JSON string.
@ScruffR for teaching me how to map floating data the correct way.
and @rickkas7 for posting the super easy to follow SD Card tutorial and taking the time to help me with some rookie coding questions.

I appreciate all of your help.

Cheers,
Tom


#3

In what orientation will the enclosure be in production? As it sits, holes in the side of the case are good. If those holes will be on the top surface you might want to consider a way to make those holes on the side or bottom of the enclosure. Even though you may be planning to make the enclosure IP67 (water tight) I always assume the worst will happen. Especially when exposed to the elements as mother nature always wins. But that’s just my paranoia.

Also, that looks like a plastic enclosure and so I would assume it would be fairly radio transparent. Do you need external antenna at all? If you do, then I’ll let someone else comment on your antenna spacial concerns.

Looks like a nice, clean, interesting project. What are you monitoring?


#4

I ran an Electron inside a plastic Pelican case outside for a few months with no problems with reception so depending on your signal strength in this location you may not need any external antennas.

Make sure the GPS receiver is facing up towards the sky though.


#5

Good afternoon,
This box will sit on top of a copper pipe. We are looking down at it from the top view. I planned to drill holes through the sides of the enclosure. The enclosure itself is one that @RWB posted some links to which I eventually found a couple that I liked from Mouser. These are water resistant, so they say. I like the clear top as well. Makes for a fancy looking unit.

As far as my application I am monitoring the flow rate of an inert gas using an external flow meter that sends the data in 4-20mA. I then use a 4-20 mA to I2C converter to input the date into the Electron. After the fun stuff, I publish the date to a google spreadsheet for remote monitoring. I decided on Monday that I wanted a backup just in case so I used the tutorial from Rickkas7 and installed an SD card. This way I have local and remote data to go off… well that’s the plan anyway. :slight_smile:


#6

Howdy RWB. I found this case because of one of your previous posts. Thank you very much, it works great for my application. Since these units may go inside production plants I wanted to provide as much signal as possible for the cellular signal. Not sure if it will make much difference but I tend to err on the side of overkill with everything. Do you know if you can have both a cell and GPS antenna next to each other, or will they cause interference. I am going to test with two antennas I got off amazon in the garage first. I may stick it under some shelving to try and mimic as much interference as possible.


#7

It’s best to spread the GPS receiver and Cellular antennas as far apart as possible to avoid the cellular transmission from interfering with the GPS receiving.

This is more important with Wifi as there are other threads on here demonstrating issues where the Adafruit Ultimate GPS not being able to get a signal lock when it was close to the Photon’s Wifi module.

The cellular is operating at a different frequency than the GPS, so it’s less of a problem but keeping them as far apart as possible would be ideal in my opinion.

Personally, I’ve had a GPS Receiver placed less than an inch away from the Electron with the Electron PCB antenna right under the GPS receiver, and it works without any problems, but others who have tried the same thing have had GPS reception issues for some reason.

If cost is not an issue then adding external antennas certainly should not hurt anything.

Getting a GPS signal under a metal roof is pretty hard, but under stick built structures I’ve usually always been able to get a GPS lock pretty quickly without needing an external antenna.

Good luck, let us know how it goes.


#8

Ok folks so I ended up getting shorter antenna cable and putting it just above the modem. So far we are sending data from the garage and the GPS (without and extra antenna ) is sending its location.

Here is an update pic of the setup.

Thank you all for the help you have given me. I really appreciate it.

Cheers,
Tom


#9

Looks nice and clean to me :slight_smile:

The OLED display provides a good amount of info.

How does this make life better for the end user? What does this device do?


#10

Howdy RWB,
The OLED is more for confirmation that everything is working at point of use rather than having to check the web. As far as what this does. I make Nitrogen Generators and install flow meters into customers locations to measure flow. In the past the client has to plug a USB data logger into the flow meter, disconnect it, upload the data to a file and email it to me for analysis. Now with the power of the electron and the help of all of you. I can lend or sell them a flow meter with Cell Logger, monitor the flow rate in real time, log it to SD Card locally for back up, and also see it populate in google sheets. I can also tell if the dam thing walks off using the asset tracker, or track it down if I lend it out and the client says its not at the plant… yes it is. Here are the GPS coordinates lol.


#11

Cool! A prime example of how IOT can help make a small business more efficient.

What kind of actions do you take based on how much nitrogen is being used by your customer?

Does this just help you know when they will need a refill or if there is excessive consumption then maybe there is a leak or problem with the machine using the Nitrogen?


#12

My systems make nitrogen gas from compressed air for a 10th of the cost of having it delivered. I need to measure the flow rate of the current supply coming from the gas company “who delivers the nitrogen” and size the generator based on the flow. This is the main use. You are correct though that the flow meter can also help detect leaks if the flow changes in any way out of the norm.


#13

That makes perfect sense.

What’s your website for the systems you create?

You should push your data to Losant or something similar to get a nice dashboard and historical graphing.

Here is an example of a Losant Dashboard I push data to every 10 seconds - 24/7.

You can embed this whole dashboard into a website or just each widget window into a website.

You can trigger actions or alerts if anything goes out of programmed thresholds.

Basically, your Gas Generators could have their own live dashboard and alerting system if something goes wrong.


#15

I thought I read a couple of your threads on Ubidots, do you like Losant better?
I am excited to sign up and try them out. I wanted to get stuff up and running before I dived into another learning curve… I am a slow learner with this stuff. lol.

my website is www.gasgenerationsolutions.com


#16

Yes, I do prefer Losant and they will allow you to do more on their free accounts which means you can do more before you ever need to spend any money compared to Ubidots latest offerings.

Either platform will work for you though so you have to pick one or learn how to get data into both and see which you prefer.

I checked out your site and it looks like you have some decent sized machines.

I also didn’t know so many industries use Nitrogen!

Are you seeing lots of interest from the Cannabis industry now with the legalization being adopted all over the place?


#17

Yes we have. My friend actually owns a couple cannabis related business. From equipment supply to processing, that was the main reason to make the small unit specific to the cannabis packaging industry.

We make giant systems in addition to the ones you see on the site. I make the generators for huge electronics manufactures, food packaging companies, coffee, wine, etc. some are 2-3 stories tall. :slight_smile:

I will check out Losant and see how it goes. I am currently stuck on one final part of the project trying to get the SD Card Error or success to print to my OLED. Once I figure that out I can move on to more of the fun stuff.
See this post here. No luck yet. lol. I just can’t figure it out and it’s beyond my knowledge base… well that and I am sooooo new to all this.


#18

Very cool to see you being successful serving all these markets keeping PCB’s reflowing well and keeping Americas weed fresh :wink:

I have a tutorial on here for how to get going with Losant so reach out when the time comes.

I looked at the SD card library, and supposedly it can print out the LOG messages over serial also or both SD and Serial. If you could find where it Serial Prints out the log messages, you could replace that serial print with TFT print or whatever command prints to your LCD screen.

But honestly, I couldn’t find the spot where the Serial print was happening with the little time I had to look over the code. I’m sure it can be done, but I’m far from an expert myself, so it would take a little more digging to figure it out.


#19

Awesome thank you.
I did some peaking at Losant but working on learning Eagle right now. Look forward to getting into it later. Will definitely look up your post when I do.

I have searched the two files for the SD Card apps and just can’t seem to get it right. Taking a break and playing with Eagle may give me a fresh set of eyes when I come back to it. I think I just got frustrated trying all kinds of different code, but I am not giving up yet. lol.


How to print SD Card Success / Fail to OLED
#20

Hey Tom,
it’s great to hear that it helped.
I think many of us around here do it for many reasons, and they may include:

  • You are giving back. The same way you saved time on that project because John-David Dalton dropped lodash, you might save someone else time with your code. You become part of a community where we all save time because we collaborate and share.
  • It feels great. Speaking personally here, but it is truly an amazing feeling every single time someone thanks you for a project or tells you a story about the time you saved them.

This post here is the source of those thoughts.
Cheers,
Gustavo.


#21

Thank you Gus,
Appreciate the support. The link you posted was a great read and really hits on the highlights of open source. I look forward to posting my progress along the way. Not only in hopes of helping others but by also taking advantage of the helpful people here that can point out any errors they see in design or implimentation.

Cheers,
Tom