Sports tracking is an emerging field. We have seen the use of GPS to track positions of athletes over a large area. A similar concept is evolving with the global navigation satellite system (GNSS).
These are satellites that orbit the earth and send signals to ground. The signals facilitate various types of navigations and are ideal for tracking. Using a tracker, GNSS can track athlete positions effectively. It's interesting to note the advanced nature of the PCBs used for this technology. Any PCB used for satellites need to follow the AS9100 standard.
In this post, we will reveal ten cold facts about GNSS and LoRa sports tracking.
(GNSS and LoRa, Advanced exemplary PCB)
1.GNSS and LoRa Low Power
GNSS and LoRa aim for a low-power system. Each component of the network has one goal- to consume minimum power. It's a crucial thing as electricity is not available in space. All you get is sunlight to power your satellites and equipment.
The PCBs of the satellites have the design to consume less power. Naturally, engineers have to be careful. They have to choose the right components to support low-power applications. You must consider many factors, such as:
PCB designers have to have the right mindset and skills. Only then can you have low-power PCBs, reliable enough to suit satellites.
2. Tracking Device is Essential
Any type of satellite navigation system needs a tracker. The satellites communicate with the tracker to determine athlete positions.
The tracker communicates data like time and position. It has a LoRa module to send and receive data. You can find the LoRa chip with a wireless adapter on its PCB for data communication. The tracker also comes with a microcontroller on the PCB to facilitate tracking.
Engineers have to design PCBs that don't take up much space. The tracker shouldn't add any significant weight to impact athletic performance. The PCBs also need to be reliable with the right microcontroller.
The tracker has an ARM Cortex processor to power the device.
The satellites and the trackers communicate via data packets. The data includes logs, time, the position of trackers, and more.
The distance between the two communicating devices is also vast. One is in the space while the other is on earth. As a result, exchanging data is not very easy.
For this reason, the process goes through optimization, and operators select the smallest interval for logs transmission. They also send the current and past position data for reliability.
The PCBs of the trackers use the Cortex processor for fast processing. You will also find the highest quality components that support real-time data transfer.
4.The Use of Base Station
(Raspberry Pi 3)
The base station is essential to manage the whole tracking process. The base station generally features a Raspberry Pi with a LoRa hat. The base station receives data and checks for its validity. The system then saves the data if everything ticks the boxes.
Raspberry Pi is a computer on a PCB. It's a big PCB that contains everything you need to work. You can learn to compute and try out programming languages.
Raspberry Pi contains a SOC and can support regular keyboards and monitors. It has most parts on a computer across a single die.
The board also contains GPIO to manage various electronics. It's affordable and sturdy of severe applications. You can use it efficiently in your sports tracking base stations.
5.GNSS and LoRa Bidirectional Communication
The base station and tracker use a bidirectional communication model. The system switches to transmission mode once data comes in. Consequently, the device sends the log interval to the tracking device. The system will shift to data processing mode if there is no long interval.
The PCB of the base station and tracker contains LF antenna coils. The antennas pick up data using the LoRa network. You may also find UHP transmitters to transmit data successfully.
Bidirectional communication increases the reliability of data. Tracking can be more accurate, with almost the exact positions of the athletes.
The station both sends and receives data in both directions. But it cannot transmit data in both directions simultaneously.
6.Position Tracking Software
(We are yet to develop mobile apps for GNSS and LoRa)
We need software to manage all tracking activities. An interface also contributes to user-friendliness.
The base station PCB contains USB to connect to the software. All data processing is going on within the software. You can even see the location of physical trackers on a map. The map also determines the start and finish lines for races.
The software can calculate distances. It can even track when athletes cross the finish line. You can also get a ranking list and export the data as a CSV file. The software can determine positions with one or two meters approximation.
The tracking device on the ground needs constant power. We can use Li-ion batteries to provide the necessary power. However, there is also a need to energize the battery.
For this, we have a charging circuit for the PCB of the tracker. It charges the battery when power gets low to maintain functionality. Based on models, the PCB can have a currency converter for supplying DC currents.
The device is not always performing in high-power modes. We talked about the necessity of consuming less power. So, the device switches to low-power mode when applicable.
Some experiments use a 500mAh battery that lasts for around 17-hours. You will also have to consider the power consumption of all devices.
8.GNSS and LoRa Highly Accurate
The trackers are handy for events like boat racing. They can give almost the exact position of the athletes in real-time. Experiments show the tracking to be highly accurate, with only a difference of a few meters. You can even use solar-powered trackers and stop relying on the battery.
The accuracy relies on the adept design of PCB. You also have to use high-quality components for zero compromises. Engineers spend considerable time researching and selecting components.
The PCB design is on par with military-grade communication devices. The wireless adapters are powerful enough to communicate with the satellites. Lora also helps out and improves the network.
9.GNSS and GPS are not Same
(GPS also uses satellites for position tracking)
The GNSS and LoRa network is not the same as GPS. Both are similar but have some differences.
GNSS refers to the global navigation satellite system. It's a collection of satellites that orbit the earth, and you can use the satellites for navigation and positioning.
GPS stands for Global Positioning System. It's a part of GNSS that can provide real-time location data. GPS belongs to the US government.
GPS is a limited version of GNSS, you can say. GPS trackers can use data only from GPS. GNSS trackers, on the other hand, can communicate with other navigational satellites.
GNSS is more accurate than GPS. It uses a large number of satellites compared to GPS. As a result, the data is more reliable and trustworthy.
10.Benefits of GNSS Tracking
GNSS is more suitable for wide-scale applications, and you can take the assistance of any satellite navigation system for tracking. The system uses less power and has a long life. The duration is more than enough to cover all sports events.
GNSS and LoRa are affordable, and you don't have to invest a significant sum in hardware. You will soon have capable tracking systems as the technology is slowly maturing. Lags and interruptions will also be a thing of the past!
GNSS and LoRa bring a welcome change in the sports tracking industry. We can now have more advanced technologies to track athletes, apart from GPS. GNSS is a low-powered system and can provide accurate tracking results.
The success of the technology lies in the small PCBs inside the satellite and trackers. Always go for reliable and professional PCB manufacturers. OurPCB, we have some of the best manufacturing facilities. We ensure you get PCB designs that you need. Get in touch with us to discuss your PCB needs.