13 Apr 2023

Measure GNSS power consumption in a snap and without a digital meter

Say hello to measuring current with u-center 2


Engineers developing IoT products or wearables with embedded positioning modules or chips work hard to improve the design of devices. Besides bringing more accuracy to the table, size, form, adaptability, and features such as battery consumption are aspects they consider while shaping their ideas. Speaking of which, power consumption is closely related to enhancing positioning accuracy; in a few words, more accuracy translates into more power consumption.

Each device consumes energy at different rates depending on capabilities and characteristics. Firmware engineers use various strategies to optimize power consumption; they change firmware settings to make the most out of the device and reduce it to a minimum. Typical use cases where these modifications occur are battery-constrained devices like sports watches, handheld devices, and asset trackers (automotive, pets/kids, logistic goods, and others). Explore our white paper and learn more about how hardware and firmware engineers save power depending on the application.

In practice, how do engineers achieve this? Behind the scenes, systems/applications/firmware engineers and project managers analyze power consumption supported by hardware and software that aid in reducing battery consumption. In the market, one can find diverse types and sizes. But of course, the goal is to get the smallest form factor and one that will consume less battery. At the same time, engineers repeatedly evaluate devices next to a good friend: the digital meter.

Using a digital meter, however, might complicate daily activities and consume too much time. For starters, engineers need access to such a device, find the correct cable adaptors, and connect it correctly. Secondly, they can only measure a single voltage value over a shunt resistor at a time. Finally, they must convert the measured voltage into a current consumption value.

As technology evolves, other methods have been emerging. Today, an evaluation kit is the easiest way to analyze key performance indicators, including power consumption. So what if a kit integrates a current consumption measurement feature? Would this not make the work of engineers more efficient?

Simplicity at its best. EVK-M101 is the evaluation kit of u-blox M10, the ultra-low power platform for high-performance asset tracking applications. EVK-M101 can measure the current consumption of the M10 chip and connected components like the oscillator, flash memory, and low-noise amplifier. And in real-time, the GNSS evaluation software u-center 2 displays the current consumption through the chip and connected components from EVK-M101. The platform also calculates the power automatically as it measures voltages simultaneously‒all of this without the support of a digital meter. In addition, engineers can forget about reading the manual to find where the digital meter connects to the EVK-M10 pin header.

The following video illustrates step by step how engineers and project managers can benefit from this new u-center 2 feature, which aids when designing tracker devices. So wait no longer; look at the video and gain insights into the platform’s scope and features. And if your curiosity goes beyond, explore the series of videos we have created to illustrate what u-center 2 is capable of.


Current measurement on u-center 2 using the u-blox EVK-M101 kit

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