Make Your Own GPS Receiver!

GPS receivers may be available for well under $100 these days, but what’s the fun in buying one when you can build it yourself? According to [Andrew], the creator of this device, he was inspired by Matjaž Vidmar who developed a GPS receiver from scratch over 20 years ago. His article can be found here and includes some nicely hand-drawn diagrams as well as a lot of theory.

However, [Andrew's] article is a bit more up-to-date and features plenty of theory itself. He explains how he built his four-channel GPS receiver, able to track four satellites at the same time. This is the minimum number of satellites needed to track your position using such a device.

GPS technology is quite incredible, and the amount of soldering as well as the understanding of the theory behind it required to build such a device is astonishing. Interestingly (sadly?), it seems we are beyond the time of LORAN hacks, but if you have an old one to share, be sure to send it in! For something a bit easier, maybe one could try making a GPS “cateye” to track what your pet does all day!


  1. biozz says:

    is this legal?
    no International Traffic in Arms Regulations Violations?

  2. PJ Allen says:

    “GPS technology is quite incredible…”
    Lest there be any uncertainty, it’s not ‘marginally incredible’ or just ‘incredible’ – it’s ‘quite’ incredible.


  3. Ptolom says:

    I was just considering getting a GPS for geocaching/ wardriving purposes. It would be interesting to be able to build one from scratch.

  4. DanJ says:

    Wow is right. Check out Andrew’s other projects. Very cool.

    And sad that most of the discussion centers on the legality of this.

  5. xorpunk says:

    Xilinx FPGA+Dish setup..why get a cheap module when you can spend 300-8000 USD just on 1/3 the logic..

    Plenty of cheap chips have DSP that can handle this, this isn’t efficient by far..also doesn’t handle common proto..

  6. Elias says:

    I just made a board for a GlobalTop GPS chip and FTDI and then added an USB connector :)

    Gives standard NMEA sentences via a virtual serial port at 5Hz refresh rates.

    Not as cool as this build but a bit smaller and more usable board alltogether :)

  7. Reseng says:


    You have no idea how little you know on the topic. Efficiency does not apply in discovery.

    Learn something and post what you learned. Maybe some knuckle-head will call you inefficient.

    “Plenty of cheap chips have DSP” huh??

    • xorpunk says:

      I’m a senior level software engineer with a B.S. in computer engineering..speak for yourself there hotshot..

      Also I bothered reading the whole thing and looked at the FPGA specs..what did you do before posting your hater-comment?

      Above all, maybe take your own advice? Judging from your contributions you’re just a loser with no technical insight..

  8. ultrasounder says:

    A truly ingenious effort!. Like the way how he expounds on the basics of doing DSP using FPGAs. very inspiring.

  9. Frank says:

    Yay no more speed and altitude limitations, we can make cruise missiles now!

  10. SK says:

    Holy crap. WOW, just an awsome project. And I learnt something about GPS and illigal prime, two things I apparently knew very little about.

  11. Reseng says:


    OK you win. What’s your design for a “more efficient” acquisition, trackIng, & demod of GPS.

    Be sepcific. Let’s see that BSCPE in practice.

    I’ll await your link.

  12. question says:

    Has anyone came across a diy differential gps project?

  13. Ugh, this is freaking awesome.. I am going to have to experiment with this for my next side PCB project! Thanks.


  14. Jonathan says:

    Link is dead. Anyone know of a mirror or cache?

  15. i was arrested due to this

  16. Ian Rossi says:

    This is trully a work of love. I take my hat off.

  17. Cliffard says:

    Hi Guys. I was hoping that someone could help me. I have a RC boat i use for fishing, bait boat. I want to be able to see, for example, on google maps where i go with my boat and save locations where i drop my bait so to be able to go back to that location again. So in other words i need a wireless GPS module mounted on the boat and then i will track this on my tab fro instance. I have a wireless Bluetooth GPS module that i got with a nokia cell phone. It connects via Bluetooth to the phone and then one will have a GPS on the phone with maps, streets every thing as per a normal car GPS. The problem i have is range. The Bluetooth connection wont make 500m, witch is the max i want it to work on. Is there some wireless devise, i could build that will connect to the GPS module, via Bluetooth, on the boat and and then send the data back over a distance of a minimum of 500m to a receiver and that receiver again connects via Bluetooth to the tablet and then i use the maps on my tab to do my thing? Or could i modify the GPS module from Bluetooth to wireless that will be able to connect at about 500m? Pleas help me, i would like to do this project. As i was looking around on the net for ideas i came across this website, that has such a wireless device but its in another country, very expensive, in a different language and it ready bult, i like by projects, even if it takes me a while. Look at this link if you guys would-

  18. Jay dsvidson says:

    All u is it legal goody to shoes call white and ask them Obama care and in the middle east is it legal. It’s GPS device you can buy or make one and all the is it legal go a nd buy let the hobbyist have their fun.

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