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!

40 thoughts on “Make Your Own GPS Receiver!

      1. well you cant steal satilite TV or listen in on cellphone conversations or monitor wifi traffic either XD

        it may violate the “Military Electronics” and “Aircraft and Associated Equipment”
        it also may violate any GPS restrictions like the “COCOM limit” and acceleration limits, motion limits, and i THINK there is still an accuracy limit on civy units

      2. Weasel clause: IANAL

        ITAR applies to publishing when information about a technology isn’t publicly known. If information being used to build a project comes entirely from textbooks and/or publicly accessible information, it can be posted online. Basically, if they teach it at university level, you can publish. *Shipping* the physical product out of the US is another matter.

        I’d imagine there are some near space balloon projects that appreciate this as a backup for the day you can’t find a commercial receiver that doesn’t implement the cocom limits as OR rather than AND.

      3. It’s illegal for a receiver to report a location 60,000ft above sea level. (Which can happen if you are actually that high or you don’t have enough satellites and there are two possible locations for you)

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


  2. 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..

  3. 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 :)

  4. @xorpunk

    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??

    1. 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..

  5. @xorpunk

    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.

  6. 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-

  7. 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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