PCBs, Posts 0 comments on Base station PCBs have arrived – time to solder!

Base station PCBs have arrived – time to solder!

Well, the boards actually arrived several weeks ago, but I’ve only just got round to doing the soldering.  As ever, I’ve ordered all my components from Farnell in the UK.

All of the passive components I’ve used are 0402 sized (0.5mm by 1.0mm).  The advantage of components this small is that you can squeeze a lot into the RF sections of the board, most notably at the output of the CC1125.  This decreases board size and improves the RF performance.  You can go much smaller than 0402 – 0201 is the next size down, followed by 01005 – only 0.2mm by 0.4mm!  Getting decent performance out of an inductor or capacitor that small will be difficult, so it’s a tradeoff between size and performance.

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Posts 0 comments on What’s CatTrack?

What’s CatTrack?

Unsatisfied with the GPS trackers available on the market, I decided to design my own.  This site follows my component-level design and build of an ultra-low-power wireless cat tracker.

A few years ago we got some cats – Buttons and Turnip!  Buttons is the big tabby cat and that’s Turnip, below.

I would imagine that every cat-owning Engineer has at one point or another wondered about either buying or making a tracker for their cat so they can see what he or she gets up to after they jump over the garden wall.

Turnip isn’t like most cats.  There’s no need to make or buy a tracker for her because she hasn’t left the garden in 3 years.  Well, she did end up in next door’s garden once, but I got the impression from the noises she was making that it was incompetence that caused her to end up there, rather than a desire to be more than 10 feet away from her bed.

Buttons however, would benefit from a tracker.  Although he doesn’t disappear for days at a time like some cats, he is often nowhere to be seen, only to turn up a few hours later covered in cobwebs or some other kind of grime.

As you can read in my About Me page, I’ve got a fair bit of experience with electronic design.   It’s been my job for the last 10 years.  None of the cat trackers on the market fitted my needs (as I’ll explain in a separate post) so I decided to design and build one that’s much better than anything you can buy! (hopefully…)

I’ll be doing a component-level design, from schematics, through PCB design and ultimately casing it all up in a case appropriate for Buttons to carry around with him.  I’m sure there will be second revision too, to mop up all my cock-ups from the first revision!

This blog is partly a way to force myself to finish the project.  I wouldn’t want the 3 people reading this to be disappointed would I!

Posts 1 comment on Why not just buy a GPS cat tracker?

Why not just buy a GPS cat tracker?

The simple answer is battery life.

My requirements for a cat tracker are:

  1. Very long battery life (around 3 months).  I don’t want to be changing batteries all the time.  The one day I forget to change the battery will be the day when Buttons decides to go an investigate next door’s shed, I know it.
  2. GPS-level accuracy.
  3. The ability to remotely find out where your cat currently is, allowing you to find him if he’s lost.
  4. Small enough and light enough for a cat to carry around (obviously!).

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