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20 Aug 2017
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TOPIC: Cheap 'VK-172' GPS/GLONASS USB module, U-Blox chip works well

Cheap 'VK-172' GPS/GLONASS USB module, U-Blox chip works well 1 week 3 days ago #20866

  • BigNoel
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This is an FYI regarding some 'tested' hardware I want to share as everyone loves a bargain, I just tried a cheap GPS module I found on eBay and it works well. Location and time synchronized fine and no tricks needed to install it - just follow the steps described in the GPSD devices page on this site and enable the GPSD as an auxiliary device. The module was around $10AUD and was the cheapest of the modules I could find that hadn't had issues reported on the gpsd forums.

There is one small issue I overcame and that is the module has a bright green LED. Even with tape over it, in a dark environment the whole opaque white shell became illuminated with green flashes so I gently pried it apart and created a dark dull red lens over the LED by placing a drop of dark red nail polish on the LED and letting it dry upside down. Now the green flashes are barely visible and muddy red coloured. I guess you could paint the hole thing black to solve the light issue.

I had a look around and the modules can be found on ebay, Amazon, Aliexpress and pretty much all chinese online gadget/tech stores.
I've attached some pictures to help identify the module and show the nail polish modification.

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Cheap 'VK-172' GPS/GLONASS USB module, U-Blox chip works well 1 week 3 days ago #20872

What operating system have you tested it on?
I bought one just like it a long time ago and managed to make it work in OSX but I needed the OpenCPN program to make it work....
Thanks for the information.

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Cheap 'VK-172' GPS/GLONASS USB module, U-Blox chip works well 1 week 3 days ago #20873

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I'm using Ubuntu Mate 16.04 with indi and kstars all installed on a pi type device which I access remotely using VNC, it all works much like the Stellarmate device.
indi-gpsd only works on Linux, so I'm not sure about using a GPS module like this in macOS.
I did test the unit briefly on Windows 7 and 10 using the 'standard' driver from the u-blox site, and it functioned correctly when checking it's output in a terminal.
Were you trying to use it with indi? If using for other tasks, the u-blox forums might be useful.
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Cheap 'VK-172' GPS/GLONASS USB module, U-Blox chip works well 1 week 1 day ago #20922

BigNoel wrote: Were you trying to use it with indi? If using for other tasks, the u-blox forums might be useful.

Although I have the idea of acquiring a stellarmate for Christmas, it was to know if anyone had tried it with Kstars running in OSX...
I will try it this weekend, to see if there is luck with the INDI drivers...
Greetings.

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Last Edit: by anofeles.

Cheap 'VK-172' GPS/GLONASS USB module, U-Blox chip works well 1 week 1 day ago #20924

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My (limited) understanding is the indi driver is an interface to gpsd, if you got gpsd working in OSX you'll have a good head start. I don't have a Mac to play with but this link might help you in getting gpsd running under OSX.
http://www.catb.org/gpsd/installation.html
I recall reading on the indi-gpsd device page it explicitly states 'it is operating system dependent and can be used only on linux'. Why this limitation if gpsd can work on OSX I don't know.
Of course Kstars will work in OSX and communicate with indi running on a linux device. Lets hope you've been good all year and get a Stellarmate (or at least an r.pi to put the indi backend on).
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Cheap 'VK-172' GPS/GLONASS USB module, U-Blox chip works well 1 day 14 hours ago #21216

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BigNoel wrote: I recall reading on the indi-gpsd device page it explicitly states 'it is operating system dependent and can be used only on linux'. Why this limitation if gpsd can work on OSX I don't know.

Good point. Driver's description has been updated

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