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Qstarz Q1200 solar datalogger
Posté le 14 décembre 2007 à 01:20:38 par gpspassion.

200,000 point datalogger - Solar Power - Bluetooth - USB - MTK v2.0

Product page : link

Here comes a new generation of Solar GPS dataloggers with the Qstarz Q1200, after the hefty and weak F-tech/Xemics in 2005, the Q815/MTKv1.8 and iBlue757/iTrekZ1//MTKv1.8 in 2006. The Q1200 also has the large solar panel of the iBlue 757 but in a much more compact overall form factor as can be seen below. The flipside is a smaller battery that goes from 1100mAh to 750mAh and a smaller GPS antenna that goes from a large 25x25mm patch antenna to a diminutive 19.5x14.5mm. We'll see if the unavoidable drop in GPS signal level made available to the chipset will have an impact in the field.

  1. Compact and stylish design : as can be seen below the Q1200 is really quite slim ! The "rubbery" finish already seen on the Q1000 makes it pleasant to hold. As a side note it comes with a tiny compass that seems to be reversed with the North pointing to the South!

  2. V2.0 Firmware version : the Q1200 is the first GPS I've seen that uses the v2.0 MTK firmware that it supposed to improve on the performance of the v1.94 firmware although given how well it does, we'll have to see in the field how that plays out.

  3. Comprehensive and Advanced Settings : like the other GPS receivers based on the MTK chipset (see this topic), the Q1200 can be configured in many ways and notably to increase the update rate to 5Hz, including to log to the internal memory, see here on how to do that.

  4. A reduced GPS sensitivity : as could be feared with the switch to a tiny 19.5x14.5mm patch antenna (placed at the front) versus the standard 25x25mm, the signal level that is available to the GPS chipset to work with has dropped down quite a bit as can be seen in this side by side comparison with the Q1000 :

    7dB-Hz for the maximum level of signal is quite significant and naturally this impacts the Warm TTFF (typically 4 hours after the GPS was last turned on) that requires a minimum level of 28dB-Hz to be completed. Outdoors with a good view of the sky, the signal level is around 43dB-Hz so acquiring a fix won't be a problem but using the Q1200 in a backpack, in dense urban areas or under a coated windshield will mean longer acquisition times compared to the Q1000 for instance. Getting a fix with the Q1200 shouldn't be a problem overall but will require a bit of work.

    The accuracy value was obtained by processing the recorded log via SA Watch, the higher value on the Q1200 could be due to lower signal filtering in firmware v2.0 for more dynamic movements at low speed (a problem on MTK receivers prior to v1.92) or the impact of lower signal coming to the chip. This will have to be verified in the field.

  5. Tracking Accuracy : I did some side by side comparisons with the Q1000 and Q1200 both placed in the outside pocket of my backpack in the dense streets of Paris on foot, and as could be feared with the lower of signal reaching the chip, it had problems getting a warm fix (not been used for about 3 hours). It was taking so long that I ended up turning it off and starting it again and it got a fix in about a minute. Not sure why that would happen.

    Here are some comparisons, the actual track is in yellow :

    Granted this is a dense urban environment and too tough for accurate tracking on foot for GPS systems, maybe it will always be, still, the Q1000 does a pretty decent job, while the Q1200 is markedly off course and gets rather confused at the end.

  6. 200,000 point Datalogger : the Q1200 is a Bluetooth, USB, Solar GPS but also a datalogger that can record up to 200,000 points (depends on how much GPS data you choose to record). The PC software has been upgraded to v3 from v2 for the Q1000 and can now export to more formats, such as OziExplorer's .plt. Geotagging can be done directly from this application too, but I'll probably stick to my usual locr or geosetter applications.

    Convenient : the logging feature is turned on and off with a brief press of the on/off button (a long one turns off the Q1200) and you can see which mode you're in by looking at the blue LED on the left of the device.

  7. Battery Life : Did some battery testing with the Q1200 "face down" (to avoid catching light) and it turned in a solid 17h19' a Time/mAh ratio of 1,39 a bit lower than on the Q1000 for some reason. I'm not sure it was logging though as for some reason the logging module got "jammed" and required a reset from the PC application. I'll redo some testing and make sure the logger is active.

  8. FINAL WORDS : the Q1200 is an all-in-one GPS receiver with Bluetooth and USB connectivity, Solar power source and datalogger on a very compact and stylish format. It is the first GPS to use the latest v2.0 firmware of the MTK chipset that is noted for its performance, settings and low power. In dense urban areas, the tiny 19x14 patch antenna of the Q1200 puts it a disadvantage compared to GPS systems with a standard 25x25 antenna, both in terms of warm fix (after being turned off for 3+ hours) and in terms of tracking accuracy. In less hostile environments, the impact will be less noticeable. All in all a good device if you're ready to work on this shortcoming and the design can't be beat!

If you have questions, or comments, you can use this thread of the datalogger forums.

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