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Home > Hardware Reviews > Mobiles

Monday, April 03, 2006
F-Tech Solar 7

1. Introduction

Apart from the usual array of battery powered GPS devices, F-Tech recently presented a Solar powered SiRF III based BT GPS device that not only promises good performance, but also doesn't require you to charge it, assuming of course the weather is sunny! We compared the device with the best known SiRF III GPS from Globalsat. The results should be interesting. First, let's get some background information on F-Tech.

- F-tech background

f-tech Corporation is a professional SAW (Surface Acoustic Wave) device-designing and manufacturing company. f-tech was founded in November 2000 and located in Tainan Science-based Industrial Park. f-tech's aim is to become a leading company in the design and manufacture of SAW devices and RF modules in Taiwan. f-tech products include IF/RF SAW filters, SAW resonators and SAW sensors. They are widely used in Wireless LAN, Mobile Phone, Cordless Phone, Tuner, GPS, Security System, Remote Controller, Tyre Pressure Monitoring Sensor (TPMS) and Biological & Chemical Sensor.

As F-Tech comments: "...We offer an excellent designing ability, high-quality processing technologies and premium service to cooperate with our customers to develop new products. By providing complete "custom-designed" service, our products can meet the requirements of technical specifications, shortening designing cycle and time-to-market. Our mission is to be the best partner with our customers..."

- F-Tech Solar 7

The Solar 7 Bluetooth GPS Receiver is a complete GPS receiver solution. High capacity rechargeable lithium-ion battery with solar charging circuit built-in, GPS antenna and Blue tooth transmit/receive system are all included. It is designed on the most advantage GPS kernel (FirstGPSTM), full-function, industry-level locating capacity and low price.

You can use the Solar Bluetooth GPS Receiver as a vehicle navigator, for security systems, geographic measurement, investigations or for agriculture purpose. The Solar Bluetooth GPS Receiver can communicate with other electronic devices via its Blue tooth interface. The built-In Flash Memory can save satellite information and do an almanac refresh periodically. This will shorten Time To First Fix (TTFF) dramatically.

Patent protected Solar Cell design can extend the device usage time by up to 15 hrs. This is much longer than what the competition offers. The Lithium-ion battery can be re-charged under natural or artificial light, regardless of whether the Solar 7 receiver is turned on or off. Very rarely, do you have to concern yourself with charging!

- Used chipset

The SiRF III chipset has the following specifications:

Chipset: SiRF Star III WAAS enabled
Frequency: 1, 1575.42 MHz
C/A code: 1.023 MHz chip rate
Channels: 20 channel all-in-view tracking
Position Accuracy: 10 meters, 2D RMS 
~ 5 meters, 3D RMS WAAS
Velocity: 0.1 m/s
Time: us synchronized to GPS time
Default: WGS-84 Acquisition Time (Open sky, stationary)
Reacquisition: 0.1 sec., average
Hot start: 1 sec., average
Warm start: 38 sec., average
Cold start: 42 sec., average
Altitude: 18,000 meters (60,000 feet) max.
Velocity: 515 meters/second (1000 knots) max.
Acceleration: Less than 4g
Jerk: 20 m/sec
Protocol messages: NMEA-0183 output protocol
Output format: GGA(1sec), GSA(5sec), GSV(5sec), RMC(1sec),VTG(1sec)
Operating temperature: -20° to 60° C
Humidity: 5% to 95% Non-condensing

Looking at the SiRF III specs, we notice that the chipset is capable of receiving up to 20 satellites (actually 12 maximum), it has very low Hot/Warm/Cold start times and its accuracy reaches ~5m when WAAS mode is enabled.

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