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GSM/GPRS Autonomous Weather Station (Tracking System)

Front    Back-soldered

Introduction:
Autonomous live tracking weather station. It takes (analog/digital) measurements and sends them to a web server over GPRS. Adding a battery and a solar station you can make it fully autonomous. It supports up to 3 Analog or Digital inputs. The main brain is the PIC 16F877A which also drives the SIM900/300 GSM module which is placed in the back of the PCB.
The main purpose of this project is to take wind flow measurements of different locations and store them in a database remotely. By this you know if the locations are appropriate for future installation of wind generators.

The data send from GSM to Web server with GET requests which isn't the safest and best way but its an easy way to make it work. The example code you can find at the github is a very simple example and has no security responsibility.

The GSM module:

For the GSM communication i've used the SIM900/300 which is a very good, easy to use and cheap gsm module. It offers UART communication and can be controlled with AT Commands. It works at 3.6Volt and uses an external gsm antenna. The module also includes a battery charger which is very useful if an external battery is used in combination with a solar panel or a wind generator for autonomous use. On the design there is also a LED indicator LED1 which indicates the gsm status (blinks). The module can be powered on/off by the button [S3]. As a hardware design guide i have used the Sim300 Hardware Design.

Note1.  I began designing the board for SIM300 which finally stopped to be manufactured and replaced with the SIM900. The hardware design manuals deference from each other so you may  find some useless components included in the connection between the simcard and the sim module which was included in the SIM300's manual but not in the SIM900's. The footprints of these two modules are the same.

Note2. The S3 which i used to power on/off the module but can be replaced with a transistor connected to the PIC to power on/off the module from the MCU.

Note3. The module works perfectly with the only disadvantage that it needs a voltage supply >4Volt to Vbat pin.

The main "brain" PIC 16F877A:

The main "brain" is the PIC 16F877A working at 16Mhz. The MCU is supplied by the Vbat as the gsm module. RA0,1,2 are used for analog inputs (analog measurements). The input voltages are converted to digital internally (ADC) with Vref=3.1V which is stabilized by a 3.1Zener diode. At the analog's inputs pinout is also included a Vbat and GND pin for possible external's measurement tool power supply. The Q3 (BC547) is used to Pulse (PWM) the LCD's backlight in order to reduce the power consumption and adjust the backlight's brightness. S4 switch is used to reset the mcu and R1 is there as a pull up resistor to keep the voltage high on running mode. D1 is there to stop the 12Volt to "charge" the battery and burn the SIM900 (Vbat). R2 limits the programming current flow to MCLR. In this design there is also included a PIC-ICSP header which lets the developer to program the pic in system without the need of unplugging anything.

The 16×2 Char LCD HD44780 :

A 16×2 LCD HD44780 has been used to display some status information and make the device user friendly. There is a backlight jumper (POWER-LCD) at the led's anode which gives the user the option to turn off the backlight for power consumption. There you can see that this net is connected to PIC's INT (LCD-INT) which is used to make the PIC know when the LCD is powered on to run the LCD initialization routines (The LCD at it's first power on needs to be sent some commands to initialize and make it ready to display the data that will receive). By this you can remove the LCD while the MCU is running, plug it back reset the jumper and the LCD will start working again.

More photos:

The pcb under light  Front

Back  Homemade PCB of GSM Back

Homemade PCB of GSM Front

Breadboard prototype:

GSM bread board testing    GSM bread board testing

Testing Video:

You can download the PCB design the Firmware the datasheets and the data storing web site from the github.

DOWNLOAD HERE

This was build as a project of Microprocessors lab for Technical Institute of Piraeus department of Electronic Computer Systems Engineering.