LESSON 27: Instrument Package

In this lesson we bring together a lot of the material from the first 26 lessons to create an instrument package that could be deployed in a demonstration project. We will wire wrap up an Arduino Nano, a Virtuabotix SD card reader, and the Adafruit Ultimate GPS to create a system that will track and log position and altitude, and save the data in a format that can be displayed on Google Earth.

Wire Wrapping
Wire Wrapping tools and Perforated Board

You will want to place the Adafruit GPS, the SD Card Reader, and the Arduino Nano into a perf board.  Then, you will want to carefully wire wrap the components as follows:

Connecting the Adafruit Ultimate GPS Unit to Arduino
GPS Pin Arduino Pin
Vin 5V
RX Pin 2
TX Pin 3


Connecting the SD Card Reader
Sd Card Reader Pin Arduino Pin Details
GND GND Common Ground
3.3 V – (NOT USED)
+5 5V Power
CS 4 Chip Select
MOSI 11 SPI Data
SCK 13 Clock
MISO 12 SPI Data
GND GND Common Ground


Now the code you developed in LESSON 26 should run on this prototype. The code creates a Google Earth friendly set of coordinates. Just put a KML wrapper on the coordinates as described in LESSON 26.  Putting it all together, I took the system outside and walked around, and this is the data track I got.

GPS Track
GPS track generated by my wire wrapped prototype


34 thoughts on “LESSON 27: Instrument Package”

  1. Would love to see real time plotting by telemetry. I’m thinking Python GUI but having only just gotten into Python I’m not yet aware if there is a lib for Python to hook into the google maps API.

  2. These videos helped me to learn basics of Arduino board, GPS tracker and how to display on Google map. But it would be more interesting if we send data to our Google Drive by GPRS and plot it on Google Map.

  3. These are a great resources for who wants to get his feet at Arduino. Thank you so much. I came across your tutorials when researching for an arduino-based car GPS tracker project. Now I’ll have to figure out how to have the tracker send its data through a mobile network. Great job!

  4. Paul, your videos are some of the best out there! Your numerous details and speaking about as many aspects as you do helps people put the pieces together.

    Can you at some point output your data to a screen? I am using an e-ink screen for sailing data and it your step by step is would sure help. Keep up the great work!

    1. Brian thanks for the encouraging words. Next summer I hope to have time to build more lessons. I am really tied up now with the projects my students are working on.

  5. I would love to see an example of using data on the SD card to compare data being read from a sensor. for instance RFID card read and compare to database on the SD. I have followed all your lessons as such but this is something you have not civered.

    1. Bob, I have not played with RFID cards so am not sure how to use those. There are some good SD card examples that come with the standard Arduino download. Check out the sample SD programs in the library.

      1. Yes I have researched those..however my struggling point is how do I use the data from any sensor/reader to compare to data already in place on the SD card so like a boolean? The sensor is not difficult programming.. I am at a huge loss for the comparison between the buffer (sensor Read) and the saved data

  6. Hello,
    We are programming a drone that is running under Arduino platform. I am struggling to get the altitude accurately. What is the best way to make the drone from point A to point B without using GPS? I am using a camera system to get the coordinates of the drone’s position in a defined boundary.
    Thanks for your help.

    1. The best way is to use a GPS. Understand, that the GPS altitude measurement is not very accurate and 50 feet error is not uncommon. Another option is to use a pressure sensor. Be sure and “zero” the pressure before each use, to normalize out normal variations in barometric pressure due to weather. I have several lessons on using the pressure sensor to measure height. Check them out.

  7. Hi,

    Thank you so much for the lessons. They are very helpful !
    A question for you.
    when my arduino board is plugged to my laptop I get the correct gps signal printed on the serial monitor every 2 seconds or so ( when i walk outside).
    But when it s powered by a 9V battery and i write on a sd card, it’s much more erratic and after about 3 minutes it stops printing anything on the card.
    Is requesting in the loop for the .txt to be open, written on, closed and start again too demanding ?
    What kind of power would be needed to ensure a stability of recording for 3/4 hours , the time of the balloon flight. ?

    Thanks !


    1. Travis probably your battery does not have enough umph to run all the components, or not run them for very long. Selection of a suitable battery will entail consideration of all aspects of the flight, including safety issues. Issues of battery selection are beyond the scope of what I can cover in these lessons as it is so application specific.

  8. Hi,
    please make a tutorial using OLED LCD using your arduino nano and how to initialize the SDA and SCL on A4 and A5 pins. thanks.

  9. Hi Paul…
    This is Mohit.,I live in India and I m also one of ur fans of great Arduino tutorial series…
    I need a little help,
    I ve an idea about a Arduino project. Can u help me out..
    My idea is to make a password activated lock which activates a servo to do something in order to open door.
    Basically I was thinking that the project will consists of 4 different password ..each for one member of family(my family has 4members).
    If anyone wants to gets in then that member will enter its own allotted 4 digit password.. And if the member enters wrong password 2 times then the door can only be opened from a master password which will be same forever..and door locks automatically after a min .
    And it store all the information of the incoming members in the SD card data logger which records the no of time any member enters in house..
    And the entered password is shown on the LCD along with the open close or locked and master password required message..

    Its my idea …
    Can u help me out abt its programming and the things to be take care of.

  10. I have been watching all these tutorials and First off I’d like to say THANKS! I have been looking for a way to easily learn programming but only in a way that could connect with hardware and put into action. I have been working as an Electromechanical Technican for most of my life, first in automotive then to Industrial Robotics and up to working the Horizon spill site as a Lead Technician on one of the most advanced ROV systems in the Gulf of Mexico.
    These are basically affordable PLC’s for the beginner to advanced tech guy and I love them! I will be watching all the videos on all of these type of programmable boards here.
    I only have one question. If i have a board and I don’t know the program that’s on it and I may not want to erase it. In my case someone gave me one to learn with along with a clock kit for Nixie tubes. How do I retrieve the existing code from the memory so I can have a working program to compare to when I start writing the program for learning purposes? I know his works and I need it to work for a specific project. I want to play around with the program to learn it from one end to the other but can’t afford to loose the operation for a month or more until I get the program back working.
    Thanks again!

    1. Thanks for the kind words. On the Arduino, I really do not know of a way to upload a code from the board. I think it is compiled code on the board, and the source code stays on the programming computer.

  11. Sir,
    Thank you very much for all those lessons. They are very helpful!
    one request to you 🙂
    > lesson on connect camera module to arduino. 😀

  12. I just wanted to say thank you, Paul, for making these great tutorials available to the public.

    I recently got intrigued by the Arduino and have been watching YouTube videos to learn how to use it. It has been a very long time since I studied computer programming so I have forgotten more than I remember. Your tutorials got me off to a good start with Arduino and brought back a lot of what I had forgotten.

    You are an excellent instructor. I can remember only two college instructors who were as good as you and only one of them had your same passion for teaching.

    Thanks, again. for reminding me how much fun it is to ‘think like a computer’.

    1. Thanks for the kind words. I am glad to hear the lessons are useful to you. I was quiet frustrated when I tried to get back into programming a few years ago, so put the videos together for people like me . . . smart, but not knowledgeable. Hope they are helpful.

  13. Dear Pual
    I learnt arduino programming through your tutorials and also saw launch of eagle… It is really cool to make something like probe… I request you to give tutorials series on building drone…

  14. sir can u plzz make some tutorials about using the wifi module esp8266.. it would be of a great use for all the people out there and also me to make some wireless communication projects

  15. Sir your series was very good and helpful. I wish you could upload a series on using nrf24l01+ to sniff and replicate the data packets send via Bluetooth and other wireless devices

  16. Hi, I’m not expecting you to produce this code, but before I go trying to figure out how to do it, do you think it would be possible to also have a display connected to show real time Lat and Lon.
    The problem as I see it is that the SD card adaptor uses the same pins as the display, so would I have to try and modify the library of the display or SD card reader to use other pins.
    A heads up could save me hours of wasted time as I’ve not looked at creating library’s,
    That way the assembly could be used for other things like Geo Cashing etc. Thanks again for sharing, I would be lost without guys like you sharing your skills.

  17. i want to design a buoy, and one of the parameters it should give is ” significant wave height”, i dont know how to proceed with……sir please do help me. I only know we need to use the accelerometer gyro for this purpose.

    please help me to complete my project.

  18. Paul thank you so much for your videos and the clarity for which you bring to them. I have gone through the first 25 arduino videos and am now at the end and am sad that we haven’t finished our space probe… adding all the components together. My son and I are using your teaching to make a small instrument suite for high altitude ballooning. I am primarily interested in astronomy and it has inevitably led me to a place where I need to understand electronics and coding. My question is, can you point me in the right direction for what commands we would use to add the adafruit bmp180 to the mix, along with the gps?? I have tried what I think is logical, but it messes everything up. The gps goes wonky and nothing is logged onto the sd whatsoever. I am trying to find a way to remedy this. Is this where you would introduce interupts? or do I already have all the answers within the videos and just need to think harder? I know you are busy, but if your feeling generous, and the answer is plain to you, maybe you could point me in the right direction. Thanks so much! Once again, inspiring work.

  19. Hi,
    I am Vivek Chakravarty, and I am from India.
    I would like to extend a word of thanks to you for the wonderful lessons and the video tutorials in your site that have been very helpful to me in my 6 months journey of exploring the Arduino platform. The lessons helped to strengthen my basics to a great extent.
    Before I start off with your tutorials on the Raspberry Pi, I would like to inform you that recently, I have participated in an Inter – school science exhibition in my country where I decided to make good use of Arduino. I am pleased to inform you that my school came 2nd, but it would have been truly impossible if it were not for your simplified tutorials o n the Arduino.
    My project was based on a device that can detect the fertilizer concentration in the soil and send the data back to a smartphone so that farmers are able to regulate fertilizer concentration in their fields.
    I would give the details of my project very soon in the official Arduino blog.
    Thanks a lot for your tutorials once again.

  20. I am Bayarsaikhan, and I am from mongolia.
    I would like to extend a word of thanks to you for the wonderful lessons and the video tutorials in your site that have been very helpful to me in my 6 months journey of exploring the Arduino platform. The lessons helped to strengthen my basics to a great extent.
    I’m trying to write a code to find the right path from the house that’s lost through the matrix on arduino. Thank you for your lesson. Thank you.

  21. Pless how can you help me in my project which it about acquire data from a car about using arduino and can bus I can’t reached what I do plez help my in thes topic important

  22. Hello sir

    Can i ask something how to get speed in kph?? .. Or convert it .. I wanna receive from gps satellites kph not knots . Can help me please

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