I want to log GPS coordinates using my Arduino and other sensors. The difficulty is that I will be in forested conditions. Would it be better to hardwire a gps device to the Arduino or to bluetooth an external device (a much more accurate, Trimble device that I know will give me the accuracy I need)? Can such devices pair to a bluetooth receiver that would hardwire to my Arduino, or do I need an intermediate device like my iPhone?

3 Answers 3


What's more important, GPS accuracy or GPS yield?

Normally it's a trade off between the two. Under difficult conditions such as lots of trees a high accuracy GPS may simply stop outputting locations because it can't guarantee the accuracy, it depends upon the target market for the GPS.e.g. a survey system will be very conservative, survey people don't like getting bad data. A cheaper lower accuracy GPS won't care and will still output a position no matter how dubious the signals are. I've seen $100 GPS units output a position when a $20,000 Trimble system refuses to.

The GPS should support NMEA output over bluetooth serial port protocol which would then work fine for a direct connection to your device however you may need to change the receiver settings to enable it, the default is likely to be outputting Trimbles binary TSIP format over the bluetooth.


The GPS receiver I've always used is the Adafruit Ultimate GPS:


It comes with a spot for you to plug in an external antenna (with an adapter), so you can get more precision and presumably be able to receive data much more accurately in places like forests. However, I'm not sure of this, so an external device may be the way to go. Bluetooth would be possible, but it can be a little difficult to set up with Arduino if you lack the experience, so if you can I'd go with a wired connection (with an RS232 or other).


If the Trimble has a serial output then you could connect via that.

If the Trimble supports the same Bluetooth spec as your receiver, then there is no reason why you shouldn't be able to connect them directly. You will need to find out if the Trimble is a Master, Slave or both and buy the appropriate receiver for you Arduino.

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