GPS AdventureBox

Give the gift of adventure

Boxes!

A key feature of GPS AdventureBox is, well… a box. I can’t overlook the importance of a well-designed wooden box for this project. I need to find a reliable source for these. Local and online searches for the right one have resulted in a few possibilities, but I need to do my due diligence. I will talk to some woodworking shops to see how viable that would be. Again, scalability will need to be addressed. If I sell 50 or 10,000, I need a reliable source.

I have a couple that I have used to test-fit my prototype, which seem nice. I went ahead and did a few walking tests with the prototype with great results!

The circuit board design is complete and tested

I finalized the circuit board design and etched my own prototype board to ensure it was fully functional. I was quite excited to have everything fit properly and operate properly at first power-up.motherboard-pcb.251221227

I have sent out the design to several PCB etching services to get a good estimate of price, scalability, and turnaround. The results are good.

Supply Chain

resistor-sampleAs far as my goal of making the GPS AdventureBox affordable, I wanted to design it with supply options in mind. After much research on various component supplies and functionality, I have the final electronic design complete and have started designing the primary circuit board that will tie all of the components together. I want to offer the GPS AdventureBox in several different ways…

  • As a complete fully functional unit mounted in a finished wooden box
  • As a complete fully functional unit mounted in an unfinished wooden box
  • As a complete kit where the customer solders the components and installs it into their own box
  • As just a circuit board where the customer uses their own components to complete the project

I feel that the diversity in offerings will make the GPS AdventureBox more available to a broader audience.

The Route Planner is online

screenshot

I have work hard to get the route planning web interface online. I wanted to use a client-side web interface to avoid issues with operating system incompatibilities.

Using the Google Maps API and JQuery, I was able to make it happen! Please have a look at it here. I will continue to tweak it and possibly add a few more features (but not too many).

 

Fun with LCDs

16x2 LCD BlueAfter looking into my LCD text scrolling options, I decided to write my own library to handle it. It seems that most existing libraries scroll all lines or none and have a difficult time with strings of text longer than 40 characters (this has to do with the driver circuit on the LCD).

Though I have specific characteristics in mind for this particular project, I still wanted to make the library generic so it can be used by others with options.

Once this project is launched, I plan on releasing the library freely on this site.

It’s Alive!

I have a working breadboard prototype! Breadboard

My priority with this project is simplicity. The more complicated a project, the more things can go wrong.

I have written the Arduino source code and have all of the required electrical components working as needed. I still need to develop the route planner site and look into my options for scrolling text on the LCD.

Beginning

It was three years ago I first started the GPS AdventureBox project with a breadboard prototype in my garage. I wanted to find a unique way for people to give a gift with a twist. The idea was simple…

arduino_mega_2560

Put a gift inside a locked box and force the recipient to solve an on-screen hint/clue/puzzle to determine the special geographical location that, once the box is taken there, unlocks the next clue. Once all of the designated locations have been visited, the box unlocks. 

Though I was able to make a working prototype, I was not happy with the complexity in creating the route (list of designated locations and clues).

Fast forward to now…

I have re-opened this project armed with newer technology and better tools. I hope to have a working prototype in the next few weeks and a fully functional route planning system online.

My overall goals are simple.

  • Make it simple
  • Make it user friendly
  • Make it affordable
  • Make it fun