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Topic: Solar powered GPS data logger (Read 479 times) previous topic - next topic


Hi there,

This might be a long shot, but I just wanted to ask for your opinion. I am pretty much a noob when it comes to Arduino.

I am an avid ornithologist and I ring and research birds.

I was wondering, how difficult would it be to create a solar powered data logger from scratch with Arduino, that would last very long and be able to track bird's location and send the data over so it can be displayed on a map?

The logger would be for a big bird, but from what I've gathered in other projects, it should weight around 30-50 g.

So the question is, is this an endeavor for experienced team of engineers or would it be doable by one person with Arduino parts?

Thank you in advance for your opinions!


All Arduinos are pretty bulky in bird terms. Heavy too. You can do a home brew version with an AT tiny, but it's still not unobtrusive and of course, you need a battery.

Solar is a non starter I suspect. Even the very smallest panel would be way too big for a bird to deal with and would produce power very feebly as it would never be optimally oriented.

I thought I would suggest that you google solar powered bird logger to illustrate that it hasn't been done, but to my  surprise, I see that a company called Ornitela does make such a thing, including GPS! Expensive though.

So my revised answer is that it's "an endeavor for experienced team of engineers". Arduino components are too big, too heavy and consume too much power.


Thank you, that's what I was curious about - those loggers definitely exist and they are sold, but for astronomical prices - that's why I decided to ask how difficult it would be to do it on your own. And I guess it makes sense - if it would be easy enough, it wouldn't cost so much.. :) So thanks for your reply and your insight! I guess I will have to save up some money for such a device, if I really want to do it. :)


May 07, 2019, 12:19 am Last Edit: May 07, 2019, 12:19 am by jremington
if it would be easy enough, it wouldn't cost so much.
It is not that hard to design the circuit and make a PCB with small components, but if you were to do this as a business, how many of the gadgets do you think you would sell? 

Then, what would you have to sell the gadgets for, in order to just break even?


And dont forget the costs of certification and compliance ................


GPS receiver; ATtiny; Flash chip to store data (much more power efficient than SD card - 1 MB can store A LOT of data).
RTC is not needed; you can get time from the GPS. 350 mAh or so LiPo battery (weighing 8-10g) can keep this working for very long - most of the time your equipment can be in deep sleep, waking up every 10s or 1min or so to take a GPS reading, store it, and go back to sleep. A 0.5W solar panel is probably enough to keep this alive forever.
The hardest problem that I see with this would be the retrieval of the data.
Quality of answers is related to the quality of questions. Good questions will get good answers. Useless answers are a sign of a poor question.

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