Beepings is one of the first French Technology firms that creates and distributes GPS trackers working with an LPWAN alternative Network like Sigfox for example.
The GPS Tracker ZEN by Beepings, historical, and at the origin of this HighTech startup, highlights our integration and design skills. Indeed, its small size design is the result of several months of development to be able to associate, in a short area different electronic functionalities without any interaction and perturbation between them. A great technological challenge paired with multidisciplinary know-how.
At Beepings, our motivation is not assembling bricks together and crossing fingers that all work fine. The easy way will be to design our product with this method. But it will be not possible to integrate all functionalities in a so reduced area like the ZEN.
This is why we decided internally, that all our products will be imagined, developed, prototyped and tested in-house.
The Component choice is a key element in hardware development. It’s this step that defines all the rest of the hardware conception. At Beepings, we have decided to work with well-known and major components distributors to be sure that we will have the best components catalog in terms of quality and durability. Develop IoT devices like GPS tracker, involved to select small footprints, radiofrequency and digital components to have at the same time performance and efficiency.
Integrated antennas used in Beepings devices are carefully selected in terms of radiating pattern (Gain, VSWR, directivity, …), size and integration way. If one of these parameters is a brake for an optimal integration in the product, we will design in-house, a specific antenna that will fit with all product mates.
Before designing the final circuit, it’s necessary to validate the component choice by realizing a mock-up. This step uses development boards that facilitate the connection between the different functionalities.
From Schematic Design to Layout
Before starting the circuit, it’s necessary to realize a schematic divided in functions based on component selection. With this step we can validate each function, their driving and communication methods. While keeping in mind the optimization of the board power consumption. A key element when we develop IOT devices working with batteries.
The previous study gives some rules to start the layout of the device (i.e. drawing of the electronic circuit with component). Each component, each digital function is placed in the way to minimize all interaction between each other, reduce the electrical noise and maximize electrical performances of the system.
Radio Frequencies functionalities are cautiously designed because of their sensitivities and because they act as an input/output door. Each track width and impedance are carefully defined, each track length is studied to be sure that it doesn’t switch in an radiating element that can influence the performance of the device.
Antenna position inside or outside the PCB (Printed Circuit Board) is a critical phase because antennas can interact with the external environment if this one changes : component proximity, metallic surface, plastic housing, ….
To avoid this, each antenna is studied and matched (electronically or physically) taking into account its local environment to optimize its performances.
Thickness, layers number, material, size and also surface treatment finalize the definition of the circuit.
Beepings Research and Development (R&D) team is trained, expert and fully mastered to all techniques of design and optimization described previously to be sure that all IOT devices we develop make it possible to be “Connected to serenity”.
From virtual to real
Layout design is followed by a prototyping phase that transforms a virtual design to a real device. It is the reflection of what serial products will be.
Each prototype is burned with an in-house developed firmware and all functionalities are checked and tested individually. Whole tests are made internally in the Beepings R&D Lab with its proper equipment.
Tests are split in two categories :
- Digital functionalities tests are done to validate the working of the communication bus, verify that there is no perturbator on the board, and check the firmware. All the tests are made with dedicated instruments like Oscilloscopes, Logic Analyzer, Debug probes, …
- Analog and radiofrequency tests highlight the performances of RF functionalities in terms of radiating pattern and matching. They are realized based on specific laboratory RF equipment like Spectrum Analyzer, Vectorial Network Analyzer, RF probes, …
If a function doesn’t fit its requirement it’s analyzed and in the worst-case totally reviewed.
At the end of tests, an electronic definition file is made for the serial production.
Mastering all these tasks make so that at Beepings we are Hardware designers.