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Microchip Engineer Climbs Mt. Kilimanjaro with Extreme Low Power Tracking Device

Thu, 09/23/2010 - 6:53am
Microchip Technology Inc. recently announced that its own Darren Wenn and Future Electronics’ Chris McAneny are engaged in a practical design exercise to take extremely low power tracking devices to the top of Africa’s famous Mt. Kilimanjaro, during two separate climbs.

Microchip engineering intern Tim Moffat built the devices, which tracked the climbers’ locations via GPS while continuously taking various measurements, such as temperature and barometric pressure, and operated for the duration of the climb on two Energizer® Ultimate Lithium AA batteries. The devices are based on Microchip’s 8-bit PIC18LF14K50 microcontroller, featuring the company’s eXtreme Low Power technology.

During their preparation for the climbs, Wenn, McAneny and Moffat launched a joint, limited-series blog on the new EE Life Community site from EE Times, called “Extreme Low Power in an Extreme Location.”  The goal of the blog is to provide engineers with an entertaining way to learn about designing a device that has to operate in extreme conditions with a limited battery-power budget.

Additionally, McAneny is climbing to raise money and awareness for the Everyman Male Cancer Charity, in fulfillment of a promise he made to his then 23-year-old son, who won his battle with testicular cancer.

The tracking devices are designed to run for more than two months on a single charge from two Energizer Ultimate Lithium AA batteries. System components include a GPS receiver, a barometer and a temperature sensor, which are used to log altitude, latitude, longitude, UTC time, barometric pressure and temperature. Now that both Wenn and McAneny have just completed their climbs, visit their blog this week to find out how everything went:  http://www.microchip.com/get/3HLF

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