ATTiny13a Power Control


Finally had time to work on my GPS Balloon project which now uses the ATTiny13A for power control. The goal here is to make a small light weight GPS device that can be attached to a party balloon and track and log it’s position. The most recent challenge has been to manage the power consumption of the device. GPS receiver modules tend to be power hogs (50mA or greater for acquisition) and this requires a rather large LiPo battery to sustain continuous operation.
As an alternative to continuous operation, turning the GPS on for 1 minute and then off for 5 minutes would greatly extend the battery life. One minute is sufficient time to re-acquire the current position before going back to sleep. I originally used a 555 timer and RC time constant (old school method) to cycle power on/off thinking this would be more power efficient. Fortunately, a user commented (thanks Mark!) that an ATTiny13a can do the job and still draw less than 10uA. As it turns out, the ATTinty13a is an awesome device and was a perfect fit for simple tasks such as cycling power on a scheduled interval. The code can be found here: ATTiny13a_Power_Control
The final design is shown in the picture above. It weighs in at 2 grams which is about the best you can do with standard FR4. I’ve tested out the design and everything seems to be working properly. The next step is to put this same design onto a flexible circuit which should reduce the weight significantly.