Dell Mini 9 Discussion Discussion on the Dell Inspiron Mini 9.

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Default GPS on Vodafone UK WWAN Mini - 12-10-2008, 01:07 PM

I've read a couple of posts on here about getting the GPS to work on the UK Vodafone Dell Mini 9, but none that really explained what to do, so I thought I'd share what I managed.

First of all, GPS does work, it spits out NMEA codes which can be used by something like Earth Bridge to go to Google Earth (I've tracked myself going home on the bus with it perfectly). Some people have said that the drivers that you install gives you a named COM port in system devices, but I didn't get this. I wiped the SSD and installed XP Pro instead and used all of the drivers off the Dell site, including the Dell branded connection manager rather than the Vodafone version (not sure if this made any difference).

To get GPS working, you first have to tell the card that thats what you want it to do. When you first open Hyper Terminal, you'll be ased for a connection description, call it something like GPS or similar. The only way that I've managed to do this is by opening up Hyper Terminal and connecting to any of the COM ports that are listed. You want to keep connecting until you find one that gives you a *EMRDY: 1 response (I found that it was COM5). Now you have to give the GPS module the commands to start sending out NMEA codes. To do this, simply type the following:

AT+CFUN=1 (hit enter, you'll get an OK response)
AT*E2GPSCTL=1,10,1 (again hit enter, again you get an OK response)
AT*E2GPSNPD (hit enter and it'll pause before giving you NMEA codes, which aren't really human readable)
At this point, you have GPS working! A couple of points:
- In the AT*E2GPSCTL line, the 10 part refers to how often you want to poll for a new result, you can change this value to say 5 and get a result every 5 seconds, rather than 10. I found that 3 is a nice compromise.
- It takes a while to get a lock, but once you do it should be fine
- If you close the lid of your Mini then the reception is very poor and you'll lose your position
- Going into standby will stop the GPS unit from sending out NMEA codes, you'll have to type the Hyper Terminal stuff back in
- Once activated, your Mini will be polling for a GPS signal until it restarts, or goes into standby. I don't know enough about it to figure out how to stop polling yet. The plus side of this is that once started, your mini will constantly poll even without Hyper Terminal running. This allows you to use Earth Bridge or similar software.

I have a VBS file that pops open CMD, loads Hyper Terminal, loads a saved session (when you close down Hyper Terminal, it asks whether you want to save the connection so next time you double-click the file and your straight at the EMRDY stage), types in the codes and closes both Hyper Terminal and CMD. I would post here, but VBS files are gonna make me look like a virus spreader, here is the actual code from it instead:

Set oshell = createobject("Wscript.Shell")"cmd.exe"
wscript.sleep 300
oshell.sendkeys"hypertrm.exe c:\"+("{Enter}")
wscript.sleep 300
wscript.sleep 400
wscript.sleep 400
wscript.sleep 200
oShell.SendKeys "%{F4}"
wscript.sleep 200
wscript.sleep 200
set oshell = nothing 
I saved my connection as and whacked it on the C: drive, and had to move Hyper Terminal to the Windows directory to make this work. Copy that code, open up Notepad, paste it in and save as a .vbs file instead. Double-clicking it will run it.

Hope this helps someone
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Default Re: GPS on Vodafone UK WWAN Mini - 12-10-2008, 01:28 PM

wow, and all this time i thought it wasnt working.

i did as you said but i tot the nmea was just gibberish. guess i didnt stay outdoors long enough. there are sites that help u decipher the nmea.

thanks. so you just connect the program to com 5 after that?

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Default Re: GPS on Vodafone UK WWAN Mini - 12-10-2008, 04:09 PM

Yup, try Earth Bridge (

Choose the same COM port as you used with Hyper Terminal in the Perferences pane, then click Connect to GPS Device and it'll be able to turn the gibberish into a position. Once its got a lock (it tells you on the GPS Status pane) you can load it up in Google Earth and find out where you are

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Default Re: GPS on Vodafone UK WWAN Mini - 12-10-2008, 06:14 PM

Works like a charm.

I had got as far as Hyperterminal and entering the at commands, but was looking for something like earthbridge to interpret it.

Nice find. Do you have any idea if it will work directly with Google Earth Plus and GPS mode? And why the hell doesn't Dell or Vodafone supply GPS Access out of the box? Would be a good selling point you'd have thought.

Vodafone Dell Mini, Black, Windows 7 , 2GB RAM, 32GB Runcore SSD, HSDPA modem, BT, 1.3 MP Webcam
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Default Re: GPS on Vodafone UK WWAN Mini - 12-11-2008, 06:41 AM

Hey SorX,

Thanks for that, I'm in Singapore with a 3G version, and those commands on HT Work just fine!
I downloaded earthbridge and googlemaps , but havent tested it yet.

Does i need to get my WWAN connected b4 I run HT?

Sorry if I'm a bit noob at this, Im not sure how this GPS thing is working

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Default Re: GPS on Vodafone UK WWAN Mini - 12-11-2008, 09:09 AM

Truely awesome,

Posted on the homepage!

Please do not send me support requests via PM.
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Default Re: GPS on Vodafone UK WWAN Mini - 12-11-2008, 06:03 PM

Would this work with the WWAN card I have in my Inspiron 1525 as well?

Mini 10v | N280 | 2GB RAM | 120GB HDD | 1510 N Wireless | Bluetooth | Win 7 & OSX 10.6.1 (using NBCD followed by NBI 0.8.3 RC2)| Bios A06 -> A04
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Default Re: GPS on Vodafone UK WWAN Mini - 12-11-2008, 10:00 PM

Hey, neat. I wrote Earth Bridge. Actually, the very reason I bought a Dell Mini was so that I could have a very mobile laptop to do testing for the next version I'm working on. I'll definitely make sure to let this forum know as soon as the next version is ready for testing. It's quite an upgrade from what's available now.

Nice hack, SorX. Very cool.
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Default Re: GPS on Vodafone UK WWAN Mini - 12-12-2008, 10:49 AM

Seems to work, I've yet to manage a lock on. I've been using my Mini9 with a cheapo Bluetooth GPS reciever for Autoroute. Works okay for basic sat-nav. This is a better option though, don't have to worry about the Bluetooth reciever running out of battery power.

Dell Mini9 Vodafone. Windows XP 8GB SSD, 16GB SDHC, 1GB RAM. Custom Fingerprints and scratches. _
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Default Re: GPS on Vodafone UK WWAN Mini - 12-12-2008, 05:07 PM

Glad I could give back to the community somehow, brightened my friday seeing my post on the front page

I should give special thanks to Dylan Bennett for writing Earth Bridge, genius piece of software And the new version you talk about sounds awesome.

For the other questions, you don't have to have your WWAN card connected, i.e to the internet, but it does have to be enabled, meaning in Device Manager. So GPS is seperate from the HSPA part of it.

This will work with any machine that has the Dell HSPA 5530 card in it, but I'm not sure as to which drivers you need, or whether its enabled for the machine that its in. Just try connecting to the various COM ports, and report back, I'm sure people would be glad to find out about it.

Should work with any program that can connect to a COM port and accepts NMEA messages, in which case Google Earth will work directly with it, if you have the premium/pro/whatever its called version that enables the GPS pane. GE searches your COM ports for one thats giving out NMEA messages as far as I know. Personally, I prefer the Earth Bridge route (am I sounding like I'm trying to sell the program yet? :P) as it gives more information about the link etc.

Anyway, feel free to ask any more questions, I'm far from an authority on the subject, but I'd be glad to help anyway that I can.
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