Adding GPS tracking

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A customer has requested that we add GPS tracking to the device, which is a commercial/consumer rental device.  Think "lojack" -- when not returned, or stolen, they want to be able to find the device.

 

I have no idea where to start.  Any suggestions?  Try to keep the cost down, please...

You can put lipstick on a pig, but it is still a pig.

I've never met a pig I didn't like, as long as you have some salt and pepper.

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https://www.sparkfun.com/product...

 

sparkfun has nice small gps module, I'm sure you can find it for less from a distributor! 

 

Jim

 

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A near by me company :

 

www.trackunit.com

Last Edited: Wed. Nov 30, 2016 - 02:16 PM
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The GPS tracking usually use two devices: GPS receiver and GSM modem. If You don't want to use specialised device for tracking, You must read actual position from GPS and send it, periodically or in answer to received demand, by SMS to given phone number or GPRS to given internet server.

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It could easy be the cheapest to have an app on a cheap cellphone that regularly send a SMS. 

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Monitoring of position within a defined perimeter can also be used to trigger tracking of a stolen item if it leaves the defined area.

Ross McKenzie ValuSoft Melbourne Australia

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Aliexpress has a complete solution....  

https://www.aliexpress.com/item/...

 

 

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For a US company:      they are good at geo-fencing etc (I had a consultant job for them once when I lived in US)  

 

www.savi.com/

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Left of field idea: Buy a $10 Android phone and strap it on. Use Android Device Manager to track it. The only "issue" is how you keep the phone charged ;-)

 

(this suggestion brought to you by Not Entirely Serious Productions Inc.)

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awit wrote:
The GPS tracking usually use two devices: GPS receiver and GSM modem.
Another way is GNSS and LoRa.

LoRa is an order of magnitude less power than GSM yet still has the range and can be powered via AAA cells.

There are recent AVR plus LoRa projects on crowd funding.

LoRa's US weakness is coverage; would either need to add a private gateway or do peer-to-peer (one peer locates the other peer, one peer is mobile)

GPS - add GLONASS resulting in GNSS


http://wiki.dragino.com/index.php?title=Lora/GPS_Shield

http://wiki.dragino.com/index.php?title=Lora/GPS_HAT

 

"Dare to be naïve." - Buckminster Fuller

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More seriously, When I google "combined gps and gprs module" there's a lot of promising looking hits but the one that catches my eye is SIM808 simply because simcomm2m.com kind of "own" this entire market. Adafruit have it for $30...

 

https://www.adafruit.com/product...

 

I guess one question is "how much do you want to spend?" and are there design constraints like physical size of particular power requirements? (my mad idea about an Android phone wasn't that far off the mark - GPRS consumes batteries - think how long any phone lasts in standby - so battery/power is an issue)

 

EDIT: actually when you explore SimCom's website it seems that 8xx units have possibly been surplanted by 9xx units like 908 and 968.

Last Edited: Wed. Nov 30, 2016 - 03:00 PM
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Wow, a lot of responses quickly.

 

Not my area--wouldn't the GSM need some kind of subscription to send stuff?  [now I have to learn GSM basics]

 

Should be able to have enough power for at least periodic updates.

 

Would it be "two way" to awaken to "you have been stolen" message and then start frequent updates?  [now I have to learn lojack basics]

 

Indeed, the phone idea is interesting. 

 

If really stolen, then wouldn't it be in a closet or similar where it is questionable whether GPS and/or GSM contact can be made?

 

 

You can put lipstick on a pig, but it is still a pig.

I've never met a pig I didn't like, as long as you have some salt and pepper.

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theusch wrote:
Not my area--wouldn't the GSM need some kind of subscription to send stuff?
Yes, it needs a SIM card but PAYG should be OK shouldn't it?

 

The real solution is the Google keyword "M2M" so if you google "SIM for M2M" you should hit stuff. I think most network operators have cards/plans specifically for M2M usage.

 

EDIT: interesting article about M2M cards: http://www.wireless-innovation.c...

 

EDIT2: As "Verizon" is one of the US cell networks I've heard of I tried "Verizon m2m plan" and it hits this: https://www.verizonwireless.com/...

 

(can't help thinking it's a bit of a rip-off unless the customer is happy to bear the cost - you could just get a PAYG SIM with data for much less assuming the credit on it is not time limited!)

 

EDI3: (no more edits I promise!). So I tried AT&T and Sprint to see what they offered. They seems reticent about publishing an open figure for M2M data rates (presumably its very open to negotiation?) but I hit this very interesting page on AT&T: https://starterkit.att.com/

Last Edited: Wed. Nov 30, 2016 - 03:24 PM
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That AT&T starter kit apparently consists of this:

 

http://www.nxp.com/products/soft...

 

which uses this:

 

http://www.nxp.com/products/micr...

 

(its an M4 but I've never heard of it!).

 

But of more interest perhaps is the radio board that AT&T chose to put on top. The pictures show a "WNC M14A2A" and when you google that you arrive here:

 

http://www.wnc.com.tw/index.php?...

 

The M14A2A does not appear to have GPS but the M14Q2G, M14QFG, M18Q2G, M18Q2FG appear to offer GPS.

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gchapman wrote:
LoRa's US weakness is coverage; would either need to add a private gateway or do peer-to-peer (one peer locates the other peer, one peer is mobile)

Pycom

Pycom and Canonical to enable LPWAN communications via snaps

Maarten Ectors (Canonical, Internet of Things)

Nov 25, 2016

https://www.pycom.io/pycom-canonical-enable-lpwan-communications-via-snaps/

...

It is possible to use for instance LoRa in a private network whereby, for example, you can have several battery operated LoPy modules connected to soil sensors in the field and a LoPy connected to a Raspberry Pi in the farm and you are able to show a real-time dashboard to the farmer. It’s super quick to set up and a very cost effective way of getting field data to mission control.

...

A LoRa node sleeps, wakes periodically to transmit, waits through two receive windows, then sleeps.

The Pycom LoPy can be either a node or a Nano-Gateway; nodes can run on AAA cells with the Nano-Gateway on AA cells.


https://www.pycom.io/support/supportdownloads/

https://www.pycom.io/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/lopySpecsheetFinal.pdf (LoPy 1.0)

Ubuntu

Ubuntu for the Internet of Things

https://www.ubuntu.com/internet-of-things

...

(mid-page)

Snaps for security

Ubuntu Core is an all-snap version of Ubuntu.

A snap is a secure, easily upgraded, universal Linux package for an app and all its dependencies. ...

...

Pycom

So why did we open source?

Nov 16, 2016

https://www.pycom.io/so-why-did-we-open-source/

Snapcraft.io

snapcraft - Snaps are universal Linux packages

http://snapcraft.io/

via

Ubuntu

Ubuntu Core

https://www.ubuntu.com/core

Ubuntu Core is a tiny, transactional version of Ubuntu for IoT devices and large container deployments.

...

Edit : more on snaps and Ubuntu Core

 

"Dare to be naïve." - Buckminster Fuller

Last Edited: Wed. Nov 30, 2016 - 06:43 PM
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theusch wrote:
If really stolen, then wouldn't it be in a closet or similar where it is questionable whether GPS and/or GSM contact can be made?
Yes though a GSM transmitter is 2 watts on one or two frequency bands (IIRC one of the bands is about 800MHz)

One can demonstrate by attempting to phone home from a closet cheeky

But, all must come out into the daylight to play.

Quote:
... or similar ...

Disklabs Logo

Disklabs Digital Forensics and Data Recovery

Faraday Bags

http://www.disklabs.com/faraday-bags/

 

"Dare to be naïve." - Buckminster Fuller

Last Edited: Wed. Nov 30, 2016 - 05:00 PM
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The one linked to at AliExpress only works with 2G. I believe this is a common limitation of a lot of these cheap offerings.

 

Quebracho seems to be the hardest wood.

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But SMS on 2G (GSM) take the least amount power.

 

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For those in the US :

AT&T 2G network shutdown

https://www.att.com/esupport/article.html?_escaped_fragment_=/wireless/KM1069631

Learn about the upcoming 2G network shutdown to be completed by the end of 2016.

...

 

"Dare to be naïve." - Buckminster Fuller

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The one linked to at AliExpress only works with 2G.

I think 2G is shutting down this month, maybe even today here.

John Samperi

Ampertronics Pty. Ltd.

www.ampertronics.com.au

* Electronic Design * Custom Products * Contract Assembly

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Yep today. Gone... woosh...

 

Ross McKenzie ValuSoft Melbourne Australia

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No 2G service left in northern Ohio.

We had to pay through the nose to update all of the cardiac monitors in the county so they could still transmit their 12-lead EKG's to the ER's.

Did that earlier this year.

 

I purchased this little, inexpensive, GPS with its built-in patch antenna for $15 from SFE and it works great.

https://www.sparkfun.com/products/13740

(I've purchased, over the years, plenty of other GPS modules that cost many times that.)

If the customer is using Pelican boxes for their product then obviously the box is a Faraday cage, and you would need a GPS with an external antenna connection, cable with the correct connector, and antenna.

You also would need to know if the antenna was powered or not, and it the GPS module was set up to power the powered antenna or not.

The antenna cable and antenna can cost more than the GPS module, hence the popularity of the GPS modules with the built-in patch antennas.

 

Remember, you get a 2 dB loss per connector, (or whatever, I don't recall), and for weak GPS signals you can't afford lots of transmission line losses, so no connectors mounted on the box wall / truck's roof, etc.  You want only one cable with one connector on each end, not a patch work Hodge podge.

 

Know that many GPS modules have a watch battery so that they can store the GPS ephemeris and almanac data, which, depending on the time since the GPS last was powered up and had a lock, can shorten the time to first fix, (Time to GPS lock).

 

Lots more info about the intended usage is needed, (size, antenna options, power supply options, expected locations and hence GPS coverage, tech know how of the thief, (i.e. their ability to recognize and either jam or disable the GPS or the data modem, etc.).

 

Interesting project!

 

JC 

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Pelican boxes in my experience are plastic... tough plastic.

Ross McKenzie ValuSoft Melbourne Australia

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The polyethylene might be lossy at microwave frequencies and you don't need much loss to upset GNSS.(gps isn't the only player in town these days)
I don't think the black cases are conductive.

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theusch wrote:
If really stolen, then wouldn't it be in a closet or similar where it is questionable whether GPS and/or GSM contact can be made?

 

Several years ago I put a gsm into a metal cookie jar, closed the lid, and phoned it.

It rung.

Paul van der Hoeven.
Bunch of old projects with AVR's:
http://www.hoevendesign.com

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Aaah, the power of good Dutch biscuits!

 

Ross McKenzie ValuSoft Melbourne Australia

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I have tried to call from a radio dead room and it worked !

 

When we then plunged the two holes where the wires go in and out it died.  

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call from a radio dead room and it worked !

Did you get in contact with ghosts?? surprise

John Samperi

Ampertronics Pty. Ltd.

www.ampertronics.com.au

* Electronic Design * Custom Products * Contract Assembly

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sparrow2 wrote:
It could easy be the cheapest to have an app on a cheap cellphone that regularly send a SMS.
The following uses an app on a smart phone to locate a Bluetooth Smart tagged object :

Technical Specifications for TrackR

https://thetrackr.co/tech-specs

...

The TrackR is a Bluetooth device that connects to an app running on your phone.

...

Crowd GPS

...

When the signal (Bluetooth Smart with unique identifier) is detected, the phone records the current GPS location, sends a message to the TrackR server, and the TrackR server will then update the item's last known location in its database.

...

via an advertisement

http://www.studylifestyle.com/2016/trackr/1f/

 

"Dare to be naïve." - Buckminster Fuller