Tracking a vehicle has never been easier with just a few components and a little knowhow
Back in 2010 business marketing student Yasir Afifi found a tracking device (an Orion Guardian ST820) hidden underneath his car when he went to get his oil changed. 48-hours later the FBI came to his apartment to retrieve the device, which is understandable considering how expensive they are (around $6,000). With all the domestic spying going on by government agencies, why can’t the common citizens get in on the action as well?
Keeping in mind that you’ll probably be in a heap of legal trouble if you build one, Cooking Hacks has designed their own tracking device using an Arduino Uno as its foundation. The popular development board is paired with a GPRS+GPS SIM908 Quadband Module, one GPRS-GSM antenna and one GPS antenna to transmit the location of a vehicle in real-time. The device is powered by a 9-volt alkaline battery, making it quite small compared to the Orion but not small enough to plant on someone’s body undetected. But, perhaps you are aware – keeping track of the kids for example. No word on the longevity of a single 9V though. The device is great for those living in high-crime areas where vehicle theft is rampant as well as keeping tabs on your significant other. Jealous boyfriends are already placing orders… at Cooking Hacks
Cooking Hacks device assembles into a small package, easily hidden inside a vehicle
SMS messages alert the user to where the target vehicle is located
It’s hard to find a good, reliable GPS module for microcontroller use, which is why haven’t carried one. Most are complicated to use, power hungry, and require a completely clear view of the sky to get a decent fix. But when when we tested the Adafruit Ultimate GPS, we knew it was worthy enough to be in the Maker Shed. Not only is this module easy to use, it comes fully loaded. The Ultimate GPS breakout is based on the MTK3339 chipset which can track up to 22 satellites on 66 channels, has a high-sensitivity receiver, and a built in -165 db antenna. It’s capable of 10hz updates, has a position accuracy of 1.8 meters, a velocity accuracy of .1 meters per second, and it only draws 20ma of current. It’s also been successfully tested at over 88,000 feet! There’s even options to use a battery to power the RTC for “warm” starts and an output for adding an external LED to indicate a fix.
By far the most interesting feature of the Ultimate GPS Breakout though is its built in data logger. The module includes an on-board microcontroller and enough FLASH memory to log the time, date, longitude, latitude, and height every 15 seconds for up to 16 hours. All you need to do is send it a simple “start logging” command using an Arduino and it will begin! For more information, check it out in the Maker Shed.
Becky Stern is up to some really cool stuff over at Adafruit. This GPS Dog Collar (as shown on her adorable dog, Olive) uses a a GPS sensor, OLED display, and Adafruit’s Atmega32u4 Breakout Board to track your pet’s progress towards a goal distance. Everything you need to know to make your own is beautifully organized in their new tutorial site, the Adafruit Learning System, which I really dig. Nice work on all fronts!