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Anybody here know GPS-trackers?

After reading about stolen bikes, I've realized that it would be neat to have a GPS-tracker installed. You know, the type that will tell you where your bike is, should you ever need to know. However, it is not all that easy to find the right unit. Preferably it should:
- have a long lasting battery
- be able to be connected to the bike battery/electrical system, so that it will last even longer, and more crucially charge automatically
- know it's position even when there is no GPS-signal (such as garages, indoors, etc), which requires GSM-positioning
- work in Europe (i.e. quad-band GSM)
- not require any subscription apart from a cell-phone prepaid one

It would also be nice if it wasn't too big, doesn't need external antennas.
And great if it will tell me (via SMS or GPRS-data) if it is moved, etc

There seems to be lots of alternatives, but very difficult to find one that supports GSM-positioning. Therefore my questions are:

Does anybody know a model to suit the above criteria?
Must it have the TK103B-chip (seems to be maybe the only one that supports GSM-positioning)?
 

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I've just bought the TK103-2 but since found out that the battery runs down really quickly and would flatten a motorcycle battery in a few days. Not a problem if you religiously connect a battery optimiser but not ideal by any stretch of the imagination. Bought from Amazon so will return as unsuitable for application after I've had a chance to test standby current draw.

Been searching for something with better battery life and found the xexun xt009 which has 5 days battery life so could wire it up to a relay so it will charge when the ignition is on but without the risk of flattening the bike battery. If you require longer battery life then things start to get more expensive (search Amazon for TK104 - 30 days backup battery).
 

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I bought the Scorpio rLink Sr-i1000 for my Scrambler. It works worldwide, you may have to upgrade the GSM (available from the manufacturer) and have to pay a monthly nominal service fee. The best thing was that it would text message me on my iPhone if the alarm, perimeter alarm went off, and I could track it on my iPhone.
 

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An alternative (from an email I was sent in 2010 - so please ignore the out of date prices)



For ages now I've often thought it would be really nice to have Tracker fitted to my motor.

Tracker is a VHF radio wave-based stolen vehicle recovery system. It works by having a very small radio transmitter fitted inside your car. Should your car be stolen one day, you ring the Tracker people and they "activate" your tracker, essentially instructing it to start transmitting a homing signal. This homing signal is then tracked down by the nearest police force who go and take a look for you.

All well and good, but it's not until you look at the costs that it becomes clear it's not actually that great...
Tracker costs £449 (USD $700) to buy, which includes installation, but then you have to pay an annual subscription of £135 ($210).​
Not that cheap really, so time for an alternative!

Get yourself over to eBay and do a search for "GPS Tracker". Buried in the no-doubt hundreds of results will be something that looks like this (click on any photo to enlarge it) and it'll be priced at around £70 ($109):



What we have here is exactly what it says on the tin, a GSM/GPRS/GPS Tracker, but for a fraction of the cost of the official Tracker!

This incredible box of tricks does more things than you can shake a satellite signal at. This little black box is about 60mm in size (about half the size of a packet of fags) and weighs next to nothing. What you essentially have here is a mobile phone and a GPS satellite receiver, but without the actual phone part.

Inside the box you get the main unit itself, a spare battery, a mains charger and a replacement battery cover which is magnetic (so you can stick the tracker on to something metal):



Close up:



Inside, you can see the magnets and the SIM card in place:



On a full charge, the battery lasts approximately eight days, which it pretty good in itself, but for use in your car I'd recommend buying the 12v "hard wired" charger. This isn't included by most sellers on eBay, but I found an eBay seller based in China who sells them for £6, delivered. Bargain!

You'll also get a pay-as-you-go SIM Card. Not over-keen on the O2 supplied SIM, I went to Carphone Warehouse and bought a pay-as-you-go SIM card on the Orange network instead (you can use ANY SIM card). It cost £10 and of course has £10 of credit on it. The text messages (I'll come to these later) are charged at 10p each.

To get things up and running, simply charge the battery, put the SIM card in and away you go.

You "communicate" with the GPS Tracker by sending it text messages (SMS) from your existing mobile phone. You can send it all manner of commands to turn various features on and off, more on these later.

Want to know where your car is? Simply call your GPS Tracker!

It will ring two or three times, then it will hang up on you (so the call hasn't even cost you anything). Then as if by magic, thirty seconds later you'll recieve a text message from your GPS Tracker. The text message looks like this (obviously I've blanked out some details) and has just cost you 10p on your pay-as-you-go SIM card:
------ SMS ------From: 07890xxxxxx
Sent: 6 Feb 2010 5:32 PM
lat:53.5xxxxx long:-002.6xxxxx
speed:000.0
T:06/02/10 17:31 Bat:80%​
What it's telling you there is the exact latitude and longitude coordinates of your car, the current speed it's travelling at, the time and date from the satellite itself, plus the current battery level of the GPS Tracker.

All useful information, most of all of course is the lat/long co-ords. Armed with these co-ordinates, simply go to http://maps.google.com or http://maps.bing.com and type in your coordinates. You'll then be presented with a map (or satellite photograph) with a nice big green arrow on it, showing you the exact location of your car.

The accuracy is frightening...

Here is a photo of a friends house I was parked at, ignoring the old and out of date Google photo (wrong cars pictured etc), the green arrow is quite literally pointing EXACTLY where the car was parked when I rang it to demonstrate:



Similarly, here's another test I did with the car in a public car park. I rang it again and sure enough, thirty seconds later, the coordinates came back and the arrow is pointing at the third parking bay from the right, which again is EXACTLY where the car was parked:



To gain this level of accuracy took a bit of trial and error. When you install your GPS Tracker in your car, you want it hidden. You don't want any wires on view or even any possible clue that could tell people you even have one of these fitted. There are all manner of places you can hide this device at it's so small. Possibilities include anywhere (safe) in the engine bay, under a wheel arch, under the trim of your dashboard, in the roof linining, under a seat, in the boot, in the glove box, etc, etc. As every car is built differently, try a few places until you get the best GPS signal and when you're happy, then you can wire it in permanently.

I mentioned earlier this device comes with a handful of features that you can turn on and off. They include:
GeoFence: Send two sets of co-ordinates to the device. These essentially provide a ring or "fence" around your car. They can be any distance apart from 10 meters to 10,000 miles. If your car drives outside of the GeoFence it will send you a text message with it's current co-ordinates.

Movement Alert: When your car stays in the same place for more than ten minutes, the unit automatically arms. If the car moves at all, you'll get a text message instantly.

Over Speed Alert: You tell the GPS Tracker the maximum speed your car should ever travel at (ideally the national speed limit!), if your car exceeds the speed limit you set, once again you'll get a text message telling you the current location of the car, plus the speed it's travelling at.

Audio Monitoring: You can ring your GPS Tracker and simply "listen" to whatever it can hear. The tracker has a built in microphone. Listen to your car thieves?

GPRS: Rather than using text messages to track your car, you can enable a GPRS mode that will allow you to track your car in real time. GPRS updates are sent every ten seconds so you can literally see your car driving across a map. As GPRS costs more than a text message, this could get expensive if used a lot.​
All of these features can be turned on and off by simply sending various text messages to the GPS Tracker. I guess some of these features would also be of use to fleet cars.

Another really handy feature of this unit is that if for whatever reason it can't get a satellite signal at the exact moment you call it, it will send you the last known coordinates instead. This could be of use if your car was in a container ready to be shipped abroad!

Also, you can track the movements of your GPS Tracker using the GSM network. This works by triangulating the mobile phone signal to the nearest transmitter masts. Again, a handy backup if it can't contact a satellite. Not as accurate by any means, but it'll give you a rough idea at least.

So there you have it, a full on GSM and GPS Tracker for your car at an absolute bargain price.
 

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Anybody here know tiny GPS-trackers for bike?

After reading about stolen bikes, I've realized that it would be neat to have a GPS-tracker installed. You know, the type that will tell you where your bike is, should you ever need to know. However, it is not all that easy to find the right unit. Preferably it should:
  • have a long lasting battery
  • be able to be connected to the bike battery/electrical system, so that it will last even longer, and more crucially charge automatically
  • know it's position even when there is no GPS-signal (such as garages, indoors, etc), which requires GSM-positioning
  • work in Europe (i.e. quad-band GSM)
  • not require any subscription apart from a cell-phone prepaid one
It would also be nice if it wasn't too big, doesn't need external antennas.
And great if it will tell me (via SMS or GPRS-data) if it is moved, etc

There seems to be lots of alternatives, but very difficult to find one that supports GSM-positioning. Therefore my questions are:

Does anybody know a model to suit the above criteria?
Must it have the TK103B-chip (seems to be maybe the only one that supports GSM-positioning)?
I haven't seen the auto-charged bike tracker for the time being. The Trak-4 has a sufficiently long battery life (about 18 months), a low monthly fee, and SOS function. The disadvantage is that it is relatively large. Overall, I personally prefer the compact size of spytec.
 

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Isn't it easier to just set aside the deductible on your insurance and hope an abused bike isn't returned to you?

That way you avoid having to track down and disable or kill anyone associated with the theft and all the subsequent court time and lawyer costs.

We used to sell silent alarms to a number of riders but the consequences of beating the thief into submission with an old fork tube, or shooting him never seemed worth the consequences.
 

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Heh, that's a good point. Although, you don't need to go all rambo yourself, you can always just phone the authorities to help you out.

That happened to me once a number of years ago visiting my sister in San Diego. We were driving one way grab one of her vehicles, and it passed us going the other way. Someone had stolen it, so we followed it. It stopped at a McDonalds and we called the cops and kept an eye on the fellow. He must have noticed us and scrammed. But the cops came and actually took fingerprints and the works. Meanwhile ... the family found this quite exciting and took photos. Doesn't take much to get us excited, a simple cop car will do it. Perhaps not of interest to you all, but they still amuse me quite a bit :)


San Diego 2009 117
San Diego 2009 119

San Diego 2009 120
San Diego 2009 132
San Diego 2009 127
San Diego 2009 125



Cop kept asking why all the camera flashes were going off ...
 

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Although, you don't need to go all rambo yourself, you can always just phone the authorities to help you out.
I must have spent too much time with the wrong kind of customers. I didn't think of that option!

True story- I told a fellow employee that if one more customer with a swastika tattoo on his forehead came in, I was getting out of the business. A couple days later....

I changed career paths!
 

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I'm of the type that would be willing to spend more than the cost of my bike in order to nab the crook. Mostly out of principle, but it would also be nice to know I saved a few other bikes from getting taken. I'm cash poor at the moment, due to the bike, but when I recharge my account I'm also interested in getting a tracker of some sort. At first I was going to focus on preventing theft, but it seems to me everything available is just enough to keep a man honest. A determined or experienced person would only be slightly inconvenienced. I also watch too many movies, so I'm fully planning on installing a fake tracker in an obvious location so the bandits think they have found it and stop looking, while my real, better hidden tracker remains untouched (muahahaha...). I don't plan on going rambo, just hoping to find a nice coffee shop near wherever they stop so I can enjoy a latte while I wait for the cops.
 

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Aren't there cell phone apps for tracking? Just leave a cheap burner phone in the bottom of the airbox or headlight shell. Keep it charged and just ping the app if needed. I think the last time we bought burner phones for secure communication with a lawyer they were only about $40 (USD).
 

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Aren't there cell phone apps for tracking? Just leave a cheap burner phone in the bottom of the airbox or headlight shell. Keep it charged and just ping the app if needed. I think the last time we bought burner phones for secure communication with a lawyer they were only about $40 (USD).
I've got a friend that constantly lies to his wife about where he is, then he started noticing that she always knew where he was, calling him out on his lies, come to find out she had a cheap phone hidden in the trunk of his car with the tracking app on it, I thought it was funny as hell when he told me. Of course you have to pay that phone bill all the time, not sure what a cheap phone service would run, $40-50 a month? hell you're spending $5-600 a year to keep track of your bike, or in my friends wife's case, to keep track of him!
 

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not sure what a cheap phone service would run, $40-50 a month?
Over here you can get phone plans for $8/month, I'm sure you would be the same. You can also get data-only SIM cards which are cheaper than normal cards. I used to have GPS trackers fitted to trucks so we had real time knowledge of where they were. They use the mobile phone network to report every 30 seconds. You can do all sorts of things, like remotely disabling the fuel pump, although there might be legal implications if you do this while the vehicle is on a freeway and someone gets injured. If you assault a thief here you are in more trouble than they are. 😕
 

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Phones were $20 USD each. Data cards were available which would not expire on calendar age.

Probably varies a lot by location.
 

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The phone and an app (Life360) would work easily. I dropped my phone on the motorway (fell from my unzipped pocket) and I located it down an embankment, in thick grass, face down 2 hours later. Easy and worked well. You'd just need to charge the phone and keep the data plan up.
 
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