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sherington

DIY Vehicle Tracking

Question

Afternoon All,

I don't know if anyone's covered this already but I thought of a way to set up inexpensive vehicle tracking.

My thinking is this:

My spare Android phone, with a phone finder/tracking app, mounted somewhere behind the dash. I have a spur from the cigar(ette) lighter already soldered in so I can just link a car charger to it. I use the car daily so the phone would very rarely run out of charge.

All I'd need on top of that is a PAYG SIM card with enough credit/data to let me access the phone/software if required.

What do you think, is this doable?

Cheers,

Sherington

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When using a phone to get the most accurate GPS signal your device needs a clear view of the sky to be as accurate as possible which it won't get behind the dash

It can use cell ID's to get location if it cannot see the satellites but it won't be as accurate as a clear view of the sky

I work in the mobile sector and this is something we had to work around when designing our in car solution

Also bear in mind the heat the battery will generate from never being unplugged or on a very long journey, I assume you will have it so you can unplug the device without removing the dash?

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Cheers for clearing that up for me DannyScene. My commute is about 1.5 hours each way. I thought more recent phones stopped receiving charge once done.

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You're right they do however I've noticed with my Samsung chargers at work that the actual plug bit can get hot, I know you won't be using a 3 pin plug but I have to wonder where that heat energy will go or if it is purely down to the 3 pin bit

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That will be the heat of the transformer changing 230v AC to 5v DC. An in car charger will only have to step 12v DC to 5v DC and will (should) generate very little heat.

I would make sure that the phone and survive weekends etc without running out of charge. If using an old phone root it and install a 'lighter' version of android, remove/kill anything that isn't required for your operation. Put a new battery in it and then make sure its linked up to the ignition only so should the car be left for a longer period it doesn't drain the battery (though with a good battery it should take the phone a long time to flatten a car battery).

Other ideas may be to set up some sort of 'auto answer' from your phone only so you can listen in on the car if it was nicked.

Apps like Torque can talk via a bluetooth ODB so you could log what the engine is doing etc. could be used to log journeys... but hit the battery quite hard (if the Torque app is running and the car is in range even turned off, I find it hammers my phone battery).

Maybe hook it up to your WiFi connection and setup remote control so you can talk to it from your PC when its parked up at home to review logs, make changes etc. Should be possible on a rooted phone.

Edited by Dan HX
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Bought a cheap Chinese tracker that uses a simcard, not fitted it yet but looks straightforward andcsimikiar to your idea :)

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I'm gonna have a play with the idea this weekend and let you know how (or if) it works. I'll try it off the standard lighter first to try it, saves faffing about with the dashboard if it doesn't work :-)

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