Whats the Smallest GPS Transmitter?

Discussion in 'General GPS Discussion' started by Audi, May 17, 2004.

  1. Audi

    Audi Guest

    I am looking for something as close as possible to what you see in the
    James Bond movies. Something that can be adhered or at the very least
    placed into a vehicle, wireless, battery operated, that transmits its
    location. I assume a service would be involved, and preferrably some
    sort of internet map tracking available with that service.

    The smallest I have found thus far for $399 plus $25 a month service
    fee is the child tracking watch here:


    Fully charged it lasts 60 hours (a little over 2 days) and it
    transmits up to 40 "locates" during that time.

    So its not real time and what I am looking for does not have to be
    real time. I assume battery life would eliminate that possibility.

    There must be something like this out there, that isn't shaped like a
    little kids watch. Can anyone direct me to all the ones they're aware
    of? A friend of mine *claims* there is something you can magnetically
    attach to metal and it transmits. I've looked and found nothing of
    the sort.

    Audi, May 17, 2004
  2. Audi

    Sam Wormley Guest

    The satellites are the transmitters.... or are you referring to a
    transmission from another vehicle. The James Bond thing would have
    required an unwilling transmission from the "bad guy's" vehicle or
    some real time aerial surveillance system in the region... or radar on
    the "good guy's" vehicle.
    Sam Wormley, May 17, 2004
  3. You wouldn't be able to stick it under a car: no GPS signal available there
    (metal blocks the signal).
    So you would have to stick it on the roof, where it would be found
    immediately of course. Now you could hide one in the roof of a convertible
    of course...

    Vincent van der Laan, May 17, 2004
  4. Audi

    Peter Guest

    Lots of other reasonable hiding places where you'd get reasonable
    reception, albeit not optimal. For example, our car bumpers have good
    hidden spots for a GPS antenna where it would only be covered with
    plastic (i.e. transparent to 1.5 GHz) and would have a good skyview.
    If you have access to the interior of the car then there are more
    possibilities - under cutouts in the rear package shelf, under plastic
    portions of the dash, behind rear-view mirrors (many have plastic
    enclosures large enough for a hidden antenna), etc.
    Peter, May 17, 2004
  5. Andreas van Hooijdonk, May 17, 2004
  6. Audi

    Karl Juul Guest

    This may be changing...
    One commercial product claims a patent-pending antenna which receives from
    under the vehicle:

    "Exclusive GPS-StealthT Antenna (Patent Pending). All other GPS antennas
    require visible installation or time consuming installation. The GPS-WebT
    simply hides under the vehicle magnetically, in seconds. The GPS-StealthT
    Antenna does not require direct line of sight or conspicuous and erratic
    performing "edge-of-vehicle" mounting in order to communicate with GPS
    satellites. Only the Patent Pending GPS-StealthT Antenna system utilizes an
    adaptive learning algorithm which allows the GPS antenna to be hidden up to
    28" underneath the vehicle while achieving over 90% of the efficiency of a
    traditional roof mounted GPS antenna."

    I use vehicle tracking equipment by another vendor which requires a small
    remote patch antenna which is often able to be concealed under a plastic
    bumper cover where it is essentially out of sight, but this "Stealth"
    antenna would sure cut down installation time, if it works, that is.

    Karl Juul, May 17, 2004
  7. Do you have a URL for this? I can smell the farm animals from here.
    John Tserkezis, May 18, 2004
  8. Audi

    Karl Juul Guest

    Karl Juul, May 18, 2004
  9. Audi

    Audi Guest

    So what is the point of the childs watch? Unless he is outside in
    plain sight, wouldn't it be pretty much useless? If he were inside a
    building of any kind, or even in a car, it wouldn't transmit.

    I didn't realize we were still this incredibly behind in our GPS
    technology capabilities. I have a feeling the millitary bypassed this
    silly obstacle years ago. We're probably just seeing the very first
    versions of GPS technology in the consumer realm.

    Question 2: If you were to toss the watch into someone's car under
    the seat, or in the glove compartment, it would not transmit
    Audi, May 18, 2004
  10. Audi

    Tony Clark Guest

    I think there is a misconception here. It's my understanding that the kid
    locator watch uses the cellular phone system to send and receive signals
    which are used with GPS receivers at the cellular towers to determine
    location. So as long as you can send/receive cell phone calls you can
    calculate where the child is located. No sky view is required, at least
    that's the way I undetstand it works. I could be wrong about this as I
    couldn't get specific information from the web sites as to how the GPS
    location is actually derived.

    Tony Clark, May 18, 2004
  11. Audi

    Audi Guest

    Im confused. The TrimTrac says it can be placed inside a glove
    compartment or under a car seat. It says it has special abilities to
    work where other GPS's don't work. Could you explain if this is
    really possible?

    Secondly, it doesn't look like the TrimTrac is even available for
    purchase. Its not on their "where to buy" list of products. In
    further research it seems to have just received its regulatory
    approval for use in north america roughly around February 27, 2004.
    Is it purchasable anywhere?

    Thirdly, it looks like they have a significantly smaller GPS device
    here: http://www.trimble.com/lassensq.html but I can't tell whether
    it too can work from inside a glove compartment or not, and if not,

    Fourthly, this site says nothing about the actual tracking means. Do
    you log onto a web site? Do they offer maps online with plotting? No
    mention of how you actually find your GPS point.
    Audi, May 18, 2004
  12. Audi

    Dave Baker Guest

    As somebody else mentioned, the TrimTrack might be a good choice. It's
    cheaper than $399 (if I ever get the 2 units I have on order) and only
    monthly service is whatever a SIM card costs you.

    It's a little big, but is battery operated & batteries last 90 days with 10
    reports per day & good GPS reception. Unit also has enhanced sensitivity so
    it should work under the seat or under the dash. Might work in the bumper -
    I'll be able to tell in a couple of weeks with a bit of luck.

    Data comes as SMS so you need some way of interpreting/mapping the data.
    ....not real time? Does this mean you want a unit that only logs & doesn't
    I've seen one that they advertise sticking on magnetically under the car, but
    I don't think it was GPS.


    The email address used for sending these postings is not valid.
    All replies to the group please.
    Dave Baker, May 18, 2004
  13. Audi

    Stan Gosnell Guest

    (Audi) wrote in
    It doesn't actually use GPS, it uses cell phone location
    technology. Cell towers know exactly where they are, and don't
    move. Triangulation by multiple cell towers gives location.
    No, the military didn't bypass this 'silly obstacle years ago'.
    The laws of physics have not been repealed, and won't be in the
    near future. However, it should get somewhat better. There are
    new satellites in the planning stages, which are supposed to
    have about 100 times the transmitting power of current models.
    But metal still blocks electromagnetic signals at the
    frequencies used by GPS. You'll likely get somewhat better
    reception inside vehicles, but certainly not perfect.
    Possibly not. It depends on the cell tower infrastructure of
    the network it uses. These signals are also blocked by enough
    mass of metal.
    Stan Gosnell, May 18, 2004
  14. Audi

    Dave Baker Guest

    The Lassen is only a GPS module - to get the equivalent of a TrimTrac you
    need to add a GPS antenna, a cellular transceiver & a cellular antenna & a
    battery compartment.
    They leave that up to the value-added-provider or end user - you will just
    get an SMS with a lat/long. My company already provides this service, so for
    me it won't take long to get up & running once I get hold of some TrimTracs.
    There will be other companies that will offer this service or presumably you
    can buy software to let you do it yourself at home.


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    All replies to the group please.
    Dave Baker, May 18, 2004
  15. Audi

    Audi Guest

    Im still new to all this. No idea what a module is, versus a
    trimtrac. Guess ill learn in time.
    What software would you suggest?

    You mentioned in another post only 10 locates per day. Why so few?
    Or do you get to use it as much as you want with the risk of running
    the battery low...

    Another question - why wouldn't you opt for the child wrist watches
    that use cell service and work pretty much anywhere, without the
    limitation of GPS and metal buildings or cars blocking the signal,

    And lastly - where did you order your trimtrac? Id like to order one.

    Audi, May 19, 2004
  16. Audi

    Dave Baker Guest

    A module in this case is a part of a larger unit. The Lassen is supposed to
    be built into a larger device to provide that larger device with GPS
    capability. The TrimTrac is a final product ready to be used.
    Well, seeing that I write this kind of software for a living it's difficult
    to be unbiased! :)
    However, you need some sort of GSM module to receive the data (a mobile phone
    with a cable to connect to a computer maybe is the cheapest). Then you need a
    program to read the SMS messages from the GSM module & to feed it to the
    mapping application. I haven't seen the exact output format of the TrimTrac
    yet so I haven't seen any programs that can read it. We have an program that
    can read SMS from most GSM units though & will be modifying that to suit. We
    use MapInfo as our mapping package, and feed the data to it by DDE.
    You can output as many updates as you like - the 10 per day was quoted with
    the battery life figures so one could get an idea of how it would work in
    real life. I'd probably only be using 10 per day in my normal tracking
    systems - just 1 update when the vehicle starts moving & another when it

    The TrimTrac has an optional power lead so you could connect it to car power
    & it will last longer - it gets expensive sending more SMS messages per day
    Well, some of those units don't work where I live & work (Malaysia &
    Singapore) as the cellular operators here don't give out cell information. My
    main business is tracking ships around the world, so I only dabble in
    tracking lands assets. I will be testing the TrimTrac units out in cars
    hidden in unusual places like bumpers & under seats, and may also try it in
    school bags. etc to see how it works indoors. This TrimTrac is supposed to be
    a lot more sensitive than ordinary GPS, so it may very well work in normally
    "impossible" areas for GPS. I'll find out whether they are as good as the
    hype after I have a play with my 2.
    I ordered mine from Dinkum Technologies in Singapore - probably not much use
    to you if you don't live around here. I initially sent an email to Trimble &
    they gave me the name of the above - my closest distributor. If you buy
    enough & aren't an end user, Trimble seems interested in allowing you to get
    them at wholesale prices.


    The email address used for sending these postings is not valid.
    All replies to the group please.
    Dave Baker, May 19, 2004
  17. Audi

    Andy Hill Guest

    Take a look at a cellular coverage map sometime. "Near population centers and
    along major highways" is a long way from "pretty much anywhere".
    Andy Hill, May 19, 2004
  18. Boy, would I love to find coverage maps for Las Vegas area. I have a cell
    phone only as an emergency device for outdoor travels.

    I can't seem to find good coverage maps for my cell provider (AT&T) or the
    provider I've considered for a switch (Verizon). All other local providers
    are supposed to have abysmal coverage in the mountains. Just 9 months ago, I
    was able to find such maps, but they seem to have been considered unneeded
    (unlikely to generate sales) by the services.

    I get bizarrely unpredictable coverage. This weekend on a mountaintop in
    the middle of nowhere, I got clear AT&T signals all 4 times I called. Yet
    when I am on mountains in sight of the casinos, there may be no signal at
    all -- and this performance is reproducible.
    H.W. Stockman, May 19, 2004
  19. I think part of the problem is my crappy Nokia phone! ;^)

    Yes, the way cell phone coverage is run in the USA is chaotic and
    customer-unfriendly. But remember:

    Finland is roughly the same size as my single state (Nevada) in square
    H.W. Stockman, May 19, 2004
  20. Audi

    Audi Guest

    Ok so the TrimTrac may not be an "all in one" after all. You have to
    buy translation accessories and map software. Now I see why they call
    it cheap :) The others come with all these things already.
    When you say expensive you mean uses up a lot of battery life, right?
    I'll call and get a local distributor. Thanks.
    What seems to be the retail and wholesale prices? Just curious.

    Where would I get these other accessories I will need with it?

    Thanks again!
    Audi, May 19, 2004
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