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Tracking methods, other than GPS.

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blockhead

New Member
Hi,
I'm seeking an informed opinion on what tracking methods exist out there that will enable the tracking of a vehicle over a distance of a few kilometers. There are many GPS tracking units available, which send you a text message containing the GPS coordinates of the tracker. That's not what I'm looking for. I'm interested to know if there is another method, using some type of an RF transmitter/receiver combination. How do these things work to determine distance and direction? And where may they be obtained?

Thanks.
B.
 

MikeMl

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
Ham radio buffs do this all the time with a packet radio system known as APRS. It is GPS based for the basic position info, but it uses VHF (2meter band) radios, a 1200baud radio modem, and a network of mountain-top "digi-peaters" (digital repeaters) that relay the position reports to an "i-gate" (internet gate) which forwards the info via the internet to a several global repositories of all such position reports.

For example, go to Google Maps APRS, and in the upper right where it says TRACK CALLSIGN, put in "WA7ARK-9". If you zoom out a couple of clicks, you will see the last hour of my last flight. I have APRS in the airplane, and use it as means of leaving a trail of breadcrumbs in case I ever go missing.

Click on the link "APRS Stations Currently Moving", and you will see a list of stations that are transmitting APRS reports in real time. Pick one from the list, and click on it, and it will show their track.

Note that aprs.fi is in Finland. During testing my APRS box from home, it took about 3sec on average for my latest packet to appear on the Finnish web site.
 

RCinFLA

Well-Known Member
Cell towers can be used for positioning. GSM is relatively poor accuracy due to low data rate (about 500 to 600 meters). 3G WCDMA can actually beat GPS for accuracy and fix is fast.

Down side is it is controlled by mobile operator, which, of course, wants money to use it. Also need to be in mobile phone coverage of multiple towers.
 

giftiger_wunsch

New Member
I have APRS in the airplane, and use it as means of leaving a trail of breadcrumbs in case I ever go missing.

I guess just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not all out to get you ;) :D


Interesting topic. Is there a reason you want to avoid using GPS?
 

blockhead

New Member
First, thanks to everybody who replied - much appreciated.
There is, unfortunately, a rather serious reason for my posting this question. I fear someone has planted a tracking device in my vehicle, and a physical search has so far failed to locate it. If you ever have to go digging for one of these yokes in a vehicle, you'll quickly realise how many nooks and crannies it could be hidden in.
Plan A was to eliminate the GPS signal reception near the vehicle. This doesn't seem to do the trick.
MikeMI's APRS method ultimately relies on GPS for the positioning info, except the GPS data is transmitted by 2-Meter digital radio modem, rather than via the cellphone network, if my understanding is correct. And this is why I'm ruling out GPS, for now.
It could be cellphone triangulation method alright, and services exist to do just that. Yes, its crazy. Cellphone network operators will sell positioning data to make a few extra bucks (Location Based Services I believe it is referred to). So anyone can hide a cellphone in your vehicle and get your position to within about 50 meters in a built-up area or within a kilometer or two (depending on cell tower density) out in the country side. This can be sufficiently accurate for many (usually bad) applications. If you happen to leave your vehicle unlocked sometime and they manage to wire the cellphone into the vehicle electrical system, you are permanently bugged. Even conversations within your vehicle can be heard. Be warned, folks, this is downside of the digital mass communications age we now live in.

So I was wondering about other possible tracking methods, like those animal trackers where the animal is fitted with a small transmitter and some radio method is used to track it, based on received signal strength or something. Does anybody know anything about those?

Thanks again for all the replies. I really need to find this thing and remove it (ideally) or else shut it up, somehow.
 

giftiger_wunsch

New Member
I take it back Mike, you're not paranoid.

Out of interest, why do you believe that someone has planted a tracking device in your vehicle?
 

MikeMl

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
...
So I was wondering about other possible tracking methods, like those animal trackers where the animal is fitted with a small transmitter and some radio method is used to track it, based on received signal strength or something. Does anybody know anything about those?

First, jamming GPS reception is trivial. If the tracker relies on GPS, enough said.

I have years of experience with animal tracking, and tracking aircraft Emergency Location Transmitters (ELT). Radio Direction Finding to locate a moving target is extremely difficult, James Bond movies notwithstanding. It takes a very experienced operator, using specialized equipment to do it. It relies on moving fast, so it is usually done from a helicopter or aircraft.

That leaves cell sites and GPS loggers that record a track and then must be retrieved from the vehicle after the fact.
 

mneary

New Member
A transmitter bug has to be able to "see" outside the vehicle, and the better hidden, the more power it needs.

So, begin by eliminating the most obvious antenna. The automobile is shielded pretty well except for that piece of brass sticking out of the rear deck. If your vehicle has a radio you'll have to do without at least until this is resolved.
 

mneary

New Member
You haven't mentioned the nature of the person who is tracking you.

Is it a jealous spouse? Law enforcement? Previous owner? Bank (or repossession contractor)?
 

blockhead

New Member
First, jamming GPS reception is trivial. If the tracker relies on GPS, enough said.

I have years of experience with animal tracking, and tracking aircraft Emergency Location Transmitters (ELT). Radio Direction Finding to locate a moving target is extremely difficult, James Bond movies notwithstanding. It takes a very experienced operator, using specialized equipment to do it. It relies on moving fast, so it is usually done from a helicopter or aircraft.

That leaves cell sites and GPS loggers that record a track and then must be retrieved from the vehicle after the fact.

Mike, GPS jamming doesn't work. So what's left?
Could you explain how those Emergency Location Transmitters work, and where could I get more info on them? What frequency do they work on, and what is the nature of the signal they transmit? Perhaps I could check for that signal, if I knew where to begin looking.
Locating at speed isn't necessarily the issue. Shortly after I park the vehicle somewhere, these youngsters show up. It's not law enforcement. Seems like they have got their hands on some tracking gear, and testing it out. Not sure why I'm the guinea pig.
 

Anti-Thief

New Member
Hi Guys! I need a tracking device / or a chip / or anything that can be inserted in any gadgets like cellphone, video cam, laptop, in case you lost it or in case it was stolen a few minutes ago, with a gadget that can be seen the stolen or lost item moving in some direction, its like how the submarine checks it enemies or the jet fighters... is there any gadget like this? please help so I can avoid this thing to happen again... I really need it ASAP pls.. tnx
 

fiveleaf

New Member
^^ Post this in a new topic and google "Thread Hijacking". ^^

MikeMl,
I would go to your local garage put your car on a hoist, and check the undercarrige. Especially the parts closer to the exterior. If they were planning on retreiving said sending unit, it would make sense to mount it in a place where it can be easily removed yet out of sight.
 
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