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GSM Tracking Explained

GSM tracking mobile tower

What Is GSM?

GSM stands for Global System For Mobile Communications and is best known for its use in mobile phone technologies. Originally developed in Europe under the name Group Special Mobile, it has since been used to great advantage for vehicle tracking and other technologies.

First launched in Finland in 1991, around 700 mobile networks provide GSM tracking services to 213 countries, representing almost 83% of global mobile connections. In short, GSM is at the heart of global communications and tracking networks.

GPS And GSM Differences

While GPS uses satellite technology to triangulate the position of the GPS tracker, GSM based vehicle tracking systems use signal strength and base station triangulation to determine the whereabouts of the GSM tracking device.

GSM Functions In GPS Devices

GPS GSM Trackers

Different technologies are used in modern tracking systems so you will usually find a tracking device uses GSM, GPRS and GPS trackers to gain the full advantages of each system. Because GSM uses a ground based systems to triangulate the whereabouts of its devices, it does not have the same issues as the GPS tracker, namely satellite coverage.

Hybrid technologies have become possible with technological advances in recent years. This has allowed GSM/GPS trackers to be implemented in devices as small as a box of matches.

Advantages Of GPS GSM Trackers

GPS locator technology is the most accurate of all trackers as they use several satellites to triangulate the GPS tracker. The problem with these devices is they rely on satellites that can easily lose coverage. GSM tracking software and devices on the other hand are not so accurate but are far more reliable.

GSM tracking software is also able to upload a myriad of information in real time, allowing for a more reliable and thorough operation for companies with large fleets. With GPS accuracy added to the process, vehicle tracking using GPS and GSM gains the benefits of both technologies.

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Do you already have a Vehicle Tracking System?

How to Build Your Own GSM Car Tracker - Step by Step

Although building your own GSM tracker is not a technically simple task, for those with a little knowledge of the systems it can be a worthwhile endeavour.

GSM Tracker Parts

  • An Old GSM Mobile Phone Pay With A Pay You Go Sim Card
  • A Charger To Match The Phone (In Car)
  • A Plastic Box That Is A Little Larger Than The Phone
  • A Small Potting Box
  • Potting Compound
  • Self Adhesive Velcro Strip (Industrial Strength)
  • 5amp 2-Core Flex
  • An Inline Fuse Holder With Battery Terminal Connectors And 1-Amp Fuse

Building Your Own GSM Tracking Device

  1. Remove the back cover of your mobile phone.
  2. Take apart the in car charger to reveal the several components and wires inside. Take note where the pip of the side of the plug is soldered. Pay extra attention to where the side of the springs of the plug are.
  3. Carefully remove the pip before soldering the brown lead from your flex to this connector.
  4. Remove the side spring and solder the flex’s blue lead to this connector
  5. Accurately tape over the solder and place together with the components that were in the charger into the potting box.
  6. With the potting compound, fill the potting box and allow to cure.
  7. Connect the charger to the phone, drill a small hole through the main box and allow the 2-core flex to pass through it.
  8. Line the box with the industrial Velcro strip, then insert the phone and fasten. Using any spare Velcro, fix the potting box to the main box then pass the 2-core cable through the hole.
  9. At the end of the 2-core flex, cut the brown wire 6 inches shorter than the blue wire then solder the inline fuse connector to the brown wire before soldering the brown wire you cut off to the opposing end of the inline fuse connector.
  10. Take the ends of the brown and blue wires and solder them to the battery connectors before connecting to the vehicle battery.
  11. Make sure you place your GSM tracker out of site and in a safe place where it will not become damaged during daily use of the vehicle.

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Do you already have a Vehicle Tracking System?

Buying Your GSM Tracker

For most people the technical difficulties of building a GSM tracking device are not worth the time and effort. Even if you are technically adept enough to be able to accurately build such a device, it still make more sense to buy it to ensure reliability with the added bonus of GSM tracking software and support. Building your own devices may also incur extra costs in relation to insurance premiums.

Next Steps

Once you have decided to buy your GSM tracking device you then have the difficult decision of which one is best suited to your operation. With so many suppliers and devices available with varying complex systems and prices to match, it can be a little overwhelming knowing where to start.

By filling in our simple form, it should take no longer than a minute, you can compare the devices that are right for your business’s size, type and budgetary needs.