GPS bike tracker

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  • having seen how easily locks (even good ones) can be rendered useless, and hearing in various places about peoples opinions on a cheap affordable gps tracker for bikes, thought I'd start a thread for people to contribute to making a bike tracker a reality. So I'll start with these:
    http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/GPS-Vehicle-Car-Tr­acking-System-SPY-Tracker-Device_W0QQite­mZ160139327480QQihZ006QQcategoryZ75327QQ­ssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem
    http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/Super-Trackstick-G­PS-Tracking-System-GPS-Tracker_W0QQitemZ­250146445679QQihZ015QQcategoryZ4668QQssP­ageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem
    this is just ebay too. A bit bulky but the technology is obviously in place, and being made from electronic components, its a feasible concept. At the price of a decent lock, too. Imagine if everyone had one of these, you could just use a piece of string to 'lock' your bike up knowing you could just walk to it if someone took it. sweet.

  • GPS only works if you have a clear view of the sky. Therefore all the thief has to do is cover it.

    And even if you have a clear view of the sky, GPS still might not work because of high rise buildings in cities.

  • Reading that I'm puzzled how it can work when it's placed under the car ... :S

  • Surely the ones used on cars aren't foiled by clouds and buildings.

  • Portable jobbies don't have big aerials like it's possible to mount in/on cars.
    Also cars models could include signal amps that portable units couldn't power.

    Bored?
    http://www.navcen.uscg.gov/pubs/gps/sigs­pec/gpssps1.pdf

  • Come on. They have had them the size of smarties in Bond since the 60's!

  • No no no that was the exploding knockout gas smartie. They didn't introduce the GPS smarties until 1988.

  • eeehhhh GPS only works if you have a clear view of the sky. Therefore all the thief has to do is cover it.

    Yes, but he also has to know there's a GPS in it.

    anyway, hiding a tracker inside the bike is a great idea: finally, a good reason to have oversized tubing ;-)

  • I also had this idea a while ago (well, after my last bike got nicked) and looked into it. Also spoke to a couple of product designers. I would be really interested looking into this more and developing it into a proper working product. I don't have so much idea about the technical site but would be very interested in developing, branding, proposals for funding and investors, project management, etc. I really think this could work and there is a market for this. Would be interested to meet up and discuss in more detail.

  • The two problems I saw with it:
    1) Where do you put it that the thieves don't just take it off?
    2) If #1 implies inside part of the bike, how do you power it?

    Aside from that, I also think it's a good idea.

  • David K The two problems I saw with it:
    1) Where do you put it that the thieves don't just take it off?
    2) If #1 implies inside part of the bike, how do you power it?

    Aside from that, I also think it's a good idea.

    Good places might be in the bars or in the seat tube, where you can get at it to change the
    batteries. Or maybe you could extract power from all the stresses in the tubes?

    An idea like this has the potential to be a victim of its own success: the more people know about and use it, the more likely the thieves are likely to know about it and remove the tracker. I don't know what you can do about that. The early adopters obviously have the advantage, but after a few thieves get stung, then word is sure to spread. Maybe it should be such that the installation is irreversible, or (my favourite) trigger an auto-destruct mechanism if someone tries to remove the tracker.

  • I'm up for meeting and putting a few ideas to paper. There is definitely a market for it, as there are people on this forum that have had their bikes nicked. As for powering it and where to put it in the frame, these are all things to be addressed at the design stage- such as finding out whether it could run on standby for a week for example, then can be activated to full power and send a tracking signal when needs must. Powering it? batteries? rechargeable ones you can just plug into a socket with a connecting cable that runs to an attachment on the frame. Or make it removable.
    As for thieves working it out, it'd be a while before it reached market saturation, so there'd be a bit of time to fix this one, and it could be designed to be fitted on various places on the bike. Remember, it would be at its most effective in the following half hour or so after the bike was stolen- a tea-leaf ain't gonna be stoppiung and shining a torch into every gap on the bike when they couldbe making a getaway.

  • dominiclincoln. I am up for meeting and discussing this in more detail as well. I already have a folder with research into this somewhere on my computer and contact details of product designers I spoke to. Just never had enough time to push this any further. In a group of interested people it may work better.
    I am in Hackney, where would it bee good for you to meet up?

  • David K The two problems I saw with it:
    1) Where do you put it that the thieves don't just take it off?
    2) If #1 implies inside part of the bike, how do you power it?

    Aside from that, I also think it's a good idea.

    David K The two problems I saw with it:
    1) Where do you put it that the thieves don't just take it off?
    2) If #1 implies inside part of the bike, how do you power it?

    Aside from that, I also think it's a good idea.

    There are way around this, like some esle said just make it hard to remove, there are plenty of ways of doing this cheaply and eaily.

  • I'm northolt / oval. anywhere really, I ride everywhere so makes meeting more flexible than car :)

  • A problem I can see is that I think the two original (ebay) gps units weren't real time units, they record information and download it to your computer. If your bike was stolen, how would you get the info from the unit to yourself, computer/pda/mobile to find out where it was? Who would run the service? would it be automated? would you have to flag the fact that your bike had been stolen before you could track where it was? or where it was going?
    Also the power problem, couldn't it be powered somehow like a dynamo light by pedalling, maybe connecting it in someway to the bottom bracket, or is that making it too complicated? One advantage of putting it there would be to make it difficult to remove, since you'd have to take out the bottom bracket to get to it.

    Its a really good idea, since a load of us are spending as much money on a bike as you would on a cheap secondhand car, knowing where it is, and being able to find it again if it does get stolen could prove priceless...

  • it could run on kinetic energy like automatic watches

  • Bikes are quite stable though, whereas watches are on your wrist and the energy sourced from your arms swinging as you walk.

    Edit: Unless you attached it to the cranks.

    Meh, I can't be arsed to think about this properly.

  • I'm gonna buy a book on this subject, learn the actual ins and outs of this technical haystack.

  • cornelius blackfoot A problem I can see is that I think the two original (ebay) gps units weren't real time units, they record information and download it to your computer. If your bike was stolen, how would you get the info from the unit to yourself, computer/pda/mobile to find out where it was? Who would run the service? would it be automated? would you have to flag the fact that your bike had been stolen before you could track where it was? or where it was going?

    yes, it needs to actually send out a signal so that something else can receive it and know where the device is.
    Stop me if I'm wrong but a GPS unit knows where it is, but the GPS satellites don't know where each GPS receiver is.

    We already carry devices that can be tracked externally - the phone companies know where our mobiles are all the time they're on. If you could jam some mobile phone innards in the seat tube, that ought to do it. You could program it to power up and connect to the network every hour or whatever to conserve power. You could have a special number you could call to make it detonate the high explosives in the... (sorry, just my exploding criminals obsession again.)

    ... just thought - getting a signal inside a metal tube might be bit tricky! Would need to turn the whole frame into an aerial.

  • I think we should deffinately discuss this some more as there is real potential to, if not make some cash, at least not loose our rides.
    I read in one of the free papers today about a firm called Blue Trees or something, offering this service to people worried about loosing their children.
    Aparantly it is accurate to within 15 meters and they charge parents 40 quid a month for the service. Admittedly Kids are worth more than bikes.....just.
    I have a friend who is a product designer/bike lover but is not on here. I'll get him on.

  • http://www.bluetreeservices.co.uk/

    Hmm. I don't like the idea of making this popular. I don't want my employer tracking where I go at all time...

  • JOL 4 Metres.

    http://www.bluetreeservices.co.uk/

    it seems these work by using the cell phone networks to transmit the GPS readings. My friend used to work on mobile phone software - I'll ask him how accurately they can locate a phone without GPS, since we'd want to keep size and power consumption as low as possible.

  • Depend on the mast density I think in cities you can get down to about 10 m but in the counrty side it can be 100m I think.

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GPS bike tracker

Posted by Avatar for dominiclincoln @dominiclincoln

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