Designing a Low cost GSM/GPS tracker – Introduction – Part 1

This is the image of the first version of the GPS tracker the VALTRACK V1,













Testing of VALTRACK V1 : 

I had manufactured some pieces and had kept one device for testing in my HONDA SHINE motor cycle for around 6 months. 

During the testing period i noted a few things that needed improvement,

  • Battery drain : The device was always turned ON and it was sending GPS location data to server at 1 minute intervals. Even when the vehicle was  not moving the device was ON and it was continuously draining the battery. In 6 months i had to replace the battery because it went into deep discharge and was not getting charged again. Also i ride my bike for very short distance daily so the battery didn’t get a chance to get fully charged. 
  • Didn’t support 12V Input : The VALTRACK V1 was designed to be a personal tracker and the maximum voltage it could take was 5VDC so i had to put a break out board which reduced 12V from vehicles battery to 4V for tracker operation. 
  • No Ignition control : It didn’t have any support for immobilizing vehicle in case of vehicle theft.

Whats new in VALTRACK V2 :

  • Motion sensor :  In second version i added a motion sensor which is an accelerometer  sensor which helps in saving battery power by keeping the GSM module turned OFF whenever the vehicle is not moving. Because GSM module is the one which consumes a lot of battery power. So, whenever a movement is detected the micro controller turns ON the GSM module to send the GPS data to the server and again after sending data, the GSM module is turned OFF or put in sleep mode.
  • Added a 12V, 5V battery charger : I added a 12V battery charger which takes in 12V directly from the vehicle’s battery and reduces it to 4V for tracker circuit operation and also at the same time it charges a single cell internal Lithium battery which can be used for emergency purposes. 
  • Internal battery : A internal battery support is provided in new version which is helpful when the vehicle gets stolen and main battery is disconnected. Whenever a vehicle is stolen the first thing the theives do is they disconnect the main battery of the vehicle to disable any possible GPS tracker installations. So if we have a internal battery which can still keep the tracker alive when main battery is disconnected atleast for few hours then we have a chance of tracking down a stolen vehicle. 
  • Ignition control or Alarm/Siren support : Added a MOSFET driver which control a Ignition relay or a Siren which can alert whenever a motion is detected.
  • USB charging support : The new battery charger can operate at 5V USB voltage also so a micro USB connector is provided which is helpful if the device is used as a personal tracker and we can charge the internal battery with this micro USB connector using any of your smartphone chargers with micro USB. 
  • USB debugging support : The SWD lines of the ARM MCU used in this device are routed to the micro USB connector and it can be use to program, debug and flash the MCU with your own custom firmware. So, it can be a great learning option for DIY enthusiasts. 
  • EEPROM addition : I have provided provision for support of 2Mega bits or 256 Kilo Bytes of EEPROM which can be used for saving GPS data when GSM signal is not available or can also be used for Firmware update over the air (FOTA) where in the firmware can be downloaded and saved to EEPROM and later programmed to MCU memory. 
  • SOS button : A small tactile button is added which can be used as a SOS option for alerting family and friends in case of emergencies through SMS or call. 
  • Bluetooth support : The device will have support for Bluetooth 3.0 present on the GSM module which can be used to set the configuration parameters like APN, Servers IP addresses, Port numbers,  API URL, API Keys, Device ID etc. We can develop a mobile application which can set these values in the device using Bluetooth. 
  • Low power MCU : MCU changed to a QFN package to save space and also upgraded to a low power version compared to version 1.

VALTRACK V2 Future Plans : 

  • Community adoption : I want develop open source software to be developed which will help in more community adoption.
  • Support for major IOT platforms : We can develop open source software which will be compatible with major IOT platforms like AWS IOT, Carriots, Thingspeak, Azure, GCP, IBM Watson. 
  • LORAWAN Integration: We can integrate LORA chipsets in place of GSM module inn future versions to support intra city tracking for applications like Pizza delivery vehicles, Courier delivery vehicles, or even we can track our elders who go out for a morning walk.
  • MQTT Suport : Right now the device is sending data to server using HTTP, But we need to get MQTT working over TCP so that we can be compatible with major Cloud IOT platforms which use MQTT as default standard for IOT devices.

VALTRACK V2 Project status : 

The design has come out to be a 6 layers PCB of size of 52mm x 18mm and boards have been sent for fabrication. 

Once boards arrive we will send them for assembling and then do some basic hardware and software testing once the boards are ready. 

Once we are confident everything is frozen the device will be put for sale for around Rs.3500/- to Rs.4000/-  ($55-$60 USD) online on our website

Price might go low if we can do bulk production. 

I am using ready made enclosure right now for VALTRACK V2. Because i cant afford to get a custom enclosure done as plastic moulding is expensive. 

Why i designed VALTRACK GPS tracker : 

The main reason i designed this product is because most of the devices available today are all Chinese designs and they are closed designs, meaning if anything goes wrong in these devices, there is very less chance of getting these devices getting repaired locally due to non availability of spare parts. 

Thats why i want to keep this design as open as possible. 

Also i find that most of the devices used are hardcoded to send data to their own servers and cannot be configured to send data to our own servers. But VALTRACK V2 will be completely configurable. 

Need for  smaller design for concealed installation in motor cyles or bikes :

The VALTRACK V2 is very small of size 52mmx18mm and the whole device is so small for easy installation in any place in motorcycles.



Check this video for more information : 


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You can support me in developing this project through Patreon or Paypal option provided in my about page. 

Also you can fund the project on COLLABORIZM where it is open for funding  


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