to build your own setup would run you a couple hundred for a computer, and then at least $60/mo for the the internet connection for the car.. I think your best bet is to get a premade solution.
Also, unless it is installed without her knowing, she'll just get rides with other people so that you cant track where she is. at least thats what i would have done at that age if i were in that situation and wanted to go places i knew my parents wouldnt have approved of
You know, cell phone companies are now offering this as a "feature". You can look up where other in your "group" are located. Being 17.5 I am sure she has a phone, so it's just a matter calling whatever phone company you have and getting it set up.
There are 2 options that I know of.
The first is the cheapest but it won't be real time. It would be more for punishment afterwards then catching her in the act. You can get GPS loggers that are basically usb sticks that record gps data for later viewing. Sortof pointless because you have to retrieve it sometime!
What you need is a fleet vehicle tracking system basically. They require a monthly service. Usually 1 is a certain price and then 2-10 are another price and so forth. The units themselves are just magnetic boxes with antenna wires. You call and activate them then they upload their gps info to a central company server and maps it for you to view on the internet. Pretty cool things. Usually used for businesses to make sure their on site employees aren't screwing around.
I did a google search for "business gps tracking" and a few sites came up.
This one: http://www.gpsinsight.com/ is $35 a month per vehicle with no multiple vehicle discounts. Each tracking unit is $550. This unit also monitors your OBDII port too.
With this one: http://www.advantrack.com/hw_gps_tracking_overview.htm your sister must be within 22miles of the "base" point because it tracks GPS but doesn't upload them through internet or anything. It must be within 22miles to get realtime. If she goes outside of that range, then when she gets back in range, it will automatically update. I can't find out the price without contacting them, and there are no monthly fees.
You get the idea. I am sure with more searching with a combination of words like fleet vehicle, gps, tracking, business, real time you can find some stuff.
When I worked at radioshack they sold some product for another company (not radioshack branded) that was just like this. It was about $200 per unit and $15 a month per unit. I think they stopped selling it, but you could always call up a radioshack and ask.
So basically this will get kind of costly. For 3 vehicles you are looking at about $600 minimum and maybe as much as $1500 startup. Then $50 to $130 a month in service.
May be more worth it to get a cheap GPS enabled cell phone, and hardwire it to the vehicle always on in a spot in the dash somewhere where it would take quite an effort of disassembling the car to dig it out and deactivate the logging. If you already have cellphones then an additional line shoudln't be too much.
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Alright, thanks a lot for all of your inputs. I like the idea of the GPS logger, I am looking at some and they have quite a price range, any inputs on which ones are good? Also, once you retrieve the GPS data points, what do you do with these points? Where do you input them to get a street address or something useful.
i have been using a nextel phone, igot the freebie i95?? and ordered the plainest calling plan, plus mobile locator. i have embodied it into one of my rides and it offers REAL TIME tracking. i posted about it before. You expect to pay like $50 monthly without any initial costs other than activation.
it works for me, and id figure i cant lose if i do this right. i spent a few more dollars to get the cig lighter and a battery backup. heres a pic...