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Thread: GPS vehicle tracking, any advise ?

  1. #1
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    GPS vehicle tracking, any advise ?

    Hi everyone.
    I'm completing my carputer project and I'm still wondering how to built a GPS tracking solution for my setup.
    In the carputer there's a PCMCIA GSM adapter so I can make a call to my Windows XP based carputer. In this way I can take over the desktop (RDP) and take a look at my navigation software (Alturion) in order to determaine the position of the car. People inside the car won't notice since the screen turns black when I take control.
    What I want is an application I can start via RDP in case of an emercency whitch sends out the coordinates to my mobile phone every minute or so without the need of staying connected to the carputer.
    My carputer has an auto on/off switch is controlled by the ignition key. Next time the car moves and the computer boots up and I want the application to automaticly start itself and begin sending the coordinates again.
    Does anyone has a suggestion witch software to use or how to build a software solution ?
    The PCMCIA GSM adapter is from Sierra Wireless and is commonly used by big GSM operaters.
    Thanx for your help!

    Paul

  2. #2
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    That's a great idea, actually, I was thinking about a way to do that too...Too bad the GSM PC cards are so damn expensive here in the US

  3. #3
    See me in my wet t-shirt. stevieg's Avatar
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    I'm half way through writing some software to do a similar job - report the position to a web page using the internet. This mean that a code needs to be entered, and if the car moves within a certain distance, say 50 feet, it will dial up, and start uploading coords. A web application will process this data and display it on the map.

    The basic web page part is working, and the tacking software is working in alpha form, I will release in a few weeks.

    By the way I use GPRS with my mobile phone, is faster and cheap (in the UK)
    Ford Focus MP3 : www.stevieg.org/carpc Blog Updated 29 January 2009!
    Car PC Status: Complete - Undergoing Software Redevelopment

  4. #4
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    Here is a somewhat connected idea, but not really an answer to your question, but yet still a possible source of info...

    ADT here in the US has started advertising a Car based ADT security system. It is the size of a pack of cards (well maybe a little bigger) and plugs into the cig lighter. It is basically like OnStar from what the commerical shows. But what I thought was cool, is it claims you can "track the location of your car from the internet"....

    Now I figure ADT is running some kind of service to obtain this location info and feed it up to a website.... but the concept is basically what you are wanting to do....

    Here's a link to it.... ADT Mobile

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by stevieg
    I'm half way through writing some software to do a similar job - report the position to a web page using the internet. This mean that a code needs to be entered, and if the car moves within a certain distance, say 50 feet, it will dial up, and start uploading coords. A web application will process this data and display it on the map.
    Heheh - I'm about a third of the way through the one I'm writing too, although I've gone the other way. I've got my api written to talk to the gps, and now I'm starting on the car-side database to start storing tracking points. After that I'll write the webservice to actually track the car.

    My goal is to have the car update its position in its own database. If it's connected to the internet, the posiitional data will be sent via a webservice in realtime. If it's not, the next time it's connected, it will update the remote database with everything it has added since the two computers talked. That way I'll have positional history available online too. What are you using to generate your maps? Something web-based like streetmap.co.uk or something on your own server like mappoint? I haven't quite decided yet, but figured I would get the map on the server and then draw my own image overlays for the webpage viewers. It's a fun excuse to learn lots of different technologies...

    - Taytay--

  6. #6
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    Good work guys...keep us informed, hopefuly we get to test it out soon

  7. #7
    See me in my wet t-shirt. stevieg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Taytay
    Heheh - I'm about a third of the way through the one I'm writing too, although I've gone the other way. I've got my api written to talk to the gps, and now I'm starting on the car-side database to start storing tracking points. After that I'll write the webservice to actually track the car.

    My goal is to have the car update its position in its own database. If it's connected to the internet, the posiitional data will be sent via a webservice in realtime. If it's not, the next time it's connected, it will update the remote database with everything it has added since the two computers talked. That way I'll have positional history available online too. What are you using to generate your maps? Something web-based like streetmap.co.uk or something on your own server like mappoint? I haven't quite decided yet, but figured I would get the map on the server and then draw my own image overlays for the webpage viewers. It's a fun excuse to learn lots of different technologies...

    - Taytay--
    I have looked at streetmap.co.uk, that was easy to make show the maps using a get query for lat/lon - but it wasn't aslways reliable (sometimes their CGI bombs out) and of course you can't show tracks etc.

    I was looking at probably writing a mappoint app that runs as a service, on my server writing a GIF every 30 seconds or showing the location. The app I'm using on the car pc calls a http get (using MS internet controls 6.0) with the lat/long in the query string, with the PHP page at the other end returning simply plaintext 'OK' if the data was successfully input to the DB (mysql)

    Sounds like a good idea to allow it to upload complete tracks - it would be easy to (based on the GPS time) to automatically seperate 'journeys' - and if you input your starting mileage perhaps it could email you as time goes on to tell you to get the car serviced
    Ford Focus MP3 : www.stevieg.org/carpc Blog Updated 29 January 2009!
    Car PC Status: Complete - Undergoing Software Redevelopment

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by stevieg
    I was looking at probably writing a mappoint app that runs as a service, on my server writing a GIF every 30 seconds or showing the location. The app I'm using on the car pc calls a http get (using MS internet controls 6.0) with the lat/long in the query string, with the PHP page at the other end returning simply plaintext 'OK' if the data was successfully input to the DB (mysql)
    I was looking at writing a Mappoint app too...I agree with you about separating the journeys out not being too tough. You could even pre-render a journey as a collection of maps with the icon moving across and then turn that into a Flash app or some such.

    The http get is a nice way to do it as well since bandwidth is a premium. I liked the idea of being able to code a nice little app that consumed the web service though because consuming web services are so nice in .NET. (Standard disclaimer: I'm an MS employee, so I'm drinking the Kool-aid...) I figured if I ever started adding more to my server-side API (the ability for multiple people to send in journeys, a messaging system, etc.), that I would want the flexibility that a web-service offered. Another advantage is that you could send rather large blocks of information in a single call to take advantage of the fact that your ping is limiting but the throughput is decent. In other words, I wonder if you'd run into issues trying to send a single position every second (send and wait for the response) as opposed to sending your last 5 positions every 5 seconds.

    My dream would be to have multiple folks be able to upload their positional data in real-time and let their friends track them (if they're crazy like me), send messages to their cars, etc.

    How much of your backend is done?

  9. #9
    Mac Car Moderator kandyman676's Avatar
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    i would also be interested in testing this project. :-) have both GPS and a bluetooth phone with a data plan.

    i am agreeing with sending GPS coordinators to a database. why don't you just make the database generate a flatfile for MapPoint to parse.

    i am looking more at this project for the security of my car...and finding where it is for the police to bust the bad guy.
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  10. #10
    See me in my wet t-shirt. stevieg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Taytay
    I was looking at writing a Mappoint app too...I agree with you about separating the journeys out not being too tough. You could even pre-render a journey as a collection of maps with the icon moving across and then turn that into a Flash app or some such.

    The http get is a nice way to do it as well since bandwidth is a premium. I liked the idea of being able to code a nice little app that consumed the web service though because consuming web services are so nice in .NET. (Standard disclaimer: I'm an MS employee, so I'm drinking the Kool-aid...) I figured if I ever started adding more to my server-side API (the ability for multiple people to send in journeys, a messaging system, etc.), that I would want the flexibility that a web-service offered. Another advantage is that you could send rather large blocks of information in a single call to take advantage of the fact that your ping is limiting but the throughput is decent. In other words, I wonder if you'd run into issues trying to send a single position every second (send and wait for the response) as opposed to sending your last 5 positions every 5 seconds.

    My dream would be to have multiple folks be able to upload their positional data in real-time and let their friends track them (if they're crazy like me), send messages to their cars, etc.
    Looks like we're thinking along the same lines but different methods- I was thinking more along the lines of a MapPoint app generating a map gif per previous journeys that then writes to the server, and for the tracking app, the application monitors a database table and when there is a new record adds a pushpin, centres to it and then saves it as a gif. (Using CopyMap to clipboard, then save the clipboard as BMP, then use an OCX to convert BMP to GIF - VB app).

    With the latency problem of mobiles, I was thinking more along the lines of every 15 seconds rather than every seconds.

    I've also thought about the map showing friends locations - though don't know enough ppl who live near enough to make it worthwhile!

    Only problem with mappoint license is (as you probably know being an MS employee) that there needs to be a latency of a min 15 seconds, and the buddy list might class it as a fleet application!! Stupid really, isn't it!

    Quote Originally Posted by Taytay
    How much of your backend is done?
    Bits and bobs, intermingled with other things I'm playing around with. I've wrote a little program that can take locations, plot them, and save them as a GIF to a web server automatically, and web scripts to allow the data to come in from the client.
    Ford Focus MP3 : www.stevieg.org/carpc Blog Updated 29 January 2009!
    Car PC Status: Complete - Undergoing Software Redevelopment

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