How to install a GSM/GPS Tracking Module for your car yourself

If you’re ready to put a tracker in your vehicle but maybe you do not have the $20K+ to fork out initially, or do not want to add a new bill for yourself to pay each month; then you have come to the right place. This post will show you how to install the device yourself professionally.

The device we will use is the TK103A/B GSM/GPS Tracker. Accessories included in the box:

  • GPS Antennae
  • GPRS/GSM Antennae
  • 12V/40A Automotive Relay
  • Remote Controller
  • Cable Harness
  • Microphone
  • Manual

 

Other materials/tools used:

  • 5-20Ft 18AWG 2 core cable
  • Electrical Tape
  • Cable ties
  • Socket Wrench
  • Wire stripper
  • DC Voltage Circuit Tester
  • Digital Multimeter
  • GSM SIM Card

 

Step 1: Buy a SIM card

sim-cards-banner-image.png

Buying a SIM card (uncut) for this device is the first step because after the device is installed in the car, it’s not so easily accessible. Also, if using Digicel its important to set up the SIM with the MyDigicel App; and if using Flow install the My Flow Self Care App. This is to enable you to monitor the SIM balance as well as top up when necessary.

 

Step 2: Choose a hidden location for the device

Location is everything. If a criminal can find your tracker in your car easily and remove it, all the features of this device will all be for naught. Most automotive electronics are installed within the dashboard area of the vehicle. However criminals also know this because it is common practice and will be the first place they will look. Ideally you want to find a place that is hard to access, unconventional, and is near a 12V supply you can tap off and ground (metal chassis).

Cars typically have two 12v supplies:

  1. Permanently ON
  2. Accessory only (ACC) – ON with Ignition switch

If you want your device powered when the vehicle is off you can tap from a permanent 12V supply (recommended).

However if you are concerned about the current draw on the car’s battery (especially if the car is inactive for long periods), you could either install a switch in series or connect power to ACC 12V (Turns off when ignition key out).

The current draw is relatively low, from my measurements, the current draw is roughly 60mA. If you use your car everyday this shouldn’t be a big concern since the alternator will recharge the car battery.

You could also run a circuit from the car’s fuse box, but the last thing you want is to have a long wire between your device and car’s fuse box revealing the tracker’s location.

 

Step 3: Installation and Setup

TK103 wiring diagram
Car GPS Tracker – TK103 wiring diagram

 

The above shows the wiring diagram for the device. For simplicity I will only be using the device for tracking and remote engine shutoff (immobilizer). So the only cables I’m interested in are the red (12V), black (ground), and yellow (to relay). This post will focus primarily on set up of the location monitoring. The other features I will not use because I don’t need them and it will force me to install at the dashboard.

For first time setup, insert the SIM card, using something fine to insert into the SIM card popup switch.

tk103 front 1

 

Connect the positive (red) and negative (black) to your vehicle’s 12v and ground respectively and wait 1 minute before turning on the backup battery switch.

tk103 front 2

Note the indicator light colours

GSM/GPS LED Indicator

  • Red LED indicator ON: No GSM network signals.
  • Red LED indicator flashes fast (one time each second): GSM Network
    signal is normally, and tracker works under GSM mode.
  • Red LED indicator flashes slowly (one time each three second): Tracker
    works under GPRS mode.
  • Green LED indicator on: GPS signal is normal.
  • Green LED indicator off: No GPS signals.

Note that if the GPS and GSM antennas ideally require line-of-sight with the sky to operate. It can still function concealed beneath thin materials (metal or plastic).

If your device is stuck on red after several minutes it may mean that the antennas are not getting a clear signal and may have to be relocated.

 

Step 4: Configuring device settings

To utilize the features of the tracker, commands are sent to it via SMS. The manual lists all the available commands but I’ll highlight some important ones.

Initialize:

Using your main cellphone, send SMS “begin+password” to the unit, it will reply “begin ok” and initialize all the settings to default factory settings.(default password: 123456)
For example: send SMS “begin123456”, it will reply “begin ok”. (No
quotation marks“” when sending all the SMS)

 

To Change Password:

Send SMS “ password+old password+space+new password” to the unit to change the password.
For example: send SMS “password123456 888888” to the unit. If succesful, “password ok” will reply to your cell phone from the device tracker.
Authorization:
Send SMS “admin+password+space+cell phone number”
to set up an authorized number, the other authorized numbers should be set
by the first authorized number, if the number is successfully authorized, the
unit will reply“ admin OK” by SMS.

 

To get location:

Dial the tracker device from the authorized number, it will hang up
your calling and respond to a real-time latitude and longitude information
as following:

Screenshot_20180222-215544

Now you can rest easy knowing you have a means to monitor the whereabouts of your vehicle anywhere.

Stay tuned for part 2 of this series where we install the immobilizer system and make it wireless.

-Dave 2018

 

 

Continue reading “How to install a GSM/GPS Tracking Module for your car yourself”

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How to track your car in Jamaica

For many people, their car is their second most valuable possession next to their homes. Whether you are the enthusiast who will spend several hundreds of thousands of dollars (JMD) into vehicle modifications, or the teenager who got their first car, or mom’s ‘grocery getter’, your vehicle is an expensive asset. As such protecting your asset from unscrupulous eyes is something all car owners have to consider.

Most cars now-a-days are designed with some amount of anti-theft systems stock, like automatic car locks, vibration/shock sensor alarm, and Transponder car key. However, thieves are very crafty and can overcome most of these systems car manufacturers put in place. Even third-party kill switch systems are not without its limitations. I recently spoke to a young lady who recalled a few years ago that while she was home, a criminal came into her yard and stole one of her relative’s vehicle without her knowing. Even though it was equipped with a shock sensor so sensitive that if you cough too hard it would set it off; she heard nothing at the time. Having a means to track your vehicle after the theft to report to the police would surely be the next step in reinforcing your security. Below I will discuss three ways you can monitor your car.

Electronic Security Companies

HawkeyeLogo

king alarm

At the time of writing, the two major electronic security companies in Jamaica who provide vehicle tracking and recovery services are King Alarm Systems and Hawkeye. Both companies install and offer live fleet management and vehicle tracking recovery services via app for android and IOS. Both King Alarm and Hawkeye charge a fee monthly for their service.

King Alarm uses the Fleet Mobi app which is free to download however a paid subscription to Fleetilla’s Vehicle Tracking Solutions is required which is done through King Alarm.

Hawkeye utilizes the app Syrus Mobile.

What makes this offer even better is that you can not only monitor your fleet, but also their security personnel are at your beck and call if you are ever in danger or if you are ever robbed.

On a side note it is advised to not paste the King Alarm or Hawkeye stickers on your vehicle because this will immediately tell criminals that there is a tracker installed and they will try to search the car for it before stealing.

The costs at the time of writing are summarized as follows:

King Alarm

Device+Installation: $15,000 + GCT  (Wireless panic button additional S4,200 incl. gct) one time cost

Monthly Fee (Billed Quarterly): $2,500+gct monthly ($7500+gct per quarter)

Hawkeye

Device+Installation: $24,000+gct one time fee

Monthly Fee: $2,750+gct

Pros

  • Live real-time fleet monitoring.
  • Vehicle recovery from armed security forces if stolen.
  • Other benefits such as a panic button, vehicle immobilizer, and discounts on most comprehensive vehicle insurance policies.

Cons

  • Relatively expensive monthly fee.

Amber connect

amberlogo_ora2x

According to their website “Amber Connect is a Kingston-based software company that specializes in the development of Internet of Things (IoT) applications.” Amber Connect’s SMART VEHICLE SECURITY product is claimed to be a user-friendly vehicle tracking system that’s the first in the industry to employ artificial intelligence. It provides real-time GPS location data, anti-theft alerts, and can remotely shut down the engine in case of unauthorized use. This PDF goes in-depth on the details of all their hardware features. Similar to King Alarm and Hawkeye, it operates through a device physically installed in your vehicle and is managed via app on Android and IOS. Vehicle recovery services are offered through a partnership with Quest.

The costs at the time of writing are summarized as follows:

Installation:

$3000+ GCT

Device Fee:

  • AMB 365 Device which cost $ 19,799.18 {includes GCT with the device installation cost}.
  • AMB 363 Device which cost $ 22,129.18 {includes GCT with the device installation cost}. Installation take 2-3 hours

Yearly Fee (No Monthly Fees):

  • AMB 365 Device =  $ US 85
  • AMB 363 Device = $ US 95

Panic and Vehicle Recovery (Optional):

  • Recovery Only {AMB 365 Devices}= $8,388.00 {includes GCT}
  • Panic with Recovery Only {AMB 363 Devices} = $13,980.00 {includes GCT}

Note: Prices depends on the ex-change rate within the next year when the device is due to be renewed.

If you call directly you may e able to get a discount.

The overall package is less expensive than the latter and the interface might be more appealing to persons.

Pros

  • Live real-time fleet monitoring of location, speed, and fuel consumed, with expense manager, trip history log, and the ability to schedule reminders.
  • Easy to use interface.
  • Cheaper rates than first party security companies.
  • Third party Vehicle Recovery offered

Cons

  • Relatively new service compared to traditional electronic first party security companies

GSM/GPS Tracking Modules

gps tracker

Another way you can monitor your vehicle is by buying a third-party GSM/GPS tracking module and having them installed or doing it yourself. Some of these modules, like the GPS Tracker 103B

offer a wide range of features that you would expect from a subscribed service. These include live location/speed/oil level/ fuel monitoring, trip history log, remote immobilizer, Geo fencing, panic button, and more. What is even better is that after the initial cost of buying the device and installation, the only other associated costs would be from the cellular network used since its GSM SIM card based. This device is managed via app on Android and IOS, and it can also be managed through SMS (if you don’t want to use mobile data). This makes it by far the most flexible and cheapest solution when considering installation and the total cost of ownership.

Pros

  • Live fleet monitoring of location/speed/oil level/ fuel monitoring, trip history log, remote immobilizer, Geo fencing, panic button, and more.
  • Custom installation.
  • Very inexpensive total cost of ownership.

Cons

  • Requires a more involved setup before it can be used.
  • Interface may not be the most attractive
  • No vehicle recovery service.

Conclusion

There may not be a ‘best’ monitoring solution since each has their pros and cons. It all depends on what you need most or what is best for you. If you are a business owner with a large fleet, or if you are the average working class citizen who just want a simple way to monitor your asset, or even if you are the type that likes to tinker and find the most economical solution there is and to fine tune it to your liking there is a solution for you here.

For whichever solution you choose bear in mind its effectiveness is limited by how well its installed. As stated before criminals are crafty and with enough time can deactivate almost any security measure put in. the key is to be ahead of the game in technology always.

In the next part I will explain how to install a GSM/GPS Tracking Module yourself.

Bonus Anti-theft System

stick shift

-Dave 2018

Continue reading “How to track your car in Jamaica”