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Electrical guides and mods

DIY Car Tracker

It's a harsh reality but it's possible, cars are stolen every day for joyriding, to be stripped and sold as parts or to be used in criminal activities. It would be nice to be able to track your car if it disappeared.

Modification Details

So far with the smart it is usually to be stripped down and sold.
This is due to the smart immobiliser making it very hard to start and joyriders
usually choose easy to steal/fast cars.

Smarts Being Stolen For Parts! Bad News Right?

Actually no, not as bad as the other 2 options and it gives us the edge over the criminals.
If a joyrider takes your car there is a good chance it will be thrashed, crashed and burnt.
If it is stolen for a getaway car etc, it will disappear only to to be used and burnt.

If it is stolen for parts you have a big advantage, TIME.
No matter how good they are, it takes time to strip bits from a car. The likelihood
is the car is dragged away to a garage, stripped down and the body dumped.

Obviously finding a stolen car hidden in a garage isn't going to be easy unless
you have help, this is where a tracking device comes into play.

But It's Only A Smart Car And Trackers Are Expensive

Correct, you also have to pay a yearly fee for tracking
and rely on the police to bother to locate your car.
It's a little known fact that the police rarely have more than one tracker locater per area.
What will happen if they find your car? The thief will get a slap on the wrist and be let free.

Any Alternatives?

Of course, let's make our own shall we?
The project will cost very little, you may have everything you need already.
A few hours mucking about and will cost NOTHING a year to run.
There are a few fun extras that you can add if you wish.

As with all technology, things move on so I have updated the page.

The 2013 Idea

Apple has just released the iPhone 5S, that means there are 7 generations of iPhone to play with.
Chances are you already have a spare iPhone laying about (unless you are poor or a low IQ Android fan).

In June 2010, Apple released a piece of free tracking software called "Find My iPhone" which would track
the position of a registered and correctly setup iOS device. Tracking is free and the results are displayed
directly on Apple maps or Google maps (if you haven't updated the iOS) on another iOS device.

Location pin pointing is very accurate and seems to be down to about 5 metres.
Selecting "Lost Mode" will also track the phone's movement and show you where it has been over 24 hours.

Take your old iPhone, set up the "find my iPhone" settings, put the phone on silent and turn off vibrations.
You'll need to hide the iPhone in the car along with an iPhone car charger. Attach it to a switched power supply
and you are ready to go. An iPhone on stand-by should be good for more than 5 days so you have plenty of time
to track your car if it goes missing. The app is free from the iTunes store and it costs nothing to track.

Even if the iPhone is on silent it can still make a noise if you select "play sound" in the app.
This is handy if your search leads you to a block of garages. Play a sound and listen to the garage doors.
It should be fairly easy to work out which garage it is hiding inside.

Bust the garage door open and drive your car away or call the cops and let them know.
(or stalk the garage until someone turns up and dish out some payback).

The 2005 Idea

First off you need an old mobile phone, oldish Nokias are best,
you most likely have a spare somewhere.
You also need a charger cable that goes into a cigarette lighter
socket and a pay as you go sim card.

The first thing you need to do is register the spare mobile to a tracking service,
these were set up so parents can easily trace the whereabouts of their children
at all times without bothering them.

There are lot of these sites, just do a search for 'mobile phone tracking'

Each service will offer something different, tariffs, track cost, accuracy etc so it's worth trawling through some and comparing the services like for like.
Once the mobile phone is registered it can be tracked online for a small fee.

All we need to do now is to conceal it in the car, don't just stick it in the drawer.
think carefully about your options, there is plenty of room behind the dash for a start.

This is the only technical part, you either have to extend the back of the
lighter socket or cut the lighter plug off the charger and wire it to a switched
power supply (stereo, cigarette lighter socket etc).
What ever way you do it you have to have power to the phone for obvious reasons.

Even if the battery is disconnected straight after the car is stolen you
still have about 5 days on the phone's internal battery to locate the car.

Is That All?

Depends if you want to go the whole hog, you can have some fun if you are inventive.

On your phone options you should have something like 'auto answer'.
If you select this you can call your phone and it will answer without ringing.
You will then be able to hear the person in your car.

If you install a hands free car kit you can even talk to them,
imagine how freaked out they'd be to hear the car talking to them.

If you have a phone that does polyphonic ring tones you could put
police sirens on as a ring tone to try and persuade them to stop.

One other possibility is to wire the petrol pump to a normally open relay and have it so the pump turns off
when the phone rings. This is only any good if the car is being driven though, it's unlikely unless your keys
were stolen or you were carjacked. (probably not much fun if you get a wrong number though).

Now It's Up To You

If you have any additions to the ideas or comments then let me
know and I'll add the good ones.

Better Late Than Never

The site "Gizmodo" have just run an article about this. 4+ years later than here
but it's good to get another perspective on the same thing. 

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