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  1. #1
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    Theft recovery device

    I'm a full time bicycle commuter who's invested quite a bit of money/time into my steed. I live in a good area with a low crime rate, however the fear of having my bike stolen and the cost to replace it has lead me to consider how to recover a stolen bicycle. Being a bit of a geek and tinkerer I think I've come up with a solution!
    In the coming weeks I'll be order the parts necessary to build a GPS tracking system for my bike based on the Arduino programmable IC/rapid prototyping platform. The project will use the Arduino ATmega base controller (http://www.arduino.cc) and the GM862-GPS GSM/GPRS module with onboard GPS (http://www.telit.com/en/products/gsm...&p_ac=show&p=7) The idea is to install this device in a somewhat concealed location on the bike (seat tube with the antennas mounted on the underside of the saddle?) The device will be powered using a LiIon battery but in the future I'll be adding a dynamo front hub, whenever the bike rolls it'll charge the devices battery. Once installed the device will stay in standby mode until an SMS is received with the location request command. At which time the GM862 will acquire its location and send a response SMS with the bikes current location (in the form of a Google Maps link). Also thinking about adding a buzzer/speaker than can be activated by sending an SMS command, so once I'm near it i can activate an alarm that can be heard. This device also will come in handy on my longer tours being able to update my location online for friends/family to track my progress. Perhaps integrating a panic button that will send an SMS to an emergency contact with my current location so they can alert the local authorities. Does anyone know of a pre-paid SIM that offers SMS only or unlimited data? (GM862 has GPRS and tcp/ip builtin, so i could just have it send formated data to a webserver in realtime).

    Once i get the parts in i'll be blogging my way through the development and building process. I'll come back here and post a link.

  2. #2
    Formerly Known as Newbie Juha's Avatar
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    Interesting concept. Regarding service providers, it might help if you gave your approximate location. You may have considered these already, but a couple of comments anyway:

    - GPS needs a line of sight to satellites in order to get a fix. I've got a small HRM computer with separate GPS receiver, and the thing has difficulties working from my bike shorts pocket (jersey back pocket, no problem). I'm sure you could do better with a dedicated antenna underneath the saddle. But if the thieves, may their armpits be infested by a swarm of locusts, get your bike somewhere inside, the GPS receiver would probably not work.
    - both cell phone and GPS modules are power hungry. Make sure your battery is up to the task.

    Please keep us posted!

    --J
    Last edited by Juha; 06-07-10 at 12:47 PM.
    To err is human. To moo is bovine.

    Who is this General Failure anyway, and why is he reading my drive?


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  3. #3
    Seņior Member ItsJustMe's Avatar
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    Or you could just buy this.
    http://www.zoombak.com/
    Work: the 8 hours that separates bike rides.

  4. #4
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    Read this:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Automat...porting_System
    Then go pass the test for a Tech class amateur radio license.


    Then buy something like this:

    http://www.byonics.com/microtrak/mt300.php (or the more powerful) http://www.byonics.com/microtrak/mt8000.php

    plus this:

    http://www.sparkfun.com/commerce/pro...oducts_id=8936

    And then just figure out a way to stuff the whole thing with a battery inside your seat post.
    2010 Allez Sport Compact

  5. #5
    Jumbalaya
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    Hi,

    The thousands of Bixi bikes in Montreal have GPS tracking. I think they are built into the frame. http://montreal.bixi.com/rolling-wit.../the-bixi-bike

    Anyway you might want to research their system...

  6. #6
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    Very interesting! I've had similar thoughts myself (insertion of a GPS device) but never had the capacity to actually design such a thing. Indeed, it may at times be out of reception, but they've gotta come out someday! I look forward to your progress!

  7. #7
    Senior Member xizangstan's Avatar
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    I have a GT Xizang (titanium) mountain bike that I bought new back in 1995. She's insured. But instead of the insurance money, I would much rather have my lovely Xizang. I've gotten sentimental and very attached to her. I'm now paranoid about the chance of losing her. So, I've been thinking for a long while about what you geeks need to invent.

    I think that whoever invents a reliable SYSTEM, that can easily be installed - carbon seatpost or carbon handlebars? - with the circuits inside, and a sleek solar panel exposed to keep a li-ion battery charged - can become very rich. The consumer isn't into wiring, drilling, inserting, gluing, etc. But we do like to buy upgrades and install them!

    Just package the chip/battery/solar cells in a functional bar or post. And become wealthy...
    Who is John Galt?

  8. #8
    Senior Member chasmm's Avatar
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    I think this is an excellent idea, and I look forward to hearing about your progress. One thing I'll mention, and it occurred to me right away, is that often bikes are stolen, then sold piecemeal. Having something linked to the saddle would become obvious right away since that is often one of the things easiest to remove. You might want to try to incorporate the antenna wire into something that already is there such as the brake/derailleur housing, or if you have wiring for lights, into that.

    Just my .02....please keep us posted.

    Charles

  9. #9
    You Know!? For Kids! jsharr's Avatar
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    Devil's advocate here, but as soon as word gets out among the thieving commmunity that there are parts with solar cells in the seat or stem, then the thieves will either immediately remove those parts or disable the device. I would make an effort to really conceal the solar cell, which might make charging hard, or give the buyer the option to get solar, battery powered or even dynamo hub powered. I know that Trek has begun to build a pocket into the forks in which to place sensors for computer systems. Might be able to work with the factories to have a compartment for the theft tracker built into every bike, either in the fork blade, fork steerer, etc.
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    Quote Originally Posted by colorider View Post
    Phobias are for irrational fears. Fear of junk ripping badgers is perfectly rational. Those things are nasty.

  10. #10
    Grillparzer Grillparzer's Avatar
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    An after market GPS placed in a tough metal cylinder and bolted on to the top tube or seat tube would be a bit more practiical then asking bicycle manufactures to redesign their bicycles. Having it plainly visible would also serve as a theft deterrent, similar to the flashing light displayed by auto alarms. There are plenty of difficult to get off to nearly impossible to get off types of fasteners available for connecting such an item to a bicycle. The GPS doesn't have to be permanently attached, it just has to stay with the bike long enough for a recovery by the owner or the police. I really like the buzzer idea, that might be more useful then the GPS unit itself. Something else to consider would be an alarm like this one: http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.23633 The dynamo hub idea is also good, I wonder if an antenna could be built in to the outer shell of the hub?
    People are broad-minded. They'll accept the fact that a person can be an alcoholic, a dope fiend, a wife beater and even a newspaperman, but if a man doesn't drive, there's something wrong with him.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Skyler_WA's Avatar
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    You should check out Precious, The Tweeting Bike at http://www.yesiamprecious.com/. It's not exactly what you're trying to do, but some of the concepts are similar (automatic broadcast of GPS location).

    Also, be sure to view this recent video blog which explains more about how it works: http://nodirectionknown.com/blog/?p=1335
    Bikes: Surly Long Haul Trucker, Rodriguez Classic Tandem. . . . My First Tour: Circling The Olympic Peninsula (2nd, 3rd, and 4th Tours still need to be published)

  12. #12
    Senior Member 009jim's Avatar
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    Could you add a small deposit of plastic explosive into the device that would allow for remote detonation whilst the thief is riding away? The explosive should be hidden under the front part of the saddle.

  13. #13
    Senior Member coldfeet's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by noisebox View Post
    I'm a full time bicycle commuter who's invested quite a bit of money/time into my steed. I live in a good area with a low crime rate, however the fear of having my bike stolen and the cost to replace it has lead me to consider how to recover a stolen bicycle. Being a bit of a geek and tinkerer I think I've come up with a solution!
    In the coming weeks I'll be order the parts necessary to build a GPS tracking system for my bike based on the Arduino programmable IC/rapid prototyping platform. The project will use the Arduino ATmega base controller (http://www.arduino.cc) and the GM862-GPS GSM/GPRS module with onboard GPS (http://www.telit.com/en/products/gsm...&p_ac=show&p=7) The idea is to install this device in a somewhat concealed location on the bike (seat tube with the antennas mounted on the underside of the saddle?) The device will be powered using a LiIon battery but in the future I'll be adding a dynamo front hub, whenever the bike rolls it'll charge the devices battery. Once installed the device will stay in standby mode until an SMS is received with the location request command. At which time the GM862 will acquire its location and send a response SMS with the bikes current location (in the form of a Google Maps link). Also thinking about adding a buzzer/speaker than can be activated by sending an SMS command, so once I'm near it i can activate an alarm that can be heard. This device also will come in handy on my longer tours being able to update my location online for friends/family to track my progress. Perhaps integrating a panic button that will send an SMS to an emergency contact with my current location so they can alert the local authorities. Does anyone know of a pre-paid SIM that offers SMS only or unlimited data? (GM862 has GPRS and tcp/ip builtin, so i could just have it send formated data to a webserver in realtime).

    Once i get the parts in i'll be blogging my way through the development and building process. I'll come back here and post a link.
    I had thought of using that exact chip, though i hadn't seen that development kit before. I look forward to you reports. The Zoomback is nice, but you are locked to their system, at $13/ month. With an independant system, like the OP posted, the ongoing cost is limited to how much your PayAsYouGo provider charges. I would recommend 7-11 talkback, they last for a year without needing top-ups.

  14. #14
    Senior Member bktourer1's Avatar
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    As soon as he was "blown away" a family member would sue for violating his rights.

  15. #15
    Senior Member xizangstan's Avatar
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    As ranchers in rural Colorado and Wyoming say, "I have a *** and I have a shovel. And no one's gonna miss you"
    Who is John Galt?

  16. #16
    Senior Member Ira B's Avatar
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    I suggested this in another thread.

    Get one of the smaller sized, hand held Tazars and reconfigure the case to fit up out of sight under the saddle
    Rig it with a pressure switch with a 15 second time delay under the saddle and the output contacts concealed on the front and rear human butt contact areas of the saddle.
    When the device is activated by a bike thief's weight for 15 seconds a substantial, but non lethal jolt of 20,000 to 40,000 volts will course through his most cherished parts.
    This will serve the dual purposes of being a stole bike location device (the screaming) as well a bicycle thief identifier (the guy with the wet and soiled pants)
    Yep, THAT Ira

  17. #17
    Senior Member Ira B's Avatar
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    Guess my "shocking" suggestion was a thread killer.
    Yep, THAT Ira

  18. #18
    My name is Alex Lilcphoto's Avatar
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    After reading this thread, I had an idea. Instead of making a GPS tracker for your bike, the whole thing being theft deterrent... Why not make some sort of Hub or Brake or Roller that would make a very audible noise when ridden, and could only be disengaged by a specific key. That way, at least if they are riding the bike, other people would be alerted that its stolen. Just a thought...

  19. #19
    Fredly
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    I've considered this problem you're talking about here before and I don't think the seat tube is the right place for it. I think ideally you'd want to have it in the stem with the antenna wrapped around the handle bars before the handle bar tape was applied over it. The reason for wanting it in the stem is that you can easily have a carbon fiber stem without worrying overmuch about the stem breaking due to the weight of a clydesdale whereas a carbon seat tube may end up giving way.

    I've even talked to some guys that have a business doing ankle bracelets for GPS tracking of criminals and they definitely think it's possible but they aren't sure there's a big enough market for it.

    The other problem is monitoring. $10/mo adds up over a year to make it not so worth it. There are some very small gps trackers out there where you only pay when you activate the tracking feature. I don't think they're small enough for a stem but that's getting better.

    I have some other ideas about how to do this. Send me a PM and let's talk about it. I'm in EXACTLY the same boat you're in. I even had someone try to steal my commuter last week but apparently they're not hip on locking techniques and couldn't tell that my bike really was locked up extremely well before they started. (I'm now bringing my bike inside the office every day...)

    Finally, if someone were to take a motor like the one people say was used recently to cheat, then you could very well turn that into a generator to drive onboard electronics. It would be an awfully slick way of doing it. If you make the generator extremely difficult to turn, it would significantly increase the difficulty of someone riding off on your bike. Either that or just put in a servo controlled actuator that blocks the cranks from turning.

  20. #20
    Fredly
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    I'm apparently not allowed to send PM's yet so I'll post my PM here:


    Do you want some help on your anti-theft project?

    We have a lot of the same ideas and I have some experience that may help get it done.

    The biggest problem seems to be what to do with the 1.7"x1.7" gps module. It wont fit in a lot of the tubes and if you put it under the seat then thieves may know to drop the seat and take the rest. For that reason it really needs to be in something that thieves have to leave on the bike if they want to ride it away.

  21. #21
    Senior Member xizangstan's Avatar
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    Whatever you guys come up with, you can count on me as your first customer.

    I honestly think it could be a very desirable option for bike shops and bike manufacturers to include on their top-end road and mountain bikes. Just consider that lots of us have bikes that are worth more than our cars.

    With me, it's not just the financial value of my bike. I've had mine for over 15 years, and she's been with me through a couple marriages and gone lots of places. She's more a companion than an assembly of metal, carbon and leather. I have strong emotional attachments for her.
    Who is John Galt?

  22. #22
    Fredly
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    http://www.chinavasion.com/product_i...e-wrist-watch/

    I just found this and I'll have to see about buying it to try out.

  23. #23
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    On the note of powering/ hiding the device why not really utilize the bottom bracket? You could insert the device into the downtube (glue, tape, etc) and attach it to a micro generator in the bottom bracket. It would be totally concealed with only the need of an antenna that could also possible by bottom bracket integrated. Might require the development of a special bottom bracket with an integrated mini generator but it would certainly make the device easily concealable and capable of generating power. Another option would be to somehow attach a small magnet onto the BB axel and have a small inductance generator mounted inside the bottom tube as well. They you could in theory still use the same BB but it would still generate power.

    just my $.02 though.

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