Build Your Own GPS Car-Tracking System

Build Your Own GPS Car-Tracking System

We can use GPS in our phones to track them if they’re ever lost or stolen, why not do the same with your car? This DIY solution uses an Arduino Uno, a GPS module and a GSM shield to send you text messages and updates as the car is on the move.

Instructables user Javis Vineer Gonsalves wanted a way to tell authorities exactly where his car was if it was ever stolen, so he put this system together. All told, it’s not terribly difficult to do, especially if you have a little experience with electronics projects. When you’re finished, you’ll have a low-cost GPS tracking system that doesn’t require a pricey subscription to a third-party tracking or security service. It also has the benefit of being able to show you where you parked, if you ever forget, without having to set up an app or install anything special.

Of course, you could also hard-wire a phone to a car charger and use it to do something very similar, essentially making the phone the locator, but this is a bit less pricey than potentially throwing away a good mobile phone, and it’s much more power efficient. Another perk with this method — while it’s designed for a car, it’s easily adapted to anything else you might want to track. Hit the link below for the full walkthrough and step-by-step build, along with the code required to get it all working.

Athena: The Global Car Tracking System [Instructables]


  • “Of course, you could also hard-wire a phone to a car charger and use it to do something very similar”

    Yes. This. Get a $30 prepaid phone and a charger cable and use on of the plethora of location-finding services. (One of the “lost my phone” apps would be ideal, as they only send data when asked to…)

    Then use the Arduino to do something more interesting!

      • Check out Woolies and Coles for deals on small Android phones. I have a couple that I use for non phone purposes, cheap Wi-Fi security camera and trip logging while kayaking.
        (Actually,I got mine for $25, but that was a better deal than usual! )

          • There’s a couple of items here on Lifehacker on this very topic. I use a motion-sensing app on the phone to take photos and a folder-sharing app to copy them onto a server on our network.
            Works as well as a dedicated security cam, with much higher resolution (2MP vs VGA) than the cheaper ones. No pan or tilt or built-in IR lighting, though, of course.

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