GROUND Lab Tracking Platform and Tools

Overview

What Is It?

The Ground Lab Tracking platform is a suite of tools which allow you to install a tracking system that records and displays real time GPS tracking and location data on your personal server/website.

The system is being developed to provide a Open Source resource for learning, implementing and further developing tracking tools and techniques. If you use these tools you are highly encouraged to share back with us the advancements and insights you made using the tools. This is a open project and the tools, code, schematics and knowledge are made fully available for any use, but if you do implement these tools you must adhere to the IP rights which keep this a open project.

1. All derived code or hardware schematics must be made publicly available 
and linked to this WIKI (here).

2. Any use of the tools, code or schematic in a project or product must 
give visible credit to the project EG "Powered by the Open Tracking Project".

How Does It Work

The system works by linking GPS satellite hardware to the local cell network, which allows the transfer of data to a server side database and visualization application. In this way GPS data can be stored and displayed in real time on your local website.

The basic system flow is diagrammed below.

The first step consists of taking a GPS reading using the small battery powered Tracking device, the device then sends the GPS data over the cell network using a text message or data transfer. The cell network is any basic cell provider that offers text messaging plans or data plans (E.G: ATT/T-Mobile, Verizon and well I guess thats it for Free market America, but in Africa or Europe there are a bunch of providers.). Once on the network you either pay for a gatway service if you are using a text message or if using data your provider will directly transfer your data onto the interweb. Once there it pings the php script on your server and transfers the GPS data into your mysql database, where it can be retrieved by your HTML map page which displays the GPS data on a map.

System Flow (1.Tracking device→ 2.Cell network (Tmobile etc..)→ 3. Your website/server)

1.trackerboardss.jpg—> 2.simss.jpg —>3.

The main components needed are:

1. A GPS unit paired with a GSM(cell phone) module 
   to gather GPS and send it to the network.
   
2. A cell phone carrier plan, this can be a basic text 
   message plan or a data plan depending on how you want 
   to transfer data on the network.
   
3. A server/website where you can install a mySql database,
   php and javascript files to receive the gps data and 
   visualize it.     

What network to use

First thing to decide is what plan/method of data transfer you want the Tracker to use. The Tracking device can transfer the GPS data to the web by either sending a text message or implementing a data link.There are upsides and down sides of both methods,

Text messaging -> More robust and wider support, but needs a SMS 
                  Gateway provider to transfer to your website.
                  
Data Plan      -> Requires better reception and can be more
                  expensive with less network support, but does
                  not need a Gateway Provider. 
                  

Either way you need to get a service plan and a sim card from the provider in your area, if you plan on using a Gateway provider here is a good service:

The tracker

The Tracker is the first part of the system. It is comprised of a combined GPS GSM/GPRS module, antenna, Lith Ion battery and a FTDI chip for USB connectivity in programing and settings manipulation.

As you can see in the picture it has a sim card holder where you insert the sim provided by your carrier and a usb mini plug which you can use to communicate through USB using a terminal application on your PC.

More Technical information can be found >HERE<

The database

The visualization

Setting Up the database

Installing Tracking files on Server

Initializing the tracking device

Hardware

Network settings

Set Tracking timing

Running the system

Navigation
Print/export
Toolbox