Buying really small GPS and GSM components


I'd like to build a GPS / GSM tracking device for small birds and animals.

Anyone know where I can get really small GPS units and GSM modems from? I've seen a pigeon tracker for sale that's advertised at 12 grams and looks about 40 * 15 * 8mm (including battery and antenna). But most of the individual components available to me from the usual retail places (sparkfun, proto-pic etc). come in bigger and heavier than that even before they get connected to anything! For example the SM5100B GSM module is about 40mm square and weighs 9 grams without antenna, battery, or SIM card. Similarly the smallest GPS module (that includes antenna) is the LS20031 and that's 30mm square and 5mm thick. (there are smaller GPS receivers, but they all require external antennas that weigh even more!)

As I type I have a dismantled Huawei USB broadband stick on my desk next to me, I can see the GSM bit and it measures about 14mm by 11mm and is less than 1.5mm thick, so the components obviously exist, but where can I buy them from?

Any ideas?


As the old Arlo song goes, "You can get anything you want at Alice's restaurant..." but in the case of embedded devices, you are probably better off with Alibaba who front-ends a zillion Chinese companies. The downside is sales are volume, large volume. If you need one, you may try to secure a sample - I am hopeful your Chinese is better than mine :fearful:

Personally, I would buy an old cellphone from eBay with GPS and attempt to remove same. Getting the module to work outside the cellphone maybe a real problem (challenge.)

Are you really serious about this? Be cautious, there are lots of bird lovers and SPCA members that would just love to turn you in for cruelty.


You could get this 35-gram unit and remove the plastic case:

This unit looks pretty small and can be bought on eBay for about $17:

I suspect it will depend how many million you want to buy. Being an obscure part there would be little incentive for retailers to stock it so you'd be looking for somebody reselling them commercially, and that implies large volumes.

I guess price is why you don't want to buy the pigeon tracker but if that's your only incentive you need to think how much time and effort you're willing to trade off making your own equivalent.

why you don't want to buy the pigeon tracker

Because it's more fun to make than buy, also I don't want to be tied into an expensive subscription!

bird lovers and SPCA members that would just love to turn you in for cruelty.

Lots of conservation groups already do their own tracking, so I don't really think they've any right to complain (unless I try strapping a 100 gram tracker to a 25 gram sparrow!)

Alibaba who front-ends a zillion Chinese companies

I've often seen interesting stuff on Alibaba, but I've always been concerned I might find myself dealing with one of the forty thieves instead! (Didn't they know the story when they picked the name for the website????)