GPS Tracked pet collar

Hello everybody ! I'm beginning on Arduino (actually, I've discovered it 2 years ago and abandonned it because I didn't have any cool project in mind), I have 2 Arduinos UNO and 1 mega. I'm not in electronics but I'm a system and web developer.

I will maybe have a baby cat next week, and as we sometimes go to the countryside, we're a little scarred of escapes. I know I can buy something on the market, but... I like DIY stuffs, I like coding, and I would like to build it myself. So, here is what I was thinking about: - Arduino micro or arduino nano or a smaller clone (actually, I only know arduino in the self-made C/C++ electronic world) - GPS/GSM module (like this one to only send position by SMS) or GPS/GPRS module (like this one to eventually send the position to a server) or even a GSM/GPRS module (telit modules are capable of giving an approximative location using the GSM cells), or why not, a GSM/GPRS AND a GPS modules separated. - Small LiPo battery capable of powering the system at least during 5 days without being charged, and if possible, at least 1 week if I design the system to use power only few times a day unless receiving a command by SMS for example. I think at least for the arduino to "know" the clock and power-on the modules when needed, it will be constantly draining power... Unless there is ideas. - Of course, the system MUST use the least energy possible (to have a longer battery-life), MUST be light (if the cat wants to remove it because it's 10Kg around his neck, it's becoming useless) and MUST NOT irradiate the animal (a cat can last ~15 years, I don't want to cause it cancer or whatever, if possible.) - I'm surfing on the level 0 concerning electronics and I can learn quickly. I know U=R.I, but I don't know how to use a capacitor for instance.

For the radiation, if it's not technically possible to avoir dangerous level of exposition, it will have its collar only when we're in the countryside for example, few days every 2 months.

If you have some ideas for me about the hardwares or the project, just tell me. If you explain me a little why you suggest me X or Y module or hardware, I will look for it to understand the use of a component. Thank you for your help.

= EDIT = I'm an open-source lover, everything will be open-source (Certainly Github/Max13), as soon as the project(s) is working and I figure out how to draw the connection between the components.

If you just want to get up & running quickly, I would suggest looking at this - http://dsscircuits.com/geogram-one.html

...but I don't know how to use a capacitor for instance.

Then, I would highly suggest getting something as pre-built as possible.

With the item above, your main concern would be finding a decent enclosure, and maybe tweaking the code to suit your needs.

1ChicagoDave: Then, I would highly suggest getting something as pre-built as possible.

Thank you for the link, but as I wrote, I think it's a good project which will help me learn more about electronics and I would like beginning to build it myself. No hurry. Besides, I talked about the Arduino Micro or Nano because a decent enclosure would be collar size ;)

Concerning the hardware, is it good choices and else? Is it technically possible to do it as I'm thinking doing it? Better component maybe ? Thank you anyway.

The GPS part is (relatively) easy. Check this out - http://learn.adafruit.com/gps-dog-collar

Your biggest problems will be the radio & power....and getting it down to size.

If you want something tiny, you'll be designing your own PCB to hold all the components. The first link I gave you is an open source project. He has the schematics & specs available. Maybe start by reverse-engineering what he did? Work on understanding how & why it works. Then, figure out how to make what you learned fit your needs.

What you're proposing is possible. People have done it. It's in no way an "easy" task, though. If you're set on doing it yourself, break it up into smaller, individual projects. Get them working by themselves. Then, combine them together into the final design.

I don't have familiarity with those specific components you listed.

1ChicagoDave: The GPS part is (relatively) easy. Check this out - http://learn.adafruit.com/gps-dog-collar

Good thank you. I know adafruit but I didn't have the idea to check the modules there (like the GPS one).

1ChicagoDave: Your biggest problems will be the radio & power....and getting it down to size.

If you want something tiny, you'll be designing your own PCB to hold all the components. The first link I gave you is an open source project. He has the schematics & specs available. Maybe start by reverse-engineering what he did? Work on understanding how & why it works. Then, figure out how to make what you learned fit your needs.

Actually, the idea I had was tiny component which I could mount in "line" to fit in a classic but thicker collar. Like "battery === PCB === GPS" for instance. Something I didn't know is that I can use any AVR PCB, I thought Arduino was the only easy C/C++ board, and the other would make me write ASM or another language.

I will break the project into individual project, but one of my questions is still unanswered: Which kind of GPS module? Is there a way to get a list of "location" by a satellite or a central website instead of getting location and having to send it? If not possible, is it better to receive and send location by SMS (GPS + GSM), or making the board send location to a server by HTTP (GPS + GPRS) or maybe the "GSM cell location" which won't need any GPS? This will make be buy the good one and I'll be able to begin :D

Thank you again.

They still have one or two in my local Aldi store selling off for $40.

I personally haven't figured a use for it, but picked up the last "Hiking GPS" instead for $25 to use as my MP3 player. It suffers the same bugs as most MP3 players - doesn't remember the position in the podcast when turned off, and doesn't have proper fast forward/ back buttons to recover, but the touch buttons are at least far more reliable than most.

In our area, if there were a way to use "GSM cell location" - which is a facility only available to the cell system operator - it would give the position with about 20 k*m resolution. GPS only works one way - receive only - which is why you need GSM for the "return leg" to actually *report the position.

Paul__B: In our area, if there were a way to use "GSM cell location" - which is a facility only available to the cell system operator - it would give the position with about 20 k*m resolution. GPS only works one way - receive only - which is why you need GSM for the "return leg" to actually *report the position.

I agree, anyway I don't think I will be able to use GSM anytime in the countryside, sometimes there isn't network at all. So, here is what I think I'll do: - Buy the best quality/price arduino (or not) compatible GPS module - Buy the best bla bla GSM module and subscribe to a cheap provider (here we have one, Free, which has a plan at 2€ with unlimited SMS which is FREE for customers) -> Then I'll first try to get the GPS data with my UNO, if succeed (I don't think it's hard) I will play with the GSM one. Then I'll implement a "language" or an interpreter on top (if enough memory) to send commands by SMS. Then why not, I can come back on this forum and post my code, if anyone interested.

Thank you for your help, may the force be with you.

You'll have to google around for it...and I'm not sure how accessible the info is without an actual 'computer'-computer....but, someone claimed to have figured out a way to use the cell-tower location info for their own purposes. I ran across it a while back.

Good luck! Hope you get it all figured out.

FYI - These are GPS modules I use. They work quite well, and Adafruit supplies good support, documentation, libraries, and tutorials for using them with Arduino. http://www.adafruit.com/index.php?main_page=adasearch&q=Ultimate+gps

Looks like you're in Europe...from your last post. So, if you don't want to deal with shipping & wait, they have other distributors in your area. http://www.adafruit.com/distributors/

Hi, I wanted to do the same thing a while back. And i know this is not really an answer and is more of a cop out than making your own, but i couldnt make one as small as this or as cheep as this: http://www.mr-lee-catcam.de/ct_index_en.htm i got one of these, it works well. I get a couple of days out of constant recording with 1-5 mins intervals. the software works alright, exportable to google earth and csv etc.

I will maybe have a baby cat next week, and as we sometimes go to the countryside, we’re a little scarred of escapes.

Be afraid, very afraid… It’s a C-A-T…
I have never told anyone in this forum that they had a not-so-good idea, until now. Our boy just passed this Spring after 17 years, but there is no way that he would have submitted to such baggage. I think the worst thing about this is a “false sense of security” of finding a lost cat in the countryside. A kitten lost in the country is just another meal for a wild animals - you’ll find your electronics in a pile of bones. Last year Consumer Reports did a piece and the best battery life for a dog was 2 days and tracking was limited and problematic. You do realize that cats will run into storm drains and old buildings and the GPS will no longer function? I have an $600 smartphone and it does not work 100% in the Atlanta area!

Pick another target for tracking - maybe your significant other.

Ray

1ChicagoDave: someone claimed to have figured out a way to use the cell-tower location info for their own purposes. I ran across it a while back.

That's the point, the company I suggest in my first post (TelIt) uses a system they called "m2mLOCATE"

m2mLOCATE is a Telit cloud-based service that provides a device's position based on observed cellular Cell-IDs

1ChicagoDave: FYI - These are GPS modules I use. They work quite well, and Adafruit supplies good support, documentation, libraries, and tutorials for using them with Arduino. Looks like you're in Europe...

I know that Adafruit seems to be the best in this sector, I'm in France, I'll look at this, thank you.

gr0p3r: Hi, I wanted to do the same thing a while back. And i know this is not really an answer and is more of a cop out than making your own, but i couldnt make one as small as this or as cheep as this: http://www.mr-lee-catcam.de/ct_index_en.htm i got one of these, it works well. I get a couple of days out of constant recording with 1-5 mins intervals. the software works alright, exportable to google earth and csv etc.

I went on the website you gave us. It seems you need to plug the collar on your computer to get the data, don't you? If I'm right, then the problem is that I'm looking for a way to get the data without the animal ^^ But thank you. My last choice will be a business made collar.

mrburnette: Be afraid, very afraid... It's a C-A-T... [...] Pick another target for tracking - maybe your significant other.

I understand but it's not like jungle where we live ;) Actually, the kitty will be 7 weeks, 1 week younger than the legal age but as I told people, the owner wants to make it adopted if we don't, it will be by someone else. And we're currently living in an apartment in paris so pretty safe to begin. We won't go to the jungle-countryside before a loooong time (and only if we travel and can't bring it with us [which happens 2 twice a year]). Anyway we'll see :D If I loose my cat, I'll use the electronics somewhere else, like spying someone's car :P Thank you for your advices

max13: I understand but it's not like jungle where we live ;) Actually, the kitty will be 7 weeks, 1 week younger than the legal age but as I told people, the owner wants to make it adopted if we don't, it will be by someone else. And we're currently living in an apartment in paris so pretty safe to begin. We won't go to the jungle-countryside before a loooong time (and only if we travel and can't bring it with us [which happens 2 twice a year]). Anyway we'll see :D If I loose my cat, I'll use the electronics somewhere else, like spying someone's car :P Thank you for your advices

I'd be a bit afraid as well, a dog, certainly a larger one, could easily carry a larger battery and won't protest fast. A cat probably will protest when faced with a 100 gram device, which will just allow you to track it for a day or 2.

You may have to equip it with solar cells as well.

Paul__B: They still have one or two in my local Aldi store selling off for $40.

Turns out they are now $30. I cannot imagine anything cheaper than that, though that does not help you.

But somewhat more bulky than "Mr. Lee's Cat-cam", which does not GPS but only records - and the website does not seem to wish to reveal the actual price.

Trouble is - if the battery goes flat before the cat expires, so that it has moved on, you will not find either.