Tracking packages that contain valuable items like firearms is ideal. UPS does track its movement from shipping docks throughout the country. This tracking is based on time stamping the packages; the information is uploaded into UPS tracking data software.
So in reality, the package itself is not trackable if it disappears while en route during transport. When this happens, there will be a time lag before an investigation is initiated. The tracking drills down to the missing points where the package missed its station check in while in transport.
This brings us back to tracking the physical package and getting valuable data on where it’s been. Some inexpensive solutions that have come up are the purchase of a pet GPS monitor, but most pet devices was lacking in the distance coverage, so this was scratched off.
Brainstorming this, we decide to look further into hacking GPS with a fun kit from Spark Fun Electronics. Actually its not the full hack, as they supply the main source, you just put it together.
Package Tracker – Warning about to get technical on the jargon
The package tracker incorporates an LPC2148 with USB and microSD support, an expansion header compatible with the EM408 GPS module, an SHT15 Humidity and Temperature Sensor, an SCP1000 Barometric Pressure Sensor, and an ADXL345 Triple Axis Accelerometer all conveniently designed onto a board that fits into the SparkFun enclosures. There’s even a USB charging IC which allows you to charge your LiPo battery over USB. Spark Fun Electronics also recommended using LPC2148 USB bootloader for simple modification of firmware. And, the actual GPS unit, which you’ll have to look up on their site – many different types.
In plain English just means these are the items needed to be put together. Turn the package tracker on, and the default firmware logs the date/time, GPS coordinates, temperature, pressure, humidity, acceleration and battery level once a second for later viewing.
The Package Tracker will log data for 5 minutes, and then sleep for 25 minutes to save battery life. This device can use up to 2 GB of flash, to give you an idea of how much information you can obtain. 1 GB has the capability of weeks of continuous logging. It attaches to a computer over USB and shows up on any operating system as a flash drive.
For you gun enthusiasts/programmers, you can view this data in Excel, Octave, MatLab, or your favorite data analysis package.
Sparkfun Electronics recommends that you custom program the “Boot Loader” to view what you think is important, or you can add to it if you have programming skills.
Basically, this package tracker will log everything described above mentioned. Now you can tell if your package was dropped, getting wet, or if they are really getting shipped in a ‘pressurized compartment.’
The drawback to this is getting the “Boot Loader” back so the data can be viewed. Our next quest is looking to access the information in the “cloud,” yes having the ability to see it through the internet will be great! This will be next in our series of possible solutions to theft proofing your firearm shipment.
Note – The reason for this exploration is that some firearms companies do look for alternative ways to extra theft-proof their packages. Even if the package is totally lost with the eye in the “Cloud,” we can pinpoint the location or proximity and relay it to the authorities to let them complete the investigation.
If you know of a possible solution (hack) to embed the GPS and track it via in the “Cloud”, we’d like to hear about it.