TLDR – Purchased and installed a Vodaphone V-Bag tracker for out bikes to always be able to locate them.
Finding the Right tool
Things on my list to find for this project:
- A tracking device to find bike if it ever goes missing – For me Vodaphone V-Bag tracker
- SIM card to install in said Device to track it in real-time. Vodaphone IOT SIM
- Software to view where the tracker is at all times – MoveTrack came with device
- Method to mount the tracker – Stuck it in a hole
I started the shopping/research project looking for a SIM. Doing the research the UK has a few cell providers with 2-4euro per month basic data and texting plans perfect for what I’m after (GiffGaff). Sadly none of the sweet UK SIMs work in Ireland. In Ireland I found a 5 euro a month Lycamobile plan but it did not come with unlimited SMS messages. Most of the trackers I found used SMS messages to send GPS location data from the device. Having not picked a device yet I figured I needed a SIM that supported a fair number of SMS messages, better to have Unlimited. The tracker I wanted was designed for bikes and fit inside of the handle bars; very hidden.
Discussing my SIM search with someone at work I found my answer. The co-worker asked if I was looking for an Internet of Things SIM because they too were looking for one for their car. IOT gave me a new avenue to research changed how I was searching. Once I started looking for IOT SIM I found Vodaphone Ireland sells IOT SIMs. I also found they have a few devices in their IOT catalog that would be perfect for what I’m after.
The Vodaphone V-Bag tracker is the winning item for me. Sadly buying it was a chore. To be able to order the tracker you first need to have a Vodaphone account. To open a Vodaphone account you need a Vodaphone phone number. To obtain a number Maddex and I went for a bike ride to a nearby Vodaphone shop where we purchased a one month top up card. Thinking the card would let me open an account to facilitate ordering the trackers. I was willing to pay the 20 Euro for a month, but the guy at the Vodaphone desk gave me two SIMS for free instead. I used one of them to open an account at no cost; Score. Simply put the SIM in Maddex’s phone, signed up for a Vodaphone account then ordered two V-bag trackers, one for each bike.
To setup the trackers I needed some Vodaphone software that is only available in the Ireland app store. All of our phones are US region. I had to setup a phone with Ireland as the home country before the app would show up. Once the AP showed up I was able to active both trackers and top off the account with money to pay the bill.
After activation in the Vodaphone app, the tracker uses its own software for tracking. An app called MoveTrack from Alcatel. The people who make the tracker. Their software does not care at all where you live. You simply scan the QR code on the back of the tracker and the MoveTrack software does the rest of the work. My only complaints about the software are: 1, only one person can be logged in at a time, and 2, the password only takes letters and numbers. If I want to track my bike then Michelle is logged out of the app. If Michelle wants to track me to see when I’ll be home she logs me out of the app. – This is a bit annoying.
The Movetrack application has a GEO fence option where you can configure it notify you via the app if the tracker ever leaves an area. Right now I have set it to alert based on work and home. The Fences are simple enough you can add them in less in 20 seconds. Next time Maddex and I go out on a ride we can park and fence the bikes knowing we’ll receive a notification if they are moved.
Mounting the Trackers
Was thinking maybe mounting the trackers under the bike seats when I ordered them. Once they arrived and we looked around the bikes for a place they would fit, we found a perfect location. There is some space in the frame under the battery plug just the right size for the small trackers. Huge bonus the battery goes over the top of the tracker and locks into place. Meaning you cannot see or remove the tracker with out the key to unlock and remove the battery. Seems like an even better location for a tracker then in the handle bar where it would be a chore to charge it.
The way it is set up now when I pull the bike battery out to charge it I’ll pull the tracker out and charge it at the same time. I’m charging the bike every other day during the week and maybe once on the weekend depending on usage. The Tracker says it has 72 hours of active use and or 96 hours of standby time. I figure every 2-3 days of charging and we’re good to go.