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Thread: Anti theft GPS info?

  1. #1
    Registered User Steve G's Avatar
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    Default Anti theft GPS info?

    I'm looking for information on GPS tracking chips for my instruments. I would appreciate any feedback. Thanks in advance!
    ‎"Don't worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you'll have to ram them down people's throats." - Howard Aiken

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Anti theft GPS info?

    A quick look on the web and I found this device.

    https://www.easytracgps.com/other-as...-gps-tracking/

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    Registered User CWRoyds's Avatar
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    Default Re: Anti theft GPS info?

    Maybe something like this.
    You could embed one in the case.
    That way when it is stolen you can find it with your phone to an exact GPS location.
    https://www.thetrackr.com/
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    Default Re: Anti theft GPS info?

    Not unless you are planning on either charging the battery every few days or attaching a car battery to each instrument. Typical current levels are 10's of mA. That 1500 mAh battery in your phone might be good for a few days. Oh, and your tracker also needs to make regular contact with the cellular network. Also, indoors (where your instruments likely stay) is really challenging for GPS which translates into a lot of energy for finding and tracking the satellites. Bottom line, don't hold your breath for a practical solution.

    Geoffrey

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  8. #5

    Default Re: Anti theft GPS info?

    The Tile might provide an affordable, easy to use solution that is worth checking out:

    https://www.thetileapp.com/en-us/community-find

    The tile unit can be placed easily in a case and it is replaced yearly without any battery charging between replacements. I've been using mine for over two years now, but am thankful I have not needed it to find a lost, stolen or missing instrument. It does provide some peace of mind that at least I have a chance if that was to happen.

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  10. #6
    Registered User Tom C's Avatar
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    Default Re: Anti theft GPS info?

    Something like a Pebble Bee or Track-R may be good for festivals or something that if it leaves the Bluetooth distance of your phone, you will get an alarm. When you get back in Bluetooth range after running in different directions....you can then track where it is.
    Something that transmits will take energy, with these, your phone is just checking Bluetooth connection.

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  12. #7
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Anti theft GPS info?

    If you forgo the GPS part you can put an RFID tag chip in your mandolin. When the mandolin is scanned, at the pawn shop or where ever, it can be identified. Also if you see it somewhere you can verify your ownership.

    http://www.pcmag.com/article2/
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  14. #8
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    Default Re: Anti theft GPS info?

    Maybe y'all are clear on the limitations and trade-offs of various ways to tag an instrument, or maybe not. But asking for info on "GPS tracking chips" tells me there might be higher expectations than are practical. To be clear, the options fall into three categories:

    1. RFID chips - used for your pets, your race number at the local 5K run, and can be put somewhere on your instrument. Calton cases have them, for instance. Cheap and they don't need batteries. Because they don't have batteries, you would have to first find the thievin' bastid who stole your instrument, then run an RFID reader over it to prove it's yours. RFID is a "proof of ownership" device, not a tracker.

    2. Bluetooth devices - these can track your instrument, but only within 30 meters or so. No proof-of-ownership, and the tracking radius isn't very large. Batteries are required, and can last up to a year.

    3. GPS devices - the first thing to remember is that the vast majority of GPS devices are receivers, not transmitters. Meaning the device can figure out where it is at, but it can't tell anyone else. In order for it to be useful it needs to transmit its location, and there lies the rub. In order to transmit, it needs a battery. And to be useful, it needs to transmit frequently so that it can update you with its location. And because the device has no way of knowing if its stolen or just riding in your trunk, it has to transmit constantly on the off chance it's been stolen. Since talking to satellites is not easy on batteries, most use the cellular networks. So we now have a device that has a GPS receiver, a cellular radio, and a battery big enough to drive it all. Of the devices I've seen, none are smaller than your fist. It better be a roomy case, and there's no way that's fitting in a mandolin.

    So there really isn't a "GPS tracking chip" that will slide through the f holes of your mandolin. With that pedantry out of the way, to me there's no practical solution today. You might fit a GPS tracker in your case, which is a close as one is going to come to getting useful tracking for your instrument. Probably have to cut some foam, and you'll be recharging the battery every few days. The Bluetooth devices, with their limited range, strike me as more a "where the hell'd I lay that mandolin?" kind of thing (which is how they're advertised). If someone walks off with it, better catch 'em before they're 30m away. And if they get away and put it in the metal trunk of their car, you'll have to be a lot closer than 30m to find it now. And RFID is for when you finally find it via your own efforts and need to prove its yours.

    In summary, I don't think you can buy what you're looking for.

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    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Anti theft GPS info?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Stewart View Post

    1. RFID chips - used for your pets, your race number at the local 5K run, and can be put somewhere on your instrument. Calton cases have them, for instance. Cheap and they don't need batteries. Because they don't have batteries, you would have to first find the thievin' bastid who stole your instrument, then run an RFID reader over it to prove it's yours. RFID is a "proof of ownership" device, not a tracker.
    True enough. But I would think very few thieves are going to be mandolin players. They are going to try and sell it. And more and more places are getting scanners.

    But you are correct, the technology only helps you recover the mandolin if it turns up somewhere.

    I don't think you can buy what you're looking for.
    No, not yet.

    There is a funny rumor I heard, about a band that had a fancy motion sensitive GPS transponder installed in a rectangular yellow tweed electric guitar case. No guitar in there, because the technology was not all that small back then. And the case was locked so it could not quickly be opened.

    They would leave the case in the panel van as "honey pot", figuring who ever broke in the van would surely grab a case like that.

    Don't know if it ever was needed.
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    Default Re: Anti theft GPS info?

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffD View Post
    True enough. But I would think very few thieves are going to be mandolin players. They are going to try and sell it. And more and more places are getting scanners.
    Sure, and make no mistake about me poo-pooing the idea. In fact, I'm trying to track down how to register the chip in my recently-acquired Calton post-sale (which, oddly, looks harder than it should be if you didn't register at the time of purchase). It's one more tool in the toolbox, but it won't solve the "where exactly is my mandolin right now?" problem. Someday, maybe when we miniaturize fusion reactors to the size of a coin battery.

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  20. #11
    Registered User Drew Egerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Anti theft GPS info?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Bradford View Post
    The Tile might provide an affordable, easy to use solution that is worth checking out:

    https://www.thetileapp.com/en-us/community-find

    The tile unit can be placed easily in a case and it is replaced yearly without any battery charging between replacements. I've been using mine for over two years now, but am thankful I have not needed it to find a lost, stolen or missing instrument. It does provide some peace of mind that at least I have a chance if that was to happen.
    The one nice thing about the Tile is that if you are out of Bluetooth range but another Tile user gets close enough, it will update the location on the community map for you. This only works as well as how many people have it on their phones of course. Otherwise, you need to be pretty close. If a guy swipes it and drives out into the country it won't help at all other than show your last known location.

    I'd also figure that a semi-intelligent thief would at least open up the case compartments and dispose of anything that might tie it back to an owner, or dispose of the case entirely.


    I use a Tile on my keys. The nice thing is that if I lose my phone, I can push a button on the Tile to make it ring, even on silent mode. If I have my phone but lose my keys, I can make it beep and see the location on the map. This is all dependent on the Bluetooth being turned on on the phone. 99 times out of 100, my lost keys or phone are somewhere in the couch, or left in the car, etc. and this works great.
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  22. #12

    Default Re: Anti theft GPS info?

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve G View Post
    I'm looking for information on small GPS tracking chips for instruments. I would appreciate any feedback. Thanks in advance!
    Spot or Spytec, I personally prefer Spytec. Real-time GPS tracking is real, update latency issues rarely occur, and I can access its applications and get data information on my phone, tablet or computer. Custom alerts and geofences are a feature of all trackers, and 2.5 weeks of battery life is an advantage, with no patching in three months of use.

  23. #13
    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Anti theft GPS info?

    Actual GPS trackers have come a long way IMO, market exists as a personal safety service for backpackers and the like. You can get these "fist size" devices spoken of in post #8, supposedly either to work similar to satellite phones (they need a relatively clear view of the sky) or cell phones (they need an adequate cell signal).

    They can't be hidden in a guitar or mandolin, maybe in a roomy case (again see post #8), and the cost of device is relatively inexpensive ($100 - $200), but they will require a subscription service ... and battery life could be from 2 weeks to 4 months, depending on the design of the device and actual service use factors.

    I wouldn't invest in one for instrument tracking, no way. I have done some research into these for use while traveling and exploring wilderness. The "Spot" device mentioned in previous post is one such, but developed more for assets than persons. Approx. 2.6" x 2" x 1"

    Click image for larger version. 

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    https://www.rei.com/product/869419/s...ce-gps-tracker
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    Default Re: Anti theft GPS info?

    Just how any mandolins get stolen such that we need to spend hundreds of dollars to prevent it? Well, there's only one listed in the classifieds and this is a gathering place for mandolin pickers. I spent over 3 decades as a cop and I don't remember one ever coming up missing in this city. This is strictly anecdotal because no one keeps statistics on this sort of thing. At best, it might be listed only as a “musical instrument.” I don't know how they classify banjos.

    The fact of the matter is, most thieves are not mandolin players. I guess those that are might constitute the minute percentage of thefts involving mandolins. Actually, the light-fingered like to convert their booty into cash as soon as possible. Mandolins are unique enough that being taken to a pawn shop might be the worst place to fence it. If they can't use it, there's a good chance they'll try to move their loot on the street and that's not an everyday occurrence for mandolins.

    Can you picture walking out of Walmart and a guy walks up to you with a good deal for you. In the trunk of his car, you have your choice of a TV or a mandolin for only a hundred dollars. (I bought the TV. I already have mandolins. )

    Seriously, vigilance is the best crime prevention. If yours comes up missing at your next gig, check all the musicians first.
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