Cell phone based car starter, another take

[Dave] Had been working on a cell phone activated remote start for his car for a while when we posted the GSM car starter. While both do carry out the same job, we feel that there is enough good information here to share. He’s gone a pretty simple way, by connecting the vibrator motor leads to a headphone jack. He’s using that signal to then activate the remote start by setting off an extra fob. Though it is amazingly simple, this version does have an advantage. As [Dave] points out, his cell phone has several features which could be utilized to automate some of his car starts. He can set alarms as well as recurring calendar events to get his car started without his interaction. Lets just hope he doesn’t forget and let his car run too long unattended, especially if it is in a garage attached to his house.

GSM car starter

It’s just starting to warm up around here but it was very cold for a long time. We’re not fond of going anywhere when it’s way below freezing but those professional hermit opportunities never panned out so we’re stuck freezing our butts off. Fed up with his frigid auto, [Aaron] installed a remote starter to warm the car up before he got to it. This didn’t help at work because of the distance from his office to the sizable parking lot is too far for the key fob’s signal to carry. He decided to make his starter work with GSM so he could start the car with a phone call.

The first attempt involved a pre-paid cell phone for $30. The problem is that anyone who called the phone would end up starting the car. After a bit of looking he found a GSM switch that just needs an activated SIM to work. When called, it reads the incoming phone number for authentication but never picks up the phone so there’s no minutes used. He cracked open an extra key-fob and wired up the lock and start buttons to the relays in the GSM switch. Bam! A phone call starts (and locks) his car.

Maybe this isn’t as hardcore as body implants but it’s a fairly clean solution. He uses the car’s 12v system to power the switch and pays $10 every three months to keep the SIM card active. There’s an underwhelming demonstration video after the break showing a cellphone call and a car starting. Continue reading “GSM car starter”

GSM Cracked

[Karsten Nohl], with a group of security researchers has broken the A5/1 Stream Cipher behind GSM. Their project web site discusses their work and provides slides(pdf) presented at 26C3. A5/1 has had known vulnerabilities for some time now and is scheduled to be phased out for the newer KASUMI or A5/3 block cipher. This should be an interesting time in the cell phone business.

Thanks to [Tyco] and [MashupMark] for pointing us to this story.

GSM enabled security door

The security door at the front of [Oliver’s] building uses an intercom system to let in guests remotely. Each unit has an intercom handset with a button that unlocks the door. [Oliver] wanted a way to enter without carrying any extra items so he built a system to unlock the door with his cell phone.

He patched into the intercom and attached a GSM module. The module runs python so he wrote a script that will monitor the entryway buzzer, then wait for an approved cell phone connection to unlock it. He went through a couple of different iterations for the final project. The first attempt used XBee modules to communicate between the intercom handset and the GSM module. For the final version, he snaked cable through his wall using rare-earth magnets (creative!) in order to forgo the use of a battery in the handset.

Who doesn’t carry a cell phone with them?  Because of this, the use of GSM modules in automation is a trend we think will continue to gain popularity.

Tiny GSM alarm system

We’ve covered this sort of thing before, but there is something to be said for the simplicity of this tiny GSM alarm system by [trax]. The alarm system is designed to send the owner a text message when a sensor is triggered. This alarm only works with Siemens phones, but it shouldn’t be too hard to find one.  The alarm is configured via a dip switch on the board and can also be armed and disarmed by text. The brains of this system is a PIC16F84A. The code and schematics are included at the bottom of the page.

Continue reading “Tiny GSM alarm system”

Vaio P HSDPA mod


[tnkgrl] has concluded her Sony Vaio P by adding GSM support. We covered the switch to XP earlier, but this should work on Vista too. The Vaio P is sold in the US with support for Verizon’s EVDO wireless broadband, but it uses the same hardware as the European model that uses GSM. This is possible because of the the Qualcomm Gobi radio module. To get GSM support, you trick the VZAccess Manager into loading a different firmware than the stock EVDO. The difficult part is that the Vaio P doesn’t come with a SIM card slot, so you’ll have to solder in your own. When you’ve got the computer reassembled, just change VZAccess Manager to use your carrier.

UPDATE: Wired has an article on the Gobi chipset.

Bug Labs introduces new BUGmodules


Bug Labs, the company that makes modular electronics that allow you to build your own tech doohickeys quickly and easily, has announced five new modules: BUGprojector, a mini DLP projector developed in conjunction with Texas Instruments, which sounds very much like the tiny DLP projector we posted about last week; BUGsound, an audio processing module with four stereo input/output jacks, a microphone, a speaker, and builtin hardware codecs; BUGbee (802.15.4) and BUGwifi (802.11 and Bluetooth 2.0+EDR), which will let you connect wirelessly with your PAN and WLAN, respectively; and BUG3g GSM, for connecting to (you guessed it) 3G GSM networks. In conjunction with Bug Labs’ existing series of modules, especially the highly versatile BUGvonHippel universal module, you’ll be able to create some pretty kickass gadgets. No word yet on pricing, although Bug Labs expects to ship by the end of Q1 2009.