A ginger cat, wearing a blue harness with a brass and wooden box on its back

Handmade GPS Tracker Keeps An Eye On Adventurous Cats

One of the most convenient things about having cats is their independent lifestyle: most are happy to enjoy themselves outside all day, only coming back home when it’s time for dinner and a nap. What your cat gets up to during the day remains a mystery, unless you fit it with a GPS collar. When [Sahas Chitlange] went searching for a GPS tracker for his beloved Pumpkin, he found that none were exactly to his liking: too slow, too big, or simply unreliable. This led him to design and build his own, called Find My Cat.

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Giving Your Pets A Digital Squeak

A pet tracker has a particularly grueling set of requirements: small, light, rugged, incredibly long battery life, safe for the pet, and cheap. [Mihai Cuciuc] was looking at the options and wasn’t thrilled with any of them. So as any hacker would, he rolled his own, dubbed Squeak.

It uses an RN2483 module as it is a LoRAWAN module with publically available firmware from Microchip itself. This means [Mihai] could add his code and keep the modem code without having to reverse engineer everything or add a second microcontroller. In addition to the modem, there’s a GPS unit connected via UART. The clever part is the dual voltage regulators — the one powering the GPS is enabled or disabled by the RN2483. In addition, the RAM V_BACKUP line is always powered, which means the RN2483 can power up the GPS and let it get a quick fix (thanks to the RAM backup line).

To maximize the chances of a packet making it through, he made them only have the bare essentials. There are return packets to change the tracker’s mode (such as uplink interval or how often to capture GPS). With some cloud support, [Mihai] created infrastructure to capture the packets and relay them to Telegram. He can request the last location, receive updates, and change modes.

We’ve got you covered if you’re interested in tracking some of your dog’s other habits.

Office Dog Triangulation Keeps Spot Accounted For

[Matt Reed] works at a pet friendly work-space, where his pooch called [Bean] loves to wander around and disappear. She’s not getting in trouble, but nonetheless, [Matt] worries about her. So he took the creepy stalker route and put a beacon on her collar to track her every move.

He’s using a small BLE beacon that will poll a signal every second, sending out a unique ID code and a RSSI value (Received Signal Strength Indicator). Normally beacons are placed in a stationary location to help people navigate — but this time, it’s on a moving dog.

In order to better understand [Bean’s] location in the office, [Matt] set up three Raspberry Pi’s with Bluetooth adapters around the office. Using Noble, Node.js listens for the RSSI values and triangulates [Bean’s] position, much like a cellphone can be located using different ping times from cellular towers.

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