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GPS GSM tracking system for birds with remote fix data download


Photo: Oliver Krone

Weigth GPS GSM unit: up from 155 g

Tracking of large birds with a GPS backpack & harness. Offered are two options of remote GPS data download while the collar is still on the bird:

About that there are several accessories available: activity -, mortality -, Temperature logger, and VHF-Beacon.

A  new technique worldwide has been introduced by Vectronic Aerospace since March 2002: GPS data can  be sent directly from the animals collar via a mobile radio network GSM (Global System for Mobile Communication) much as an SMS (Short Message Service) is sent by a mobile/ cell/ hand phone. The location coordinates of the  animals are momentarily sent by a GSM-modem integrated into the collar. The data arrive directly at the user’s office. The prerequisite for the data transmission is that the area of  investigation is partially covered by GSM (if you can use mobile phone at the investigation area the GSM coverage is ok).

Fig. 1: GPS-GSM backpack for large birds



Features: GPS (-GSM) collar for large birds

The backpack is basically a GPS-Plus unit with additional GSM or UHF download option

Weigth, complete unit: up from 155 g, without teflon tubes

Number of positions:
1000 at 0° C, worst case calculation with 180 seconds active GPS
over a tracking period of 1 year








Project informationsee project: eagle-1 with remote data download via UHF communication link

            eagle-2 with remote data download via GSM


Is your investigation site GSM covered? Look at :


Data exchange via GSM network
The GPS fix data can be transmitted via the SMS where GSM coverage is partially or complete available. This cost effective solution can provide GPS data nearly in real time. The cost of one SMS is dependent on the GSM network provider and starts with some cents per SMS. Up to 7 GPS fix information can be stored in one SMS.

This service is available for the following GSM networks:

      • 900 MHz and 1800 MHz, e.g. europe and
      • 900 MHz and 1900 MHz, e.g. north america

The GPS fix data contains the following information:

    Time and date of the GPS fix,

    ECEF X, Y, Z coordinates (earth center earth fix) and
       lattitude, longitude and height (WGS84) coordinates of the GPS fix

    DOP, 2D, 3D and 3D validated (3D+) status of the fix

    Ambient temperature during the GPS fix

    Battery voltage of main and beacon battery


In areas with poor GSM coverage the transmission of data via the SMS service is more effective like transmission of data via GSM data service.
The user can choose one of three options for SMS transmission (factory settings):

  1. Transmission of one Position per SMS (the SMS will be transmitted to the customer directly after a GPS fix). This is the most cost intensive option, but the customer will get the GPS data nearly in real time.
  2. Transmission of seven positions per SMS (the SMS will be transmitted to the customer after each seventh GPS fix). This is the less cost intensive option, but the customer will get the GPS data not until the seventh GPS fix.
  3. Transmission of seven positions per SMS with repetition in case of no GSM coverage (the SMS will be transmitted to the customer after each seventh GPS fix when GSM coverage is available). When no GSM coverage is available,  the GPS fix data will be retransmitted next time when GSM coverage is available. This is the most secure option to get maximum of data via GSM network.