Solar GSM/GPS Transmitters

What is GSM? 

GSM is an abbreviation for "Groupe Spécial Mobile", a telecommunications standard set for digital cellular networks. The standard was developed by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) to describe the technologies for second generation (2G) digital cellular networks. The GSM system is now used in over 220 countries.

Why GSM?

At our recent conference we unveiled our line of certified GSM/GPS transmitters that we had been developing over the last three years, and have tested extensively for 2 years. This was in response to our customers' requests, as the GSM system should work particularly well in populated parts of the world where interference to the Argos system limits data reception. The GSM/GPS transmitters are also capable of transmitting more data than an Argos/GPS PTT and, ultimately, are much more cost effective per unit of data transmitted.

Our GSM/GPS Transmitters

Our five models of GSM/GPS transmitters were designed with the same rugged housings as our solar Argos/GPS PTTs with weights ranging from 25-70g. Retaining the same features as our well-proven Argos/GPS PTTs, the GSM models:  incorporate the same micro-power GPS receiver, have microprocessor controlled battery charge management allowing collection and transmission of GPS data at night, have temperature, battery voltage and activity sensors, and are programmed to take fixes at intervals as frequent as one per minute, depending on battery charge. Most importantly, the GSM/GPS transmitters typically transfer 10,000 bytes of data per day, whereas Argos/GPS PTTs typically transfer less than 1000 bytes per day. At times when the unit has been out of range of a GSM cell for many days, (e.g., a fledgling bird tagged on a remote cliffside nest) we have seen data transfers of nearly 100,000 bytes in one day when the bird came into range of a GSM cell.

Data are normally transmitted through the system via the GPRS data protocol. However, in areas of sparse GSM coverage, where no data download is possible, an SMS text message containing the last locations will still be transmitted where possible. The detailed data are archived for later transmission upon return to data coverage areas. Using the technology we have already developed for our fish tracking tags, our GSM/GPS transmitters can archive 258,000 GPS fixes for later download! This translates into a GPS fix every two minutes for an entire year. The GPS data will also incorporate the HDOP and VDOP measurements, as well as other parameters. So should a bird travel to a remote area without GSM coverage, it will still collect GPS positions etc., as normal and save them to be transmitted when the unit comes into range of a GSM cell.

Specifications      Price

Global Coverage

Our GSM/GPS transmitters offer global coverage as we have negotiated a contract with one of the largest international mobile network operators. Further, our transmitters are technologically advanced using a rugged eSim to ensure cyber security even in the harsh field environment.

PTCRB Certification

Our GSM/GPS transmitters have already undergone and passed testing by an independent test laboratory to obtain PTCRB and worldwide certification (see http://www.ptcrb.com/ under certified products.) We believe we are the first and only biotelemetry company to achieve this certification for any GSM-based telemetry transmitter. Certification is legally required to use such devices on the worldwide GSM system.

How does our GSM/GPS Transmitter get data to you?

Data Flow from Transmitter to User


User Friendly Data Access

Data are transfered from the unit to our server from anywhere in the world where there is GSM coverage. Normally within 10 minutes of receiving the data the server will automatically parse the data and email three output files directly to the customer.  These three files will be familiar to our Argos/GPS users:

  1. A "G" file, that contains the GPS coordinates of each fix, together with other parameters such as HDOP and VDOP, etc. Example
  2. An "E" file, that contains engineering data such as battery voltage, temperature and activity, etc. Example
  3. A "KML" file, that shows the bird's track/positions in Google Earth™. Example

Optionally, a special "KML" file compatible with Mobile Google Earth™ can be sent so that the bird's track and position can be viewed in the field on a smartphone, or tablet computer. Example

MoveBank

Another option available is automatic transfer of the data to your MoveBank account. http://www.movebank.org/ 

However you choose to receive your data, rest assured that it is archived safely and the whole dataset, not just the last ten days of data, is always accessible to you.

In addition to being archived in the tag itself, data are stored on our servers and remote backup site. If you choose to have your dataset uploaded to MoveBank then it is also stored there and on MoveBank's remote backup site.

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Photos by Jim Watson

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