So after just a few years of procrastination I finally picked up an Arduino microcontroller to play with. This one is their latest design, the Duemilanove (2009):

Fast forward a couple weeks of tinkering with LEDs and buzzers and I picked up an awesome shield to work with, a GPRS module from Libelium:

This baby allows the Arduino to communicate with our mediocre GPS network up here. Not only can I send and recieve SMS messages, but once I hook up a speaker and microphone (and perhaps a wee keypad?) I’ll have my very own custom cell phone ;)

Took a bit to get the shield going.. apparantly the GSM transceiver sucks up to about 2A (!) to run properly. The only A/C adapter I had handy was 1.5Amp but it was still intermittently dropping out on me. Adding a 220uF capacitor between the +5v and GND on the shield got er running perfectly.

I ended up signing up the Arduino on Rogers for a $10/mo Pay as you Go plan (what IEMI number??).. figure this should be plenty for testing at 15 cents per SMS message. I haven’t had the chance to try data communication but the GSM module on this shield does sport it’s own little TCP/IP stack so who knows where we can go with this!

My aim with this setup is to eventually become a computer for the People’s Car. I figure I can do some nifty things with it with SMS messaging capabilities…

  • Realtime GPS tracking system
  • Emergency voice calling
  • Vehicle monitoring via ODB-II interface
  • Remote Start and Kill ;)

So far I’ve had the shield setup as a USB gateway (allows me to communicate with the GSM module directly through a serial terminal). Once I get some actual Arduino code put together I’ll do up a little writeup soon about sending and recieving SMS and interfacing a keypad for those obligatory prank calls ;)