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Reviewed : Haicom 601VT - Real Time GPS DTMF Tracker
Posté le 16 avril 2007 à 13:04:18 par gpspassion.

Haicom 601VT - Real Time DTMF Tracker

Standard : SiRFstarIII GPS - DTMF, SMS, GPRS
Optional : Audio, Vibration Sensor, Bluetooth

All you need for real-time tracking

We first heard of Haicom's GPS tracker project at the CeBIT show in March 2005 and then saw it again at the Computex 2005 show, so it's safe to assume that Haicom were making sure it worked to specs before releasing it, and based on my first test runs, the HI-601VT was well worth the wait.

After the Sanav G19B SMS based tracker in 2004, Globalsat's TR-101/102 SMS/GPRS/Phone in 2006, we now have a DTMF (Dual-tone multi-frequency, see definition), SMS, GPRS (work in progress) system that offers real time tracking.

There are some detailed manuals on Haicom's site (manual A and B at the top of this page) but since this is a new approach to GPS tracking, we'll put the pieces together with some real case scenarios.

The first piece of the puzzle is the GPS Tracker, the HI-601VT, with a design that takes after previous Haicom models, and that first appeared on the HI-BT405 in February 2005 and later on the HI-BT405III.

Back are the same powerful 1600mAh battery 1600mAh that is rated at 20 hours of continuous use, the mini1394 plug for recharging and wired connection to a PC or the Bluetooth accessory, the MMCX external antenna connector.

New items are the two red buttons (SOS and Alarm Release) that let the 601VT initiated a connections with the "home station", the flat accessory connector in the back and the GSM LED on the front.

The 601VT hosts a tri-band GSM Module (900/1800/1900) that requires a SIM card. I dropped in my Orange card and it worked out of the box. You do need to deactivate the PIN code with a phone the first time you use it though and you can then program that code on the 601VT.

The two new buttons, SOS and ALARM

MMCX connector, flat accessory connector and GPS Fix LED

The SIM card slot inside the 601VT and the 1600mAH battery

This is the piece of the puzzle that is really novel, at least to me. When I was looking at the explanations on the Haicom site, I couldn't really understand how the data sent by the GPS Tracker was being made available to the mapping software. This is where the decoder comes in :
  1. Receives the DTMF data from a phone via its standard 2.5mm output jack
    Before -> After

  2. Decodes the data and turns it into standard NMEA sentences

  3. Transmits the data back
  4. [list=a]
  5. Via Bluetooth - it is seen as a standard SPP (serial) Bluetooth device, tested with an HP hw6915 PDAPhone
  6. Via Cable - via the PS2 jack. Haven't tried that method.
  7. [/list=a]

The decoder is powered by two AAA batteries and has a three-way switch, OFF/ON/BLUETOOTH.

Small and light

The switch, AAA batteries and "talking" to the hw6915

The good news is that no configuration is needed for real-time tracking. Using a Bluetooth PDAPhone these are the steps :
1. Connect the 2.5mm jack to the phone's audio out (if you forget the DTMF will remind you to do it !)
2. Connect to the decoder via Bluetooth
3. Launch your favorite mapping application, Google Maps Mobile works fine
3. Call the number attached to the SIM card placed inside the 601VT. Not a problem with a PDAPhone, but as was found here you need to call from a cell phone, landlines (standard or VoIP) do not produce a signal that can be used by the decoder.
4. Start tracking in real time.

I was able to track a person around the neighborhood with the 601VT placed in a backpack and could see the progress in Google Maps in real time. Quite amazing !

To evaluate the delay, if any, I tracked myself driving at 50kph in town and checked the intersecting streets. The delay was minimal at about 2 seconds, so if the GPS module inside you phone or your Bluetooth GPS breaks down, you'll be able to use the 601VT for guidance, not very practical or cheap, but it could come in handy !

The 601VT kit can do more than real time tracking out of the box. This will require some remote programming of the 601VT from a phone and this is done by calling the 601VT, hitting * or # depending on the type of features, entering your PIN code, waiting for the acknowledgment (a long "beep") and then programming it. You'll find the full set of features in the manual, here are a few I've used :
  1. Programming an SOS number that will be triggered by pushing the SOS key : * 0000 (pin code) 4 + phone number

  2. Programming an ALARM number that will be triggered by pushing the ALARM key : * 0000 1 + phone number

  3. Polling the position via SMS : # 0000 21 - sends an SMS to the first dial-up number. SMS data includes Lat/Long, speed, heading

  4. Notification of a GPS Fix : # 0000 6* - will have the 601VT send an SMS when it has a fix again, useful if you want to know when the person or object you're tracking comes out of a blocked area (garage, metro, etc...)

  5. Notification of a GPS Fix : # 0000 6# - will have the 601VT send an SMS when it starts moving at 10+ KPH, useful if you want to know when the person or object you're tracking gets started again after a stop

  6. Polling the position from any phone : in theory the # 0000 77 sequence should have the 601VT call back any phone sending that command, but I couldn't get it to work, it only calls back the first dial-up number


The 601VT doesn't stop there as it can be outfitted with an optional kit that will add remote audio, a vibration sensor, remote relays to cut-off the oil for instance, etc...This will likely require professional installation though.

Of more immediate interest, Haicom are currently fine-tuning the GPRS features of the 601VT to allow it to communicate with a remote server for server based tracking. This will no longer be real-time but will allow for multiple access unlike the point to point DTMF tracking. Hopefully they will provide the hooks to make it compatible with existing solutions based on Jeff's excellent MyTracking server solution.

The 601VT standard kit is an impressive piece of technology and you can tell that Haicom took the time to let it mature into a turnkey solution with options available for more advanced users, both programming and hardware wise. Not only is the 601VT the first consumer real time tracking system but it's easy and cheap (counts as a phone conversation) to you'll use it often. Ideally it would have voice capabilities like the Globalsat TR-101 but then the form factor would have to be different. As for availability and pricing, more information should become available in the coming weeks as I checked with Semsons and they said they had ordered some units.

If you have questions or comments, you can use this thread of the forums.

UPDATED 20070417 - Not compatible with landlines for live tracking
UPDATED 20070412 - SMS when moving >10KPH
UPDATED 20070407 - car tracking to evaluate delay

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