Welcome To Home Made GPS

If you are looking for some resources on how to make your very own home made GPS then this is the site for you.  Through some serious research we have found some of the best home made GPS tracking devices and data loggers on the internet.  Please consider this site as a portal to all the other resources out there.  We have taken the time to find them and evaluate them and you can take the time to see which one works best for you.

We are always interested in more ways to make home made GPS, so if you ever have anything that could be helpful for then please feel free to let us know about them.  Lists of this variety can never be complete given the ingenuity of people all over the world and the ever expanding nature of the Internet, so your help is very much appreciated.

Understanding GPS: The Basics

In order for us to get a better understanding of how homemade GPS works we have to get a basic understanding of how GPS itself works.  Once we do that, we can have the foundation upon which we can effectively move forward with doing things the DIY, homemade way.

For starters, all GPS devices use a GPS receiver.  What a receiver does is very simple: it hears, or receives, the GPS signals that are present in an environment.  It then takes these signals and records the information that is contained in these signals and does some fancy math called trilateration that will tell the receiver exactly where it is in the world.  Pretty sweet, right?

Now a reader might be wondering where the GPS signals come from, and this is a great question.  GPS signals come from a series of satellites that currently orbit the earth.  These satellites are the originators of the signals that receivers use to trilaterate their position.  Within these signals the satellites include information such as the satellites unique identifier (which tells the GPS where the satellite is) and at what time the specific signal was sent.  That is all a receiver needs to know in order to find out where it is.

Understanding GPS: Two Types

When you think about GPS you have to understand that there are two main types - those that log information or only use it locally and those that can send information from the device to third parties.  The first type of device are GPS data loggers.  The second type are real time GPS tracking devices.

Generally speaking, a data logger is much easier to build than a real time GPS tracking devices.  The reason for this is rather simple and straight forward.  A data logger only has one hurdle to jump in order to get it to work (how do I get access to the GPS signals?) while a real time tracker has two hurdles to jump (how do I get access to the GPS signals? and how do I send my position information away from the device?).

Two questions are almost always harder to answer than one.

But that is not to say that there are not homemade GPS devices that fall into both camps - because there are.  There are homemade real time GPS tracking devices and there are homemade GPS data loggers.  It just generally takes more time and more money to make a real time tracking device because of the information transmission aspect of it.

Homemade GPS Cautions

If you are looking to make a homemade GPS then you need to be aware of some things about the process:
  • You definitely need to have some technical know-how.  If you don't already know what a power supply is or how to read power diagrams then you need to learn.  Also, you may need to learn some bits of computer code so be sure to be willing and able to learn about new things.
  • Not all device creators are made equal.  Some creators are way better writers than others and are very clear about how to make their homemade device.  Others are not so helpful and require that you know a lot in order to be able to follow along.
  • This does cost money.  Even if it is way cheaper than going out and buying a Garmin it is still more expensive than learning to use the stars to determine your location.  Be prepared to drop some cash on components and tools if you want to make a homemade GPS tracking device.
  • This should be fun, not totally lame.  If you feel like you are going to jump out of a third story window at your first chance because your homemade GPS project isn't working out then you need to take a break and find something else to do.  It just isn't worth it.
Overall, creating something that is homemade is both fun and a challenge.  Are you up to it?