Continuing again with my Raspberry Pi adventures and further developing my ‘BeeSafe’ project. One of the components I need to integrate is GPS module that would allow me to track the BeeHive / box should someone decide to move it.. To this end I purchased a few GPS units from ebay. This guide should get you up to speed on how to access GPS data via your Raspberry Pi / linux setup.

USB GPS with magnetic base

USB GPS with magnetic base

Plug the USB GPS into the pi, you should be able to see it detected in

sudo lsusb

Mine came up as: Bus 001 Device 004: ID 1546:01a6 U-Blox AG


dmesg | grep -i usb

I worked out that my USB GPS was paired to ttyACM0

At this point you can test your GPS device is functional and sending data by:

sudo cat /dev/ttyACM0

The next thing we need to do is pipe the GPS feed into GPSD (the gps demon) for it to interpret the data and hopefully give us something useful to use later.

sudo gpsd /dev/ttyACM0 -n -F /var/run/gpsd.sock

this command connects the output of ttyACM0 to the gpsd socket

NB: I had to ensure that the -n flag was present in this command, as trying without the flag resulted in a time out.

You should now be able to test the GPS using

cgps -s

Which will bring up a small window showing the GPS data.

Things to note; If you have any problems and cgps always displays ‘NO FIX’ under status and then aborts after a few seconds, you may need to restart the gpsd service you may have to kill and reboot the gps demon by typing

sudo killall gpsd

and then

sudo gpsd /dev/ttyACM0 -n -F /var/run/gpsd.sock


which will restart the gpsd service and pick up the new settings.

Now you should be able to use the GPS data for whatever your project needs; in my case I want to build a GPS fence so that if my beehive is detected leaving a known area (such as a field) then it will alert me and provide me with a GPS co-ordinate feed.

I used the Lady Ada guide on how to setup GPS devices to help me; the link is:

Following on from my previous post (see post), concerning the unboxing of an Android based Mini GPS tracker, I’ve finally cracked how it works and what you need to do, the below is a review and how-to on my successes with the device so far;

For starters the Tracker is tiny:

Operation is relatively simple; I’m using a prepaid SIM card which you simply slot into the SIM card slot, once fully inserted the Tracker activates and a red light illuminates for about 10 seconds.

Initially my tracker did nothing, I spent the morning trying to see if it was a SIM card fault, the number not being activated or the tracker itself. Eventually I came to the conclusion that all things network related were fine and began to lose confidence in the Tracker.

THEN: It sprung into life. Out of no-where the tracker started responding to SMS commands and if I were to ring the device it would answer and I could hear the surrounding – very interesting.

Points to note:

‘GPS’ & ‘DW’ commands appear to do the same thing, but not what I was expecting.

I was expecting a raw output of GPS Lat and Long Co-ordinates from the Tracker, something in a raw easy to use format would have been nice… but alas I was presented with this:

Not being able to read the Chinese I don’t know what it says but a quick copy and paste of the characters into Google Translate reveals ‘View image URL’ so now we know that the device is using some kind of 3rd party mechanism to present the users with a picture of a map centered around the GPS co-ordinates.

It would have been nice to have raw GPS data, particularly as the URL your forwarded too doesn’t seem to work and auto directs to another web server which isn’t currently working.  Given that this device is (hopefully) Android based their might be an option to reprogram the tracker? –don’t hold your breath.

A quick few Google searches reveal a few others are having the same issues – both with the web server as well as the lack of any kind of good quality support from the sellers. Below is a link to a seller who appears to be communicating:

A few months back I ordered from a ‘Made in China’ website a small GPS / GSM tracking device, the device sounded pretty interesting – tho not in a stalkerish way!

Devices like this have been speculated about for many years and indeed used by various governments of the world for years. But more recently companies and individuals have taken to using the devices.

From a data perspective devices like this can serve a greater good. The tracking of a elderly loved one serves a useful purpose and backed up by SOS buttons its very easy to see benefit from something like this.

I had previously investigated building something like this in the past as an experiment so I was intrigued to see what an official product did and looked like. Plus being only $15USD inc. shipping it didnt break the bank.


Its clear to see how small the tracker is:

Technologically it features an ARM A8 Processor (hence the name Mini A8) which is one of the chipsets being produced in the millions out in China. This processor is able to run Googles ‘Android’ operating system so being able to program and interact with the tracker should be quite easy..

The instructions on the other hand are a different matter… While the Chinese are very good at many things, technical translation is not one of them.

eg “before using the new machine should be filled with electricity, in order to achieve the best effort”

So this is a ‘rough’ Chinglish to English translation guide on how to operate the A8 Mini Tracker

Mini A8 Android GPS / GSM Tracker English Users Guide.

This product uses the latest technology produced from Taiwan. Small yet mighty, It features a long battery life, simple easy to use, stable operation and easy installation.

While the device has a range of uses, the top uses are: Monitoring and support of elderly / cared for individuals, vehicle and logistics tracking as well as individual location tracking.

Powering ON: The device is powered on, once a SIM card has been inserted into the SIM tray. Turning the device over (Android face down) slide the cover back to reveal the SIM tray.

Once a SIM card has been inserted the system will begin its boot process. You will see a light illuminate for approximately 10 seconds. Once this light has been extinguished replace the cover.

Environmental Monitoring:  You can use the tracker’s onboard Mic to listen to the surrounding environment. To do this simply dial the number connected to the SIM you inserted, the tracker should answer and after approximately 5 seconds you should be able to hear up to approximately 10 meters from the tracker.

Sound Controlled Call Back: One advantage of the A8 that It can ring you when when noise around the device exceeds 45 DB. To configure this, ring from the phone you wish to the A8 to call you, once connected to the tracker wait 3 seconds and then hang up.

This feature can be turned off by sending an SMS text of ‘0000’ to the phone number of the A8. You can also turn this feature back on again by sending an SMS of ‘1111’ to the A8’s number.

GPS Positioning: In CAPITALS send an SMS message of either ‘DW’ or ‘GPS’ to the A8′. After a few minutes the A8 will respond with the GPS co-ordinates.

SOS Emergency Call: From the phone you wish to receive SOS calls from. Send in CAPITALS an SMS with the words ‘SOS’. After 3 seconds press the SOS button on the A8 to test this functionality. The indicator should flash and the phone should ring.

The Mini A8 GPS/ GSM Tracker operates at frequencies of: GSM 850/900/1800/1900MHz


Before initial use, please ensure you fully charge the device, A 5.0V Power supply has been supplied however any 5.0VDC power source will work.

If your not able to interact with the A8 Device try removing the SIM card, reinserting and recharging before next use.

and finally my favourite quote of the manual:

“this product is forbidden for illegal purposes, Otherwise your peril.”