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Ontrak Position Tracking device review

Date 10th February 2007

Article by Mike Alder


Got an expensive car or other “mobile” asset you don’t want to lose? Well to lose a car is careless, but in this day and age theft is a major threat. One gadget to consider is the GPS tracker device made by OnTrak.


Ontrak position tracking device

It is a small unassuming light grey coloured box (98x64x35) the small compact size makes it easy to hide under the dashboard of a car, beneath a seat or even in the glove box. The device is equipped with a Holux SiRF-III GPS receiver and is quite capable of picking up a signal in any of the above locations in the car.

Note new versions of this device are now equipped Haicom SiRF-III GPS sensors.


Ontrak position tracking device


It is powered from the vehicles battery via a suitably rated fuse, most vehicle cigarette lighter sockets power down with the key out so that is not recommended as the power source. If you are worried about connecting the wires up correctly, don’t as you can connect the wires either way around, you won’t damage it – I wish more modern electronics were designed with this in mind. Don’t worry about this device flattening you car battery though, as it employs some innovative power management features.


Firstly if the engine is running the device switches on and is fully active, with the engine off the device goes to sleep; only its onboard clock is working. The device wakes up at a predetermined time prior to the hour, and activates the GPS section, after a slight delay it then powers up the GSM mobile phone section. At this point the unit will transmit any position requests before returning to sleep, this cycle repeats each hour.


All the tracker requires is a SIM card fitting, Pay as you go cards are ideal for this application. In order to keep your number active you must use the device once every six months, with text messages costing around 10P the running costs are negligible.


Fit an O2 or Vodafone Sim card and the unit will also transmit the remaining credit balance with the outgoing text message, so you can easily see how much credit remains.


Ontrak position tracking deviceTime to first fix is very fast, actually timing this isn’t too easy though as you get no indication of what’s going on from the outside of the box. To use you can either phone the unit up from a mobile phone, let your call ring for a couple of times then hang up, or send it a text message simply saying “find” (without the quotation marks). If the unit is awake you will get a text message back to your mobile phone in seconds. If the unit is sleeping you will get a text message on, or around the hour.


The actual text message you receive from the device contains Lat, Long, Time, Date, Speed, Heading (if moving otherwise 000 is substituted for this value). In addition to the above a short text string also offers additional information about distance and heading to the nearest motorway junction, this allows for quick visualisation of where the device is without recourse to a map.


The uses for this device start with the obvious anti-theft, or more accurately “asset recovery post theft” Asset or staff tracking, fleet management etc. Being simple to fit, easy to use the device is great at what it does. The simple grey unassuming plastic box with no identification or flashing LED’s is a great idea, you don’t want to draw attention to the unit once fitted. What better than to phone the Police and tell them where your car actually is, should it be stolen or even offer to locate the vehicle for them!


Price £199:99

Web Site: www.on-trak.onspec.co.uk

ONTRAK C/O On Spec Oscillators LTD
Unit 10 Alliance Close
Attleborough Fields Ind Est
CV11 6SD


It’s a no frills device that supplies positional data via a simple to use interface. Inputting the Lat/ Long to Google Earth will soon give you a map to follow. A worthy addition to any vehicle or other costly mobile asset you value.



Manufacturers Website


Pocket GPS Contributor

Mike Alder

Pocket GPS Contributor Website





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