Introduction: GPS Tracker for Alzheimer's Patients

Picture of GPS Tracker for Alzheimer's Patients

First a thank you to my Team members Sean Halloran and Gvozden Suvajlo, they came up with this idea and executed it, this project would not be possible without their ideas and skills.

The GPS tracking device is composed of a micro controller, GPS module, cell module, and batteries
all housed in a 3D printed case. The micro controller is programmed to
communicate with both the cell module and GPS module. When the GPS module is
not within a user-specified boundary, the device will send a text message
alert. We made a device that can track people suffering from Alzheimer’s and Dementia could
greatly benefit the quality of life of both that person suffering and the
caretaker. The wandering of a person suffering from one of these mental
illnesses is stressful on everyone and this type of device could limit this.
Current devices on the market are complicated. A device that uses the essential
components would allow for a more user-friendly device allowing the care-taker
to have ease of mind that their loved one is always accounted for. This device
will be developed utilizing readily available components and housed in 3D
printed casings. Experiments were conducted to examine the durability of the
device and to ensure the device remains secured to the person. Future projects involving this would include
utilizing smaller components to keep the device compact. PLEASE SHARE, PLEASE CHANGE AS YOU'D LIKE!! We would like everyone to have this for their loved ones or any purpose they can think of!!

Step 1: Buy Components

1. Arduino Micro

2. GPS Breakout Board

3. Adafruit FONA board

4. GPS Antenna

5. 9v battery (and 3.7v battery 500mah or greater)

6. Pin Headers

7. Female to Female jumper wires

8. 4 of #6-32 screws 2" length plus 4 nuts, 6 2.5mm by 8mm machine screws 6 2.5mm nuts and 2 2mm screws and 2 2mm nuts

9. 1 tamper proof pin 1/4" barrel diameter

10. you will have to 3d print your own case or put it any case you want!

11. Optional- we added a solar board for charging the 3.7 volt battery and utilizing solar panels if wanted.

Step 2: 3D Print Your Case

Solids works files are attached, feel free to modify and print however you'd like!

Step 3: Install Code to Arduino

We have the code attached upload to your micro

Step 4: Wire the Components

Picture of Wire the Components

Utilize our wiring diagram, we included a button and LED, this is not necessary but we believe they are nice features.

Step 5: Change Whatever Youd Like!

Edit in anyway you'd like, feel free to share and Let us know what changes you have made to improve upon the design!


Hui PingK (author)2016-06-05

Can someone explain the code line by line for me?Thank you.

wolfgang.neikes (author)2015-05-07

Really great stuff! Thanks a lot for sharing. One question: How is the virtual fence configured?

I have the same question, have you figured it out yet? :)

DanielleG23 (author)2016-01-03

Does anyone know how to set the boundaries? Where does the "text message alert" go and how do I make it go to a certain device, like my phone?

AzzysDesignWorks (author)2015-05-06

Very interesting idea. How would this stack up to something like a SPOT personal tracker in regards to service costs? I pay about $120 a year, get tracking, roadside assistance, and emergency medical insurance.

grayl (author)2015-05-01

In you schematic, what have you hooked up to Pins 2 (green), 3 (green), and 4 (green) of the Pro Micro? Also what is connected to Pins 5 (purple), and 6 (red), of the same Pro Micro? Both items are connected to Gnd on the Pro Micro. I've been looking around and it looks like the Adafruit Pro Trinket would be a good substitute for the Pro Micro ($9.95 versus $24.33). Comments?

Jack Rodgers (author)2015-05-01

This is a great idea. I tweeted about it with a message to Apple:

#Apple Please add a Find My Parent to Find My iPhone/Friends. And create a gps device for the #Alzheimer:

Jack Rodgers (author)2015-05-01

More serious:

Apple has the Find My iPhone feature. Maybe a campaign to convince Apple of the need for the device you describe and add it to Find My Parent.

Jack Rodgers (author)2015-05-01

With a smile, inside a:


Shoe Heel (quite a smart idea)



Nose Ring (about 30 years from now)

RFID tag to trigger alarm at door

mr.peter.donoghue (author)2015-05-01

Hi LoganP2

Very nice ...Thanks for sharing ..

Was thinking of buying one of them cheap GPS-Trackers from Aliexpress or e-bay - but cant find one that meet all my need - except for the one mentioned below ..

... But guess I have a go at fabricating one !! - It for a completely different application - need a long battery life, Waterproof , 'listen-in' function, Vibrate Alert ... Go-fence . SMS alert ..etc...
Something like the JT600B from Shenzhen

I would like if there was a link to web sites associated with the parts list - given in this INSTRUCTABLES ...

Anybody compiled a complete inventory supplier list ?

Anybody have an idea of how much all the individual components cost ..?

jtechian (author)2015-04-30

Great work. I found such a device on ebay I will share with all:

This unit is cheap and can track in real time to a pc or cell phone.

power000 (author)jtechian2015-05-01

i have bought this device and my opinion is it is useless. It has two options. One is to send a sms message through gprs with the coordinates where the device, but this way as you can understand there a charge.

the second is , there was a site that you could log your gps device. The minimun interval singla position was 15 minutes (tooo much) and exept this the time was wrong. It was Chinese time. It was if i remember 5 hours ahead and THERE WAS NOT AN OPTION TO CHANGE IT. Battery last for only 1 hour and 30 minutes ,with gprs disabled

the site that onetime i could log it was it, but now is down

you can see all commands here, but in my opinion you are goinf to loose 23$ for rubbish

An one question for Mr loganP2 . Is only with sms thorgh gprs? Can is log it real time to my computer???

nehmo (author)jtechian2015-05-01

Did you actually buy "MINI GPS GPRS GSM TK102B SMS Car Vehicle old people Pet Realtime Tracker Device"? It's in Hong Kong and a question to them returns the eBay message that they may not understand my language, English.

I have the same question about that device as I do all of them: I understand how it's done using a full cellphone plan, but is there a cheaper method? The TAGG GPS tracker advertises $8USD/month. They must be using some sort of cheap limited cellphone plan, but how?

nehmo (author)2015-04-30

This certainly is a useful and instructive-to-build project.

Before I get started on one (a modified one, actually) myself, I'd like to understand the cell subscription ("plan", as they say) requirements.

I can see how simply using a connected Android phone and Google's Device Manager, you can GPS-track where the phone is geographically. But that seems to require a full cellphone subscription of about $40 USD/month. However, comercerally available GPS trackers, like TAGG do the job for $8 USD/month. So there must be a method of connecting a cellphone with limited capabilities to a network for less than the full subscription price.

So how does LoganP2's device connect? Does it need a full cell subscription? Or does it connect via some cheaper-plan method?

fred3655 (author)2015-04-29

Just get a dog collar GPS. The battery life is 10 days or longer. Less complicated and stops barking too.

[well played!]

mperes01 (author)2015-04-30

Great build. Adafruit rocks! I've been working on something like this as a way to track model rockets and remote controlled aircraft and drones. On board data logging (micro SD) adds a lot of value. In your build you focus on reporting the location of Alzheimer's patients. They tend to repeat behaviors. If you track their route, you may be able to identify a home security improvement option or an opportunity to build another device that reports door or gate openings. Great build! Keep geekn' out.

clazman (author)2015-04-30

I've seen some very good devices here, that are definitely market ready.

Why haven't you taken that course? There are many that do not have the desire or equipment. You only need to utilize high volume molding instead of the high, cost per unit, of 3D printers, which you propose.

3D printers are excellent for R&D.where timing is also very important or for the individual that needs only one special part/item.

3D printing is not cost effective in high volumes.

Aside, I agree that 3D printers are great, but I see much more plastic in the proverbial landfill. Scrap, an unfortunate component of R & D, is exacerbated when process becomes commonplace.

Oh, why don't you incorporate, a user friendly, and what I thought was common knowledge, lead in on every registration tab. Even a robot would have difficulty in assembling this case. Besides, there can be less clearance between mating components than with parallel engagement.

ppestana (author)2015-04-30

Hi, I couldn't understand how this gadget will send a text msg, given the facto that it has only a GPS antena and no GSM, at least that I'm aware of. Could you please explain how this text msg would be sent and received?


JamesV10 (author)ppestana2015-04-30

The fone board is GSM

Orngrimm (author)2015-04-30

Nice build!

One input / idea i had:

Add some sort of logging (To SD-Card) so the patient can (if he wishes) to reconstruct / see where he was.
MAybe you can generate a GPX/TCX/KML/CSV-File for google-maps? I am sure there are sketches in the web already converting to that... may offer some conversion / interface if google doesnt like your CSV...

desidude52 (author)2015-04-30

Great instructable! I just wanted to share that on google maps there is a location tracking feature when enabled keeps a track log of its location and time. I do like your project and actually just bought an adrueno to play around with. But the maps feature is handy if your not tech savy.

donfrench (author)2015-04-30

This is very cool. With an easy mod to the code you could make it function as a tracking device that sends coordinates every so often. You could put such a device in your teenager's car for example if he or she needed monitoring.

privatier (author)2015-04-30

Have you considered launching this device on Kickstarter?

iMartijn (author)2015-04-30

This is great. I even think these should be mass produced. The only thing that worries me are the costs. How much did this cost? Is it more expensive than a cheap mobile phone with gps?

LoganP2 (author)iMartijn2015-04-30

The cost is approximately $160, what we like about this device is that is simple to use and can have features added or removed based on the users needs!

barancanaydin (author)2015-04-30

Where is the cell?

LoganP2 (author)barancanaydin2015-04-30

It is the black board, its is made by adafruit and is called the FONA.

bitsy113 (author)2015-04-30

A waterproof bracelet would be good, something someone could wear constantly (except when charging) like a medic alert type thing.

bgipson1 (author)2015-04-29

Would loved to have this for my DAD, he wondered off several times once took over 4 hours to find him

Just4Fun Media (author)2015-04-29

Interesting design. Very deserving of my vote! Have a great day!

NYCitySlicker (author)2015-04-29

Great idea, and really sharp case!

Lenny22 (author)2015-04-29

Also, what is the battery life? Thanks.

LoganP2 (author)Lenny222015-04-29

And as far as costs we spent around $160, this varies on your casing choice.

Lenny22 (author)2015-04-29

Cool idea! How much did this cost to build (materials only)? And what is the range of this device?

LoganP2 (author)Lenny222015-04-29

Hey lenny22! We found battery life to be around 19 hrs, this varies greatly on the type of 9v and 3.7v battery you select. The range is as far as a cellphone tower or GPS satellite is, essentially the same as a modern day smartphone!

tomatoskins (author)2015-04-29

Really cool idea! How do you make sure that the patient carries it around with them though?

LoganP2 (author)tomatoskins2015-04-29

I may have forgotten to mention this! The movable lever arm fits over a belt, or any other secure location. There are a multitude of different mounting options available.

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