How to Build a Cell Phone GPS Tracker

By Ty Scalera

A cell phone Global Positioning Satellite tracker can be an excellent tool to keep track of where your cell phones are traveling. Although the Federal Communications Commission now requires cell phone companies to equip their phones with GPS tracking capabilities, the companies are not required to give customers access to those capabilities, according to the FCC website. Fortunately, GPS tracking software is available from a number of online providers and will enable you to monitor a cell phone's location in real time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can download GPS tracking software onto any cellular phone you own as long as it contains a SIM card.

Things You'll Need

  • Cellular phone
  • Phillips screwdriver
  • Scissors

Preparing the Phone

Step 1

Open the back of the cell phone you plan to use. There are three main types of cell phone backing covers: screw-on, snap-on and slide-on. If you see screws on the back of the phone, remove them with the Phillips head screwdriver and lift the backing off. If you see a button or a lever of some kind, press it and gently pry the backing open. Otherwise, try sliding the backing up or down to remove it.

Step 2

Ensure that the phone contains a SIM card. A SIM card is either an 8cm or a 2.5cm chip that contains the subscriber information, phone book, text messages and other information saved on your phone. In many phones, it is located behind the battery. If you can't find the SIM card, try looking through your phone's instruction manual for a labeled diagram. If your phone does not have a SIM card, it can't be used as a GPS tracking device.

Step 3

Locate the speaker. (This step is optional for those who wish the cell phone tracking device to remain hidden.) The speaker should be a small, circular object; it is often located at the base of the phone, behind the mouthpiece.

Step 4

Cut the speaker wires with scissors. (This step is optional for those who wish the cell phone tracking device to remain hidden.) There should be two speaker wires, one leading into and one leading out of the speaker. Cutting them will ensure that the cell phone will make no sound and can be used covertly if desired.

Step 5

Replace the back of the phone and power the phone on.

Setting Up GPS Service

Step 1

Purchase a plan for your modified cell phone. Make sure the plan includes unlimited data transfer: GPS tracking requires data transfer hundreds of times per day.

Step 2

Choose a mobile resource management (MRM) company. An MRM company provides GPS tracking services on cell phones and vehicles; some of the larger MRM companies include Xora, Trimble and Air-Trak. While most MRM companies offer similar services such as real-time tracking, mapping, and satellite road views, their specific services and prices vary.

Step 3

Contact the MRM company's customer service department and tell them you want to install GPS tracking software on your phone. Be sure to ask the rep if their software can be loaded onto the particular cell phone model you are using. The customer service department will walk you through the process of installing the software onto the phone. Once the software is installed, you will be able to monitor the cell phone through your personal account on the MRM company's website.

Tips & Warnings

  • 1. Use a cheap phone. If you're going to use it solely as a tracking device, the phone doesn't need to look cool.
  • 2. If you want the tracking device to remain hidden, be sure the phone's ring tone is not set on "vibrate".
  • 3. Keep the phone's battery power in mind. If you want to use it for an extended period of time, it will have to be wired into a power source.
  • 1. It is illegal to install a tracking device on anything that does not belong to you. If the cell phone or whatever you put it in is not yours, you are violating the law and may be prosecuted for your actions.
  • 2. When cutting the speaker wires, be sure you cut only the wires leading to the speaker. Cutting other wires may render the phone inoperable.