GSMcellspotting

GSMcellspotting is a personal non-commercial project. Any reproduction of the content is strictly forbidden without prior written permission.

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What is this?

Quite simply put I’m building a suitcase to log the network topography of the available GSM networks.

History

I’ve been interested in GSM technology since 1997. Many years ago I started exploring Telenor and Netcoms GSM networks with the Netmonitor menu that one could enable on certain Nokia phones. The logging was done with paper and pencil. When I got my first Symbian phone I had the possibility to do more. I managed to get a hold of software that could log information about the cells my phone was connected to. I used a different program to make trace logs of where I had been by hooking a GPS up to my phone. Finally I wrote a program that combined the two logs and output which cells I was connected to where and how strong reception I had. All of the information was then saved in a database.

A while back I made a web interface using AJAX technology and Google maps to present the contents of the database here on gsmcellspotting. I managed to lose all of the work I had done on the web interface by accident, and I’ve now started making a new and better interface based on Flex and Yahoo maps.

The system I was using had one disadvantage; I could only log the Network I had a SIM card for and I could only log the cells I was connected to. I decided to make a system built into a suitcase that could log 3 networks at the same time by putting a laptop, three phones and a GPS in a suitcase. I could then log 3 networks at once, and have the GPS position logged in real-time. There was now no need to run logs through a program that combined them, a good thing since the combining of logs was a slow process and could in some instances be less accurate. I sat down and wrote the software for the logging suitcase. The software worked great, so I decided to buy a suitcase to put it all in. Unfortunately something catastrophic happened before I got to test the system. Two of the phones I was using for the project (old phones I had lying around) were water damaged. I was ready to give up on the whole project.

But then I came across a product that got me back on track. I came across a GSM modem that could among other things gather information on all GSM networks without having to be connected to them. It could also gather more information than the information available on a normal GSM phone. The GSM logging suitcase was finally born.

For more information about how I built the suitcase including pictures check out the “Equipment & Technology” link on the main menu.

Go to the “Interactive map” link on the main menu to see all of the data stored in my database and test out the live system.