My $1 alternative to LoJack GPS car tracking technology

Over at Ask MetaFilter, a kind of Yahoo! Answers for the cognoscenti, user lizzicide wanted a system that would alert her if her car was towed. Apparently the moderators didn't rate my answer, because it's gone now. Good thing I

saved it

for posterity. Text reads:

There's a good chance my car might get towed at any time. So, what are my options for tracking my car's movement (possible via GPS) when it's not turned on and I'm not in it?

This is probably not possible, but I'd like to be able to tell if my car is being towed. Since it'll most likely be towed in the middle of the night while I'm sleeping a few blocks away from my dubiously legal parking spot, I live in fear of waking up in the morning to find that it's gone. Is there any alarm that can remotely alert me if my car travels?

My preferred solution would be:

Park car, turn car off. Put device in car.

Leave car.

If car then moves, device alerts another device that I keep with me, causing some kind of an alarm. Yeah, my car will still have been towed, but at least I can intervene and pick it up at the towing lot and not be late for work.

Is there anything I can make work for this purpose?
posted by lizzicide to technology (3 comments total) [add to favorites] 1 user marked this as a favorite [!]

You could tie a long piece of string to the axle with a bell on it.
posted by SciencePunk at 3.29 PM on March 25 [+] [!]

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Fuggedabout the bells. Tie the other end of the string to your bed.

Wait a minute. This woman posted a question on how she could sleep while simultaneously breaking the law (albeit a very minor one) and the MeFi moderators removed your answer? What gives?

By Mrs.Grackle (not verified) on 26 Mar 2009 #permalink

Or, the oldest trick in the book - sleep in the backseat!

Just cough up for a parking permit, tightwad.

By Mojojo Jojo (not verified) on 26 Mar 2009 #permalink

'dubiously legal' might just mean she's parked in the nearby shopping center because the place she lives in constantly runs out of parking spaces (my grandparent's situation at their last house).

FWIW, I think the correct answer is "You could tie a long piece of string to the axle and your toe."

She could probably rig something up using some old lego MindStorms, I"m pictureing one of the rotation sensors on the wheel or a motion sensor somewhere. Bells don't run out of batteries though.

Some kind of Improvised Device, let me think... Hmm, you might do something with the mercury 'Tilt' switch from an old pinball machine, rigged to a battery and some kind of substance that would make a lot of noise when sparked, so it'd wake the whole neighbourhood. Something agricultural, perhaps. Don't forget to disconnect the battery before driving off in the morning.

String is good, but it's hard to get good string these days. Somebody would probably boost the car if they had to, just to put a new layer on their personal Big Ball of it.

By John Scanlon FCD (not verified) on 07 Apr 2009 #permalink

Umm, since she wants to be kept abreast of her car's whereabouts when she sleeps "a few blocks" from it, I would like to see, at the very least, a cartoon drawing of this incredibly long string and the route it takes to her room negating traffic, people, animals, laws and other environmental factors.

The string wont work cause the guy who´s gonna tow the car migth cut it, how about a dozen bells in the transaxle?