Intrument case trackers: the verdict is in.

Edited: July 11, 2021, 10:15 AM · Some of you may remember that a while ago I had asked if any of you had had experiences with tracking down stolen violins. By coincidence, I was asked to publish an article on the subject, so I did a lot of research and here is what I found out.

It turns out that I was wrong about the Bluetooth trackers, such as Tile, Samsung Smart Tag, and Apple AirTag. Of the three, according to the Wall Street Journal which tested them, the Apple product works best: a bag "abbandoned" (i.e. entrusted to a third party) on a street corner in Manhattan with an AirTag inside was located in just four minutes. So it would make a great tracking device for a stolen instrument case, right?

Unfortunately not. To avoid that the device be used for unauthorized tracking of people, if your violin thief has an iPhone a message will appear that he is toting someone else's AirTag, which will encourage him to look for it and toss it. And if he doesn't have an iPhone, after 72 hours of separation for the phone it is paired with it starts making noise.

Smart Tags and Tiles will soon have this feature too, so it looks like these locators might be OK for those who forget their instrument in a taxi, but not if it is stolen. So what is the solution?

Contrary to my expectations, I managed to find two GPS devices, the LandSeaAir 54 and the GeoForce GT0. Unlike the old 2G GPS trackers (such as Xexun TK series) these trackers work with the 4G LTE telefone frequencies world wide. Both are small enough to hide anywhere inside the case, and have a battery life that can reach six months. Especially the LandSeaAir product seems very easy to use - just turn it on, hide it in the case, and with a dedicated app you can see where the case is at all times.

The only drawback is that you have to pay a monthly useage fee, which however starts at $10 per month so it's not that bad. It turns out that I have some clients who use this product, and they recommend it, so I can too.

Disclaimer: I have no association with the LandSeaAir company.

Replies (9)

July 11, 2021, 8:31 AM · Thanks, Dimitri.
July 11, 2021, 6:30 PM · Surely there are small GPS trackers such as those used by biologists to track wildlife too.
Edited: July 12, 2021, 1:15 AM · Roger, I agree. It seems that older wildlife trackers used the now-obsolete GSM/GPRS system, while the latest ones use radio transmitters that beam GPS data to a satellite where it is then re-directed to wherever desired, while other less sophisticated systems use a hand-held radio antenna when the subject is in close range.

Keep in mind however that battery life depends on how many times the transmitter transmits its position. With wildlife it can be once a day or even a longer interval, depending on the beast. This does not make it compatible with the needs of the musician trying to locate his stolen instrument. The LandSeaAir product can be set to transmit in intervals from every three seconds to once every three minutes.

There are battery-less solar powered wildlife trackers too (animals tend to live outdoors...), but again you would have to affix it to the outside of the case in full view, and most require an antenna. Lastly, these trackers are pretty expensive.

Anyway yours is a good suggestion and I'll follow up to see where it leads. Thanks!

July 12, 2021, 11:33 AM · If there's one thing i can't stand is buying goods and having to pay for further services after the purchase.
In the pc and software world it's the rule. I can't stand it .... :)
July 13, 2021, 12:18 AM · Marco, I agree with you but that seems to be the trend these days. I don't now how old you are, but if I mentioned this to my Gen Z daughter she would roll her eyes and tell me to stop "booming around" ;-)
Edited: July 13, 2021, 1:32 AM · @Marco Keygens... JK. You probably won't find working ones for newer software, and well... it's illegal and morally wrong.
July 13, 2021, 5:45 AM · @Mike: i did not understand your reply.

@Dimitri: i'm 52 years old.

Edited: July 13, 2021, 6:32 AM · I hope this will clarify

Sorry for the bad attempt at humor.

Edited: July 13, 2021, 6:55 AM · Well Marco, good for you, then you're a Gen X. Please have pity on us boomers, we're doing the best we can :-)

BTW just today I ordered a new laptop and they wanted me to pay the yearly fee for the MS office package and I managed to convince them to sell me the base one-payment package. Whew.

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