IT Security & Network Security News & Reviews: iFixit Reveals What`s Inside the FBI Vehicle Tracking Device

 
 
By Fahmida Y. Rashid  |  Posted 2011-05-16
 
 
 

Hidden Under the Car

The tracking device is mounted under the car and is designed to be inconspicuous. And the courts have thus far ruled that an FBI agent can sneak onto your driveway to slip it under your car.

Hidden Under the Car

The FBI Vehicle Tracker

The device actually has two parts, the GPS receiver and the transponder that communicates the data back to its masters at the FBI office.

The FBI Vehicle Tracker

The Battery

The device draws very little power, and this particular set of batteries packs enough juice to easily last 20 years. Thats a long time to be tracked.

The Battery

Mounted Under the Car

The battery pack, transmitter and GPS antenna are connected by wires and have their own magnet mounts. They'd be attached in close proximity underneath the car, probably near the edge so the GPS receiver can pick up a signal.

Mounted Under the Car

Inside the GPS Receiver

The GPF antenna was attached to its mounting bracket with Velcro. The antenna board was manufacturerd by SIgem.

Inside the GPS Receiver

Inside the Receiver/Transmitter

The two circuit boards are attached with a blue cable to handle the data collected by the GPS antenna and to transmit it out to federal agents.

Inside the Receiver/Transmitter

The GPS Board

The circuit board that handles GPS signal processing dates back to 1999 and has a mere 0.125MB of SRAM and 1MB of flash memory. The FBI likely hand-soldered the board by hand, according to iFixit.

The GPS Board

The Transmitter

The board contains the ultra-low-power single-chip transceiver. It allows for data transmission and reception. It contains the connections for both the GPS and transmission antennas.

The Transmitter

The Teardown: Complete

Remember kids, the FBI can legally track you using one of these. Taken apart, they are just plain circuit boards and batteries.

The Teardown: Complete

An Old Model

iFixit took apart a model from several years ago. While there are reports that the FBI is using more modern hardware, they are probably still pretty small. If you or your mechanic didnt stumble over it, you arent likely to notice it.

An Old Model

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