Monitoring all over the world with 3G Network for not more than 10$ monthly payment

The MONITOR™ is a free web service which shows the latest posted picture and sensor data. With 2$ USB Camera and Raspberry Pi, you can get your D.I.Y. Monitoring for inexpensive cost.

You can get started MONITOR™ for Free at here!


Even at the place where no available network access all over the world, your Monitoring system still work well with 3G dongle & International Data SIM card.

I write from now how to setup inexpensive 3G network environment on your RaspberryPi easily.

USB 3G dongle and Data SIM card utilities "gc_modem"

In General, setting of USB 3G dongle and SIM Card is troublesome works with bizarre technical terms, like udev rule, apn, and so on.
The "gc_modem" is usefull utilities to change there troublesome works mentioned above to just select the name of dongle and SIM card which you'll use. 

gc_modem is consist of following parts:
  • udev_rules : Definitions of each USB 3G dongles which will be mentioned.
  • wvdial : Definitions of each DATA SIM cards which will be mentioned.
  • scripts : utils to get information of 3G Dongle and DATA SIM.

udev_rules

There are setup utility and prepared rules of USB 3G dongles for how to recognize and how to set up to be ready for use. You can activate a rule by set.sh command with the rule name which you would activate. For example, in case you would activate the rule for ZTE MF190

./set.sh 99-ZTE_mf190.rules 
Please refer README for details.

wvdial

There are setup utility for getting the Internet access automatically at system startup time and unexpected Internet access lost time, and prepared rules of DATA SIM for how to connect the Internet.

The autostart setting for getting the Internet access automatically is just call a autostart.sh command as:


./autostart.sh --on
The selection of SIM Card is just fill the SIM vendor name in the wvdial.ini file. For example, in case you would use Transatel DataSIM Card, just fill TRANSATEL as:

DIALER1=TRANSATEL
DIALER2=

Please refer README for details.

scripts

There are useful python script to get 3G dongle information by AT commands.
For Example, you can get antenna signal quality by python -m getcsq as follows:  

python -m getcsq
['13', '-87', 'OK']

Please refer README for details.

Inexpensive USB 3G dongles

ZTE MF-180


These sticks in above picture are ZTE MF-180 USB 3g Dongle, which is so inexpensive (used products are abailable about 5$ - 20$), durable, and good sensitivity of antenna.

The rule file initialize command of gc_modem/udev_rules for MF-180 as follow:

./set.sh 99-ZTE_mf190.rules 

Huawei E173


Huawei E173 is also available USB 3G dongle which you can buy used products for very good price, but there are slightly individual differences of antenna sensitivity of this product. I'll mention later about how to measure the antenna sensitivity.

The rule file initialize command of gc_modem/udev_rules for MF-180 as follow:

./set.sh 99-ZTE_mf190.rules

Inexpensive International Data SIM card,

With inexpensive data sim card, Monitoring all over the world is available for about 10$ monthly.

Following SIM cards are my recommendations.

Transatel DataSIM


Transatel DataSIM is very good candidate for Monitoring all over the world. It has wide coverage of the world and offer very good rate. Especially, the Worldwide credit plan with 25€, 50€ and 100€ credit have convenient long expiration each as 3 month, 6 month and 1 year. So, the Monitoring all over the world is available just for 8.3€ monthly.
The rate is depend on the country and region, most inexpensive case is 0.02€/MByte at almost European countries.

At the rate of 0.02€/MByte, with Worldwide credit plan 25€ of 3 month expiration, with which interval we can monitor a place by paying 25€ per 3 month, means 8.3€/month?

  The monthly available traffic = 8.3/0.02 = 415MByte

The picture size sent by 2$ USB Camera to the MONITOR™ is depend on the environment, but typically about 0.1M Byte (100K Byte).
So, you can send about 10 picture per 1MByte credit of SIM card.

  The available picture sent a month = 415 * 10 = 4150 pics
  The available picture sent a day = 4150/31= 133 pics
  The available picture sent an hour = 133/24 = 5

So, with Transatel DataSIM, It's possible to make Monitoring all over the world at 12 minute interval for the 8.3€ monthly pay. It surprisingly good price.

Setting for automatically connect to the Internet is, fill TRANSATEL in a DIALER1 column of wvdial.ini file:

DIALER1=TRANSATEL
DIALER2=

Then, one time call a autostart.sh command with --on option as:


./autostart.sh --on

GO-SIM Data SIM Card


GO-SIM is one of good alternative, they offer there best rate as 0.0058 $/MByte for there 5GB Offer plan. Even in the country without 5GB Offer plan, there SIM CARD rate is so attractive in the situation of big data traffic must be necessary, like a movie streaming.
Setting for automatically connect to the Internet is, fill TRANSATEL in a DIALER1 column of wvdial.ini file:

DIALER1=gosim
DIALER2=

Then, one time call a autostart.sh command with --on option as:


./autostart.sh --on

MTX CONNECT

MTX CONNECT offers Pay as you go plan, just pay only for the traffic you used for 0.015€/MByte. This is very attractive in the situation of so small data traffic, like just enough one picture a day, pay only 0.045€ a month.

Setting for automatically connect to the Internet is, fill TRANSATEL in a DIALER1 column of wvdial.ini file:

DIALER1=mtx
DIALER2=

Then, one time call a autostart.sh command with --on option as:

./autostart.sh --on

Coverage & price table for these SIMs mentioned above

I've prepared following table for convenience to reference.
The xxsim is also good alternative in case all TRANSATEL, gosim, and mtx don't offer good price.
The soracom is Postpaid DataSIM, different from other SIM Card' payment are Prepaid. Postpaid system is convenient in case massive number of device.

Full .pdf version is available here.


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