Our devices are a breeze to mount and install.
Our hard-wired vehicle trackers like the Dart2, G62 and G120 have internal self-resetting thermal fuses - meaning external fuses aren't needed. There are no external GPS or cellular antennas to fit, and devices are fitted with Low Noise Amplifiers (LNAs) to ensure signals are boosted. On top of this we use key features like GPS Aiding Data.
What all of this means is that Digital Matter devices will perform when installed under the dash, under a trailer etc - and we generally don't really need to take special care to orient them in the correct way. In most cases, the most convenient install location is the best. But there are some rules of thumb for the best results. A good installation seeks to strike a balance between providing the best signal reception device for performance, but also takes into account concealing the device so it is protected, and also perhaps hidden from potential thieves.
We have a few competing objectives when installing a device:
For the best GPS performance, we want to install the device where it has an unobstructed, 180 degree view of the sky, so that it can see as many satellites as possible. But this isn't a requirement for the device to be able to get a fix due to the LNA and aiding data.
The orange/yellow square in the image is the GPS antenna. If possible point this to the sky, but this isn't critical.
Sometimes in a vehicle for example, it's pretty clear there is only room to fit a device in a certain spot.
Preventing Damage and Tampering
If we expose the device so that it can get the best reception, it might be prone to getting knocked off/crushed, or even removed by nefarious characters!
Each situation is a bit different, so it is really up to the user to determine the most sensible and practical mounting option for the application. But some general advice:
- Hard wired devices are fine to install under the dash, wherever they can be wired in to power
- Avoid installing anything deep inside a metal enclosure (even mesh ones), where the device is surrounded by metal on all sides - this will act as a Faraday Cage and block signal. Being near some metal is not the end of the world and our devices perform well mounted on sea containers, trailers, skip bins etc. If the device can 'see' out in general it will be able to get a fix.
- Magnetic mounts can be used if desired.
- Many devices have screw holes or slots - these offer a convenient mounting option - make sure to evenly tighten onto a flat surface so as to not torque the housing.
Nothing beats a real world test! Cellular signal will penetrate any barriers more readily than GPS signal, so this is usually what fails first and what we can test for. To test the GPS signal strength, we can enable extra debugging to view the strength seen by satellites, see GPS Troubleshooting. This is useful to do when installing on a new type of asset/in a new location. It is worth conducting this step rather than simply checking for a fix. If we just check we get a valid fix, we might have the situation where our install is severely blocking signal - but the car/asset is outdoors in quite good conditions otherwise - so the device just gets a fix. As soon as we move locations to somewhere where the overall signal strength is weaker, such as a built-up area for example - fixes may fail.
We want to see many satellites in our test with signal strengths above 30. Once we've tested our new installation, if we are going to install in similar locations across a fleet - we don't need to be as thorough, installers can use the Installer Page to just test after install if we're getting a fix + upload.