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Thread: Receiving text messages in Windows using a 3G dongle

  1. #1
    Automated Home Lurker
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    Default Receiving text messages in Windows using a 3G dongle

    Hello everyone,

    I'm thinking about getting a USB 3G dongle for my home automation server (which runs Windows Server 2003). It will be partly to provide a backup data connection for the home security features in case the broadband goes down.

    But I'd also like to be able to use it to receive SMS text messages and "do stuff" based on the content of the message. Does anybody know of any software that can monitor the dongle for incoming text messages and, for example, run a command-line program? Or can the standard software that comes with these devices do that?

    If anybody with experience of this sort of thing has any thoughts, I'd be very grateful.

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Automated Home Legend chris_j_hunter's Avatar
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    not a direct answer, but ISTR the GSM Auto include something of the sort:

    http://www.automatedhome.co.uk/New-P...our-Phone.html

    and AlertMe has some relevant capabilities :

    http://www.alertme.com/home-security/

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    Moderator toscal's Avatar
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    Have a look at these sites.
    http://www.developershome.com/sms/ho...SMSUsingPC.asp

    http://www.asep.us/2006/01/20/how-to...ng-a-computer/

    http://www.text-connect.co.uk/info_overview.php

    May point you in the right direction.

    A client of mine uses Voipbuster and homeseer with RFXCOM to send text messages from his PC to his mobile phone.
    Have a look here http://board.homeseer.com/showthread.php?t=127413


    For Voipbuster www.voipbuster.com . I use voipbuster instead of Skype and think its excellent. Better value and I can use my normal land line phone if I want.
    IF YOU CAN'T FIX IT WITH A HAMMER, YOU'VE GOT AN ELECTRICAL PROBLEM.
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    Automated Home Sr Member jaffab's Avatar
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    Kevin,

    Can you tell me why you feel the need for the mobile network - do you have a bad internet connection.

    I have a similar setup as you (home server for my home automation, running Windows SBS 2003), and everything so far is via the internet (I get emails via Exchange to my mobile phone when alarms are set, unset (useful for keeping track of the cleaners comings and goings) as of course in the event the alarm is actually triggered. I have never thought about the need for backup connection, but now you mention it....

    Let us know how you get on, what you decide, which option you go for, and costs please.

    Thanks

    Jaffa

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    Automated Home Legend TimH's Avatar
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    This looks like what you might need:
    http://www.xapautomation.org/index.php?title=xAP_SMS

    (NB the note about the "sendmytxt" receive service...)

    I guess you'd use the 3G dongle purely as a 'net connection as the SMS part is hosted by sendmytxt.

    Have a look at the other xAP applications too

    HTH,

    Tim.

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    Automated Home Legend chris_j_hunter's Avatar
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    just a thought, but ...

    I'd be surprised if a 3G dongle could be relied-on to keep connection 100% of the time - ours loses it every now & then when the signal fades to nothing (it's five-bars, so not a marginal area, nearly all the time - but not all the time) ... plus the network slows to a crawl at peak times - typically early evening, occasionally at other times - at a guess, it's v.fast 85% of the time, and making some sort of connection 99.5% of the time ... but it's funny how it's unusable just when it's critical !

    ie: if it needs to be really reliable, some management of the connection could be required ...
    Last edited by chris_j_hunter; 26th May 2009 at 07:20 PM.

  7. #7
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    Thanks for all your replies so far - I'm looking in to a lot of the information you've suggested.

    Quote Originally Posted by chris_j_hunter View Post
    and AlertMe has some relevant capabilities
    I've been thinking about going down the AlertMe route for my whole security solution, but I'm put off by the ongoing monthly charge for the monitored service with the GPRS backup. Something to consider, though!

    Quote Originally Posted by jaffab View Post
    Can you tell me why you feel the need for the mobile network - do you have a bad internet connection.
    Well, the connection goes down every now and then. I suppose I'm more concerned (from a security point of view) about a burgler cutting the phone line where it enters the house before breaking in (if they thought I might have a monitored alarm connected to the analogue line). It's probably overkill, but I thought if I'm going to connect the server to a UPS to make it resiliant against the power being cut, I should probably do the same for the phone line.

    I've seen an offer for a pay-as-you-go 3G dongle on the Three network for about 5, so it seemed like a good opportunity to try it out. I still need to look in to which networks let you top-up data without it expiring each month, otherwise it would work out too expensive (after all, it would only be used to send me the odd alert when the ADSL wasn't available, so a 1GB top-up should last almost indefinitely!). The incoming SMS part isn't really going to be used much, it's just because I like a challenge!

    I'll let you know how I progress.

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    Quote Originally Posted by chris_j_hunter View Post
    I'd be surprised if a 3G dongle could be relied-on to keep connection 100% of the time - ours loses it every now & then when the signal fades to nothing (it's five-bars, so not a marginal area, nearly all the time - but not all the time)
    That's a bit of a concern. Does it automatically reconnect, or does it need manual intervention?

  9. #9
    Automated Home Legend chris_j_hunter's Avatar
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    exactly the point, unfortunately - manual ...

    now & then, it bumps out & has to be re-connected, manually ...

    unless, maybe, more recent software is smarter than ours (we've had ours six months, or so)

    or unless anyone can point me at anything to make it better ...
    Last edited by chris_j_hunter; 26th May 2009 at 11:50 PM.

  10. #10
    Automated Home Legend TimH's Avatar
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    Maybe you'd be better off with a different router than can manage separate WAN connections, rather than trying to do it directly in the PC.

    e.g. Draytek routers can offer ADSL *and* 3G support, check out the comparison table below:
    http://www.draytek.co.uk/products/comparison.html

    Quoting from the 2820's features page:
    The Vigor 2820 Series's USB port can host a compatible 3G modem or cellphone for access to the cellular network for full Internet Access. Most UK networks now provide high speed HSDPA data connections at up to 3.6Mb/s download speed. The 3G connection can be used as your primary/only Internet access, or as backup to your main ADSL line connection.
    Other routers are available etc

    HTH,

    Tim.

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