Easy Guide to Installing a Small GPS Tracker in Your Heavy Equipment

  • Written by Arsalan
GPS installer is explaining how to install a GPS tracker.

A GPS tracker in a heavy machine isn’t just about theft protection. You may use it for reporting the machine’s condition. Purchasing a heavy machine is a significant investment, and installing a GPS tracker will help you manage your assets efficiently.

GPS tracking technology is referred to as “telematics,” and it offers the benefits like tracking, theft prevention, time management, instant alerts, and maintenance.

The article will show how you can install a small GPS tracker on a John Deere 26G mini excavator or similar heavy equipment.

Step1: Select Tracker Location

The first step is to select the GPS device’s mounting location to hide it as much as possible. It should not be enclosed entirely by metal as it may cause issues with satellite reception. Refer to the image below for the mounting location of the device.


GPS installer is showing the mounting location of GPS.

You can wire it off through a fuse block underneath the seat or the ignition. It would be best if you could hide it as far as possible.

Tools List

Here is the list of tools needed to install the GPS device.
1. Multimeter
2. Utility Knife
3. Relay
4. Cutters
5. Drill
6. Solder Pencil
7. Split Loom
8. Additional Wires
9. Socket and Ratchet Set
10. Crimper

Step 2: Assemble the Harness

Now, you must assemble the harness and try making it look as neat as possible. The device we will use has a reasonably long harness that makes it easy to hide.

Every device has a power ground connection, an ignition wire which initiates one-minute tracking, and an output wire. We can use the output for the immobilizer action.

It has negative output, and we must use a relay to make that work. This relay will be driven by the negative output and a connection to the true ignition.

We have to cover the harness with a black loom and shorten it. The relay will be either 12V or 24V, depending on the type of machine.


Step 3: GPS Installation

The next step is to install the GPS tracker. Remove the panel shown in the image. Undo the three 17mm bolts, and get to the fuse block. Use a plastic fish to pull the harness through the grommet. Don’t use metal because it may puncture the wires. Use a little silicone spray to make it easier to pull through.


GPS installer is removing the side panel
GPS installer is pulling the harness through the frommet

You must get to the back of the fuse block to make the connection. We have to look for a power and ignition source. In this machine, there is a fuse that runs the starter. So if we interrupt the power circuit, the machine will not start.

Open up the loom to expose the wires. Use a multimeter that is already grounded to look for the constant power. Make sure that the key is turned off. In our case, the red wires show 12V power.


GPS installer is opening up the loom to access wires

Trace the starter wire using a multimeter. This wire will show zero volts when the ignition switch is off. Turn on the key, and it will show very little voltage. Now crank the starter, and the voltage will jump suddenly. This wire is white with blue in this particular machine.

If you cut this wire, the machine won’t start. The immobilizer relay is going to interrupt that wire. Power and ignition will be connected to the fuse block, as shown in the image below.


GPS installer is showing power and ignition wires

Cut the yellow wire, and attach a ring terminal to it. It is used to ground it up. The ignition will be connected to the relay. The standard configuration for these relays is the two exterior connections. So if you hold the relay with the bottom pin facing in a vertical position, the two exterior connections will trigger the relay. These are usually labeled ’85’ and ’86’. Connections can be made either way.


GPS installer is shows the standard configuration of the relays

Some instructions will show an immobilizer relay wired to constant power, which is incorrect. The relay will stay on, and it will kill the battery. The other connections are for the starters.

The blue connectors are used, and these represent a thicker gauge. The vertical terminal ’30’ is common, and ’87a’ is in the middle. These two wires are connected internally all the time, which allows the machine to start.

When the relay is activated, the internal switch will open, and the bottom’ 30′ will now be connected to ’87’. Since there is nothing on ’87’, the machine won’t start.

Step 4: Hide Wiring and Tidy Up

Now clean all the wires and try to make the setup as hidden as possible. Prepare the harness and tape it all up. We are going to use a poke-and-wrap technique. Poke right through the wire and connect the ignition and the starter wires.

Ensure that the wire is heated enough to a point where it absorbs the solder. Now slide the heat shrink over the connections and zip-tie the whole assembly. Use the existing screw for the ground.


GPS installer is soldering the wires

Step 5: Test the GPS

Make a quick test to ensure the machine is started. Plug in the GPS and ensure that the device lights up. The best test is to look online to check the device is reporting. You can use an app if you have access to it.

Step 6: GPS Activation and Registration

GPS activation is a 30-second process if all goes well. You need the IMEI number of the device. Ensure that the device is connected correctly and flashing.

You will get the confirmation online about the device reporting. You should run three quick tests after the GPS installation.

  • GPS location
  • Ignition Reporting
  • Immobilizer

You can test the immobilizer by turning it on. If you try to start the machine, it won’t crank. It indicates that the immobilizer is working fine.

Step 7: Troubleshooting

If the device is not reporting, it may be due to signal blockage. It is recommended to check the device outside the building. The connections can be checked easily using a multimeter. The multimeter will show 12V when you touch the multimeter probes with the ground and power wires.

Step 8: Cover the Wiring

The last step is to cover up the wiring. Cover the exposed wires with a loom and tape. Mount the GPS device so that it’s not visible through the louvers. Zip-tie the assembly, so it looks tidy. It completes the installation of the GPS tracker.


GPS installer is using loom and tape to cover the wires

End Notes

GPS installation is a pretty straightforward process. The GPS tracker protects you from theft and can get instant reports online about its location and condition. It helps you manage your assets efficiently and gives you peace of mind.

Visit the FortisHD blog for more tips, tutorials, and guides about heavy equipment

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