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Standard User mixt
(fountain of knowledge) Fri 12-Jun-15 09:49:59
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USB Dongle Recommendation


[link to this post]
 
Slightly unusual request as I am not strictly seeking a USB dongle for the purpose of data (read on if you want to know more).

Basically, my dilemma is this.

I have been using Google Calendar SMS alerts for a while now. I find them useful for scheduling reminders to be sent to my phone for up and coming events I have lined up. But as usual, when ever a company (Google) does something I like and make use of, they appear to ditch it. Which is exactly what they have done. As of the 27th of this month, SMS notifications are being turned off.

That leaves me only "Emails" and "Popups" as options for calendar notifications. I have tried using the Google Calendar app on my phone to get back some kind of on screen notification for events, but it really doesn't work that well, and I much prefer the SMS way.

I'm not prepared to flush my money away paying a company for an email-to-sms gateway solution either, and figured that if I get a 3G USB dongle that works with Linux, I can actually implement my own personal email-to-sms gateway through that, and restore my SMS alerts by forwarding Google Calendar alert emails to my Linux box and having a script process them and invoking a 3G USB dongle to send SMS messages. This also gives me much more flexibility than a paid for email-to-sms gateway could ever provide!

So the bottom line is - can anyone recommend a cheap 3G USB dongle, that works with Linux (CentOS 6), with its primary purpose to be for sending SMS messages? Data and data-speed are not the main requirement.

Any suggestions much appreciated.

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Edited by mixt (Fri 12-Jun-15 09:51:55)

Standard User David_W
(fountain of knowledge) Fri 12-Jun-15 10:42:56
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Re: USB Dongle Recommendation


[re: mixt] [link to this post]
 
The majority of dongles present a standard USB to serial device (for which your Linux box should have suitable drivers) that accepts the standard AT commands for SMS. If all you need the device for is mobile originated SMS, you may well find something suitable by asking people to search their junk box or for 99p on eBay. It would help if you don't mind the device being locked to one network, as many discarded dongles will have been supplied with mobile broadband contracts.

If you're desperate, I've got an old ZTE 3G dongle locked to O2 in my junk box that works as I described in recent versions of FreeBSD, so I suspect it would work equally well in Linux. However, I would rather hang on to this device, as it is the only dongle I have - the 4G mobile broadband devices I have are all Wi-Fi routers.

Standard User WWWombat
(knowledge is power) Wed 17-Jun-15 00:02:22
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Re: USB Dongle Recommendation


[re: mixt] [link to this post]
 
For software, you want an SMS Gateway, which have existed on Linux since before 3G existed. I used to use one in the 90's, but I've forgotten it's name.

In hardware terms, those programs would work with a simple GSM mobile using the data cable that was used to sync with the PC, and they probably still do. Nowadays, there are plenty of GSM modems that are probably better suited to the deal.

There are also service providers on the internet who will deliver SMS on demand, through a variety of APIs. You don't need hardware for these - you connect to them over the internet, and they connect directly to SMSC's for you. These give you access to the 5-digit mobile short codes.

Example gateway application, general principles:
http://www.ozekisms.com/index.php?ow_page_number=198

Email to SMS app:
http://www.ozekisms.com/index.php?ow_page_number=226

And the hardware it works with:
http://www.ozekisms.com/index.php?ow_page_number=148

Example SMS API providers:
Clickatell
Mblox
M-Science and DragonflySMS


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Standard User WWWombat
(knowledge is power) Wed 17-Jun-15 00:06:01
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Re: USB Dongle Recommendation


[re: mixt] [link to this post]
 
You might also find any of these useful...
http://martinfitzpatrick.name/list-of-email-to-sms-g...
Standard User mixt
(fountain of knowledge) Fri 19-Jun-15 07:49:38
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Re: USB Dongle Recommendation


[re: WWWombat] [link to this post]
 
Thanks for the info. I was already aware of the SMS gateway companies that are available. I have used aql.com in the past, but wanted to do my own solution as it is more flexible, plus, the volume of SMS message I will be doing is quite low.

So far, this has been a bit of a disaster.

I ordered one of these: http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/371339943870 - but I am thinking that buy cheap buy twice might be my downfall here.

I can talk to the device in Linux without issue. But first, I tried putting a GiffGaff SIM in it and was unable to send any SMS messages at all. Further investigation reveals that GG immediately block the SIM if they detect any kind of dongle device sending an SMS message, as this goes against their T&Cs (for using mobile services in an automated way), and indeed, when I moved the GiffGaff SIM back to what it was in previously (a Zoom 3G router), the SIM was indeed blocked, but was unblocked and working again several hours later.

So using a GG SIM for this purpose is a no no.

Ok, so, I have now tried a working O2 SIM in it. I know this should work because the same SIM works without issues in my Netgear Aircard. Still no joy.

Querying further the device, it appears that network registration has been denied:

http://m2m.com/thread/1020

AT+CREG?
+CREG: 0,3, 2664351, 546E

OK

I have also attempted to obtain the device's IMEI but get a memory error ( see http://stackoverflow.com/questions/1063310/how-to-ge... )

AT+CGSN
+CME ERROR: memory failure
AT+CGSN?
ERROR

Not sure what is going on to be honest - I'm sure I'll get to the bottom of it eventually.

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Edited by mixt (Fri 19-Jun-15 07:53:14)

Standard User jchamier
(eat-sleep-adslguide) Fri 19-Jun-15 18:34:47
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Re: USB Dongle Recommendation


[re: mixt] [link to this post]
 
You may want a data SIM rather than a voice SIM as some networks think that putting a voice SIM in a data only device is a problem.

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Standard User RobertoS
(elder) Fri 19-Jun-15 18:41:02
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Re: USB Dongle Recommendation


[re: mixt] [link to this post]
 
What problem do you have with the google Calendar alerts?

Mine works fine, particularly now that I've changed the alert sound to make it more easily noticed. I also have it displaying the event description on the Lock Screen.

I usually hear my iPad the other side of the room shout a couple of seconds earlier.

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Standard User mixt
(fountain of knowledge) Thu 25-Jun-15 13:56:44
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Re: USB Dongle Recommendation


[re: RobertoS] [link to this post]
 
I don't really have any issue per say - I am running the app and it does appear to work (brings up notifications on lock screen etc). But I liked the fact that, in the mornings, I could look at my phone and see any unread texts which were alerts from Google Calendar; that really did help with reminding me to do stuff (stuff that needs doing before I leave the house for work). These would appear on the lock screen, and then also show up as a number of unread messages against the messages app icon. I had to pro-actively read these messages and acknowledge them. The calendar app doesn't quite work in this way.

That's it really. I just prefer the SMS method compared to the Google Calendar app behaviour. smile

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Standard User mixt
(fountain of knowledge) Thu 25-Jun-15 14:13:42
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Re: USB Dongle Recommendation


[re: jchamier] [link to this post]
 
Indeed, that is what an O2 customer representative advised. But I have since worked this out.

The dongle I ordered originally - for what ever reason - does not work with O2. I now have two O2 SIMs available to me. My "mobile" SIM (designed to be used in a phone, had this for a number of years now as a secondary mobile number) and another "mobile broadband" SIM (designed to be used in a dongle/mifi device, they sent this out recently after my phone call to them). Neither of these worked in the dongle I bought, because the status of the dongle when querying it simply indicated "network registration denied".

So, I figured... let's just get an actual O2 dongle then. Grabbed one off eBay a few days ago. And it works!

So my plan is to use my "mobile" SIM in it, for SMS purposes. This will also prevent the SIM from being disabled due to inactivity (as I had to re-activate it a few weeks ago because it hadn't made any calls in a while). And the "mobile broadband" SIM I can use, as intended and as it is designed for, in my mifi device.

All sorted. Managed to get back Google Calendar notifications via SMS to my phone again, so all is back and running as before. Unless my broadband stops working, in which case, this all breaks (or rather, the SMS messages will be delayed).

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