Remote start, lock, and unlock your car from anywhere




The SmartStarter is a device that lives in your car and allows you to unlock, lock, or remote start that car via text message. Each option is just an SMS away. No more waiting for the car to warm up while you freeze!

My Solution

Remote start the car via text! I combined an Arduino, a 3G modem, a spare car remote, and a handful of analog components to create a device that can remotely start (and lock/unlock) my car anywhere there is 3G cellphone service.

The Problem 

Sitting in your car and freezing while you wait for the car to warm up sucks. My car has remote start capability, but the range is limited to about a block. I often park 3 or 4 blocks away from my apartment, which renders the remote starter useless.

design & fabrication

In the v1 prototype, I used an Arduino Uno and wired everything together on a breadboard. The device worked, but was not reliable, as it quickly drained the LiPo battery and required regular recharging. Full write up of v1 here.

For v2, I switched to an Arduino Pro Mini for power savings, migrated the circuit to a perf board, moved the device into a project box, and hardwired the SmartStarter to a 12v line in my car. I also cleaned up the code a bit. Powering the device off the 12v allowed for greater reliability, but at the cost of a constant ~100ma drain of my car battery. Full write up of v2 here.

For v3, I improved the circuit design and code, significantly increasing the power savings and reliability of the device. The hardware now operates entirely on LiPo power, and once the battery drops below 40%, a MOSFET switches the 12v car power to charge the battery. The device now goes into deep sleep mode for 1 minute intervals, only waking briefly to check for incoming texts and perform a task.

I added state detection to the lock, unlock, and remote start functions — the device now provides accurate feedback as to whether or not the requested action was completed successfully. Finally, I designed, fabricated, and powder coated a custom control panel for the front of the device. Full write up of v3 coming soon.


  • Arduino

  • Eagle

  • Vectorworks

  • Adobe Illustrator

  • MasterCAM

  • OtherMill Desktop CNC


  • Arduino Nano

  • Adafruit FONA 3G

  • Viper Keyfob

  • 6061 Aluminum


  • Physical computing

  • 2D design

  • CAD & CAM

  • CNC

  • electrical engineering

  • fabrication

  • GSM / AT