I am developing a hobby project to detect/measure the distance between my cell phone and a cell tower (GSM tower).
I am newbie. I don't even know whether this is possible or not.
I have following hardware:

  1. Raspberry Pi 3
  2. RTL2832u

I am planning to use OpenBTS and the FreeSwitch stack in the future for advanced feature development.

  • $\begingroup$ Hobby projects like this are great. You can certainly learn a lot by doing it yourself. To do this with a RPi you'll want a GSM module to find "my cell tower" But of course, there are other ways to simply detect cell tower signals. Have you looked at the apps available for smart phones? I saw one a while back which identified the tower my phone was connected to and put it up on a map, along with signal strength info. $\endgroup$
    – SDsolar
    Apr 16, 2018 at 15:41
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Yes. The android app OpenSignal and RF Tracker is real helpful. Cell2GPS too is great website. But I am planning to develop same on Raspberry Pi 3. $\endgroup$ Apr 16, 2018 at 17:23
  • $\begingroup$ If you implemented this project can I get the details please.I have a plan to use this technique in an another way.please help $\endgroup$
    – Jesal
    Jun 9, 2021 at 6:33

1 Answer 1


One approach would be to capture the GSM Cell ID. This uniquely identifies a particular GSM site. You can then lookup this ID in a database such as one offered by Cobain to determine the tower location. If your application serves a very limited geography, you could build your own database to suit your needs.

In order to calculate distance, you will need to geo locate your receive site through a GPS signal, manual entry, or other means. You could then use Google Map services to show the two points and the distance between them.


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