Howdy, I want to add a lightweight tracking device to my drone in case of a fly away episode. The problem is that I work in areas outside of cell networks (northern Canada). So to my understanding that only leaves a gps tracking device - like a Spot Trace - as an option. I don't mind the $120 cost for the device, but I hate the idea of having to spend another $100 per year for "service". Any thoughts or alternatives?
You don't have FPV?, We use FPV with minim and a little DVR in our GC, rec the video, if we lost the plane, we have the GPS position recorded, copy to a handheld GPS and go for it; your FPV antennas have to be in relation with your distance fly capacity, I have a patch and tested up to 30kms and works well; then, near the scene, with the tablet you can have better position if the plane continues trasmitting or have a beep (HK ones aren't usefull) or try to acelerate the motor if works; we found many planes like this
This is a very good thread for potential use of a lot of 'Droners...
I see that the best ideas I could come up with have all been given here already.
For extreme alternatives, I have some odd suggestions, sorry if any of these have already been used.
If you could get something to make a 'ping' of some sort that could be picked up on an AM radio, it is possible to use an AM radio for directional discrimination, and they do pick up a signal well.
There is also those old "Mr Microphone" gadgets that broadcast on an FM radio, but might not be enough range.
Another possibility would be to use a loud audible beep, which of course, could be heard by anyone else, in case you might be concerned about somone else finding it first. You could have a very high pitch that only a dog could hear, and if you have a dog, maybe they could lead you to it. - For that matter, you might also be able to give it a strong but not unpleasant scent that a dog could lead you to as well maybe.
Another odd idea would be if the drone, once out of range, and/or crashed could set off one of those small, cheap 4th of July smoke bombs that are only a little more than an inch across, and weigh very little. THere would be the concern for starting a fire, but if it was contained in a small aluminum container, that would probably keep it safe. The right choice of color of smoke might be important so it is not mistaken for a fire, or an emergency, so I guess white, grey, blackish and orange would be bad. Blue might be best in daytime, and then there is yellow and green.
If you had another drone as back-up, and the first drone that went out of range or craches had infra red leds on it, many types of common video pick up an infra red LED like it was a white LED, so if it was getting dark, a drone with FPV might be able to find it if you walk in the last known direction - and don't let your back-up drone get out of range, lol...
I think your main problem with most poterntial solutions would be range. Otherwise, you would be able to use one of those gadgets that help you find your keys.
If you are able to upgrade your drone or get a more sophisticated (and more expensive) one, you might make use of the return to home function availabel on some electronics. If it went out of range, it might automatically return, thus, bringing it back into range.
I know these ideas are from out of left field and maybe not the best, but I thought I would toss them out there in case you like one, or they might give you some other idea as you ponder.
Not involved in any way (other than a backer) but this looked like a reasonable non-GPS/subs product.
500ft detection - should be enough if you know the rough landing spot for the device. At least it will reduce the area to search.
I should have clarified that I am thinking about long range Fly Away - like 10-20 km. Heck my Skyhunter with 2 x 4000mah could really leave the scene!
I am using a 3dr Radio for telemetry, but don't imagine the range on this is very far. Probably ok for copters, but makes me nervous regarding my plane.
I guess the scenario I'm outlining is a catastrophic fly away, which is not likely, but if it happens would be very expensive!
Not 10km, but up to 2.5 miles, it claims:
And not cellular based.
Is this not a cellular based product? From reading their product page they only mention that they track via cellular networks, which does me no good. So far the only lightweight solution I can find is satellite based messaging, via a Spot Trace device, for fly aways in the "wilderness". So thinking of plunking down the money for a Spot Trace and giving it a go. And it seems that currently there is a 50% off deal for this device in Canada (so that would be $60 for the device and then $100 per year or $12 per month).
PS: Check it out....
It was added in V2.8.orc1 item #1177
I use Driod Planner 2.8 It has a Locator built in. DP records a Tlog file. After your flight you load the Tlog into locator
then walk to your Quad. I use a Nexus 7 and 3D radio. Not sure how much range I can get with the 3d radio. From the Tlog file you get the last location . If the onboard goes dead you still have the location.