So I've been toying with a number of devices that will act as a great low cost GPS Tracker that I could place on any UAV. The key points for me were that it was lightweight, battery independent of the UAV, robust enough to survive a hard landing [read crash] and give you the location when you wanted it.
I started off modifying a smart phone that worked fine, but the repeatability and cost was an issue. I was speaking to some friends of mine in China and they put me onto this - It's a GPS Tracker that is also a mobile phone.
As you can see, it's very small. Dimensions are 80mm long by 30mm wide and a mere 5mm high. Total weight with battery is around 45g. It did come as just the board, chip etc.
As someone so lovingly pointed out when I accidentally posted this earlier, it is the internals of a Chinese built mobile phone for kids, which was known, but who cares. It's a perfect addition for any UAV. At the moment I'm just using a electronics project box, but I just need to get a suitable 3d printed case made up and voila.
With regards to functionality, you can call or SMS the device and it will respond with it's location and even provide you with a link for Google maps. Also when calling, you can listen to its' surrounds in case anyone is around so you can get in contact with them. There are buttons on the front that can be pressed and the device will call a set 4 numbers, so if someone else finds it, they can get in contact with you.
I did some more testing with it today, using our largest national mobile carrier - screenshots of the testing are below:
So it does work a treat. A quick test on my quad showed that there were no problems and everything functioned as it should. It utilising the GSM network so as long as there is the slightest of signals, you should be able to send/receive SMSs.
Cost? Very cheap considering what I was trying to protect. At the local electronic stores here, a basic GPS tracker was going for around $149. This (ex freight) and at sample pricing was under half of that.
Whilst I was thinking this would be primarily for non park flights, so FPV, Agri-auto flights and building up for the commercial arena, it's become something that I think I will be adding to any country flight where there is height and / or distance.
Would be interested in your thoughts and opinions.