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.




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Comment by c j g on June 1, 2013 at 8:06am

" Nothing wrong with a flying teddy bear. (: "

... but, but, but ... then it isn't an UAV anymore, isn't it ;)

Comment by John on June 1, 2013 at 9:16am

I bought a tk102 when I was in china for the equivalent of 10 USD. Works great! I crashed my plane about 30 miles from home, was in an area of bad reception on cell coverage, but eventually got coordinates that led me to the plane in the top of a tree. That 10 dollar tracker found my 2K dollar plane.

Comment by dincer hepguler on June 1, 2013 at 11:40am


there are many smaller gps trackers doing the same ( sms back in 1 min when called, giving gps data and listen to surrounding, send googlemap link etc) in dealextreme beginning from around 23usd ranging up to 50usd... take a look...


Comment by David Anders on June 1, 2013 at 4:49pm

@ RC Tech - oh don't worry about it - I'm not bothered by it. It wasn't meant to be posted when it was. (:

Comment by David Anders on June 1, 2013 at 4:50pm

@CJG - Well, it kinda is, unless you have some bears that look like men?? (; Perhaps we could call it a BAV then??

Comment by David Anders on June 1, 2013 at 4:54pm

@Monroe - yes, that is perfect for the next level I was looking for!  I did read that there was a transmitting height limit of 6500m?  Did you find the same? [It could have been that specific range of products].

For other Australians who may not know, here - is a good resource to kick things off.

Comment by David Anders on June 2, 2013 at 1:42am

I did also just find this - has anyone tried it?

This is an APRS tracker shield for the Arduino platform. It features on-board GPS and radio transmitter, so the only external components required are the GPS and VHF antennas. It was designed primarily to track high altitude balloons, so it has other handy features like reading temperature sensors and a buzzer for acoustic location.

Trackuino is intended for use by licensed radio amateurs. By operating on the standard APRS frequency, the signal can be picked up by an Internet gateway and reported on, so anyone with an Internet connection can track the flight live and even help with the chase!

Comment by Jamie Peebles on June 2, 2013 at 9:22am

Yes where do you get it?

Comment by David Anders on June 2, 2013 at 2:43pm

You build it.  There is a complete BoM (with links) and build instructions on the site.

Comment by naish on June 7, 2013 at 4:19am

@ David- If you plan to have some Trackuino build, put me on the list. I want one!

Will be also good to modify the PCB, so we can add Arduino directly on the board instead of using the Arduino shield and I will prefer to use a small mediatek GPS with integrated antenna. My goal is to make it as small as possible.


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