Find your UAV when it get lost - Dronecell and GPS

Following Chris' post about the dronecell, here is a first use i've made with it.





I combined a GPS, which is being read by a PIC controller, every X seconds, then every 5 readouts it will send the last 5 readings over SMS text message to my cellphone.


The idea is to create a small and compact device, with autonomous battery (that can be optionally charged off the main vehicle's battery) that will help you find your drone in case it gets lost or crashes.


i've not yet tested the battery life, but it should be holding for a good few hours.

i call it the Black box, though it's not the same as the traditional one...




super thin design - only 16mm




I've took apart the stock connector and antenna, both SMA connectors are very heavy !

here they are connected together and heatshrinked:




for a total of 63 grams !





I will be really liking this one, next time it will find my copter when getting lost,

after i lost a full quad arducopter in a forest, couldn't find it till today....


What i like about it, that it has the autonomous battery, and the quite-infinite range of a cellular network.

it will tell me where it is even when it crashes and the big battery get disconnected and thrown away,

even when it is out of range of my radio, my telemetry etc...

and even if, let's say, it gets stolen !


I just get an SMS on my cellphone with the 5 last points, including exact time longitude and latitude of each point.



E-mail me when people leave their comments –

You need to be a member of diydrones to add comments!

Join diydrones


  • This got me thinking what I could do with a box of old phones I have in the office, and after googling around, I had a look on ebay for "GSM GPS tracking", and of course, China already has something on the market that works over GSM. Not very DIY... but apparently somewhat shock resistant, weatherproof case, and only ~50 grams.
  • Hey, completely off-topic, but what you've made is an inexpensive tracker device for my car!   Low maintenance charges and easy to find in a metro area.  You could also have it call/text your phone as soon as the car moves in an unauthorised fashion...

    Combine it with an APM and it could call you if you break your personal best record on the way to work! ;)

  • Hooks,

    that's cool and cheap.


    the most interesting about it is not very clear there - the map software - does it logs, how it works, etc...

    i also saw a gadget that updates location over a map with logging.. cant find it now.


    Anyways i like my DIY solution !

    i can add lots of data to the logging points, like battery voltage of the main battery, etc...

  • Limebear,

    sometimes i will fly away from home, or sometimes i will fly in an area where someone else could find it before me,

    so it IS important to be able to see the map in-field..

    but maybe i can access internet without a plan (paying much more per kb) but once in a long while... soit comes cheaper than a plan

  • I love this idea, thanks for sharing...
  • AR, I'm not clear why you need a cellphone plan as well. Once your drone has flown away and got lost, you go home and dump the data from your FTP server, derive a GPS location where you believe it is, and then you go out hunting armed with a GPS receiver or SatNav to find it?


  • OK,

    checked a few things out,

    it seems quite easy to send files over to an FTP server...

    however this solution is not obviously cheaper - you'll need one SIM with internet plan for the dronecell, and one for your cellphone.

    here we have only monthly plans, which means that what you dont use this month won't pass to the next month... which makes it expensive again.


    but it's sure easier, it already shows you the map automatically with the points, it can save much more points, etc...

  • Yes, I take your point. It is the best option.

    But the 80/20 rule also says that if you can cover 80% of situations at 20% of the cost, then that is also a valid, justifiable solution. If you have xbee anyway then its a freebie. However, if 80% is not good enough because you have $2000 of DSLR attached, then yes, you will have to go for a cellular solution. It'll be fun to do anyway!

    Hope to hear how it works out.


  • ok.

    say your apm gets mad and decides to take your copter 2km away in the woods.

    Xbees wont work, neither radio or anything.

    this is where cellular comes handy... there is no range limit !

This reply was deleted.