GPS Locator and UAV Rescue

3689527960?profile=originalSo 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.

3689528054?profile=originalAs 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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  • Hello everyone. I witnessed a fly away today and want the same insurance. I am looking for a turn key solution in USA. Also trying to get in touch with the Hollywood Florida club to sharpen my skills and collaborate. ASAP please I beg!

  • Moderator

    Hey guys - looks like I just need confirmation on a couple of replacement parts and then should be good to go.  Will update again shortly.

  • Moderator
    Put me on the list please
  • Moderator

    Hi Jubal,

    Yes, you're right, but that never happened I think because of the lack of demand.  I need some more anyway, so I will revisit it this week and get back to you to see the time frame we're talking.  I'll also publish it here to let people know that it's available.

  • Thank David, You had mentioned building them for people. Are you still going to do that? Where can I get one completed already?

    Thanks again..

  • Moderator

    Hey Jubal, works a treat. Hardest part of it was replacing the end of life materials on the build list. So not very hard.

    The only addition I would make would be a sturdy case for it to protect it from 'heavy landings'.

  • Hey David,

    Any update on the APRS tracker you were going to build. Have a ham license in the US and was interested in your project.


  • @ David, it's probably just for ease of use, so you can place the board out of the way somewhere and have the antenna facing the sky still.

    So no reason why you couldn't really.

  • Moderator

    Hi Naish - I wasn't going to get them built, I am going to build them. (:  One or two and see how they go.  The specs are almost perfect for me so I would like to check them out. It doesn't look all that big, but you do need the antenna... 

    I might get in touch with the guy and see if there's any reason not to use an integrated antenna GPS in his design.  Unless someone already knows?

  • @ 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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