You are faced with a few thousand hectares of rainforest that you know harbours one or more orangutans that you need to track down. All you have is a 2 second VHF ping from an implant that you can pickup from 100-400m.

Where, how, and why do you start looking? One way is to use a drone with a suitable radio payload..

Too long to paste the full background, but the source blog post can be found here:


Clip from one of the flights:

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  • Developer

    OFFTopic: For those we have been having problems with our RF900 FTDI adapters. Please take a look at FTDI chip manufacturer technical note dated: 2016-04-05:

    FTDI Technocal Note, TN_165 2016-04-5

    As we are using original FTDI chips, manufacturer have made some changes to limit illegal China copies/clones, you need to update your windows drivers to be the latest one to get FTDI chips working.

    Driver set can be found from here: http://www.ftdichip.com/Drivers/CDM/CDM21216_Setup.exe


    Jani / jDrones

  • Developer

    @Keeyen already accepted...

  • 100KM

    @ Jani. Thanks for your clarification but how to contact you directly ? I've send you friend request and hope you can accept and we can start communicate. I'll also wish you check with your company jDrone web master why no one respond to my contact form send via the web site. I think this is the last thing you want to do if you still want to maintenance sales through it. 

  • Developer

    Offtopic: Yes, I am sad to inform that last batch has some soldering issues on DF13 connector. We are starting to contact customers who might be affected on this issue. Good thing is that it's well known now and reasons are also known, sad thing is that our test system has failed due the oldest.. Human error.

  • @Michael: Thank you, yes please drop me a line.

    @Oliver: Actually I had also integrated a FrSky/Taranis-Mavlink telemetry module from Airborne Projects as a backup. Unfortunately due to a bug in the firmware I discovered the GPS aspect of it did not work. It is fixed now but too late of course. Like I said in the blog, the gods weren't with me on this one.

    @keeyen: thanks, good to know I am not alone

    @Jani: that is very much appreciated, will drop you a line

  • Developer

    @Dirk, Keeyen it looks like there was few RFD-DF13 adapters on last patch that had bad soldering on DF13 connectors and for some reason those were not detected on tests, I just found one my self and ordered whole patch to be rechecked. Contact me directly and I will make sure that you will get replacement boards ASAP.

    @Olivier we are original RFD distributor for Seppo/RFDesign and all our modules are original from him. Differences are that we have custom made cables, cases and adapter boards both DF13 and USB with power filtering etc. It's a complete set. Not DIY set like plain RFD modules are.

  • Re-reading you blog post, could some telemetry to the transmitter, e.g. FrSky GPS coordinates, heading, etc ... to a Taranis have helped? Also FWIW, not sure about the Jdrones version of RFD900 and differences, but the original 1W ones from RFDesign have been working great and completely plug and play.

  • Good to read your blog here Dirk. I've been working on a radio-tracking system for wildlife work too with SDR dongles - with significant support from others in the open source community (thanks to Al, Tom, Hansie and Guy). 

    There are two other groups from Australia that are also developing a similar technology (Adelaide Uni and ANU).

    I'll be in touch Dirk after I've had another good read of your background text.

  • 100KM
    Hi Dirk, I have same experience regarding the RFD900 from jDrone. No function, no reply. The problem is the defected FTDI to USB board. Remove it and use a FTDI cable and you should be good to go.
  • @oliver: Thanks. Yes they were RFD 900s from jDrones. Supposed to be plug and play but I never got them to work. Perhaps something Im doing wrong but I dont see it. No response from jDrones unfortunatley.  No video, so yeah, was flying completely and utterly blind. Not something I plan for the next iteration.

    @Fnoop: it was consciously not dont for this first iteration to keep things simple but a logical next step to explore. Be interested to share some thoughts with you if you have some experience here. Perhaps contact me off line at dgorissen at gmail com.

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