4g gps for rocketry?

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Motocrossman24

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hey guys, I’m curious if anyone has any experience using 4g “dog/vehicle” gps trackers for rocketry? I remember seeing someone have a link to an older 3g model in a 54mm minimum diameter rocket video on YouTube. The ones I’m speaking of use a SIM card and a monthly data plan and operate over cell networks, broadcasting to an app on your phone. I’m building a 54mm minimum diameter it at the moment, and would really like the added security of a gps, over a standard 70cm tracker. And am hoping to avoid the high price tags of the gps/70cm based trackers designed specifically designed for rocketry. At both local fields, I have decent cell service, one of them much better then the other.
 

Cameron Anderson

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I've seen dog collar set ups that worked fine but never done one myself.

I'm a fan of Missileworks T3...tracked my DX3 XL to apogee at 15,000 and had solid lock 3 miles away when it landed in a ditch and lost RF signal.

It doesn't need cell service but depending on your app that you use with it, cell service gives you real map overlaps instead of just a pin to where you're rocket ended up.
 

Motocrossman24

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I've seen dog collar set ups that worked fine but never done one myself.

I'm a fan of Missileworks T3...tracked my DX3 XL to apogee at 15,000 and had solid lock 3 miles away when it landed in a ditch and lost RF signal.

It doesn't need cell service but depending on your app that you use with it, cell service gives you real map overlaps instead of just a pin to where you're rocket ended up.
Thanks for the reply. I’m starting to lean towards the t3 or the Eggfinder system. My only gripe with the t3 is that it has no support for apple phones, which I use. Have you used the t3 with a laptop? Does it work with any windows laptop? I read that it needs a windows pc with an hmi(human machine interface) which I’m not sure what it is, or if my old windows 7 laptop has one.
 

Cameron Anderson

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Thanks for the reply. I’m starting to lean towards the t3 or the Eggfinder system. My only gripe with the t3 is that it has no support for apple phones, which I use. Have you used the t3 with a laptop? Does it work with any windows laptop? I read that it needs a windows pc with an hmi(human machine interface) which I’m not sure what it is, or if my old windows 7 laptop has one.
I haven't used it from a PC but I have talked to people who did...not sure on the hardware or software used.

For the cost, you can't go wrong with the T3. So long as you're not doing 40K shots, it tracks fine.
 

Cameron Anderson

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Thanks for the reply. I’m starting to lean towards the t3 or the Eggfinder system. My only gripe with the t3 is that it has no support for apple phones, which I use. Have you used the t3 with a laptop? Does it work with any windows laptop? I read that it needs a windows pc with an hmi(human machine interface) which I’m not sure what it is, or if my old windows 7 laptop has one.
I haven't used it from a PC but I have talked to people who did...not sure on the hardware or software used.

For the cost, you can't go wrong with the T3. So long as you're not doing 40K shots, it tracks fine.
 

Alex Poorman

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I use a PC and it's great. I use Visual-GPS and all I have to do is hook up the t3 to the PC via Bluetooth. When the rocket lands I find the last GPS coordinates then plug into google earth. The HMI is the PC itself.
 

SammyD

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I use a 4G Tracker that uses a SIM card, and it's worked flawlessly for 2 years (previously used a 3G unit until AT&T stopped supporting 3G). The unit is a little larger than a Zippo lighter and weighs just a few ounces, so it's compact, weight is negligible, and it's been durable so far. The smallest nosecone I can get it in is a 54mm nosecone, but that works for me since I don't fly my smaller rockets much higher than about 4000', allowing me to be able to see them through the entire flight.

It's simple, inexpensive, and the GPS unit transmits only when "asked" (I have to call the phone number of the account associated with the SIM card). In return, the tracker texts back to me the LAT/LON coordinates of its location along with a link to Google Maps. When I click the link, it drops a pin on the rocket's location in Google Maps, from which I can see distance and direction to walk or drive to the tracker's location.

AMWProX sells a similar unit on their website, but I bought mine off eBay for about $60 a few years ago. The pre-paid AT&T account costs me $0.25 (25 cents) per call/text. The weird thing about all of the AT&T account options is that with minimal $$$ added to the account causes the account to terminate in 90 days. If I add $100 to it, which I did, the account stays open for a year without having to provide additional funds when the tracker is not in use for extended periods. As the renewal date approaches, I add a couple dollars to the account to make sure it's above $100, and I'm good for another year.....
 

Motocrossman24

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@SammyD do you remember what the model of your unit is? Also, do or did you own a firestorm 54? I feel like Iv seen your name b4 on YouTube
 

SammyD

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OOPS - it's a 3G tracker, not a 4G - just looked at it when fitting foam for a 3" build. AT&T stopped 2G service a few years back, so I moved to a 3G tracker...
 

SammyD

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Flyfalcons

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I've seen dog collar set ups that worked fine but never done one myself.

I'm a fan of Missileworks T3...tracked my DX3 XL to apogee at 15,000 and had solid lock 3 miles away when it landed in a ditch and lost RF signal.

It doesn't need cell service but depending on your app that you use with it, cell service gives you real map overlaps instead of just a pin to where you're rocket ended up.
This is my second season with the T3 and it hasn't let me down yet. In fact, my Rocket Locator app seems to have updated itself at some point, because now a map automatically loads and works perfectly with it. There are still some minor bugs on mine, like all three data windows in the upper left saying "altitude", even though they are all different figures. I determined the top figure is distance from the rocket, the rest I have no clue about. But I bought the T3 to lead me to my rocket, and it has done so flawlessly every time.
 

Cameron Anderson

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This is my second season with the T3 and it hasn't let me down yet. In fact, my Rocket Locator app seems to have updated itself at some point, because now a map automatically loads and works perfectly with it. There are still some minor bugs on mine, like all three data windows in the upper left saying "altitude", even though they are all different figures. I determined the top figure is distance from the rocket, the rest I have no clue about. But I bought the T3 to lead me to my rocket, and it has done so flawlessly every time.
Based on my use, I figured the top number is the straight line ground distance between you and the rocket, second number is ground elevation at initialization, and the bottom number is GPS apogee. Subtract 2 from 3 to get GPS altitude.
 

billdz

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I have both expensive self-contained trackers (AltusMetrum, MissileWorks) and cheap $30 cellular trackers and I actually prefer the cellular trackers. Of course, your launch site must have decent cell service, apparently some launch sites are so remote they have no cell service. My current cellular trackers (MD-601) are 2G only, with a $5 a month SIM card from SpeedTalk. I also use a Posh Micro s240, a tiny Android cell phone, with a free FreedomPop 4G SIM card. For larger rockets, I use old Android phones with a barometer (Nexus 4 or 5, Moto Droid Mini - around $35 on eBay) and Jason Cook's fre Insane Rocketry app, which gives me tracking, altimeter, and flight data. I'm still looking for a 3G or 4G tracker that works with the free FreedomPop SIM -- the TK207 and other trackers that require SMS commands will NOT work with FreedomPop, which does not use the SMS protocol for messaging. See my post at https://www.rocketryforum.com/threads/cheap-cellular-trackers-update-and-where-are-the-3gs.151170/ for further info about cellular trackers.
 

Motocrossman24

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Thanks for everyone’s comments...the biggest issue I’m finding currently is to have a 4g tracker that will fit in the 38mm nosecone bay if my 54mm rocket. Most I’m finding are quite a bit larger, I did find one that states it’s 38mm wide, but then found another that looked identical that claims 38.5mm wide. Then when I consider the 25$ a month most the 4g tracking companies want, probably wouldn’t take long to pay for the eggfinder or the t3. Hoping to check out some people’s trackers at urrf, I’m sure there will be more then a few there. My buddy just ordered the featherweight gps too, so I can always use that until funds replenish to buy my own good tracker.
 

billdz

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Why does it have to be 4g? For $30 you can get a 2g tracker and pay just $5 a month for a SpeedTalk SIM. The MD-601 is 45 x 35 x 16 mm, and the K8 is even smaller.
 

timbucktoo

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2G is gone on several carriers & 3G is not far from same. AT&T by end of year.
 

Flyfalcons

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Thanks for everyone’s comments...the biggest issue I’m finding currently is to have a 4g tracker that will fit in the 38mm nosecone bay if my 54mm rocket. Most I’m finding are quite a bit larger, I did find one that states it’s 38mm wide, but then found another that looked identical that claims 38.5mm wide. Then when I consider the 25$ a month most the 4g tracking companies want, probably wouldn’t take long to pay for the eggfinder or the t3. Hoping to check out some people’s trackers at urrf, I’m sure there will be more then a few there. My buddy just ordered the featherweight gps too, so I can always use that until funds replenish to buy my own good tracker.
If you already have an Android phone, the most cost-effective GPS over the long-term could be the T3 system. Missileworks sells a 3D-printed modular sled that can screw into the eye bolt in a nose cone. I just fitted my T3 to sit inside a Madcow 38mm FWFG nose cone.

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billdz

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2G is gone on several carriers & 3G is not far from same. AT&T by end of year.
AT&T dropped 2G two years ago. 2G still works on T-Mobile and its MVNOs, such as MetroPCS and SpeedTalk (which has the $5 a month SIM specifically made for trackers). T-Mobile will surely discontinue 2G sooner or later, but if you want a cellular tracker why not go with a cheap $30 2G tracker and a $5 monthly SIM in the meantime? Hopefully cheap 4G trackers will become available by the time 2G service is gone.
 

Motocrossman24

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2g has a much lower coverage density then 3g which has a much lower density then 4g...the main problem with these trackers is spotty coverage, so why not have the best possible coverage with this style tracker
 

billdz

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2g has a much lower coverage density then 3g which has a much lower density then 4g...the main problem with these trackers is spotty coverage, so why not have the best possible coverage with this style tracker
Yes, a small, inexpensive 4G tracker would be great (particularly if it would work with the free FreedomPop SIM), even if it cost twice as much, but apparently they do not yet exist. I've flown at every major field in Florida and have never had a coverage issue with my 2G trackers, although I'm sure this is not the case everywhere. Check the T-Mobile coverage map for your location.

The Posh Micro and other micro-size 4G Android phones (Melrose S9, Unihertz Jelly Pro) are just a bit too large (91x43x8.8 mm) for your 38mm rocket. So it seems your current GPS choices are a 2G tracker with $5 monthly fee, a relatively expensive Tractive or Paby or similar commercial pet tracker with a higher monthly fee, or a non-cellular tracker such as the T3.
 
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billdz

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This one looks rlly nice, and I think it will fit in a 38mm tube, but it’s 25$ a month. Not a huge deal it you only fly a few times per year, but that adds up quick for sure.
https://get.spytec.com/gl300-buy-no...XFbhhSIbZT0ONNmFduV3cuH2MDo0MptA-8aAn8k8P8HAQ
Looks nice if you don't mind the $25 a month, but according to Tom's Guide it is 1.57" (39.9mm) wide and thus won't fit in your 38mm tube, see https://www.tomsguide.com/us/spytec-gl300-gps-tracker,review-2936.html.
 

Motocrossman24

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Rob702Martinez

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If you already have an Android phone, the most cost-effective GPS over the long-term could be the T3 system. Missileworks sells a 3D-printed modular sled that can screw into the eye bolt in a nose cone. I just fitted my T3 to sit inside a Madcow 38mm FWFG nose cone.

View attachment 385217 View attachment 385218
Anymore pictures of how you mount the sled?
 

billdz

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Updating this 2 year old thread:

* The T-Mobile 2G network is still up and the SpeedTalk $5 per month plan is still the best deal for a cellular tracker
* FreedomPop was acquired by Red Pocket and the free cell service is now greatly limited
* I'm still regularly searching eBay for a 4G tracker to use when my faithful $30 MD-601 finally goes. Many listings say "4G GPS Tracker" but read carefully, most are actually 2G or require a hefty subscription ($20 per month or more)
* This one looks really good on paper and only costs $30, has anyone tried it? https://www.ebay.com/itm/202898678340?hash=item2f3db42244:g:2BAAAOSw6GJdryWJ
* Anyone find any other good non-subscription 4G trackers?
 

billdz

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I've ordered the $30 unit from the above link, will report the results. If anyone has used this tracker, please advise.
 

billdz

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I found some more info about the $30 tracker I just purchased at:
and
It seems a drone guy bought a bunch of these from China and has had trouble selling them to the drone community, the price has dropped by 50% since he started selling them. Looks like it works as it should and works on 4G, although apparently we have to send an SMS to get the position, unlike the MD-601 and my other older 2G trackers where the position shows automatically on a map.
 
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