# Beeline RF Beacon Power

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#### davdue

##### Well-Known Member
TRF Supporter
I have a BRB900 and use it in all my high power rockets. I only fly at the Kloudbusters Rocket Pasture. We spent a lot of time searching for my kids low power/small high power rockets. I am thinking of getting an RDF tracker for just those rockets. I will have to get my Technician license but no problem there since I am a degreed electrical engineer. I don't want spend a lot of money on this system so I want to keep the cost down. I plan on purchasing a Baofeng radio and making my own Yagi antenna. However should I spend the extra bucks for the 100mw vs the 16mw transmitter? Most of the time we are just walking on plowed fields but this year we had a couple fields with crops in them. We never found my son's Wildman Jart that we believe landed in either the soybean field or a hybrid sorghum field that was at least 6-7' tall. What doe you guys suggest keeping cost in mind, 16mw or 100mw? Most likely it will never be with any other electronics unless I put it in my L2 rockets as a backup to the BRB900.

Thanks,

#### mccordmw

##### Well-Known Member
I have a BRB900 and use it in all my high power rockets. I only fly at the Kloudbusters Rocket Pasture. We spent a lot of time searching for my kids low power/small high power rockets. I am thinking of getting an RDF tracker for just those rockets. I will have to get my Technician license but no problem there since I am a degreed electrical engineer. I don't want spend a lot of money on this system so I want to keep the cost down. I plan on purchasing a Baofeng radio and making my own Yagi antenna. However should I spend the extra bucks for the 100mw vs the 16mw transmitter? Most of the time we are just walking on plowed fields but this year we had a couple fields with crops in them. We never found my son's Wildman Jart that we believe landed in either the soybean field or a hybrid sorghum field that was at least 6-7' tall. What doe you guys suggest keeping cost in mind, 16mw or 100mw? Most likely it will never be with any other electronics unless I put it in my L2 rockets as a backup to the BRB900.

Thanks,
The LPR and low level HPR stuff shouldn't drift too far. How about a cheap warbler alarm on deployment? Should be able to track them down then.

#### davdue

##### Well-Known Member
TRF Supporter
We have used those in fact on rocket that the chute stuck and didn't deploy so it crashed had one in it. The problem is that we have wind in Kansas and until you get close if you are upwind from the rocket you can't hear the alarm.

#### bigredbee

I think you'd be fine with the 16mw version. Be careful with the Baofeng, the version I have doesn't have a usable signal strength meter which I feel is mandatory for tracking these down with a Yagi. Not sure it's fixed in later versions? Just for comparison, you can get a Yaesu FT-257 with a real S-meter for less than $70 #### jimdanforth ##### Active Member I just ordered one of these. We too lost a small rocket at airfest this year. No heartbreak, but a preventable problem. Cant beat the price. http://www.jbgizmo.com/page30-i.htm I also ordered an eggfinder for my larger projects. #### ksaves2 ##### Lifetime Supporter TRF Lifetime Supporter I just ordered one of these. We too lost a small rocket at airfest this year. No heartbreak, but a preventable problem. Cant beat the price. http://www.jbgizmo.com/page30-i.htm I also ordered an eggfinder for my larger projects. Technically, one is supposed to be a Ham to use one of these. The power output is very low and an optimal antenna length makes it awkward to optimize the transmitter. None the less, I was able to fit a 1/4 wave vertical dipole in an old out of production Super Nova Payloader: http://plans.rocketshoppe.com/estes/est2155/est2155.htm I flew the XFM-1 on one and found I didn't have to use the attenuator while it was in flight to maintain the bearing. Once down the ground footprint was ~1000 feet and as I got closer I had to turn on the attenuator: http://www.west.net/~marvin/k0ov.htm to maintain the bearing. Now this was with an entirely optimal 1/4 wave antenna. If one uses a shortened antenna, the range can be drastically less. For the price though it's fun to play around with. I have no fear flying the rocket near tall grass or corn with the tracker. If one knows generally where the rocket is the tracker will get you to it. If flying higher and farther, best to consider something with a bit more power. With a smaller rocket a 440Mhz unit might be a better fit due to the shorter antenna. Kurt #### jimdanforth ##### Active Member I actually prefer to be in the ham band. Have lots of equipment. KE5OKT. #### jimdanforth ##### Active Member We have also done some competetive fox-hunting, so we have familiarity with the process. Helps too that the seller is very close to me, and I hope to have it ready by the next big launch. #### ksaves2 ##### Lifetime Supporter TRF Lifetime Supporter We have also done some competetive fox-hunting, so we have familiarity with the process. Helps too that the seller is very close to me, and I hope to have it ready by the next big launch. It's a cheap enough device but power output from it is a bit limiting. For$15.00 it's fun to experiment with. Jerry will program your call into it too before shipping. I'd experiment with a shorter antenna for a bit
and I'd consider it an assistive device for say locating a rocket you have a bit of a visual on where it's landing. That will get you in the general area and you can home in from there to help you get the rocket out of the corn or tall grass. I don't think it's up to snuff for flights that are completely sight unseen. As I mentioned I used the best antenna on the transmitter I could fit in that long rocket. I forgot to mention I used an E30-7 in that Super Nova Payloader so it really got it up there. Rocket body was pretty much out of sight but the smoke trail was able to be tracked by sight. The descent was completely
visual once the chute opened and due to the range, I was surprised I didn't have to turn on the attenuator to maintain bearing. The signal was lost when it touched down but it was within sight. I only had to turn on the attenuator as I got closer to maintain bearing. Good practice if you can see the goal to work with equipment. One thing is for certain, you'll have fun experimenting with it. Kurt

I think you'd be fine with the 16mw version. Be careful with the Baofeng, the version I have doesn't have a usable signal strength meter which I feel is mandatory for tracking these down with a Yagi. Not sure it's fixed in later versions? Just for comparison, you can get a Yaesu FT-257 with a real S-meter for less than $70 Greg, Have you tested the Yaesu? I will pick one up if it really works with your system and is that inexpensive. Never got the Baofeng to work for DF. Works great feeding my iPhone for the gps version but still want a DF solution. Brad #### jimdanforth ##### Active Member Works great on my vx8gr and my sons vx5 #### ksaves2 ##### Lifetime Supporter TRF Lifetime Supporter Works great on my vx8gr and my sons vx5 Yeah, Any modern (spell that) pricier H/T from a mainstream maker has a "true" signal strength meter. With the Baofengs, with a signal (any signal that can open the squelch) that indicator goes fully to the right. With no signal, there's nothing. Now if someone had "good ears" with a monaural enable stereo headphone, might be able to "hear" the nulls by ear. I'll tell you, a true signal strength meter is much easier. Yeah, yeah. there are some "ironmen" out there who say they do it by ear and stuff like shielding the antenna with their bodies and such but why make it hard? I wanna find the rocket. I WANNA find it NOW and I wanna go on and fly the NEXT one! Kurt #### davdue ##### Well-Known Member TRF Supporter I think you'd be fine with the 16mw version. Be careful with the Baofeng, the version I have doesn't have a usable signal strength meter which I feel is mandatory for tracking these down with a Yagi. Not sure it's fixed in later versions? Just for comparison, you can get a Yaesu FT-257 with a real S-meter for less than$70
One downside to the Yaesu is you are really getting have the radio. It only covers the 70 cm band where the Baofeng covers 2 meter as well. I have been asking around for someone locally who has one but haven't found anybody yet. I talked to Baofeng US customer support and here was their response:

The signal meter is 5 bars (like a cell phone). It also resembles a cell phone as the bars will increase or decrease during a RX signal depending on how strong the signal is.

I have never used a HT at all so I don't know what everybody means by a true or usable signal strength meter. I know what the old CB radios had. It was an actual analog meter. Without a transmitter to play with until I get my license I can't have a buddy of mine who has several HT's show me how it works. I guess I will have to pass my test and purchase the transmitter and then I can see how his radio works and just whether 5 bars will work.

jimdanforth said:
Works great on my vx8gr and my sons vx5
Would it be possible for you to show us how your vx8gr and your sons vx5 with a video?

#### jimdanforth

##### Active Member
I'll try to make one

#### ksaves2

One downside to the Yaesu is you are really getting have the radio. It only covers the 70 cm band where the Baofeng covers 2 meter as well. I have been asking around for someone locally who has one but haven't found anybody yet. I talked to Baofeng US customer support and here was their response:

The signal meter is 5 bars (like a cell phone). It also resembles a cell phone as the bars will increase or decrease during a RX signal depending on how strong the signal is.

I have never used a HT at all so I don't know what everybody means by a true or usable signal strength meter. I know what the old CB radios had. It was an actual analog meter. Without a transmitter to play with until I get my license I can't have a buddy of mine who has several HT's show me how it works. I guess I will have to pass my test and purchase the transmitter and then I can see how his radio works and just whether 5 bars will work.

Would it be possible for you to show us how your vx8gr and your sons vx5 with a video?

?????? Most Baofengs do not have a true signal strength meter. Go here and look it up: http://www.miklor.com/
Both the 8GR and VX5 have true signal strength meters. They both cover the 70cm band. The VX5 is a tribander the GR is a dual bander. Kurt

#### davdue

##### Well-Known Member
TRF Supporter
?????? Most Baofengs do not have a true signal strength meter. Go here and look it up: http://www.miklor.com/
Both the 8GR and VX5 have true signal strength meters. They both cover the 70cm band. The VX5 is a tribander the GR is a dual bander. Kurt
By VX5 do you mean the UV-5X3? I can't find anything for the 8GR.

This review on the miklor site doesn't say anything about the signal strength meter but the pictures on the amazon site still show the 5 bar "cell phone" type signal strength meter.

http://www.miklor.com/COM/Review_5X3.php

I figured it out after jimdanforths post. So in the video what is he testing the signal strength meter with. I hear a warbling beep what is the source of that. How does that show how RDF will work with a BeeLine transmitter and a Yagi?

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#### jimdanforth

##### Active Member
vx5 and vx8gr are yeasu radios.

#### davdue

##### Well-Known Member
TRF Supporter
jimdanforth said:
vx5 and vx8gr are yeasu radios.
Ah now I understand. That breaks one of my original criteria from the first post "I don't want spend a lot of money on this system so I want to keep the cost down." Plus the VX-8GR is no longer available.

The I guess I don't need the video because you are also talking about Yaesu radios. I guess I will either continue to find someone who owns a Boafeng radio that I can play with or just spend the $30 bucks and try it and return it if I can't make it work. #### amarillo_rocket ##### Well-Known Member The first radio I tested with the Beeline was a Baofeng because it was recommended by a Ham friend. Mainly because Baofeng is less expensive than Yaesu. The power meter on the Baofeng is totally useless either fully on regardless of signal strength or off. The Yaesu power meter actually works. Proves the old addage "you get what you pay for". I learned the same lesson buying inexpensive tools, there is a reason good tools cost more in this case the radio is your tool. Spend the extra bucks and get something that actually works. #### davdue ##### Well-Known Member TRF Supporter The first radio I tested with the Beeline was a Baofeng because it was recommended by a Ham friend. Mainly because Baofeng is less expensive than Yaesu. The power meter on the Baofeng is totally useless either fully on regardless of signal strength or off. The Yaesu power meter actually works. Proves the old addage "you get what you pay for". I learned the same lesson buying inexpensive tools, there is a reason good tools cost more in this case the radio is your tool. Spend the extra bucks and get something that actually works. I understand what everybody is saying but I am talking about using this for MPR. I have a BRB900 for my HPR so can't justify spending$200-300 for just a radio to find rockets that aren't that expensive and don't have any other electronics in them. So I either try the Baofeng or I don't use a Beeline and just keep using the ole eyeballs.

Sure I could use the Beeline as a backup to the BRB900 but I could also use the eggfinder for that and still be cheaper than the RDF solution you guys keep talking about.

#### ksaves2

The first radio I tested with the Beeline was a Baofeng because it was recommended by a Ham friend. Mainly because Baofeng is less expensive than Yaesu. The power meter on the Baofeng is totally useless either fully on regardless of signal strength or off. The Yaesu power meter actually works. Proves the old addage "you get what you pay for". I learned the same lesson buying inexpensive tools, there is a reason good tools cost more in this case the radio is your tool. Spend the extra bucks and get something that actually works.
Diiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiittttttttttttttttttooooooooooooo!!!!!

Hi Barre' You deserve the cigar. Like Dave is realizing, I believe most if not all Baofengs or Pofungs or whatever they call themselves these days do not have true signal strength meters, period. Now that said, I've seen posted folks have been able to use binaural earbuds, or headphones and were able to detect the signal peak by ear alone. Ok, but I say ones hearing needs to be relatively intact and any background noise has to be manageable to pull that bit off. A strength meter that gives a visual indication is so much easier in a noisy environment

Now, if one wants to choose a single RDF ham radio rig for rocket tracking with the Beeline
RDF trackers and want to have the potential to do "other things", a Kenwood TH-F6A is a candidate because there is the potential to use the "B" band with some of the 216 Mhz Comspec and Walston stuff. One can select USB or CW modes and have fine tuning on that "B" band and I've received active trackers though I haven't actually gone out and made a recovery attempt against one of the manufacturers pricey receivers but the potential is there.

The receiving circuits on the mainline ham radios are much better than the cheap Chinese rigs. Some folks who've tried the Chinese radios with a Bluetooth TNC like a Mobilinkd:
http://www.mobilinkd.com/ to decode APRS trackers like the Beeline GPS and others have
mixed results.

I've used my F6A with a Mobilink TNC on a recovery with a Beeline GPS using APRS Droid
and it works OK. The only quirk is one has to "send" the base station position packet out to
get the base icon to "move" on the Android devices map when progressing towards the rocket.

I have to comment I just didn't have the incentive to explore RDF with the F6A though I did buy it for that purpose. Nine years ago I took the plunge into APRS/GPS tracking and I mainly relegated the F6A to Ham radio use. So much has changed in the last 9 years and I'm very happy to see the 900Mhz devices coming out so one doesn't have to get an amateur license.
Those devices are perfectly capable for sport flying to help folks find their rockets in cornfields, tall grass and most completely out of sight flights.

I'll whip out the F6A at a major launch sometimes and tune around on the Walston and Compec bands and pick up signals very nicely. Like I've said, I haven't actually compared against the commercial receivers but I get pretty strong signals. There could be a possibility that the received distance isn't as great but I don't know. If anyone has done some range testing with a Kenwood TH-F6A on the "B" band with Com-Spec or other RDF trackers please
relate your experiences. Good or no good for actual tracking?

Any FM receiver that can monitor the 70cm (420 to 450Mhz) Ham band can receive a Beeline
RDF beacon. Even a "NASCAR" scanner I have covers that band!

If Dave wants to try tracking with a \$30.00 Baofeng, earphones, Yagi antenna with an electronic attenuator, doesn't sound like that much of a  risk as if he is serious about
RDF tracking he'll need the Yagi and the attenuator anyways. Here's one I like as it's economical and can be modified into whatever form you want: http://www.west.net/~marvin/k0ov.htm

Incidentally if one is a Ham and would like a 50mW 2 meter band RDF beacon
he has one forsale here: http://www.west.net/~marvin/microhnt.htm
I bought one many years ago and it still works well.

Kurt