GPS Rocket Locator program Tips

Help Support The Rocketry Forum:

ksaves2

Apologies, am cross posting this from $25.00 GPS locator as others might have a better chance to see it. This is about the Android app "GPS Rocket Locator". It works well with the EggFinders and I've actually paired the receiver from the old Ozark Aerospace ARTs GPS tracker with a DB9/USB dongle and I suspect the Missileworks tracker will work with this also. Any device you can get the NMEA strings into your Android should be able to be decoded with GPSRL barring any timing issues. GPS Rocket Locator in a nutshell: Download and install it. Don't open it yet. Fire up your tracker and receiver. Let the tracker sit outside and wait awhile till it gets a lock. EggFinders are easy in that regard because the yellow LED starts to flash 1/sec with incoming positions. Pair your B/T receiver with your Android device. Now, open GPSRL. First thing it will get is get stuck on the Google Maps screen. Google gets ticked with people using their tiles "for free" and sabotaged this so it no longer works. Soooooooo, Click on the upper right menu pulldown and select "Map Provider". Hit "Open Street Map" and as long as your device's GPS has a lock your position will be posted. You may have to zoom out to see some streets but you get this far, you're in decent shape. Next, go to the upper right pulldown menu and hit "Settings". Change your units if you like and click "Bluetooth Device". If you paired your B/T receiver you should see something like HC-06 (which is in my EggFinder LCD) click on this and wait. You should begin to see the red pushpin that is your tracker with a line drawn to it eventually. Remember "North" is "UP" on your screen and you make your "blue dot" and red pushpin come together to find it. Some caveats: With the photomap tiles that are no longer available there is a "Rocket Distance" "Current Altitude" and "Max Altitude" listing in the upper left side of the display. Since most of the open source maps have a white background, the letters won't show up. The Rocket Distance is apparent and not so likely that accurate unless you stand next to the tracker and you could see the distance from decrease. The Current and Max Altitudes somehow both names get fixed to "Current" I believe when positions are plotted. Sirf4 chipset is lousy with altitude anyways so not that terribly important. "Download Map" does what it says. You have the room/memory space, you can at least download the OSM maps at a variety of zoomlevels to store "on device" so you don't need internet connection to track at your launchsite. The program doesn't "navigate" but it does automatically show a datum line from your position to your rocket (or last known position). If you "lose" your local position on the screen, hit "Follow Me" in the lower left and your position will be centered on the map shortly and you can re-observe the datum line to your rocket/tracker. I haven't tried it yet but if you get a screen record app, that might be one way to "save a flight" for what it's worth and play it back. I find that at least with the 100mW trackers you don't recover/decode all the positions. You'll get enough to recover your sport rockets though. If you can, blow the main up higher because with the slower descent and better propagation at altitude you'll get more positions painted and can get an idea of a drift trendline. When the app first came out there were no off line maps available. The tracker still worked and I used it that way for a flight and I didn't lose the rocket. When map caching came on, I downloaded a pile of Google map tiles for my local sites before it no longer functioned. I pulled the tiles to a USB stick and plop them into new installs of GPSRL and they work. There is an open source GIS photomap server that is used with APRSISMO and APRSISCE/32 that is a few years old but very nice. Unfortunately GPSRL is not open source and I believe it would be easy to substitute the address for these accessible maptiles but I don't believe the author is open to suggestions. He posted one time he no longer has time to work with the program. Another thing: GPSRL won't work with an Android device that doesn't have an onboard GPS chipset. The Android site won't let you download it so that is out. I have two dual boot Android/Windows tablets I mail-ordered from China 2 years ago that have an onboard GPS chipset that will work in Android and with some hacking, in Windows. If you can find a source for a newer "dual boot" with an onboard GPS chip, oh and mind you has a data radio tuned to one of the North American cell phone systems post the link and email me! Kurt Rockiteer Well-Known Member Hi, just downloaded the app. Got a message to "link to bluetooth device" so just for giggles I linked to my earphone. Got to thinking if this thing is linked to my earphone will it track it? If so then I should be able to stuff it in the payload section of my model rocket and use it as a transponder (locator beacon)? Am I chasing a rabbit down a hole that goes nowhere? Thanks for the info about the app. Looks like it should fill the bill. I am too old to be tromping through the woods and climbing trees. dhbarr Amateur Professional It will not track your earphone. If someone called you, your payload might ring cerving Owner, Eggtimer Rocketry TRF Sponsor TRF Supporter This might warrant a sticky... soopirV Well-Known Member It will not track your earphone. If someone called you, your payload might ring Edit- accidentally quoted the wrong thread, but this is pretty funny. Last edited: soopirV Well-Known Member Hi, just downloaded the app. Got a message to "link to bluetooth device" so just for giggles I linked to my earphone. Got to thinking if this thing is linked to my earphone will it track it? If so then I should be able to stuff it in the payload section of my model rocket and use it as a transponder (locator beacon)? Am I chasing a rabbit down a hole that goes nowhere? Thanks for the info about the app. Looks like it should fill the bill. I am too old to be tromping through the woods and climbing trees. Keep in mind bluetooth range is ~10m, so you may know where your rocket is for the first 30 feet of its flight (or almost until you're a third of the way back to the flight line), but after that you're on your own! The reason BT works with the android in ksaves excellent write up is that the BT receiver is in close proximity to the handheld, and is connected to the long-range RF receiver. ksaves2 Lifetime Supporter TRF Lifetime Supporter Keep in mind bluetooth range is ~10m, so you may know where your rocket is for the first 30 feet of its flight (or almost until you're a third of the way back to the flight line), but after that you're on your own! The reason BT works with the android in ksaves excellent write up is that the BT receiver is in close proximity to the handheld, and is connected to the long-range RF receiver. Yeah, think of the Rf link as the very looooooooooooooooooong usb cable between the rocket tracker and the ground receiver. The Bluetooth module is only there to "get" the datastream from your receiver into your device (tablet or otherwise) for processing. It's absolutely great not to have a cable that can get jostled and absolutely ruin your day when your ground GPS tracking station locks up. Kurt Rockiteer Well-Known Member Wow, great info. Was not aware of the limited range of bluetooth gadgets. Funny comment about if someone were to call that my rocket would answer via the earpiece. On a lark, what about these pet and key tracking/locator gizmos? Found a bunch on Amazon... are they also range challenged to say 10 meters (33 feet)? I am sure there is an easy and inexpensive solution to this situation for technology challenged rocketeers like myself. Thanks for the great info and feedback. Sure saves a lot of trial and error in the field. Rockiteer Well-Known Member This might warrant a sticky... Pardon my asking, but what's a sticky? timbucktoo Well-Known Member Staff member TRF Supporter Global Mod Pardon my asking, but what's a sticky? noun 1. (in an online forum) a thread containing important information that is set to remain at the top of the other threads regardless of when it was last updated. "could you put a sticky in the forum for those of us that are confused?" BDB Absent Minded Professor Has anyone successfully run GPS Rocket Locator on a windows machine using an Android emulator program. I messed around with Bulestacks on my Surface Pro 3 this week a little, but didn't have any success. I couldn't get Bluestacks to run work with the bluetooth module. ksaves2 Lifetime Supporter TRF Lifetime Supporter Has anyone successfully run GPS Rocket Locator on a windows machine using an Android emulator program. I messed around with Bulestacks on my Surface Pro 3 this week a little, but didn't have any success. I couldn't get Bluestacks to run work with the bluetooth module. Trying to do Bluetooth anything on Winblows is a real PITA with a native app. I doubt an emulator is going to have any success whatsoever. That said, APRSISCE/32 runs fine but it's configured for APRS tracking. I was able to get two instances of APRSISCE/32 to monitor two NMEA streams (with a pile of help from the Ham users of this app) but I'm afraid, it's pretty tough for a neophyte to setup. I try not to be wordy but trying to come up with instructions would be a bear and a non-Ham with no APRS tracking experience would get hopelessly lost. Heck, a radio Ham would probably get lost unless they were experienced with the application right up front. YAAC came close to being "the best and easiest" but........... the bluetooth implementation again stinks. That program can keep track of two NMEA streams, one from your tracker and one from your local position. But, try to use two B/T sources and things go sour. Basically, there is no good live tracking app for Winblows for these NMEA trackers aside from direct wired connections piped into apps or manually inputting a lat/long into a Windoze app. APRSISCE/32 was written with B/T in mind and I can pair a B/T GPS and or a B/T TNC for APRS stuff . I have two dual boot tablets that have an onboard GNSS chipset on them and to get the onboard GPS recognized under WinBlows required two programs com0com and GNSS interface. The short answer is don't bother trying to run GPS Rocket Locator in WinBlows. Ok, ok. I just remembered Mapsphere but it's no longer supported and it will only give you the position of your rocket on a map. Can't use it to live navigate. Kurt Buckeye Well-Known Member TRF Supporter I just started playing with this and have a couple questions I didn't see mentioned above. I have version 1.3.3 on Android. 1. The 3 lines in the upper left all say "current altitude." I assume this is a minor labeling bug, and the first line of data is the actual "distance to rocket." Seems so, as the number gets smaller as I approach the transmitter. 2. After playing with Rocket Locator, I tried Bluetooth GPS. However, Bluetooth GPS gave an error when trying to connect to the paired HC-06 device: "socket may be closed or timed out" Is this maybe because Rocket Locator already has the socket consumed? It is not clear to me how to "turn off" Rocket Locator or disconnect from a Bluetooth device. Thanks for any help. Buckeye Well-Known Member TRF Supporter I expected a 1000-word dissertation from Kurt on my question, but I figured it out. :wink: I think. I simply told RocketLocator to Bluetooth to my Chevy and not the HC-06. (There is no "none" or "disconnect" option.) I fired up everything from scratch, this time connecting to the HC-06 with Bluetooth GPS. No problems, and there is a clear way to "disconnect" the device from Bluetooth GPS. I like some features of RocketLocator and also some of Bluetooth GPS. I'll play with both. ksaves2 Lifetime Supporter TRF Lifetime Supporter The labels for altitude and distance are messed up in the program once the program is working. It's apparent which is the rocket and which is the ground station by looking at the data. If one is using a GPS chipset that also parses the Russian Glonass system GPSRL may not work successfully. It only works with the US GPS system. Messing with a 3DR radio and GPS I could get GPSRL to work by running the GPS/Glonass strings through the Android program "Bluetooth GPS" but the rocket is now the blue dot. One then has to use an external B/T GPS dongle that just does the US GPS constellation so your local position becomes the red pushpin. It works nicely and the combined GPS/Glonass positions seem to be a bit more accurate than GPS alone. Not many questions warrant a 1000 word dissertation anymore. I'd suspect if one did a little search here, something would come up. Easy GPS trackers are becoming so ubiquitous the only thing that is involved is trying to get live map tracking working with all the data one would like to see live. Kurt Nytrunner Pop lugs, not drugs TRF Supporter Figured I'd ask this here instead of the T3 thread. If I install both Bluetooth GPS and GPS rocket locator, is there any interference? Or is it fine as long as I only use one at a time? Buckeye Well-Known Member TRF Supporter I had troubles trying to use both. See posts 13 and 14 above. ksaves2 Lifetime Supporter TRF Lifetime Supporter On a Nexus 7 2013 and 2012 there are no issues with the T3. You can run one or the other or both as described in #15 above. With the T3 you don't need both. You can have both apps on your device. Now, you pair the T3 receiver with your device. If that pairing process shows you are connected, exit out and fire up GPS Rocket Locator. Now in the upper right pull-down make sure you select the B/T channel you have the receiver paired on and you'll be good to go. Wait a bit and the red pushpin should come up as long is the T3 can "see the sky". Now, if one wishes to use B/T GPS: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=googoo.android.btgps&hl=en you have to go into the "developer" setup and select "allow mock GPS locations. Do that and when you pull up B/T GPS and hit "connect", the datastream coming in over the link will be the one from your T3 AND as long as you have an internet connection over the cell towers, you will see the rocket position on the map. B/T GPS cannot keep track of your local location and the rocket at the same time. GPS Rocket Locator with all it's quirks is the only thing that can do both at once plus you can download maps to store and use them off line. Can't do that with B/T GPS (that is download maps for offline use) What I describe in #15 isn't applicable to the T3. Mr. Amos has it ready to go out of the box using the US GPS satellite constellation. #15 details using GPS/Glonass strings that I feed from a 3DR radio, running it through B/T GPS, minimizing B/T GPS and using GPS Rocket Locator I can get the combined GPS/Glonass strings decoded through B/T GPS and displayed on GPS Rocket Locator as the blue dot. I then use a plain B/T Dongle and feed the local position as the red pushpin. The internal GPS of the Nexus is ignored with this setup. Again, this doesn't apply to the T3 as it uses the US satellites only. Advantage of GPS/Glonass is a little more accuracy but if one flies with a T3 around tall grass (or any tracker for that matter) be sure to stick a screamer on the harness. Besides using B/T GPS to display the rocket position on the map, it can be minimized and the remote data string is considered as the "primary position" and your internal GPS of your Android device "is ignored" This now becomes the primary GPS location of the device. You can test it out but minimizing "B/T GPS" and calling up another GPS app. The position of the T3 will be displayed as your primary location. Just some fun 'n games. Again, GPS Rocket Locator displays both your rocket and your position hence you can navigate to your rocket. Short answer is use this. "Bluetooth GPS" can show you where your rocket is or is headed but you can't directly use it to navigate. It does show you what satellites the T3 is using by scrolling through the screens. Fun to play with. Neophytes, get "GPS Rocket Locator" working and run with it. Don't worry about anything else. Kurt plugger Well-Known Member Trying to do Bluetooth anything on Winblows is a real PITA with a native app. Yea, I'm not a huge fan of Bluetooth tbh. I read somewhere it has been described as a standard designed by management committee instead of by engineers. Sounds about right given the peculiarities the standard has had over the years. YAAC came close to being "the best and easiest" but........... the bluetooth implementation again stinks. That program can keep track of two NMEA streams, one from your tracker and one from your local position. First off, thanks for all of your work in this space. If you don't mind I'd like to ask a few questions. I've been playing with APRS output over serial with my Yaesu VX-8GR recently. Historically I've only used my 8GR in combination with my Big Red Bee trackers but I've had some issues recently with incredibly old TeleDongles and newer AltOS and TeleGPS software packages in terms of getting the telemetry link to establish successfully and repeatedly. Until I put that to bed so to speak I've been working on getting the APRS output from my TeleGPS to work with my 8GR. Good news is that I've got that working (TLDR set the APRS format as Uncompressed on the TeleGPS if you plan to use a VX-8GR as the APRS TNC). Once I configured my 8GR to output Waypoint data in NEMA9 format and connected my CT-143 "PC Connection Cable" to my Windows laptop via the a USB to serial converter I am able to see my waypoint data output in real time in Putty over serial. See below. Now I know this isn't directly related to EggFinders or Bluetooth but from my ignorant viewpoint I suspect YAAC can be used for any GPS tracker that outputs location data in NEMA format. Would you agree? Also, I won't have two NEMA streams to be handled simultaneously. Given that I've got three options theoretically. One, I can have YAAC use the "on the pad" GPS values for my starting point, I can manually input the GPS location of the pad for the "starting point", or less preferred I can have my 8GR output GPS coordinates from my handheld to get the "initial fix" and then cut it over to output Waypoint data. Do you know if YAAC would handle this? Moving on from there my expectation is that I just need to configure YAAC to point to the COM port my USB to serial adaptor has been issued and the software should "just work". Is that a reasonable expectation? Finally, does YAAC support satellite image overlay / hybrid data or will it only show me OpenStreetMap data. Ideally I'd like to have the satellite imagery overlay as I find in the field that gives you the best chances of optimising your recovery plan from a efficiency perspective. Basically what I'd like to accomplish in the end is a fallback system for Altus Metrum products from a tracking perspective as well as to be able to output BRB APRS data via serial into a console so I can have a rudimentary GPS track in real time in case something happens to the rocket or tracker. Piping that data into YAAC seems like an obvious value add if it's as simple as you indicate. ksaves2 Lifetime Supporter TRF Lifetime Supporter Hi Plugger, Been overwhelmed by work lately and I haven't tried YAAC lately. I don't know if the B/T implementation has improved or not. Your VX-8GR is fine for reading waypoints as you discovered. In fact with the same cable used for Kenwood D7A(g), D72A and D74 the waypoints can be sent to a handheld Garmin 60CS or 60CsX. https://www.gpsgeek.com/products/in...h-d7a-tm-d700a-aprs-to-garmin-4-pin-round-gps I found this out years ago and a GR user confirmed it to me. If you buy a used 60CS or CsX, would be a down and dirty way to track APRS with your GR. Make the two points come together and you'll find the rocket. Bullet proof too. If you can get the waypoints out of your GR into a USB port you'd be good to go not matter what you use. My D72A I can do that trick with the mini USB cable but I stay away from laptops in the field now. I use tablets with Eggfinder stuff with some hacked ham software. Have two dual boot Chinese tablets Android/Windows that have onboard GPS chipset accessible from both OS'es. You can't find a dual boot tablet anymore that has an onboard GPS chipset period. With Altus stuff, you can select their products to do both APRS and Altus protocols and use plain APRS to track. You only get the basic APRS tracking information and can't use the Altus software without their dongle or Tele-BT. I have a Tele-GPS and it works fine on APRS. You are right. If you can plot positions on a map you have an edge to see the last known position and to develop a drift trend down low if the rocket goes out of range. The down and dirty answer would be to get a used Garmin 60 and cable and you'd be in business. I think you'd be able to download the positions with the Garmin software but I haven't developed that. Kurt plugger Well-Known Member Thanks for the reply Kurt, really appreciate it. As you mentioned I was able to get YAAC talking to my 8GR over serial quite simply. Cheers for the tip regarding the same cable being used for the D72A. That made the fact sink in that those Kenwoods are just outputting NEMA over a standard serial port as well. Given that when I was configuring YAAC I just told it the data input was from a Kenwood handheld and it worked as is. YAAC works quite well but I still need to do some more digging. I find satellite overlay images the best for what to lay your track over but YAAC seems to only have OpenStreetMap and topography options. I could be wrong though. Your VX-8GR is fine for reading waypoints as you discovered. In fact with the same cable used for Kenwood D7A(g), D72A and D74 the waypoints can be sent to a handheld Garmin 60CS or 60CsX. https://www.gpsgeek.com/products/interface-cable-for-kenwood-ham-radio-th-d7a-tm-d700a-aprs-to-garmin-4-pin-round-gps https://www.gpsgeek.com/products/interface-cable-for-kenwood-ham-radio-th-d7a-tm-d700a-aprs-to-garmin-4-pin-round-gps Yep, I've got that serial cable (well, a similar one) and a Garmin 60CSx. Al Bychek rocks the 8GR+60CSx and I've seen it in use a couple times. I just don't see it as much of an improvement over using the bearing + distance value the 8GR APRS TNC already provides. If I had topology maps for launch locations loaded on my Garmin it might be different but I don't. Still, I'll give it a crack soon, just waiting for a serial port gender changer as both of my serial connectors are female. With Altus stuff, you can select their products to do both APRS and Altus protocols and use plain APRS to track. You only get the basic APRS tracking information and can't use the Altus software without their dongle or Tele-BT. I have a Tele-GPS and it works fine on APRS. Yep, that's the idea. I'd like to have APRS as a backup to my TeleGPS telemetry string in case something goes wrong. I've also ordered a Baofeng UV-3R and will pick up a Mobilinkd in the next fortnight to have a play with APRSDroid. billdz Well-Known Member "On a lark, what about these pet and key tracking/locator gizmos? Found a bunch on Amazon... are they also range challenged to say 10 meters (33 feet)? I am sure there is an easy and inexpensive solution to this situation for technology challenged rocketeers like myself." I have written before on this forum about using cheap$20 GPS trackers (GPS, not Bluetooth), they work great as long as your launch site has cellular service. See

But the best GPS tracking solution at sites with cellular service is to put into your rocket an old Android phone with the free Insane Rockets app and free FreedomPop cellular service, see
https://www.rocketryforum.com/threa...r-imprecise-flight-stats.142266/#post-1722868

I also have a Missileworks T3, flew it Saturday, for tracking used Rocket Locator app on one phone, Rocket Track on another (not sure if both apps can run simultaneously on one phone, did not want to risk it). Both found the rocket with no issues. I like that Rocket Track has the map in satellite view, but it seems the map must always stay at the same scale, it cannot be zoomed in or out (at least I couldn't figure out how to zoom). The map on Rocket Locator can be zoomed, but no satellite view.

Well-Known Member
You could fly a BLE beacon, they're tiny and increase the range of bluetooth to maybe 300 feet by including a very small battery.

iBeacon is an Apple thing but the tech is the same
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IBeacon

ksaves2

Be careful with the Baofengs. One gets what they pay for. Their receivers may distort the signal and hinder decoding via the Mobilinkd. I did use a Mobilinkd on a Kenwood THF6A and APRSDroid and it worked ok during testing on an actual flight.
It was a backup and I used a D72 and 60CsX for primary recovery. Yeah, the Garmins and D7A(g's) were the easiest thing back in the day when the Beeline GPS's came out but boy did it cost. Don't be tempted to get a used D7A though as those things are very old and I have two that aren't serviceable on 70cm anymore. The receive frequencies are "off" calibration and the components have aged out I expect. Not worth the  to attempt to fix. Their TNC's also crap out. Kurt

plugger

Well-Known Member
Be careful with the Baofengs. One gets what they pay for. Their receivers may distort the signal and hinder decoding via the Mobilinkd. I did use a Mobilinkd on a Kenwood THF6A and APRSDroid and it worked ok during testing on an actual flight.
It was a backup and I used a D72 and 60CsX for primary recovery. Yeah, the Garmins and D7A(g's) were the easiest thing back in the day when the Beeline GPS's came out but boy did it cost. Don't be tempted to get a used D7A though as those things are very old and I have two that aren't serviceable on 70cm anymore. The receive frequencies are "off" calibration and the components have aged out I expect. Not worth the  to attempt to fix. Their TNC's also crap out. Kurt
I agree in theory about the Baofengs but they got me on cost. \$23USD and free shipping from AliExpress is too cheap to pass up, especially for testing purposes. Plus I plan to use it primarily as an Air Band radio for monitoring purposes. We had an idiot attempt a touch and go at our lower altitude launch site earlier in the season (we launch out of a crop paddock that also has a dirt landing strip) and whilst having a radio most likely wouldn't have stopped that I'd rather know they're coming. So having an air band radio at my table on the flight line monitoring the frequency is a good thing. Especially when compared to thinking I might need to take off running coming back to the flight line post flight recovery because some cowboy doesn't feel the need to read NOTAMS and is coming right for me. I've been using my Yaesu but it's a bit of overkill and I'd rather have it free for APRS use as my primary receiver.

As for the Kenwoods, TBH I wouldn't go that route anyway. I've had good experiences with Yaesu and if the Baofeng doesn't work out from an APRS perspective my fallback is to pick up a FT-4XR to pair with the Mobilinkd. But given that radio is 4 times more expensive than the UV-3R I felt it worth the risk from a cost/benefit perspective, even IF it doesn't work.

ksaves2

The Baofengs can monitor AM on the airband? I don't think so unless they've changed the design. The air band is AM and these rigs only do FM as far as I know. Kurt

davdue

Well-Known Member
TRF Supporter
Question about Egg Finder with the GPS Rocket Locator. I don’t have an egg finder yet but thinking about one. I also don’t have an Android phone. My question is if the Android has to be on an active cell plan or can I just get a used one online and use the Bluetooth on it to connect to the Egg Finder?

Eric

Well-Known Member
Question about Egg Finder with the GPS Rocket Locator. I don’t have an egg finder yet but thinking about one. I also don’t have an Android phone. My question is if the Android has to be on an active cell plan or can I just get a used one online and use the Bluetooth on it to connect to the Egg Finder?

And I think if you can get the Bluetooth GPS, Rocket Track, or GPS rocket locator (that I heard disappeared from app store). The phone would work without a cell plan. But I could be wrong about needing service.