Has anyone ever tried to find their rocket with a Bluetooth tracking device

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Voyager1

Well-Known Member
TRF Supporter
I doubt whether they would be very practical for rocket location. One way to find out though.

Funkworks

Low Earth Orbit, obstructing Earth's view of Venus
I don't think so. Not anyone who posted about it anyway.

kuririn

BARGeezer
TRF Supporter
As Captain Kirk would say:
"It has a limited range!"

waltr

Well-Known Member
It might work ok if you know approximately where the rocket landed.
I use a low power RF beacon to find my rockets when they go into the corn. It has a range of about 100 feet. I walk in the direction I last saw the rocket until I start receiving the beacon. Then RFD to the rocket.
The short range Blue Tooth should work if you can get close.
It would not work for rockets that go out of sight.

neil_w

Tenet Rocketworks
TRF Supporter
It might work ok if you know approximately where the rocket landed.
I use a low power RF beacon to find my rockets when they go into the corn. It has a range of about 100 feet. I walk in the direction I last saw the rocket until I start receiving the beacon. Then RFD to the rocket.
The short range Blue Tooth should work if you can get close.
It would not work for rockets that go out of sight.
I feel like there are plenty of situations where this could legitimately be useful, especially for LPR flights that typically stay within sight. It's often fairly easy to get fairly close, but then nailing the exact location can be maddening.

The precision location capabilities of the Airtags could be great for this last-30-feet application. Maybe. Or if someone else walks near it with an iPhone then you can get a location report on it.

But I am awaiting any reports of folks using it this way to see if it's realistic. Maybe a screamer would be a simpler solution for the last 30 feet.

rharshberger

Well-Known Member
I feel like there are plenty of situations where this could legitimately be useful, especially for LPR flights that typically stay within sight. It's often fairly easy to get fairly close, but then nailing the exact location can be maddening.

The precision location capabilities of the Airtags could be great for this last-30-feet application. Maybe. Or if someone else walks near it with an iPhone then you can get a location report on it.

But I am awaiting any reports of folks using it this way to see if it's realistic. Maybe a screamer would be a simpler solution for the last 30 feet.
If you are close enough for most BT devices a screamer is both cheaper and has longer range (generally) plus you need nothing more than your ears (as long as you can hear that is).

IceLaunch

New Member
I use YoPets GPS tracker for 2.6" body tubes or larger.

Starz

Member
Thanks. I'm planning on building a 42mm BT-60 rocket with a payload section so it would be a bit heavy or not even fit
I use YoPets GPS tracker for 2.6" body tubes or larger.
...

Starz

Member
I don't think so. Not anyone who posted about it anyway.
You bought one no? How has that worked for you?

TRF Supporter

manixFan

Not a rocket scientist
It's really hard to find actual range information for the air tags.Early reports all say about 30', which is typical for bluetooth. But it turns out that the range could be out to about 300 feet if they use bluetooth 5. If so that makes a big difference in their usability for rocket tracking.

At most launches the rockets typically recover within the same general area. Given the prevalence of iPhones, it seems reasonable to expect that someone looking for another rocket would pass within 100-300' of one that flew a fairly similar flight profile and their iPhone would pick up the signal. I wouldn't use something like an air tag for a rocket going to 1,000's of feet, but for a smaller model rocket that might land in heavy grass, weeds, or a crop cover, it could very well be very useful. But if the actual range is only 30', then probably not so much.

My guess is eventually enough flyers will try it that we'll know how useful they are in real life. In terms of cost, other than a simple noisemaker, they are about as cheap as they get.

Tony

Starz

Member
It's really hard to find actual range information for the air tags.Early reports all say about 30', which is typical for bluetooth. But it turns out that the range could be out to about 300 feet if they use bluetooth 5. If so that makes a big difference in their usability for rocket tracking.

At most launches the rockets typically recover within the same general area. Given the prevalence of iPhones, it seems reasonable to expect that someone looking for another rocket would pass within 100-300' of one that flew a fairly similar flight profile and their iPhone would pick up the signal. I wouldn't use something like an air tag for a rocket going to 1,000's of feet, but for a smaller model rocket that might land in heavy grass, weeds, or a crop cover, it could very well be very useful. But if the actual range is only 30', then probably not so much.

My guess is eventually enough flyers will try it that we'll know how useful they are in real life. In terms of cost, other than a simple noisemaker, they are about as cheap as they get.

Tony
That thing is pretty heavy for a rocket that goes under 1000'

Starz

Member
I got a kick out of this question to the above.

Question:
will it track up to the stratosphere? if i launched it with my gopro into space with a helium balloon?
Dear customer,
The GPS tracker reports back its location to the servers using the worldwide GSM cellular network, so since in the stratosphere there is no cellular reception this will only work if the balloon lands back on earth.
Best regards

Tracki Security
Seller · July 27, 2020
But it should work for his/her purpose right (which would mean it would work for me)? After it lands of course. That is funny though.

kuririn

BARGeezer
TRF Supporter
I actually have a few Tiles, one labelled "rocket" but I haven't flown it yet.
Would work for low power where you have a general idea where it landed.
Also for rockets in tall vegetation. If you're close you can activate the audio function and hone in on it.
For mid/high power rockets that drift a considerable distance I would say Bluetooth is very limited.

rklapp

NAR# 109557
TRF Supporter
It'll fit in a BT-55 tube and at 11g, not heavy. I agree that a screamer would be more practical. I believe they start screaming when they detect a launch. Wouldn't want to store it in a payload for obvious reasons.

I recently almost lost an FS altimeter when the masking tape failed on the payload and the NC flew off. On the ground, I knew it was within 25' because I could connect to it on my phone's BT so I easily found it.

manixFan

Not a rocket scientist
That thing is pretty heavy for a rocket that goes under 1000'
I actually didn’t say anything about under 1000’, so not sure how that comes into play. I said “1,000s of feet”, which I meant to imply ‘more than a few thousand feet’. I need to be more precise I guess. I have plenty of mid power rockets that fly on F-G motors and stay under 2,000 feet or so that would not notice 11 grams. The bigger issue is the size, it’s too big for a 29 mm tube, but would easily fit in a 38mm. My point was that if the expected drift is likely under 1,000 feet or so then it might work well if the range really is closer to the Bluetooth 5 spec and there are others out looking for their rockets.

Time will tell. For the price I’m sure folks will experiment.

Tony

ghostfather

Well-Known Member
TRF Supporter
I've used the pet trackers that use the SIM cards, just sending text messages. When the rocket lands, I give it a call with my phone, and it texts me the GPS coordinates, which I open in Google maps and walk to it within a few feet. It works as long as you have cell phone coverage at the launch site.
The trackers are sometimes a bit bulky and heavy, but the ones I bought from China fit in a 54mm airframe easily, probably a 38mm airframe as well. Rechargeable battery, just add a cheap sim card. I've taped them to the shock cord just under the nose cone in a pinch. It's a poor man's GPS, but it seems to work most of the time.

JackWhite

Member
I think it is better just to use a regular GPS tracker. Personally, I did not see any Bluetooth tracker that can be as good as a GPS tracker, so my tip to you is just to buy a GPS one. There are plenty of them on markets such as Amazon, Aliexpress, so you'll not struggle to find what do you need.

manixFan

Not a rocket scientist
I think it is better just to use a regular GPS tracker. Personally, I did not see any Bluetooth tracker that can be as good as a GPS tracker, so my tip to you is just to buy a GPS one. There are plenty of them on markets such as Amazon, Aliexpress, so you'll not struggle to find what do you need.
I have several of the Featherweight GPS trackers - they are fantastic. But they are much more expensive than something like an Air tag. And from a size perspective, the GPS trackers are all fairly large compared to the air tag.

So if something like a $30 air tag worked for smaller rockets, that would be a big win. Obviously it can't work as well as a GPS unit, but at a lot launches I don't need full GPS. Admittedly a sonic beacon might work just as well, but the big problem I have with those is half the time they seem to land back near the launch area and annoy the heck out of everybody because they make it hard to hear the LCO. Rocket folks always seem to be looking for a way to repurpose tech to our needs. This is a great example. I did just order one, for$30 it seems like a low cost test.

Tony

neil_w

TRF Supporter
Rocket folks always seem to be looking for a way to repurpose tech to our needs. This is a great example. I did just order one, for $30 it seems like a low cost test. Cool, let us know how it goes! (I agree with everything else you said above as well) manixFan Not a rocket scientist More on the range front: That article says the Tile trackers have a range of 400’, which matches with some articles about the airtags have about a 300’ range. If that works out in the field, that will make them a lot more useful for tracking. Tony Starz Member I've used the pet trackers that use the SIM cards, just sending text messages. When the rocket lands, I give it a call with my phone, and it texts me the GPS coordinates, which I open in Google maps and walk to it within a few feet. It works as long as you have cell phone coverage at the launch site. The trackers are sometimes a bit bulky and heavy, but the ones I bought from China fit in a 54mm airframe easily, probably a 38mm airframe as well. Rechargeable battery, just add a cheap sim card. I've taped them to the shock cord just under the nose cone in a pinch. It's a poor man's GPS, but it seems to work most of the time. How much do those go for? JackWhite Member I have several of the Featherweight GPS trackers - they are fantastic. But they are much more expensive than something like an Air tag. And from a size perspective, the GPS trackers are all fairly large compared to the air tag. So if something like a$30 air tag worked for smaller rockets, that would be a big win. Obviously it can't work as well as a GPS unit, but at a lot launches I don't need full GPS. Admittedly a sonic beacon might work just as well, but the big problem I have with those is half the time they seem to land back near the launch area and annoy the heck out of everybody because they make it hard to hear the LCO.

Rocket folks always seem to be looking for a way to repurpose tech to our needs. This is a great example. I did just order one, for $30 it seems like a low cost test. Tony It's the same story for me. I've bought a GPS tracker one week for 35$ ago and without a doubt, I do not have any regrets about my purchase. It is working pretty well and I am receiving coordinates without any errors.

rharshberger

Plus ??$per month for a cellular service plan for the tracker, right? I think some people loose track of the fact that some cellular based gps units require a recurring service charge. My Eggstuff once bought ($135 iirc) requires no further layout of cash and a monthly service charge for a cell device if its only $10/month adds up quick. ghostfather Well-Known Member TRF Supporter a monthly service charge for a cell device if its only$10/month adds up quick.
I buy a prepaid cell card with sim, which has maybe 5 euros balance, which is enough for a data connection. Once activated, the balance is good for a year unless I add to the balance. If I forget, just buy a new prepaid sim card. No monthly fees.
I buy prepaid cards when I visit the States for my regular phone, no annual contract needed. I get them at Walmart or a gas station for maybe $10. Starz Member I buy a prepaid cell card with sim, which has maybe 5 euros balance, which is enough for a data connection. Once activated, the balance is good for a year unless I add to the balance. If I forget, just buy a new prepaid sim card. No monthly fees. I buy prepaid cards when I visit the States for my regular phone, no annual contract needed. I get them at Walmart or a gas station for maybe$10.
Is there a link to the one that you have? If not, I might just buy a eggfinder and bribe someone @ my local club or someone on my TARC team to build it.