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Marco Polo Tracker - Great Bang for the Buck

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RobertH3

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RE: Marco Polo - not too much room in the Magg (nose has weight in it) but my 250.00 75mm Nike XII from Mach 1 WILL HAVE ONE! I'll make room somewhere - probably nose cone. Magg will have a chute release next time and/or a piece of rubber hose and zip tie for a little reefing on the chute. On the GPS/RDF units, I are a cheapie and may go for the Polo due to cost entirely. Still stewing...

Cheers / Robert
 

ksaves2

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RDF vs. GPS the thing to remember is how long one’s project is going to remain out of sight. If the rocket is going to remain out of sight for the entire flight. The risk that one might lose the rocket goes up if RDF is the sole device used for tracking. If one can get a visual on a descending rocket, then they’re in great shape for recovery no matter what Rf tracker is used. RDF or GPS, doesn’t matter in that case.
The problem is with a totally sight unseen flight. That can be with something as small as a Wildman Jr. Rocket with a baby J motor. Mine landed 1.6 miles away and nobody saw it coming down. I knew where is was with the mapping GPS program I was using with a 70cm/400Mhz ham band Beeline GPS tracker. My handheld Garmin 60Cs was wired to my radio and navigated me directly to the last known position and by golly, when I got within range, I got a final lay as the GPS had a shot at the sky with the rocket on the ground. If it was in a really bad, tall vegetation area, I could have switched on the attenuation, used the Yagi antenna and homed in, in that fashion. Nonetheless if one has to fly a tracker in their rocket, try to get a noisemaker on the harness as RDF and/or GPS can get one in the vicinity of the downed rocket but one’s ears are the BEST terminal tracking device one can use. Oh, the Wildman Jr. had a nominal flight as the main was stretched out over the ground very nicely and not a nick in the paint job!

I had a flight where I got into the general location of the rocket, valid GPS positions where coming in and I had a fantastic signal strength on the radio. Still no rocket! I didn’t have a noisemaker on the harness. I was right on top of the rocket icon according to the map................... Except stupidhead didn’t have the map zoomed down appropriately! I zoomed the map in finally and shoot, I was still 20 to 30 feet away. Went in the right direction and found the rocket. It was in a harvested, no till cornfield with stubble still standing. If I would have had a noisemaker on the harness that would have cued me in to the position by ear even with the map zoomed out. I did learn a lesson though. As one gets closer to a downed rocket on a mapping program, zoom in the map! Still found the rocket. Kurt Savegnago
 

RocketTree

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I also bought this tracking system. It works great and has excellent range. It easily reaches 1/4 mile range with obstacles, and significantly more in an open line of sight. The tracker tag is very lightweight and fits inside most AV bays. Even with the antenna not exposed (internal), the range was excellent.

Just don't lose the tracker tag module - they're over $100 each to replace! Keep away from trees ;)

Best system I could find without using GPS/Cell network.
 

BSNW

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Well I finally did my L3 flight at Tripoli-Mid Ohio last Saturday. Successful flight to 8970 feet and it also went supersonic. My Marco Polo kept a lock on it for 99% of the flight. It walked me right up to it after landing about a mile away. Other guy at the launch used his Marco Polo in neck snapping L1000 flight. He also was directed right to his rocket. Looks like this tracker is really catching on! What a great product!
 

ksaves2

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Compared to other RDF trackers out there the Marco Polo looks unique and idiot proof. Gone are the days of $1000.00 tracking systems. I still like GPS on the 2 meter and 70cm bands (though Ham ticket required). There is an edge on Rf propagation but I don't think a sport flyer will miss much flying the 900 Mhz units.
With MP don't have to depend on GPS satellites. Remember one thing though: No matter what type of tracking used, it pays to put a noise maker on the harness if possible. I realize that is sometimes hard to do on smaller projects. I've walked up close to RDF and GPS tracked rockets and couldn't see them! Took a long time to find. Amazingly, one's ears are great at tracking as long as one is within the noisemakers range. It extends the ground footprint of recovery and I always try to fly with one now in addition to an RDF or GPS tracker. Kurt
 

DuaneW

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I have to ask, advanced or light weight version? Also, what is your preferred mounting method(s)?

Thanks!
 

RocketTree

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I have to ask, advanced or light weight version? Also, what is your preferred mounting method(s)?

Thanks!
When I spoke with the company, they said to use the ultralight tracker. Its the one without plastic casing. Black shrink wrapped. I have it mounted in a wooden frame on an altimeter bay sled. Hardest part is actually mounting it to something. Sometimes use industrial velcro and a zip tie over the middle without interfering with the on/off button.
 

DuaneW

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If you use all thread that can be a bad idea. The all thread can act as a directional antenna and reduce device communication range at certain relative angles.
 

BSNW

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I have to ask, advanced or light weight version? Also, what is your preferred mounting method(s)?

Thanks!
I use the ultralight tag as well. I put mine in a nose cone bay like the ones LOC sells. I simply wrap the tag in foam and stick it in there. I also took a small section of 38mm motor tube and made caps for each end......I again wrap the tag in some thin foam and put it in the tube. I then attach it to my shock cord with electrical tape. There are many ways to do this. All you have to remember is to keep it away from ejection gasses and all thread. Use your imagination. I also have put them in small Estes nose cones with foam and tape on the bottom. Any small payload section will do. It depends on the rocket. I have put mine in all kinds of places on my rockets with no issues. The shock cord holder lets me loan it out to others at launches. It is a very easy way to do all this. Just take a section of 38mm motor tube and cap the ends.....(one cap glues on and the other removable) and you are good to go.

ALSO...the tags fit PERFECTLY in a 3D printed 9V battery holder from Mac-Performance Rocketry. Just drill a tiny hole in the lid for the antenna and screw shut. Then, tape to your shock cord. I did this for many many flights!

When I get home, I will try and post photos of the various ways I attach it to larger and smaller rockets.

Since my last post on this thread, I and a number of others have used this tracker many times with great success in various conditions. They work well for our uses

Enjoy!
Andrew
 
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BSNW

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When I spoke with the company, they said to use the ultralight tracker. Its the one without plastic casing. Black shrink wrapped. I have it mounted in a wooden frame on an altimeter bay sled. Hardest part is actually mounting it to something. Sometimes use industrial velcro and a zip tie over the middle without interfering with the on/off button.
You actually don't have to mount it to anything. Just wrap it in some foam and put it in a nose cone or small section of tubing and attach it to a shock cord. I mount it to my shock cords on my Estes Pro-Series II rockets when I launch near crops with no issues. I have even put it in a small Estes BT60 payload tubes (like on the Star-Orbiter). Also please see post #39.

Hope this helps!
Andrew
 

BSNW

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Okay....last one.... :)

Many rockets out there have small "payload sections" that are mostly unused. Think of many LOC kits or the Estes Pro-Series II kits (Argent, Ventris etc.). These are PERFECT places to simply wrap the tag in foam and place it in the empty space. ALL my rockets are now built (except small models) with a small empty payload for the tracker or a nose "bay". If not, I simply attach it to the shock cord as outlined in the previous posts. There are many easy and quick ways to accommodate the tag. The trick is to not overthink it......like I always do myself :)

Hope this helps.
Andrew
 

Handeman

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... I also took a small section of 38mm motor tube and made caps for each end......I again wrap the tag in some thin foam and put it in the tube. I then attach it to my shock cord with electrical tape. There are many ways to do this. All you have to remember is to keep it away from ejection gasses and all thread. Use your imagination. I also have put them in small Estes nose cones with foam and tape on the bottom. Any small payload section will do. It depends on the rocket. I have put mine in all kinds of places on my rockets with no issues. The shock cord holder lets me loan it out to others at launches. It is a very easy way to do all this. Just take a section of 38mm motor tube and cap the ends.....(one cap glues on and the other removable) and you are good to go...
Enjoy!
Andrew
I did pretty much the same thing with my T3 xmitter. The tube wasn't a MMT, just a thick wall tube about the same size. I painted it Blaze Orange. That made it easier to see and also kept the electrical tape from pulling the top layers off the cardboard tube when you untaped it from the shock cord.
 
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