New tracker from Apogee?

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Nytrunner

Pop lugs, not drugs
TRF Supporter
A club member posted the new Apogee newsletter, and the only thing that really caught my attention over lunch was their new Simple GPS unit. It's got a 4x AA self contained receiver with readout, a transmitter that looks like it runs on a 9v, says "2 mile range", and operates on non-HAM bands. (fits 29mm)

If I hadn't already picked up the T3 from Missileworks, I probably would have considered dropping a couple month's rocket budget on this gadget. I like how multiple transmitters can be paired to the T3 base for pre-installing them in rockets, and I have the hang of rocket locator, so I'm unlikely to switch.

Looking forward to hearing if folks try this out

Oberon

Well-Known Member
The receiver unit is pretty slick, the transmitter seems pretty chunky and inflexible. Would be nice if, for the premium price, the transmitter had features like GPS recording and frequency reprogrammability.

Any idea if they plan to sell the units separately? Maybe somebody can find a way to hack the receiver to work with the smaller tracker transmitters by Eggfinder and MissileWorks

Nytrunner

Pop lugs, not drugs
TRF Supporter
Any idea if they plan to sell the units separately? Maybe somebody can find a way to hack the receiver to work with the smaller tracker transmitters by Eggfinder and MissileWorks

cerving

Owner, Eggtimer Rocketry
TRF Supporter
The transmitter looks like an Eggfinder TX clone. I'm flattered...

BTW, that 9V battery that they show in the picture isn't gonna last very long. It needs a 2S Lipo.

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Hardline

Ecstatic and Joyous
The transmitter looks like an Eggfinder TX clone. I'm flattered...

BTW, that 9V battery that they show in the picture isn't gonna last very long. It needs a 2S Lipo.

Andrew_ASC

UTC SEDS 2017 3rd/ SEDS 2018 1st
TeleGPS from Altus metrum was $214. Then you need a laptop and teledongle starter pack and charger/batteries at another$120-155. Or an Android/iPhone more apps then telebt receiver. Then an arrow antenna 440-3 or -5 yagi at another $110 plus bnc to sma connectors. Then expect the rocketry forum to help you actually use it because sixty pages of manuals sucks. Was it worth the$15 ham ticket? I’d argue yes. Is it simple to use for a novice? No. It took about two weeks of ground testing to get familiar with that system from zero experience. And that was the most plug and play ham setup off the shelf they had.
Add a $30 Uv-5R radio to announce your using the frequency in ham band. And don’t get me started on RDF. That Telemini V3 turned into a$700 electronics adventure because you need a yaseu VX-6R at minimum to have a “signal meter” functional on a hand held radio to actually track the radio beacon in Telemini. And RDF is a lot more like you play the arrow and sweep with the yagi antenna for a continuing narrower radio beam measured on the signal meter on the hand held rather than all knowing gps with its direction and range.

Granted RDF works in some rocketry high acceleration loadings where gps loses lock. It’s also not bound by ITAR restrictions on Mach or altitude. And I liked electronics as a mechanical engineer student. It still felt confusing at times and without this forum I wouldn’t have gotten past setup of radio equipment. So I understand the valid complaint of somebody wanting a product that works out of the box with limited features for simplicity.

That ham exam is not as simple as a dmv license exam. They ask you about freaking spacecraft antennas at some point. And modes of transmitting. The study guides helped me pass. Otherwise expect to use P=IV and V=IR formulas and some knowledge of identify circuit components is useful from wiring diagrams. Once you have the technicians license it really opens up the doors to better quality trackers but the learning curve is up there. You’ll get more range on the units per dollar spent.

If unit range ,data, or technical details isn’t important then go the simple route. The ham band units act as micro black boxes literally in real time and live real time store data even if the rocket completely explodes in flight. That capability was sorely missing on Featherweight units a college team flew this year. You had to go into google maps and video record the actual phone device then plot a route. The more pricer units do that for you real time. The nicest thing about having a gps flight route in real time stored remotely is Incase the transceiver stops for whatwver reason you still have a valid path of flight. Not just a location. Which is handy for when winds dink with the rocket or obstacles that block RF signals.

There sorry for the rant. It was a helluva learning curve.

Steveo

Active Member
While this looks neat, I'm happy with both of my EggFinders. It is tedious work to solder yourself, but if you follow the directions (Cris spells it out for you step by step) it is doable. I wish it had a better LCD case - but BlackAero has kit that looks slick. Overall a great setup that is easy to use. I tested mine for the first time a couple of weeks ago and it was dead simple to use. Had it secured in a labratrocketry sled and GPS took me right to the rocket.

cerving

TRF Supporter
BTW, if you add the GPS option for the Eggfinder LCD receiver ($40), you DO get an arrow that points you to your rocket, and gives you the distance too. Tobor Get your peanuts.... TRF Supporter Nope, I'll stick with my EggFinder. EggFinder is cheaper, is more rewarding (assembly required) and has a better feature set (Data Logging/exporting, programmable frequency, 3rd party accessories, etc...). Oh, did I mention it's reward factor....? Nytrunner Pop lugs, not drugs TRF Supporter It's fantastic for someone that wants to buy a closed-system ready to go unit and follow the arrow. For folks that like to get their Gps path and other data, that closed form factor is a downside. As for ease of setup compared to cost, I'd still rank the T3 pretty high up there. 150$ for RTF TX and RF, plus +~30 for a device to run the app (unless you already have an Android device in which case it's free)

Who knows? Maybe this will be the Chute Release of trackers? Pricy but convenient and low footprint

Compared to other stories of Altus Metrum setup, Andrew's case seems like it was a bit of an outlier. (kudos on getting it all out I'm one post though, we're proud!)

manixFan

Not a rocket scientist
What else would one have to purchase to use the EggFinder or the Featherweight GPS? Do those additional purchases add up to about $395? or close? I see a lot of units out there where I first have to purchase a receiver then a transmitter and dont forget the antenna...... To use the Featherweight unit you just need 2 units. You can buy the optional case for the ground station. All in two units and the case is$352. It's far more sophisticated in many ways and will offer on-board and ground station recording soon. In addition to actual GPS coordinates of the rocket, it has a simple arrow with distance to rocket. The units and batteries are very small.

But, it is currently iOS only. So you need an iPhone or an iPad to connect to the ground station. Android will eventually be available but that could be a few months off yet.

My guess is that Apogee will sell a lot of those to the educational market where quick and easy works best. I think it's great to have yet another vendor enter the market. Says a lot of good things about the hobby.

Tony

boatgeek

Well-Known Member
What else would one have to purchase to use the EggFinder or the Featherweight GPS? Do those additional purchases add up to about $395? or close? I see a lot of units out there where I first have to purchase a receiver then a transmitter and dont forget the antenna......$182 buys the whole enchilada with a mini transmitter from Eggtimer, getting you to an equivalent sizes and "follow the arrow" functionality. All you add to that are batteries and sleds. Add say 2-6 hours of assembly time to that depending on experience. If you have a phone that you're OK punching coordinates into, you can get down to $120 or so. Adding more mini transmitters runs$75 each.

HVArcas

Well-Known Member
I have better already, but the more trackers available the better for everyone!

even without using it you can practically guarantee it works better than any BRB product

jqavins

TRF Supporter
Has anyone tried adapting the Marco Polo to rocketry? I don't mean cloning it, but actually buying one, stripping down the packaging on the transmitter, and sticking it in a rocket, if I may leave out a hundred details.

JoeTekcor

Well-Known Member
TRF Supporter
I wish it had a better LCD case - but BlackAero has kit that looks slick
I messed up the case mine came with but found a last minute fix. But woah! That BlackAero case looks great. Just ordered it. I guess my cardboard Apple box can go in the recycle bin.

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DAllen

Well-Known Member
Has anyone tried adapting the Marco Polo to rocketry? I don't mean cloning it, but actually buying one, stripping down the packaging on the transmitter, and sticking it in a rocket, if I may leave out a hundred details.
What is there to strip down? The transmitter looks like it is ready to be taped to a shock cord right now.

jqavins

TRF Supporter
You could put it in a much smaller payload bay if you, first of all, remove it from the dog collar. Then, to get smaller yet, you could probably crack open the case and get down to a bare board that may or may not have a separate battery next to it.

But then, there may be a wire antenna built into the collar. Or it could be potted to make it rugged and waterproof. Or there could easily be some unforeseen complication.

DankMemes

Well-Known Member
TRF Supporter
The appeal of the apogee unit for me is simplicity, totally plug and play solution, as a ham (K2JAX) the teleGPS is what I’ve been looking at for my Black Hole, but when I saw the Video from Tim at apogee it got me reconsidering for sure

ksaves2

The Ham stuff has better propagation on 70cm/2 meter band stuff. With APRS can use a used Garmin 60Cs or 60CsX and get a live map and navigation screens that can be changed on the fly and perfectly portable for recovery. Alternatively, can
use a tablet/laptop and use a myriad of APRS tracking programs out there to see the plot on a map. I tell you it's very reassuring to see one's rocket likely came down in a nice spot so you can be leisurely about going after it.
That said, the Eggfinder trackers are perfectly fine for 95% of the sport fliers out there. The other 5% likely will need to and have to pay for the Apogee device because they don't want to deal with a learning curve. That's fine and fair enough.

With a bit of practice, the T3, MW and Eggfinder devices work period. Some fliers (not me) have flown their rockets stupid high and great recoveries. Even finding the site of a totally ballistic flight (I be done that one too.).
The only thing with 900Mhz is don't expect every single position will be received. You will get enough of them to make the recovery and you can always download the data off the altimeters.
There are two mapping programs out there on Android for live tracking on a map. Takes practice but they work.

Garmin dog trackers? Be careful because 2 watts Rf on 150Mhz can dork recovery electronics and lead to a ballistic flight. The more modern altimeters are resistant but I wouldn't trust anything unless you fly the same thing that someone else
has successfully flown. Even then, an all up ground test with contained ematches in the said rocket to be flown is prudent. Get the electronics up, start the tracker and let everything stand for 45 minutes to an hour. If no anomalies occure with
your deployment electronics, you should be good. Said anomalies? Complete shutdown. Premature firing of the matches and or recycling of the electronics. Kurt

scsager

Slightly burned-out old guy
The transmitter looks like an Eggfinder TX clone. I'm flattered...

BTW, that 9V battery that they show in the picture isn't gonna last very long. It needs a 2S Lipo.
My thoughts exactly - an Eggfinder TX clone!?! -and you're right about the 9v battery. A 9v battery = lost rocket and pissed-off customer for Apogee. This product looks like vaporware at the moment. No reviews on the Apogee website, and not available for sale until 12/10/2018. - I'm really scratching my head about the advertised "2 mile" range - with the built-it "helix" antenna on the TX... line-of-sight maybe???? with the rocket under parachute at 10,560ft altitude??? No-way are they getting 2-miles on the ground.

With my Eggfinder I got about a 1/2 mile on the ground earlier this month. I thought the 1/2 mile was pretty good!. That was line-of-sight on farm land with no crops at Midwest Power using a 1/2 wave Lynx antenna on both the Tx and LCD. Beeping on the LCD confirming reception.

BSNW

Well-Known Member
My thoughts exactly - an Eggfinder TX clone!?! -and you're right about the 9v battery. A 9v battery = lost rocket and pissed-off customer for Apogee. This product looks like vaporware at the moment. No reviews on the Apogee website, and not available for sale until 12/10/2018. - I'm really scratching my head about the advertised "2 mile" range - with the built-it "helix" antenna on the TX... line-of-sight maybe???? with the rocket under parachute at 10,560ft altitude??? No-way are they getting 2-miles on the ground.

With my Eggfinder I got about a 1/2 mile on the ground earlier this month. I thought the 1/2 mile was pretty good!. That was line-of-sight on farm land with no crops at Midwest Power using a 1/2 wave Lynx antenna on both the Tx and LCD. Beeping on the LCD confirming reception.

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If you know anything about Apogee, they wont put out a crap product and they simply have the best customer service i have ever seen (if there are issues). Based on the items Apogee does sell and how they stand by them, I dont really think he (Tim) is going to try and sell something that is a total pile of junk. The forums are full of people asking questions or having issues with one form of tracker, app that goes with a tracker, receiver or whatever wiggett they have to use to track. Or questions on how to assemble their tracker OR what app is the best or not being able to get it to work....etc etc.
Come on, no one system is without limits. Its funny, without even using, seeing or testing this new product, many seem to be the expert on this unit. If this was coming from an unknown vendor or manufacturer, I would be more sceptical. But I am willing to bet if Apogee is selling it, it will work as advertised. Also, maybe since this unit is new and not many people actually have it...this may be the reasons there are no reviews yet. Not having it available until 12/10/18?? is this a problem or something?
It is disappointing more folks are not more positive when new items come to market. I am sure if it is a bad product people wont purchase it. If it a good product, then it will sell. HEY! at least I dont have to assemble it and have a degree in electrical engineering and computer science to operate it.

BSNW

I am not trying to be argumentative or anything. I just think we should give this unit a chance to prove itself. MAYBE the 9V battery will work. Maybe for most applications, like locating in crops less than a mile away, this would be great. I remember when folks were unsure of the Chute Release. Now they are everywhere. If those things were junk, they would get a bad reputation and they would not sell. I see Apogee as a fine vendor and they stand by their products. The Marco Polo drone tracker is another unit that I have heard many great things about. Remember, most people dont launch on the playa and most people dont launch to 10000 feet. Many simply need a basic tracker to find their rockets. A basic fiberglass rocket ($250) + building supplies ($25) + Recovery ($75) Motor casing ($150) + Reload ($120) + launch fees ($20) + travel costs ($25) =$665.00 I would pay $400 for something that will help me find it should I lose it. And I dont want to have to build it myself and trust in my abilities to do so. Otherwise why aren't most of us building our own altimeters? Buckeye Well-Known Member TRF Supporter Hmm, similar price point to a BRB900, and you don't have to buy a separate navigator to walk you to it. I might consider this at some point. This is the most correct post in this thread. The nearest competitor is the BRB900, and thus it is priced the same. Price comparisons to EggFinders are irrelevant and meaningless. Apples. Oranges. Last edited: Buckeye Well-Known Member TRF Supporter Ouch! at$395 I can buy ... a couple more Featherweight GPS units.
A starter unit Featherweight system costs $352. You can buy 1.122159091 Featherweight units for$395.

manixFan

Not a rocket scientist
A starter unit Featherweight system costs $352. You can buy 1.122159091 Featherweight units for$395.
Hmm. I don’t think you looked at that right. A starter kit consists of two identical trackers and a case for the one you assign as a base station. Every unit can be either a transmitter or a base station. Each unit is $150 so for$395 I can buy two complete units, a base station case, and plenty of spare batteries. If I already have one unit that acts as a base station, for $395 I can buy 2.63 trackers. Tony Ps: a single base station can track multiple transmitters at the same time so if you’re friends with someone who owns a complete system you can buy just the tracker for$150. They pair via Bluetooth so it’s very easy to move trackers between base stations.