Depends on how you use it. Its range when it's up in the air will be a LOT better than 1/2mi, so that acts as a backup method for getting an initial track. Plus, think of the directional antenna on the reciever as a telescope for radio. Once it's on the ground, it might not have quite as great a range, but you know roughly which direction it's in (you -do- watch your rocket fly, right? Or if you lose sight, start tracking while it's still in the air and still shouting over the terrain), so you walk that way until and you can get within radio range of the rocket again easily enough. So a 1/2 mile range would be acceptable.
The first link I gave you, the guy built a rocket tracker using the same transmitter I'm using
. He used a homebuilt microcontroller to send the morse code, but otherwise it's pretty much exactly what I'm building. He says he got a range of two miles on the GROUND
. If the wind is strong enough to carry my rockets so far downrange that a combination of initial in-air sighting and a four mile wide search swath on the ground isn't enough to find it, it's too windy to fly.
$50 for the radio kit, $5 for the old style BASIC Stamp (bargain bin sale!), some wire for the antenna, a speaker if I want the Stamp to drive an audible beeper too... and my first version suitable for 38mm airframes will be complete. Replacing the Stamp with a newer, smaller version will let it fit in a 24mm airframe, which is good, because I have an HPR project with a 24mm minimum diameter sustainer that WILL need radio tracking.
Now if you can spend the money and get an RDAS with GPS, that's even cooler. You have a laptop at the launch site, and you're constantly recieving position updates. When the rocket stops moving, you read the GPS coodrinates, pick up your handheld GPS reciever, and you walk until your coodinates match the ones on your laptop. Poof, you're standing within 10 meters of your rocket. Don't step on it.