SIMPLE tracker suggestions

techrat

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Hey everybody... I'm *just* getting started with *thinking* about putting electronics in a rocket. I'm looking for the "Fisher-Price My First Rocket Tracker kit" -- something so simple, even an idiot like me can't screw it up. I'm a ham, so, something as simple as a micro-fox that puts out a 2-meter signal and I use a Yagi to find it is OK. I can solder, but can't solder SMT components, so as long as the leads can be seen with the naked eye, I'm OK. I have a 1.6" Diameter LOC Sandhawk (Park Flier), so I have a payload bay to mount it (Other payload-bearing rockets I have are an Estes Olympus and an AST Sky Ferry)

Mind you, I'm not planning for the rocket to go out of sight, but I want to experiment with tracking a rocket before I ever get to the big stuff that could potentially need tracking stuff. I currently have exactly zero experience with rocketry electronics, so again, I'm looking for something simple, relatively cheap and not full of useless features I don't need at this time. Any suggestions??
 

DAllen

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Marco Polo for Ultralights.

Recovered 2 rockets from over 10k at Airfest 28. Doesn't get much simpler than that.
 

heada

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I've never used these but had been looking at them lately. Probably too expensive but looks like would be a good fit for light weight rockets.

 

techrat

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Marco Polo for Ultralights.
Never heard of this before but wow. Not cheap by any means, but still, it couldn't be simpler. I may invest in this as it's pretty darn fool-proof. I want to test out it's range, but, as I fly in a fairly small area (think soccer field x 4), I think this will work if my rocket goes across the street or into the weeds that surround the field.
 

waltr

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I build small 147.46MHz beacon TX. These were a kit at one time but full plans have been published.
It uses an 8pin PIC processor, a XTAL and two transistors plus a couple of coils and Rs &Cs.
I did hand lay out and etched a single sided PCB.

I am trying to find the web site and may need to post later when I am home. I do have all the documents so If I can't find the link I can send the files.
Check back.

This fits in a BT50 and is power with one or two coin cells. I use a 2m handy talky to RDF. Works very well to find rockets in the corn. It does have a short range, maybe 100feet, but have always been able to see about where it lands so can get close enough to get a signal.

There are other plans to build simple TX beacons in the Ham bands, 2m or 70cm, that are small, light and not expensive.
If you have a 2m talky then you have the expensive part.
 
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techrat

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That's what I was originally thinking was a 2-meter Micro-Fox that some ham-friendly places sell. They are usually about a 100 microwatts and have about a 500 meter range (good for a walking-only fox hunt). But yeah, I could even use a Baofeng to find those with a tape-measure Yagi. Tune off-frequency for attenuation when you get close. It's do-able. And Baofengs are really cheap (best $20 handheld you can buy).
 

Scott_650

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Never heard of this before but wow. Not cheap by any means, but still, it couldn't be simpler. I may invest in this as it's pretty darn fool-proof. I want to test out it's range, but, as I fly in a fairly small area (think soccer field x 4), I think this will work if my rocket goes across the street or into the weeds that surround the field.
We have several club members who use the Marco Polo trackers - they work perfectly here in Ohio, where we’re mostly concerned with finding downed rockets in field crops and wooded areas - probably not the optimal solution if you need to deal with huge areas of open desert or mountain terrain. It is as simple to use as the maker describes which may very well be worth the cost over an Eggfinder setup.
 

techrat

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Well, the nice thing is: If I buy it on Amazon and decide I don't like it, Amazon will let me return it no questions asked.
 

waltr

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. But yeah, I could even use a Baofeng to find those with a tape-measure Yagi. Tune off-frequency for attenuation when you get close. It's do-able. And Baofengs are really cheap (best $20 handheld you can buy).
Be careful of the Baofengs radios. Most do not have a 'real' Signal strength meter which is required to do RDF and they do not have the sensitivity desired to pick up a very low power beacon at a resable distance, there is a reason they are cheap. Research before buying. For that reason I bought a Yaesu, about $80.
 
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DAllen

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Never heard of this before but wow. Not cheap by any means, but still, it couldn't be simpler. I may invest in this as it's pretty darn fool-proof. I want to test out it's range, but, as I fly in a fairly small area (think soccer field x 4), I think this will work if my rocket goes across the street or into the weeds that surround the field.

Well...you didn't define what is cheap to you ;) . My one project I used it in would probably cost well north of $1500 to replace so $280 for a tracker is cheap.
 

techrat

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Well...you didn't define what is cheap to you ;) . My one project I used it in would probably cost well north of $1500 to replace so $280 for a tracker is cheap.
True, totally true. However, I did say I was starting to think about it, and I posted in Mid-Power rocketry, where the average price of a rocket is $90. If I was posting in HPR, then yes, you're talking about $2000 rockets. Nevertheless, I'm totally interested in this device and I'm willing to fork over the funds to check it out.
 

jqavins

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I'm looking for something simple, relatively cheap and not full of useless features I don't need at this time.
Just keep in mind that if you don't have a use for them at this time, that doesn't make them useless. Odds are you'll find a use for them in the future, and probably not so far away. If a simple, easy to use device with these features (that you're not going to use now) should be available with only a small increase in price over another one without them, don't turn up your nose at those features; all you have to do is not hook them up (for now).
 
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