The TRUE cost of GPS systems

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Buckeye

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Lots of threads about which GPS system is best/cheapest/easiest/etc. Many responses have caveats like "well, I already have an iPhone, so such and such system is cheaper." To baseline all products at the same starting point, I made this table showing all the necessary hardware/software required to operate a few different GPS systems. This table assumes you are starting from scratch, with no previous products, no computer, no mobile phone, nada. Other assumptions:

1. GPS transmitters and receivers are the lowest-priced offerings from the vendor's websites
2. Cost of batteries, battery chargers, special antennas, enclosures, cases, wiring, switches, etc. are not included
3. Cost of phones, handhelds, and computers are rough minimums found on EBay for refurb devices.
4. I broke out the systems into two sections: where the rocket is located, and how to navigate to it. It is an important distinction.

I have personally used 5 of the 7 configurations shown here. There are probably a dozen more options out there.

gps.cost.png
 
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PayLoad

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Would love to see where Aim Xtra fits in there, which (for the moment) is my go-to
 

Dustin Lobner

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Eggfinder was my thought...would love to the savings, if any, from DIY. Just ordered one yesterday, lol.
 

cerving

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Remember that we have both "dongle" receivers and a handheld LCD-display receiver, and you can add a GPS to the LCD receiver to make it a fully self-contained tracker, no other devices requried. Be sure to compare apples-to-apples...
 

Buckeye

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No Eggfinder?
Like I mentioned, this wasn't an all encompassing list. I don't have Eggfinders, so I am not 100% sure how they are used, and didn't want to make a mistake. I'll gladly post the spreadsheet if others want to add on!

Be sure to compare apples-to-apples...
This was exactly my motivation for this comparison chart.
 
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Buckeye

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Would love to see where Aim Xtra fits in there, which (for the moment) is my go-to
That was an easy one to add!

gps.cost.2.png

Of course, my analysis considers only 2 features: reporting the rocket position, and then getting to it. These systems may do additional things which may be reflected in their cost.
 

dvdsnyd

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Already been mentioned, but no Eggfinder?
In reality, they have the most options given size/cost constraints.
Yes, you have to put the kits together, but Cris is one of the best vendors in the business, offering quick and concise help!
I just swiped these from his site - Basic starter kit options.

For full tracking with LCD hand held which helps point to location of the rocket -
For Easiest Tracking… the Whole Enchilada ($177, $182 with Mini transmitter)
Eggfinder LCD Starter Set (TX GPS transmitter & LCD receiver)
Eggfinder LCD-GPS Module
External Antenna/Connector
Data Cable

For Easy Tracking with a nav app on your phone/tablet ($137, $142 with Mini transmitter):
Eggfinder LCD Starter Set (TX GPS transmitter & LCD receiver)
External Antenna/Connector
Data Cable

Basic Bluetooth Package for use with your Android Device ($98, $103 with Mini transmitter):
Eggfinder Starter Set w/Bluetooth (TX GPS transmitter & RX Bluetooth receiver)
Eggfinder RX Case/Hardware/Battery Box Package

Basic USB Cabled Package for use with your laptop ($90, $95 with Mini transmitter):
Eggfinder Starter Set w/USB Cable (TX GPS transmitter & RX USB receiver)
 

n27sb

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Note, Sadly the MotionX App is no longer available but there are many alternatives listed and discussed here:


I personally like the LCD/GPS Tracker option that Cris has.
 

KenECoyote

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Having built and used the Eggfinder years ago (been out of the hobby for 5-6 years), I can say it works well and was at a GREAT price. However one price not mentioned is that learning to build it yourself and learning about building small electronics kits from a vendor with fantastic support...PRICELESS for me. :)
 

heada

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Like I mentioned, this wasn't an all encompassing list. I don't have Eggfinders, so I am not 100% sure how they are used, and didn't want to make a mistake. I'll gladly post the spreadsheet if others want to add on!



This was exactly my motivation for this comparison chart.
For Eggfinder, there is an option to use just a receiver dongle and connect it to a device but I'm not going to include it since the cost of the LCD receiver is only $35 more and it saves the cost of an additional device such as a laptop or phone. I'm not sure if you're considering multiple TX devices to a single RX device but some systems could be 1:1 and others are many:1 so if you want to track multiple rockets, the costs vary wildly between vendors that are 1:1 vs many:1

Transmitter hardware: Transmitter
Receiver hardware: LCD receiver
Minimum hardware cost: $125
Additional Device: Not required with LCD receiver
Device Connection type: n/a
Additional device cost: n/a


Software: n/a, not required with LCD receiver
software cost: n/a
Cost for location: $125


Additional Device for walk-to-rocket: GPS module in LCD
Additional device cost: $40
required nav software: n/a
Nav software cost: n/a


Walk-to-rocket cost: $165
 

kjs

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Could you add extra rows for 'capabilities' for the different alternatives?

Like:
  • Voice readout during launch and descent
  • Arrow and elevation bubble to point at rocket (even if you can't see it)
  • 1 Hz recording of packets received by phone
  • Ability to export saved 1Hz packets from phone
  • 10 Hz recording of data in tracker itself - to download after retrieval
  • Ability to export 10hz downloaded data from phone
  • Eligible for TRA Altitude records
  • Good to 300k feet with small stub antenna (validated to 120k feet so far)
  • Lost rocket relay - where subsequent flights pick up 'lost rocket' signals and relay back to other flyer
  • Able to mesh 'listen' to multiple ground stations status of multiple rockets (still working on the phone interface for this)
If you do add these 'extra capability rows', could you go ahead and fill in 'Yes' for those rows for the Featherweight tracker :)

[I rarely interject in tracker comparison threads, but if we are going to compare costs, then "just finding your rocket" should not be the only qualification...]
 

Buckeye

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Could you add extra rows for 'capabilities' for the different alternatives?
No. The intent was to compare required hardware/software to operate the systems at the most basic level. I also mentioned that locating and navigating were the only criteria. Obviously, some systems do more than others. It is left to the reader to decide the value of capabilities. ;)
 

Buckeye

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OK, the myriad of options and combinations of EggFinders hurt my brain. So, I simply added heada's suggestion which appears to be the lowest cost, walk-to-rocket, EggFinder combo.

gps.cost.3.png
 

mrwalsh85

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I'd like to know where you can find a laptop you can use to effectively locate your rocket for $150...

My cost was dramatically reduced by using my company issued iPhone to use the AltosUI. :) Plus I get paid to be "on call" all the time so... In essence, they pay me to find my rocket...?
 

Buckeye

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I'd like to know where you can find a laptop you can use to effectively locate your rocket for $150...
My analysis assumes a laptop with a com port (USB or Bluetooth connection) to read the incoming stream of text data to the receiver using a terminal or simple utility software. This data gives you the latitude and longitude of the rocket. I have cheapo HP laptop purchased new in 2016 for $239 that handles this task just fine. $150 is a rough average of similar refurb laptops on eBay.
 

Maxwelljets

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I'd like to know where you can find a laptop you can use to effectively locate your rocket for $150...

My cost was dramatically reduced by using my company issued iPhone to use the AltosUI. :) Plus I get paid to be "on call" all the time so... In essence, they pay me to find my rocket...?
If there's a university near you, they might have a surplus store where they sell old tech they don't need anymore. You can often find perfectly functional ~5 year old laptops for dirt cheap there. I bought the laptop I used for most of high school for around $80.
 

cerving

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I use a Dell Latitude E5440 with a quad-core Intel i5 processor and 8 GB of memory, I got it from a refurb specialist on eBay for about $200... with a 1 year warranty (except for the battery, of course). First thing I did was get a good SSD drive for it... another $80, but well worth it. It's fine for light CAD such as Eagle, and just about everything else that I do. The video is good, not great, but I'm not a gamer so it doesn't matter to me.
 

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