What is everyone using for a GPS?

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Mbuzz49

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Hi all!!
I am currently looking for a "cheaper" GPS system for my model rockets. I have seen plenty of "cheap" trackers on amazon however, they all require a monthly service fee which I want to stay clear from. The ones that don't have a service fee cost hundreds of dollars.. I am looking for one around $50 - $100 that has no monthly fees. Any suggestions??
My best - Buzz
 

Arsenal78

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There are things not to cheap out on and GPS is one of them. I've seen a lot of those cheap Amazon trackers fail. One of the best GPS systems on the market atm for rocketry is the Featherweight. It's small, compact, and the receiver links to your phone to give you directions. A good GPS system does cost a good bit of coin but it's worth it. Eggfinders are only good if you want to spend eternity trying to figure out which arrow does what on their analog screen (and being able to remember it).
 

watheyak

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I definitely second the Featherweight tracker suggestion. I've used BigRedBee, Telemetrum, various beacons and the Featherweight is my favorite by far.

It does not meet your price requirements, unfortunately.
 

rharshberger

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There are things not to cheap out on and GPS is one of them. I've seen a lot of those cheap Amazon trackers fail. One of the best GPS systems on the market atm for rocketry is the Featherweight. It's small, compact, and the receiver links to your phone to give you directions. A good GPS system does cost a good bit of coin but it's worth it. Eggfinders are only good if you want to spend eternity trying to figure out which arrow does what on their analog screen (and being able to remember it).
Not true of Eggfinders, yes if you use the LCD only it has a learning curve, if you use the bluetooth and link it to a tablet or phone you can walk right up to the rocket. I have done it both ways, for the money the Eggfinder gets the job done, I have seen other more expensive units lose rockets too. The only thing about Eggtimer products is they are kits and you have to assemble them.
 

Mbuzz49

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Thank you, looks like I will be looking into expanding my budget if it's that big of a difference! Many thanks again!
 

Voyager1

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Eggfinders are hard to beat for value if you’re OK with a soldering iron. Featherweigh Tracker, Missile Works T3 and TeleMega are others that I use.
 

HVArcas

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In my experience, high altitude / harsh terrain, TeleGPS is the best.

And BRB is the worrrrrrrrrrst - by a mile (or if the BRB is measuring the distance, several miles)
 

Philip Tiberius D.

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I used a cube from Sprint which worked as long as the area had cell coverage. Last time let me walk right up underneath it, dangling about 90 ft above me in the only, tallest, not climbable Sycamore tree around. I checked back for months until one time it was gone. Looked all around & Aura had my contact info. Lost JLCR & Alt3 as well. I have a yet untested MW-RRC3 Altimeter (came with Fusion). I’m on the hook for a Eggtimer “Whole Enchilada” and looked seriously at Apogee’s tracker (B-day in June), but think I'll go with Eggtimer.
 
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ksaves2

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Use what works for you. I suggest a dedicated system designed for Rocketry. I even bought an old used GPS setup for the ARTS II (used of course) that was one of the only unlicensed systems 15 years ago at close to a grand. Like an oversized EggFinder. The Ham Radio licensees had access to other trackers on the 2 meter and 70cm bands and I’ve had great results with the Beeline products. Beeline APRS was the only thing out there when I started out 15 years ago and provided the impetus for me to get a General Ham license. The cost ratio was skewed toward amateur radio APRS back then. Plus any APRS tracking program can be used.
I still fly the Beeline APRS with a Kenwood D74A APRS handitalkie interfaced into a Garmin 60CsX so I get a map in hand. Used a D72A in the beginning but the two used ones I had went out of spec and are not worth getting fixed. If a Ham wants a 2 meter tracker, the AP510 with one watt output (which can be cut to 500mW) is pretty cheap but needs a 3 or 4 inch nosecone to stuff it in and keep it away from the eBay.
I jumped on board with the EggFinders and built a pile of Cris’s products. Dorked a couple in the building process too. Have a TRS and LCD kit on 70cm I can’t wait to build. Flown the 900Mhz one and it works nicely. Wished he did a 70cm Eggfinder.
I suspect there may be a bit better packet recovery on 70cm
Have come to the conclusion they and the other 900Mhz products, (got a Missleworks too) are mighty fine for finding rockets. Don’t expect to get every single position packet as with the dynamic flight of a rocket leads to very challenging reception issues. I hacked Ham radio APRS software to track the flights on a live map as opposed to using GPS Rocket Locator so I can see and save all the position data in real time.
During the “upside” and even past apogee one might not see anything coming in. After drogue and main deployment is when things settle down and positions start coming in. I try to blow the main as high up as the flying venue allows as that’s when reception is at its best. Altitude will give more hang time and allow a drift pattern to be seen if using a live map. Of course it depends upon how high a main deployment a flying site can “handle”. For a totally sight unseen flight, having a drift pattern visualized on a map can be very helpful if one gets to the last known position of the rocket and nothing is seen nor received. Just proceed in the direction the drift pattern suggests and hopefully a signal will be picked up to lead one to the final resting place. Also look down. I had a core sample and the last known position took me to the fincan sticking out of the ground. Of course the tracker (Eggfinder) died in the process but the last position sent while up in the air was right underneath the resting place. Gotta get ready for work. I can talk about this stuff ad nauseum.
Kurt
 

Tobor

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I used a cube from Sprint which worked as long as the area had cell coverage. Last time let me walk right up underneath it, dangling about 90 ft above me in the only, tallest, not climbable Sycamore tree around. I checked back for months until one time it was gone. Looked all around & Aura had my contact info. Lost JLCR & Alt3 as well. I have a yet untested MW-RRC3 Altimeter (came with Fusion). I’m on the hook for a Eggtimer “Whole Enchilada” and looked seriously at Apogee’s tracker (B-day in June), but think I'll go with Eggtimer.
Last fall at QCRS, a guy had a brand new Apogee unit. About two blinks after launch the base unit lost the TX signal and never reacquired....
That lone event sets me against recommending Apogee's product.

My EggFinder (Rev. B4d) works very well.
 

ksaves2

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Last fall at QCRS, a guy had a brand new Apogee unit. About two blinks after launch the base unit lost the TX signal and never reacquired....
That lone event sets me against recommending Apogee's product.

My EggFinder (Rev. B4d) works very well.
I would be suspicious about two things: 1. Lost battery power to the tracker. 2. Lousy antenna system and/or flier did not do an adequate range test on the ground to see what the range was.

I was guilty of number 2 myself and was lucky a visual was had of the L powered rocket under chute in descent and recovered nominally. I didn't do a range test and the metallic paint shielded the Rf from getting out of the rocket. Up close and on the pad, had a signal. After launch, lost it. I looked at the Apogee product out of curiosity as I have several GPS trackers already. I would have leaned more towards the Featherweight tracker because of the kudos I've read on it. Just get a used Apple phone/device and good to go. One doesn't have to have a sim card installed in the phone to use. Also only $351.00 as opposed to the $415 of the apogee device. The apogee product tracker/transmitter looks like an EggFinder clone anyways. Kurt
 

Buckeye

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In my experience, high altitude / harsh terrain, TeleGPS is the best.

And BRB is the worrrrrrrrrrst - by a mile (or if the BRB is measuring the distance, several miles)
If you are getting errors measured in miles, then you are doing something wrong. Or, the unit is damaged in some way.
 

Philip Tiberius D.

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I would be suspicious about two things: 1. Lost battery power to the tracker. 2. Lousy antenna system and/or flier did not do an adequate range test on the ground to see what the range was.

I was guilty of number 2 myself and was lucky a visual was had of the L powered rocket under chute in descent and recovered nominally. I didn't do a range test and the metallic paint shielded the Rf from getting out of the rocket. Up close and on the pad, had a signal. After launch, lost it. I looked at the Apogee product out of curiosity as I have several GPS trackers already. I would have leaned more towards the Featherweight tracker because of the kudos I've read on it. Just get a used Apple phone/device and good to go. One doesn't have to have a sim card installed in the phone to use. Also only $351.00 as opposed to the $415 of the apogee device. The apogee product tracker/transmitter looks like an EggFinder clone anyways. Kurt
Picked up a Missile RTx for a SONG - so going to check that out. Still thinking about Egg Timer. I have a retired iPhone7 and older Samsung phone I can use. Now if I can just steer clear of 90 ft trees
 

Buckeye

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Or you're using the wrong units, i.e. DMS instead of Degrees-decimals. Check your navigation app... the units must match.
Yes, user error.

One time, I punched in East longitude instead of West longitude and my rocket was thought to be in China.
 

ksaves2

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If you are getting errors measured in miles, then you are doing something wrong. Or, the unit is damaged in some way.
I agree, I’ve had great performance of my BRB 70cm GPS trackers, low and higher powered. Like everything else, there is a learning curve on getting stuff to work.

Like Cris says, one has to make sure the units match with the receiving APRS hardware or they will be off on a wild goose chase.

I remember being at a launch and a fellow was doing some outta’ sight flights and had a BRB 70cm band GPS tracker, a Kenwood D72A APRS handi-talkie and a handheld Garmin 60CsX mapping GPS. His plan was to input the last known position into the Garmin and walk to the rocket. Well you guessed it. He had the units wrong in the Garmin and was off on a wild goose chase. Found his rocket by chance after about an hour.

At that time, I was already flying the same system except I was using a Garmin 60Cs handheld mapping GPS. I didn’t have my system there with me that day but the difference was I had a $20.00 serial interface cable that plugs into the round port of the Garmin 60Cs and goes to the Kenwood D72A and reads incoming positions live and paints them on the map. I told the fellow what he did wrong (he didn’t realize it) and gave him some sources for the serial cable and told him by email how to set it up. He was a happy camper after that.

Neat thing about this setup is one can have the altitude screen pulled up on the Kenwood and read off the GPS derived above ground level altitude and the rocket is being painted live on the map in the Garmin. You can see where this is headed.

As long as one has a “navigator brain” they know exactly where to look to see if they can catch a visual of the main chute event. Can’t beat a good visual if it can be had! They can do the simple math and with a live altitude readout, can have their head pointed in the right direction to see if they can get the “visual”. Sometimes with a small rocket that flies far and high, the main event is too small to be seen. There again though, with the live altitude readout (that other systems out there now also have) the descent rate slows quite a bit so they know their recovery was nominal even though they only saw the upside of the flight. GPS tracking gets addicting plus the recovery takes less time and one can go on and fly the next rocket. That’s the big one. Saves time getting the rocket back and can burn more motor money!

Kurt
 

ksaves2

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Picked up a Missile RTx for a SONG - so going to check that out. Still thinking about Egg Timer. I have a retired iPhone7 and older Samsung phone I can use. Now if I can just steer clear of 90 ft trees
Remember, Eggfinder you or someone else has to build. I don’t believe the EF and MW products are compatible.
i.e. each has its own receiver. (I have both) Fly your Missileworks first and see if you like it. If you want to go with a tunable system, consider the EggFinder with the LCD receiver. Put B/T in the LCD receiver and you can port the NMEA packets to a mapping program. Most use GPS Rocket Locator even though it can be quirky at times. Believe me, I’ve suffered through a lot of quirks!!

I’ve hacked the APRSIS32 Ham APRS program to read the incoming NMEA streams from the rocket and the base station position but didn’t get the rocket position recovery I wanted to see. I suspected it was an internal communication problem with two instances of the program running at once. I thought of the remedy to fix that after I went on hiatus that is really simple.

I get my base location where I’m standing to paint just once on the map. Then I turn that datastream off. Let the rocket fly and avoid internal position collisions and turn on “my position” once the rocket is down so I can paint my position relative to the rocket when its lying on the ground. Since the rocket isn’t moving much, internal position loss isn’t much of a problem since we are both moving slowly. Can’t wait to try the new protocol out and see if it works.

Incidentally, when I drive around in the car with both the Eggfinder GPS tracker, the LCD/GPS receiver with B/T along with a Windoze tablet running APRSIS32, the two positions hop-scotch together at the relatively slow driving speed and of course there aren’t the vagaries of high speed flight and increasing range of a rocket launch. On a real rocket flight, I don’t see as many positions recovered I’d like to see but there is enough to recover. Yes I know what happens to a GPS at high speed.

I have a couple of “tracker dog” rockets with nosecone mounted EggFinders I use for testing. Single deploy and use
a chute release for pseudo dual deploy. Good gosh, I like those things.

Kurt
 

HVArcas

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Yes, user error.

One time, I punched in East longitude instead of West longitude and my rocket was thought to be in China.
it aint user error when it stops transmitting for an hour at a time, springing back into life well after the rocket was found visually

we could have gotten a bad unit but in our experience its reliability is a fraction of that of other transmitters.
 

dlb

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TeleGPS.
works like a champ, 7 Mile Max range so far. TeleBT receiver and arrow antenna. With a Android tablet, I can find them anywhere, even use Rssi for tracking assistance.
 

ksaves2

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TeleGPS.
works like a champ, 7 Mile Max range so far. TeleBT receiver and arrow antenna. With a Android tablet, I can find them anywhere, even use Rssi for tracking assistance.
I have one I haven't flown yet but you're right. For a Ham band unit, it's small size is a plus and their software is really great. I've been impressed with my ground testing I've done with the unit. Kurt
 

swatkat

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T3 has been great for me. Only had to use it up to 10800 foot range, but worked flawlessly.
 

GlueckAuf

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I have one of these, as well as one of its indentical cousin, the Trackimo. Yes, Tracki is a subscription-based service, but hold on...you can sign up for as little as one month at a time for $20. If you only need a tracker a few times a year, this is good fit. I'm very impressed by its accuracy and dependability. The best feature, in my view, is that if you cato, submerge, or tree your rocket irretrievably, you're out less than $40

Yes, it is dependent on the 3G GSM mobile phone network. So if you fly exclusively on the salt flats of Bonneville or deep into the Mojave Desert, this is probably not a viable solution. But for what most rocketeers need a tracker to deliver 99% of the time, it's a simple, economical solution.

1588362173447.png


The identical (but with a different business model) Trackimo, on the other hand, has a steep admission price of nearly $200. The subscription price, though, can be as low as $5 per month for one year. But if you hang this one atop a 100-year-old Michigan oak tree, you're out the whole $200 plus the unused portion of your subscription.

1588362779429.png


The Tracki I just received and have not flown it yet. The identical Trackimo I have owned for over three years, and with very few exceptions, it has always delivered the landing spot of my rocket on my mobile phone via an elegant Google maps-based interface.

1588363560282.png


Only twice in three years has my rocket landed in a low spot on a field adjacent to our Michigan International Speedway range, and the Trackimo couldn't report its position. When I found the bird in the traditional way and lifted it out of a depression that prevented it from connecting to a cell phone tower, Trackimo immediately connected and reported its location like normal.

Tracki and Trackimo are a simple, economical, and reliable solution for basic tracking. And they work anywhere on the mobile-phone connected parts of the planet.

Good skies,

Glueck Auf
 

heada

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I don't know what service Tracki/Trackimo use but AT&T has said that they'll fully decommission 3G by 2022. I imagine the other services wont be too far off that date.
 

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Iv got to give a recommendation to the featherweight gps tracker...I haven’t flown it yet in any of my rockets, but we flew it in my friends 4” competitor to almost 15,000 feet, and it tracked the rocket all the way to apogee, speaking out altitude over iPhone the entire flight. And while we saw where the rocket landed, we still tracked it via gps and it got us within a foot of the rocket. It’s a highly impressive system if you are an iOS user, has great features, and is incredibly easy to use, and small( I’d assume you could easily fit it in a 29mm airframe. It’s not the cheapest option, but is in a good price point compared to other offerings. Iv also seen the eggfinder gps units work well, and if you can solder smd components, or have someone who can, it’s hard to beat eggtimer pricing. I’m getting a hot air rework station soon to build some eggtimer altimeters and trackers, as with smaller builds, the eggfinder trs altimeter/tracker combo is too nice to pass up.
 

Motocrossman24

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PM me with your suggestions on how to make the interface better... we're always open to suggestions.
kind of off topic, but while your here, have you considered offering an accelerometer based flight controller with 2 or4 channels that has no WiFi? Iv been in the search for an accelerometer altimeter for a little while for my minimum diameter project, and was considering the proton, altho it’s way more channels then I need, and with Tripoli’s new WiFi rules, I personally don’t feel like bothering with WiFi. The build is also likely above my current skill set also.
 

JimJarvis50

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In my experience, high altitude / harsh terrain, TeleGPS is the best.

And BRB is the worrrrrrrrrrst - by a mile (or if the BRB is measuring the distance, several miles)
Certainly not my experience with BRB. I've had multiple flights with regular hits from over 30 miles.

Jim
 
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