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Amateur Radio Data Transmissions - For discussion of all modes used to send data such as APRS and packet.

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Old 09-10-2015, 10:53 AM
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Default APRS on a drone?

Hey folks,
Anyone ever explored the possibility of outfitting a UAV with a tracker?

I have a DJI Phantom 2 Vision+, and I'm suspecting that even a cheap HT with a TinyTrak and GPS would be over the payload capacity by huge multiples. Something that could take the GPS signal off the device itself and maybe a small battery of its own (so it's not reducing flight time by taking from the aircraft's battery) might work, but I'm not aware of anyone who's made such a kit.

What's used in APRS balloon launches? Is their payload large enough to handle an HT, or do they have smaller kits for this purpose?

Not planning on duct-taping my VX-8GR to the drone just yet...
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Old 09-10-2015, 11:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay911 View Post
Hey folks,
Anyone ever explored the possibility of outfitting a UAV with a tracker?

I have a DJI Phantom 2 Vision+, and I'm suspecting that even a cheap HT with a TinyTrak and GPS would be over the payload capacity by huge multiples. Something that could take the GPS signal off the device itself and maybe a small battery of its own (so it's not reducing flight time by taking from the aircraft's battery) might work, but I'm not aware of anyone who's made such a kit.

What's used in APRS balloon launches? Is their payload large enough to handle an HT, or do they have smaller kits for this purpose?

Not planning on duct-taping my VX-8GR to the drone just yet...
I have not yet tried hoisting a HT with my Phantom 2 (though the idea has certainly crossed my mind), but there are plenty of YouTube videos of people lifting heavy DSLR cameras and other objects with a Phantom 2. It generally works ok, at best. Flight time gets really, really short because the motors are applying so much more power to stay aloft with extra weight.
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Old 09-10-2015, 11:53 AM
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Check with Byonics/TinyTrak. They make some small/low power APRS units and radios that might work for what you want to do. You shouldn't need much power, especially if it's airborne.
Byonics - TinyTrak3 GPS Position Encoder

Maybe something like this: http://www.byonics.com/mt-400
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Old 09-10-2015, 11:53 AM
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A little pricey at $220, but would this fir the bill?

Byonics - MicroTrak
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Old 09-10-2015, 12:07 PM
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Argent Data also the T3-Mini which weighs 5.5 grams not including battery or GPS receiver.

A lot of the balloon launch guys use the BigRedBee device which is also made to be small and light.
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Old 09-10-2015, 1:04 PM
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A little pricey at $220, but would this fir the bill?

Byonics - MicroTrak
Would work fine if it was within your drone's weight capacity.
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Old 09-10-2015, 1:06 PM
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Thanks all, looks like some decent ideas both here and on the PhantomPilots forums.
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Old 09-11-2015, 11:24 AM
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This is what you want for lightweight APRS on drones, baloons, etc, :AP510 Aprs Tracker VHF with GPS Bluetooth Thermometer TF Card Aprsdroid US SHIP | eBay

Its completely self contained with a 1w VHF transmitter, GPS, modem, battery that will last more than a day and I use one all the time in my vehicle but they are popular for aircraft and balloon launches.

But I would ask why you would want an APRS specific thing on a DJI Phantom that is usually flown within a couple of blocks of the pilot? You can get tiny boards that add GPS positioning of the drone onto your ground video monitor using the GPS built into the drone. These will remember the last known location in case you crash beyond line of sight and the parts cost less than an APRS tracker.
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Old 10-14-2015, 11:29 AM
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I actually have a project designed for exactly this, take a look at tracksoar.com and I've posted the full source code and schematic for an APRS tracker small enough to fit on most drones.
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Old 10-14-2015, 2:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ki6vbk View Post
I actually have a project designed for exactly this, take a look at tracksoar.com and I've posted the full source code and schematic for an APRS tracker small enough to fit on most drones.
He beat me to it, as I was about to mention his post from a short time ago.

http://forums.radioreference.com/sho...d.php?t=321985

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Old 10-14-2015, 2:34 PM
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Thanks both, I did see that mentioned elsewhere on the forums.
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Old 10-19-2015, 4:27 PM
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Welcome to BigRedBee !!! is also an option.
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Old 02-23-2017, 12:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay911 View Post
Hey folks,
Anyone ever explored the possibility of outfitting a UAV with a tracker?

I have a DJI Phantom 2 Vision+, and I'm suspecting that even a cheap HT with a TinyTrak and GPS would be over the payload capacity by huge multiples. Something that could take the GPS signal off the device itself and maybe a small battery of its own (so it's not reducing flight time by taking from the aircraft's battery) might work, but I'm not aware of anyone who's made such a kit.

What's used in APRS balloon launches? Is their payload large enough to handle an HT, or do they have smaller kits for this purpose?

Not planning on duct-taping my VX-8GR to the drone just yet...
My concern is the tracker (although on a dramatically different frequency that the drone) could possibly overload the front end of the drone radio and make it uncontrollable or even crash. Normally with Amateur Radio I would experiment, but I am scared to do that with a drone up in the air costing $1000+.

Thoughts???
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Old 02-23-2017, 1:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KF0X View Post
My concern is the tracker (although on a dramatically different frequency that the drone) could possibly overload the front end of the drone radio and make it uncontrollable or even crash. Normally with Amateur Radio I would experiment, but I am scared to do that with a drone up in the air costing $1000+.

Thoughts???
1 watt of RF on a completely different frequency won't do anything to overload the drone's front end. If you're still worried, just do a ground test.
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Old 02-23-2017, 1:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pinballwiz86 View Post
1 watt of RF on a completely different frequency won't do anything to overload the drone's front end. If you're still worried, just do a ground test.
Actually the tracker I wanted to use can be turned down to 300mw. I have a DJI Phantom drone. I know the transceiver on those things has to be really cheap (although it works incredibly well). I can most certainly ground test it, but nothing is a replacement for air testing, particularly when I can have it out there 2000 feet at 400 feet high. The only way to attach APRS would make the antenna of the drone and the APRS less than 4 inches apart. I have seen strange things happen before with interference that technically-speaking should not happen. It would be so cool to have APRS on it. I wish I could get people that were braver than me that have already done it with the same drone and a <1 watt APRS transmitter.
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