We will tell you right off the bat that, as of early 2017, 3D Robotics (3DR)…
Drone tracker devices are becoming vital because drone flying is increasingly popular as a hobby and professional skill. Many industries are starting to incorporate drone technology into their work from shooting film and video camera footage to collecting data for science and engineering projects. Many kids and adults alike enjoy flying a drone around a park or open space just to see how high and far it can go.
Whether you’ve been flying drones professionally for a long time or you’re still getting the hang of your new hobby. There is always the possibility that your drone could become lost during an unintentional landing or crash. Tracking devices can be vital to protecting your drone. They can be as important as drone cases in many instances to protect your investment. Another option is choosing a less expensive drone that is easier for new pilots to fly.
Drones, Accidents and Drone Tracker Devices
Despite the best preparations and careful planning, accidents can happen:
- a dead battery
- a moderate wind
- technological glitch can cause a run-in with a tree
- a dive into a lake
- a detour into a field that can render your drone lost.
While it may make some drone owners nervous to think about, it’s important to be prepared in case such an event occurs. There’s a chance you may need some technological assistance to recover a drone that’s become stranded somewhere you can’t see.
That’s why a real time drone tracker is a worthwhile purchase for any drone enthusiast or professional. It’s an investment to protect the device that you’ve already spent your time, money, and expertise on. With a tracker, you can recover your equipment with minimal hassle, saving time and money. Then you can maximize the time you spend flying by getting back into the air faster. Trackers vary widely in price and features. So no matter how large or small your budget, there is likely a tracker out there to best serve your needs as a drone operator.
What Is A Drone Tracker?
Drone tracker devices use either GPS, RF, or Bluetooth frequencies to track the device. You’re probably already familiar with these methods, which are used regularly on phones, radios, television, and sound systems. That same technology used in those applications works to track your drone. It usually involves placing a chip (in the form of a sticker) on your drone. The adhesive or velcro then allows you to track the device.
Usually, you will sync the tracking sticker to an app or function on your phone, allowing you to track your drone in real-time. Some models that don’t integrate with smart phones use a handheld remote instead. It’s worth noting that Bluetooth trackers are still fairly new and less common. They do not have as expansive of a range as a GPS or RF tracker, so there are fewer applications in which they can be used.
GPS or RF
GPS trackers rely on a Global Positioning System signal, the same one that provides directions to your car or a navigation device. This signal is obtained via satellites and sometimes requires a subscription (and therefore an additional fee). For a GPS tracker to work, you do not need to maintain line-of-sight with the device. The device allows your drone to fly it further than any other type of trackers and allows for the most versatility of use. RF trackers, on the other hand, rely on a radio frequency (RF) signal.
With these devices, line-of-sight is important, so you must be able to see your drone at all times. While this can limit the range of your flight, it’s often the case when no subscription service is required. This can end up saving you money. If you don’t have a tracking device I highly suggest you get a beginner drone if you are a newbie.
We’ve done the research so you don’t have to! Here are four of the top drone tracking devices on the market today with affiliate links included so you can see them for yourself:
The Marco Polo Launch and Recovery System is one of the RF-based drone tracker devices that includes a transceiver tag and a handheld locator. You can even buy pre-configured kits to track up to three drones at a time from the same controller. It requires no cell phone service or internet to function, making it great for remote locations. It can track your drone up to two miles away, provided line-of-sight is maintained while flying. The device only becomes active when you press a button, so there is no risk of RF interference between the tag and the controller while your drone is in flight.
In the event of an unintentional landing, activate the Marco Polo device. Then begin tracking your drone to receive location information accurate within inches. The substantial battery life of the transceiver tag means that you have up to 14 days to recover a lost drone before it loses its signal. There are two models of the Marco Polo tracker available for purchase: the Ultralight System and the Advanced System.
The Ultralight System’s tag weighs in at a mere .42 ounces. Weight is perfect for smaller and/or lightweight drones. The Advanced System tag features a tag with a rugged, waterproof polycarbonate case. Designed for more adventurous applications it weighs in at a still-respectable .8 ounces. Tags can be attached using adhesive Velcro strips or other methods. Both versions of the Marco Polo system can be purchased for a one-time cost with no monthly subscription fees.
Check out this video to see how well Marco Polo Tracker works
Trackimo is a respected and well-established brand in tracking technology, and for good reason. Their wide range of products are designed to keep track of vehicles and equipment, family and friends, household objects and luggage, and much more. The Trackimo GPS Tracker boasts worldwide coverage for indoor and outdoor settings (though most drone flying is done outdoors) and comes with an optional drone attachment kit for a safe and secure way to keep the tracker in place during flight.
The Trackimo’s SOS button allows the drone’s location to be broadcast in a variety of ways: through their app, email, or text message. These same methods can also be used to receive alerts about emergency conditions, sudden movements, and when the drone reaches speed thresholds you’ve identified as boundaries. Real-time tracking provides accurate and up-to-the-minute location information and travel history of the device.
These services do come at a cost, however: Trackimo requires a subscription, which runs $5 per month. Even still, this is one of the lowest subscription prices in the industry for drone tracker devices and you may decide that this monthly fee is a worthy investment to protect and recover your drone in case of an unintentional landing.
Watch this video to see the Trackimo GPS in action
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DroneScape doesn’t mess around. They are a professional engineering firm who use drones for engineering applications such as infrastructure inspections, aerial reconnaissance, and environmental assessments. Their team of professional engineers, FAA-licensed pilots (of both drones and airplanes), and adjunct professors has developed DroneScape FindTheDrone, a GPS tracker that features the ability to call your drone via smartphone or have it call you and report its location.
You can even check on it by sending a text message. Their app links to Google Maps to provide current and past location details on a live map. It also offers geofencing capabilities, which allow you to set a perimeter for where you want your drone to go (or in some cases, not to go). You’ll be notified if your drone crosses those geofencing boundaries you’ve set. In addition to the purchase price of the device, FindTheDrone also requires a $5 per month service fee for real-time drone tracking services, another small price to pay to protect your investment.
4. Loc8tor Lite
Loc8tor’s products can track pets, purses, and yes, even drones. Their Loc8tor Lite is an inexpensive short-range RF tracker with a variety of applications. Ideal for those who are looking for a simple way to track their drone when it makes an unintentional landing in a nearby area. The Loc8tor Lite comes with two lightweight homing tags. The tags work at a distance of up to 400 feet. Because it is RF-based, line-of-sight must be maintained before landing.
When activated, the battery-operated handset will tell you how close or far you are to your drone. Audio tones and color-coded blinking lights inform the user: red if you’re far away, yellow as you get closer, and green when it’s within reach. A single remote can control up to four tags. Tags can be purchased separately. Batteries on both the remote and the tag last for up to seven months before needing to be replaced.
There is no option to connect to an app or phone here, but for the price, this is one of the most budget friendly drone tracker devices. It comes with a two-year warranty and a 30-day money back guarantee in original packaging in case of any problems or concerns.
Check out this Loc8tor Video for more on how it works.
Wrap Up of Drone Tracker Devices
Accidents happen, even with the most sophisticated pieces of technology. When they do, it’s best to be prepared with one of the best tracking devices on the market today. Whether you are using your drone for business or just for play. Drones are an investment of your time, money, and expertise. Make sure your device stays safe and secure by using a quality tracking device, whether it uses GPS, RF, or Bluetooth technology. The models in this list have been vetted for affordability and features, making any one of them an excellent choice. Happy flying!