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So You Lost Your Drone Again?

This post is the latest in the Drones and Small Unmanned Aerial Systems Special Series which profiles interesting information, thoughts and research into using  drones, UAVs or remotely piloted vehicles for journalism and photography, that Kike learns about during his travels. 

Stick TrackR. Photo by KIKE CALVO
Stick TrackR can help UAV pilots locate fly-aways. Photo @ KIKE CALVO

One of the most shocking experiences for a pilot of Small Unmanned Vehicles is to face a fly-away. Whatever the reason, your fault or a technical failure, your precious investment simply flies away like leafs pushed by the wind. But fear no more, your prayers may have been heard. And this is good news not only for UAV enthusiasts but for anyone with an item that could be stolen, lost or misplaced.

StickR TrackR is a small, coin-sized device that easily attaches to your valuable items. With the TrackR app, you can locate any lost or misplaced item in seconds by ringing your missing keys, using TrackR’s Distance Indicator.  It works both on iPhone and Android. After you download the application,  it uses Bluetooth in what the company calls Crowd Source Tracking.  “When an item goes missing with a TrackR device attached, all TrackR enabled phones will begin to search for that item,” says the company, TrackR . “When another user comes nearby the lost item, that user’s phone will anonymously ping our server to update the items owner with new GPS coordinates of when & where it was last seen.”

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Learn More About Drones:

Kike Calvo´s Drone Collections 

Drone / UAV Dictionary: Includes 300 Commercial UAV Applications

Drones: Their Many Civilian Uses and the U.S. Laws Surrounding Them.

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Introduction to Unmanned Systems: Air, Ground, Sea & Space

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Small UAV Construction

Getting Started with Hobby Quadcopters and Drones: Learn about, buy and fly these amazing aerial vehicles

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Introduction to Remote Sensing, Fifth Edition


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  1. Yariv
    September 16, 2014, 5:31 am

    The range on this is so bad…
    Checkout http://www.flytrex.com – you get both a gps locator AND a real time telemetry solution straight from your quad to your cell phone !

  2. Brian TG
    September 15, 2014, 1:01 pm

    Mr. Calvo, I have to wonder if you’ve ever tried this solution to recover a drone, since the range is so limited and very few people have the app to increase the range. Here are three much better solutions:

    1. Do everything you can to prevent a fly away in the first place. Avoid electrical interference from power lines, upgrade firmware on your flight controller, learn to fly in attitude or manual modes, set your home point, and fly defensively so you always know what will happen if you lose control of your drone. In the unlikely even of a fly away, use the following 2 options:

    2. For DJI flight controllers, use Ground Station. It’s connection is 2.4 Ghz so it’s much further than bluetooth. It will show you on your iPad exactly where your drone is located based on the drone’s GPS. (Phantom 2 Vision Ground Station on iPhone has shorter range, but is still helpful.)

    3. For non-DJI, more piece-of-mind, or a tighter wallet, go with a GSM enabled GPS tracker. Set up a pay-as-you-go cell plan (I like H2O wireless). Even if your drone disappears out of range of ground station, it’s battery dies, and then it is picked up by someone and driven hundreds of miles from where you flew it last, you can still get it’s location by literally calling it on the phone. It will reply via SMS with it’s latitude/longitude and a google map of it’s location.

  3. Sebastien
    September 15, 2014, 4:52 am

    Did someone really try it with a drone? I own a StickR and the range is so poor that sometimes I can’t even find it within my own home! And about Crowd Source Tracking, it makes sens if you lost something in town but a drone in an empty field (where you are supposed to fly them)… who can help you with that?

  4. Florent451
    September 15, 2014, 1:37 am

    And if nobody (who have the TrackeR app) comes nearby the drone ? This application is completly useless