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GPS tracking devices


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I know this is probably a weird topic but I'm tapping all resources I can think of to get answers.

 

I am interested in launching a camera via weather balloon, similar to what has been done by others in various places:

 

http://vimeo.com/12421661

 

I have heard that you can get small GPS tracking devices that will transmit location at regular intervals. Most of the ones I've found online require a monthly fee, similar to a cell phone plan, but I've heard that you can use a pay-as-you-go kind of SIM card in a GPS tracker. This way I only pay for the times I actually use it.

 

Are there any tracking devices that will do this? If so, where and what kind of card to I need to find?

 

Thanks.

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I know this is probably a weird topic but I'm tapping all resources I can think of to get answers.

 

I am interested in launching a camera via weather balloon, similar to what has been done by others in various places:

 

http://vimeo.com/12421661

 

I have heard that you can get small GPS tracking devices that will transmit location at regular intervals. Most of the ones I've found online require a monthly fee, similar to a cell phone plan, but I've heard that you can use a pay-as-you-go kind of SIM card in a GPS tracker. This way I only pay for the times I actually use it.

 

Are there any tracking devices that will do this? If so, where and what kind of card to I need to find?

 

Thanks.

 

Why wouldn't you just use a SPoT tracker as they did?

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Perhaps you could use a pre-paid phone with a pay as you go data plan, and a service like Google Latitude. But it might only work as the balloon was going up and when it comes back down, since it would likely be out of cell phone range otherwise.

 

Thanks that is a good start. It looks like you must have a smart phone that is capable of holding the app. I wonder if there are any smart phones that are also pay as you go.

 

It's ok if the signal only works near the ground. It would be cool to see locations all throughout the flight but the only critical location is where it lands.

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Why wouldn't you just use a SPoT tracker as they did?

 

I'm looking for a solution that doesn't involve a rate plan. The Spot tracker is $100/year.

 

Actually, it's a lot more than that. Tracking is $100 over the basic price of the unit and activation. The basic plan allows you to send "I'm ok" messages, but presumably you won't be along for the ride to push the button so you'd require the extra service.

 

It'd work out closer to $250 all told, and only worthwhile if you planned to use the SPoT for other activities.

 

Maybe you should borrow one. Actually, I heard some people rent them out. A Google search reveals a number of rental places.

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Why wouldn't you just use a SPoT tracker as they did?

 

I'm looking for a solution that doesn't involve a rate plan. The Spot tracker is $100/year.

Look at all the benefits of a Spot Satellite GPS messenger and tell me it's not worth $100. it's really $150 a year, but it can save your life.

 

i dont think the guys camera on a weather balloon is too worried about sending a txt

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Why wouldn't you just use a SPoT tracker as they did?

 

I'm looking for a solution that doesn't involve a rate plan. The Spot tracker is $100/year.

Look at all the benefits of a Spot Satellite GPS messenger and tell me it's not worth $100. it's really $150 a year, but it can save your life.

 

i dont think the guys camera on a weather balloon is too worried about sending a txt

 

Would a phone running geocaching live not do the job? AFAIK it updates your location status on the fly using the data rate.

 

I've got a Nokia 5230 on UK Virgin PAYG which runs Geocaching Live. On Virgin in the UK 3.5G data costs £0.30 per day on a PAYG package. Unless you were really unlucky and the phone came down in a zero coverage area, it would continually update the status of the phone as it flew and then landed. It might go out of signal area at altitude, but should be back in range if it lands somewhere dry!

 

Geocaching Live would run on a fairly basic phone (previously I'd tried it out on a Sony Ericcson K750i which is at least 4 years old) but would need to be paired with a bluetooth GPS "puck" (cost me about £10 on ebay)). Whole solution would be reusable and I reckon could be bought for about £50 all in (at most).

 

I don't know how accurately it records your location when sent to the Geocaching Live servers, but imagine it would be quite accurate. However, it might only give you a map location, rather than really accurate location.

 

Just a thought...

 

Matt

Edited by teamhillside
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Perhaps you could use a pre-paid phone with a pay as you go data plan, and a service like Google Latitude. But it might only work as the balloon was going up and when it comes back down, since it would likely be out of cell phone range otherwise.

 

Thanks that is a good start. It looks like you must have a smart phone that is capable of holding the app. I wonder if there are any smart phones that are also pay as you go.

 

It's ok if the signal only works near the ground. ......

Not a problem....that's why the parole agent put mine on my ankle.

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I know this is probably a weird topic but I'm tapping all resources I can think of to get answers.

 

I am interested in launching a camera via weather balloon, similar to what has been done by others in various places:

 

http://vimeo.com/12421661

 

I have heard that you can get small GPS tracking devices that will transmit location at regular intervals. Most of the ones I've found online require a monthly fee, similar to a cell phone plan, but I've heard that you can use a pay-as-you-go kind of SIM card in a GPS tracker. This way I only pay for the times I actually use it.

 

Are there any tracking devices that will do this? If so, where and what kind of card to I need to find?

 

Thanks.

Anything cellphone based is NOT legal for a weather balloon. Most of the weather balloon groups look at FAA regs and say "we're legal!", without looking at FCC regs regarding airborne cell phones.

 

If you obtain an amateur (ham) radio license, APRS will do the trick for you. APRS on VHF (144.39) was one of the two primary tracking methods used by Project Blue Horizon this year - http://www.projectbluehorizon.com/ - the secondary method was (if I recall correctly) slowly tapping out position reports in Morse code from a small HF radio. The PBH project is one of the few recent HAB projects I've seen that was fully legal including their comms/tracking system. (Half of the team members held ham licenses.)

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