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Trackimo 3G Review
1666 12 2018-4-5
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Mark The Droner
Captain
Flight distance : 2917 ft
United States
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The Trackimo is a GPS location device which has been available for 3-4 years now, but the 3G version is relatively new.  I had purchased the 3G Trackimo just before Christmas and have flown with it and tested it quite a bit, so I thought I'd give my thoughts.




Unlike the popular but now defunct Flytrex Live 3G tracker, this is not hard wired to the Phantom and works completely independent of the AC and could have many other uses besides tracking a drone flight.  



The case is made of hard plastic, has a glossy coating and feels solid even with its light weight.  The device with battery and without removable magnet weighs 1.1 oz according to my postal scale (the defunct Flytrex Live 3G device weighs .8 oz).   Gimbal-Guard.com sells a custom bracket you can secure onto the side of your Phantom using the landing gear screw holes which holds the device nicely allowing for a secure mount while also allowing quick installation or removal of the device in less than a second.  With this mount, there is no danger at all of the device somehow coming off your Phantom during flight.  The placement of the bracket does not in any way interfere with the air flow of the props.  The bracket weighs .5 oz.  I haven't noticed any difference in technical operations or flight due to the added weight or signals emitted from the device.  




The Trackimo includes a magnet with velcro which sticks to the velcro backing on the device, but obviously a magnet wouldn't be of use during a UAS flight.  




Fortunately the magnet detaches right off the velcro, leaving the custom velcro backing for other uses.  






If for some reason you need a spring-loaded clip on the back rather than the velcro backing, you can swap out the battery door easily enough.  



If desired, the clip can be placed around a belt or strap, and then secured with one of the included tiny screws, putting it in a fixed clamped position which won't open without removing the screw.  



Since the device is independent of the AC, it can be hot-swapped with any other AC if you happen to have more than one.  That's an advantage the Flytrex didn't have.



It also includes a thin custom rubber molded case which fits on snugly from the back, making it waterproof for at least a short while.  




The custom velcro on the back panel is completely accessible for use with the rubber case installed.

Unfortunately, the Trackimo while enclosed within its case doesn't fit into the gimbal-guard bracket the way it was engineered to fit - which would be right-side-up - because it's just a tiny bit too wide.  However, the gimbal-guard bracket is flexible by design and by pushing in slightly on the bottom of the bracket while turning the Trackimo vertically 90 degrees, it can fit snugly and firmly sideways into the gimbal-guard bracket with no danger of it popping out during flight.


DCP_7123.JPG


There's another bracket that's sold by Space City Drones that seems designed to fit the Trackimo with the rubber case, but the bracket is in front of the Phantom, and seems to be out of stock as of now.




If you have a P4, the gimbal mount can be used to hold the Trackimo behind the camera.  Be sure to take adequate precautions as far as tethering the mount and the Trackimo appropriately.  The VPS must be disabled to use this method.


Here's another 3-D printed method for the P4:



The drone accessory package includes a velcro strap, and three other pieces of velcro with instructions on how to secure the Trackimo to the leg of your Phantom.  If you buy a Trackimo, be sure to get the drone version which will include these straps for an extra US dollar.




Here is how Trackimo's Drone package is designed to secure the device to your Phantom.


DCP_7124.JPG

The device is more secure than it looks above.  There is velcro tape wrapped tightly and completely around the leg, and two small velcro tabs are taped to each of the two sides of the device.  Then, the velcro strap you see in the photo is wrapped tightly around the whole thing.  The velcro strap clings to the velcro tape wrapped around the leg and it also clings to the two sides due to the small velcro tape placement.  Also the device's custom velcro backing on the battery door sticks to the velcro wrapped around the leg.  Yes, it's secure, but it takes a minute or two to install it and I don't particularly like the way it looks.  Also, I'm not happy about it being so close to the leg antenna.  If you use this method, be sure to avoid securing it to the leg that's closest to the compass.  


I believe the non-VPS equipped Phantoms such as the P2 series and P3S, etc. have room underneath so one could also install it under there - right under the battery compartment (where the Flytrex devices used to reside) with commercial grade velcro, but you should also tether the device to a leg if you do it that way (velcro and tether is included).  Securing it underneath rather than on the side would allow it to be more centered relative to the aircraft, although I'm not sure it matters.  

DCP_7126.JPG


Edit:  After testing, I don't recommend this method because when I flew with the device installed as shown, I wasn't getting minute by minute updates - some of the updates were several minutes apart and also the locations were off by up to 150 feet.  I attribute this to the satellites being blocked by the battery.  


Whichever mount you choose to use (side bracket, velcro under battery, front bracket, velcro strap to leg, P4 gimbal mount, or some other method), you also have the option of the tether - included - which can be attached to a leg for extra security.




It comes with a usb cable, a few tiny screws for the battery door, and a tiny philips screw driver.  



It even includes a lanyard.




Obviously, the device requires a cellular account which is included with the purchase.  And during flight, it needs to be within range of at least one cell tower in order to send its data to the cell tower which would then be presented to you via your online account while connected to the Trackimo server.  If no cell tower is within range, no data will be successfully sent and there will be no entry in the log for that minute which you may notice when you view the log later.  



The Trackimo requires only 4 GPS satellites to give a GPS location (rather than the 6 a GPS phantom needs) and multiple tests have shown the GPS fix is usually accurate within 20 feet or less when under open sky.  Occassionally a GPS fix may be off by as much as 50 feet, but that's rare and corrected on the subsequent GPS fix.



If there is no GPS for whatever reason, it looks for a Wifi signal, identifies it, and then gives you the curb location of that particular wifi transmitter.  Obviously, with no GPS and wifi only, it's not very accurate because it's not locating the device - it's locating the closest wifi transmitter curb address, if there is one within range.  With no GPS and no wifi, it will triangulate with the closest cell towers to give you a location but it's extremely inaccurate and may be off by as much as a mile.  

I've never had it lose its cell connection or GPS satellite connection while in the air - and it may be partly because of the way it is installed on my Phantoms, that is, vertical and facing outwards towards any cell towers within view.  It has occasionally not given me a GPS location when on the ground (it gives me a wifi location instead or sometimes a cell triangulation), but the following minute, it has always given me a GPS location.   Worst case scenario is your drone hasn't had it's once-a-minute GPS update quite yet just before it crashes in thick woods and the device lands out of view or range of a cell tower (e.g. I attached the Trackimo to my cat's collar for four hours one morning and I did lose the cell tower connection for three minutes while the cat walked several hundred feet through some thick woods while moving up a steep slope).  

While in flight, your UAS can be tracked almost live with the trackimo app, meaning you can watch your AC move on the satellite map in the Trackimo app while you're flying, but there is a bit of a delay, I'd say up to a 20-30 sec delay when locating automatically once/min, and up to a 60 sec delay when you are manually demanding an updated location, which is disappointing.  The main thing that bugs me about it is it only gives you an updated location once a minute at best unless you manually demand an update.  That means if you are flying 30 mph, in theory it could travel a half mile without an update.  Or if you go straight out and immediately come back, you likely won't have an update at your furthest point.  OTOH if you crash and your AC battery gets knocked out, the Trackimo will potentially continue to send its location from the ground after the crash and will continue doing so once a minute until the battery goes dead, so that's a good thing - and it's something the Flytrex Live device was not capable of doing.  I haven't crashed with it yet.  The back piece of the Trackimo which holds the battery can be held in with a tiny screw (optional), so there is very little chance of the battery being knocked out of the Trackimo in a crash.  It can get GPS and cell service while resting on the ground in the woods (at least in the winter with bare trees) because I tested this specifically, so that's another good thing and that's probably due to it only needing four GPS satellites.  If you manually demand a location via the app, it will give you a location more often than once a minute, but no more than 4x in a minute (i.e. once every 15 secs or so).  Another benefit:  if you sometimes send your Phantom on an autonomous mission out of RC range, it would settle your nerves to be able to see it moving on the google satellite map of the Trackimo app as the mission proceeds.  If something went wrong and your drone didn't return, you'd have a significantly better chance of finding your aircraft than if you had no GPS tracker.  



You might find other uses for the Trackimo too, such as in your checked luggage, in your teenage daughter's car, on your pet's collar, on your car keys, etc.  

A few more unique things about this device is the fact that you can communicate from your app to the device to make it behave a certain way which is something Flytrex could not do.  For example, you can request changes in how often it reports its position (e.g. once every 120 minutes instead of once a minute) which would save considerable battery.  Or if your drone went down in the woods at night, you could remotely command the Trackimo to send data every two hours rather than every minute which would extend the battery life - and help you sleep, as well.  You can demand current location as often as 4x a minute if you do it manually.  You can also send a demand for it to emit a tone.  It takes about 10-15 secs for the tone to be realized, but unfortunately, the tone is very low volume and likely won't be heard unless you're indoors.  It emits a solid high-pitched low-volume tone for about 8 seconds.  It could help you locate the device inside, or for example, you could potentially train your cat to come home for supper when the device is around its collar and it hears the tone.  But to be honest, it's a little big to hang on a cat collar and I'm not sure if The Guardian (the pet version) includes a tone.




This Trackimo does have bluetooth.  So, provided your mobile device also has bluetooth, it may help you locate the device.  By tapping on the bluetooth icon on the app, you'll get a pop up and the pop up will tell you if it senses a bluetooth signal from your Trackimo, and if so, it will then approximate the distance from mobile device to Trackimo in meters.  But there are no direction arrows as on some dedicated bluetooth trackers, so you'd have to watch the range number to guide you as you take one step at a time.  Unfortunately, the range is poor and it doesn't sense the bluetooth signal unless the device is within about 10 meters of your mobile device.  Obviously, this wouldn't be useful unless the Trackimo popped out of the Phantom and you were looking for the Trackimo by itself while it was laying on the ground in tall grass or leaves, etc.  Another potential issue is that the app won't load onto your mobile device unless your mobile device can connect to the internet.  So with no wifi or cell service to your mobile device, there would be no way to load the app and no way to sense the bluetooth signal with the app.  That's unfortunate since the internet has nothing to do directly with sending and receiving a bluetooth signal.  Still, bluetooth is a nice feature to have.  

Finally, you can download a log of your Trackimo flight for your records.  The log includes date/time, latitude, longitude, speed, and google maps position urls.  However, I haven't found much use for the Trackimo log.  

The Trackimo site claims the fully charged 600 mAh Liithium-Ion battery will last about 48 hours when active, and they say it can last up to six days when passive (i.e. zero updates).  However, my own tests have shown that the battery lasts much longer.  For example, I had a 100% battery, flew, and then left the device on by mistake.  More than 72 hours later I realized it was still on and checked the battery.  It read 65% battery power remaining.  


You can keep track of the battery power with the app.  It's a simple matter to recharge the battery via the micro usb port.  

One oddity is it has no power-on LED, so to be sure it's on or off, you have to push any button.  If any lamp blinks, it's on, and if no lamp blinks, it's off.  Another oddity is it powers itself on whenever you charge the battery, and it won't be obvious or even apparent that it's on, so you should remember to power it off after charging if you're not about to use it right away.  One more oddity - for some reason, if the device is not moving, and you manually demand a location, it usually will give you a wifi address rather than a GPS location on your first request.  On the second request, it will give the GPS location.  I am not sure why this is - and it seems to only happen when the device is not moving because when it is moving, it will give the GPS location every time it's demanded.  Also, strangely, several times it has given me a wifi location of a church located 3 miles south of me, ignoring my own home's wifi and the wifi of my neighbors.  I have no explanation for this.   

The flight and the flight record are visible only to the owner who logs onto the site with a password.  This is a bit different than Flytrex where any flight, even live flights, could be made public and anybody in the world could watch them as they happen.  The map page is awkwardly designed.  Viewing previous Trackimo flights that were made over a week prior to the present date is cumbersome.  

The cell service for the Trackimo is free the first year (i.e. it's actually included in the purchase price), and then it's $5/month afterwards payable to Trackimo.  This compares to as little as about $3/month with the old Flytrex, but it was paid directly from the tracker owner to the cellular service directly.  

Your flight can be tracked and followed or otherwise recorded via your desktop by going to trackimo.com from your browser and signing in.  Or your flight can be tracked via your mobile device Trackimo app (iOS or Android).  

All in all, it's a nice product.  I believe it may be the best consumer grade GPS tracker on the market at this time and I'm happy to have it.  However, if you're using it to fly drones and you have experience with Flytrex, its location data and live coverage is not in any way as detailed as the defunct Flytrex Live 3G.

http://x.flytrex.com/challenges/

In summary, the Trackimo can be located five ways depending on your needs and its ability at a given time:

1)  GPS location sent to app
2)  WiFi curb address sent to app
3)  Cell tower triangulation location sent to app
4)  Bluetooth range finder via app
5)  Sonic tone sent from device via app via internet via cell tower

Wish list:

1)  Auto-update GPS position more often than once a minute

2)  Longer range bluetooth

3)  Louder sonic tone emitted on demand

4)  An LED which would glow or blink and stay illuminated when powered on

5)  An SD card or on-board memory designed to keep a better log

6)  Easier to use online map pages for viewing prior flights

7)  Optional public viewing of live flights and flight records


www.trackimo.com




Edit:

TRACKIMO Review Update - one year later - January 26, 2019.

I've used this with almost every flight with three different DJI Phantoms over the past year.  Unfortunately, I have had some issues with Trackimo.  

At least twice, the Trackimo device did not give me a flight path.  There was no sign that I had left home.  The data lines during flight were just missing from the log.  I don't know why this could be or how this could happen.

Sometimes it will track, and then it will skip a fix.  In other words, two minutes and sometimes more will go by and I won't get a GPS fix, according to the log.  That particular minute or two or three is just skipped.  

Sometimes it will track, and then stop tracking.  For example, it will track fine for the first half of a flight, and then no more GPS fixes or any other fix.  I'm not sure why.

One time a few weeks ago, the Trackimo site was down.  I was not able to log onto the site at all.  This means I couldn't check the location of the device.  I flew with the tracker anyway.  After the flight, I checked and the site was still down.  The next day I looked and the site was back up and working.  I looked at the history of my tracker, and it showed one single fix during the previous day's flight, whereas it should have had about a dozen.  

I've had one crash which I was almost looking forward to, because I was anxious to know how the Trackimo would perform.  Unfortunately, I have to report that it didn't perform at all.  It actually turned itself off on impact with the ground.  And since the previous GPS Trackimo fix was almost a half mile back, it was pretty much useless in helping me find my AC.  Fortunately, I had a good RC FPV/telemetry connection and so I knew where my Phantom went down and didn't need Trackimo.  The trackimo had a couple scrapes on it from the crash.  I tried to power it up and it booted up just as it always does.  It connected with the server just as it always does.  It found satellites and gave me a GPS fix just as it usually does.  So it appears to be undamaged from the impact.  I've added a tiny amount of conductive grease to the three copper battery connections - maybe that will keep it from turning itself off next time?  It also occurs to me that the white rubber case might help absorb an impact and keep it from turning off.  

The majority of the times, I'd say 80% of the time, the Trackimo works perfectly.  When I fly, I have a tablet I use for FPV, and another tablet I use with the Trackimo.  I get the GPS fixes automatically every minute, but I can force it to update the location by tapping on the update icon on the Trackimo app.  It then tells me my update request has been sent, and within 15-20 secs later, I get an update.  So using this method, I can get updates 3-4 times a minute.  When it works, it works very well and is very comforting.  

In summary, it doesn't work perfectly all the time, but when it does work, it works great.  My annual subscription with Trackimo has expired and although I'm a little disappointed, I will be renewing it.  



2018-4-5
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Montfrooij
Captain
Flight distance : 1684544 ft
Netherlands
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Interesting read
Thanks for sharing.
2018-4-5
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Nebuchadnezzar
Captain
Flight distance : 1783465 ft
Spain
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Agreed with Montfrooij Thanks for sharing Mark
2018-4-5
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Amateur Droner
Second Officer
Flight distance : 6411 ft

United States
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I have a few questions Mark.
I have seen the Trackimo advertised for $79 to $200, so I take it that the lower priced are 2G, where is the 3G priced at and are there different models.

It has Bluetooth, can you turn it on/off by the app, or is it on (looking for Bluetooth as soon as it is turned on)?  Would the Bluetooth interfere with the AC to RC while flying (I had warnings on my P3S when my tablet had Bluetooth turned on).

I am thinking about the Trackimo, as I bought a TK102 tracker that is 2G, the 2G service is available, but very poor...not happy with it.
I could see the benefits of all 5 methods of tracking/finding the unit, plus using it for other missions (car, luggage, pet, elderly).
Wife says she wants one on me in the stores,  because I wander off No it's not because I am old!
2018-4-5
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Mark The Droner
Captain
Flight distance : 2917 ft
United States
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Haha

Yes, the prices reflect different models.  When I bought mine, I had purchased the 3G drone version for which they gave me a velcro strap and some other velcro - and I also got some money off because I added a second battery, so I ended up paying around $200 total anyway... probably didn't need the extra battery.  I did not buy it on Amazon because of the unfavorable reviews - it looks to me like the seller on Amazon is selling old batteries with the devices and the batteries often aren't working which is why so many are complaining on Amazon.  I bought it straight from Trackimo.  Both my batteries are perfect.  

Re the bluetooth, I was wondering that myself.  I think it is not on all the time because it would waste battery.  I think the app turns it on.  But I don't know for sure and I want to figure it out.  No - there is no interference with anything on the device vs anything on the AC that I can tell.  

I've been using 3G trackers since 2015.  They work great in my area.  

Good luck!
2018-4-6
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Amateur Droner
Second Officer
Flight distance : 6411 ft

United States
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Well I'm going to order one from Trackimo.  I just think it is worth having some insurance that I can find it if I crash, or I have a "Flyaway"!
Yes, I have it registered, and my phone # is posted on it, along with REWARD for return!
I just would rather know where it is and go get it before it rained, or somebody wanted to keep it.
Besides, I can use it for other tasks when not airborne.
Thanks Mark!
2018-4-6
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Mark The Droner
Captain
Flight distance : 2917 ft
United States
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Yeah, I like your plan.  

I fooled around some more with the Trackimo.  I can't tell whether the bluetooth is on all the time or not.  In fact, it appears to be not working at all.  I checked it with my EMF meter and it showed virtually nothing coming from it while at the same time my tablet showed it could sense the signal when requested and I was close enough.  I think the signal is just really weak.  

Re the cell connection, my EMF meter shows that after the boot up, the GSM signal is sent out in strong bursts once a minute for a length of maybe 5-8 secs, then it shuts down.  As I said before, I've never noticed interference with my trackers and ACs going back to 2015.  The Flytrex devices, by comparison, were in constant connection with the cell towers.  The logs showed entries twice a second and you could literally fly from the Flytrex app directly.  

My problem is I'm accustomed to having a tracker.  I'm not comfortable without one.  AND, most importantly, having a tracker has allowed me to recover my downed AC three times in the past whereas there was no way I'd have found them otherwise.  
2018-4-7
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A CW
Captain
Flight distance : 11526437 ft
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United Kingdom
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Great thread - am considering one of these
2018-4-7
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chandavi
lvl.4
Flight distance : 252290 ft
United States
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Thanks for the info.   Very seriously interested.........
2018-4-7
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Amateur Droner
Second Officer
Flight distance : 6411 ft

United States
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Mark The Droner Posted at 2018-4-7 03:09
Yeah, I like your plan.  

I fooled around some more with the Trackimo.  I can't tell whether the bluetooth is on all the time or not.  In fact, it appears to be not working at all.  I checked it with my EMF meter and it showed virtually nothing coming from it while at the same time my tablet showed it could sense the signal when requested and I was close enough.  I think the signal is just really weak.  

UPDATE:
I got my Trackimo, and after setting it up it works like a charm! I am very happy with it.
The wife is not so happy...she found out it won't work to track me in the stores!    ...NO GPS in store!
I have done a few test runs , with perfect results...so far within 15-20 ft.
I did notice that it is hard to know if it is on or off...no visible light.
Thanks for the heads up on that Mark..I use the push any button method (on if a light lights up) and that works fine.
All in all I am very happy with it, now just waiting on my bracket!
2018-4-13
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Mark The Droner
Captain
Flight distance : 2917 ft
United States
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Great - sounds like you have the situation well at hand!  
2018-4-13
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zu_lu
lvl.3
Flight distance : 90459 ft
United Kingdom
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I use the RF-V16 personally. I got a 3D printer holder for it on ebay, that attaches to the side of any of the landing gear. It was nowhere near the price that these trackimos seem to be. I think it was around the £40 mark roughly. There is an app for it but no web login panel or anything like that.
2018-5-26
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natnatroswell
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United States
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Interesting read, good to know that this worked for you guys. Can this easily be mounted? I'm seriously considering getting this.
2018-5-28
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