If you own a drone worth hundreds or thousands of dollars, you might have had that feeling once or twice?
That feeling when you lose control of your drone, or lose signal for a moment, and wonder...what would happen if your drone flew away, never to be seen again?
The app can often help you track it, but sometimes the app is the reason for the problem, or it does not do it's job properly.
The best insurance you can have in this case is a simple drone GPS tracker attached to your baby, so in case of emergency, you can track it down...no, matter, what!
In this review, I am going to show you the options you have and which ones are the best choice right now.
Trackimo are at the top of the heap when it comes to GPS drone trackers. These guys know what they are doing.
Not only is this thing small (1.6 x 1.8 x 0.7 inches) and light (1.4 ounces) but it is packed full of features too.
Not that it is just features you are after, but the right features of course.
Here is a quick list so you can see what you are getting:
It also has a long battery life (up to 96 hours and 1 month when in standby).
Attachment to your drone is pretty simple with their kit - which is a simple velcro strap you can loop around almost any part of any drone. And, given the low profile of the tracker, it will hardly be noticeable when it's on your drone.
Note: Just be aware that 2G is an aging technology that many cellular companies are slowly phasing out.
If you want the absolute best tracker from Trackimo, this is it. The 3G GPS tracker also comes with wifi and bluetooth.
Admittedly the wifi won't do you that much good outdoors, but the Bluetooth will help you accurately located your drone once you are within 110 ft (30m). A nice addition given that GPS can be only accurate within 5-10ft sometimes.
For the rest, it has the same awesome real tracking and alert features of the other Trackimo above.
Another option, if you want an even smaller and lighter (50%) tracker, is the Dog GPS tracker from Trackimo. Yes, it's designed to be attached to a dog collar, but that doesn't stop you tracking a drone with it.
It is even smaller than the other Trackimo trackers and 50% lighter. So if size and weight are your biggest concern, this one is your best bet.
The problem with GPS and GSM trackers is that you need to have a signal for them to work.
Mobile signal is not always available, as we all know. And GPS is often blocked by clouds, mountains or even trees.
That is when a tracker like the Marco Polo comes into play. It uses radio frequency to find and track your drone. Just like in the old days :>
Radio frequency is far more reliable and likely to be receivable. So, your drone is far more likely to be found!
The tracking device is a small little aerial you attach to your drone, that only weighs 0.42 of an ounce (or 12g) so is insanely light. It is shaped like a old style pack of gum and is a bit thicker.
You track it with a less fancy looking radio tracker, which does not so much "exactly locate" your drone as point you in the right direction. You then zero in on it bit by bit until you find it.
You can see the guy in the video below trying to locate it after his wife hid it a mile away.
Marco Polo Tracker
These are some other options you can check out, although to be honest, I have highlighted the best ones above, to save you time.
These options are either far more complex and difficult to use, attach or more expensive in the long run.
However, for the sake of showing you all the options, here they are:
Similar to the Trackimo, the Scout uses a combination of celluar, GPS, wifi and bluetooth.
It also has many of the same features (alerts, tracking by app etc).
The biggest issue I see is the ongoing costs (at least $8 a month) and it's size (2.5 x 1.7 x 0.55″ inches). It is larger than the Trackimo and more expensive.
I also, for the life of me, cannot find out how you would attach this to your drone (obviously you can come up with your own method, but surely they have a kit?).
This is probably the cheapest option out there, but it also comes with some downsides (of course :>).
First, it uses the 2G network, which is a bit of a pain as many cellular companies are phasing it out. So, as this tracker does not come with a SIM, you have to find a company that supports 2G for the foreseeable. In the USA, from what I have read (I am in Europe) the best and cheapest option is probably Vodaphone.
If you can get a SIM and get this working, it is not a bad option. Just a bit cheap and nasty. I would rather spend my money on something simpler and reliable that will help me find my 1000 dollar drone :>
You can watch the set up video below to see what a strange set up it is.
For me it comes down to two contenders:
1. Trackimo 3G/GPS/Bluetooth tracker: This is the best option in my opinion as it has the most useful features, a simple to use phone app, lots of tracking options and technology to help find your drone. The biggest weakness is if you fly in non-cell coverage areas or places that block GPS a lot (which is rarer these days). That is where the next option comes in...
2. Marco Polo Radio Tracker. This is more of a treasure hunter finder, but super accurate (down to inches). It will take you longer to locate your drone, and first you have to get within range (way less than 2 miles). But, it will work almost anywhere. Even when you have zero chance of GPS or cell coverage.
The other options are there for you to check out, but these are the two best choices I have found on Amazon, drone forums and other reviews.