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DougH

Canopy tracking... revisited. Cellphones with data and GPS.

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I thought it might be fun to revisit this subject.

I know there was a paratelemetry system that was out there in the past, which involved a tracking setup for the DZ, and units that were installed on the canopy/ risers. I think Galloway was the inventor/manufacturer?

I think the challenge with every setup is:

1. $$$, it needs to be affordable. There is a huge ROI to finding a lost canopy, but it that initial investment is 500 bucks it probably isn't cost effective.

2. It needs to be small enough to install on a canopy so that it doesn't impact regular function.

3. It needs to have a decent battery life, and decent function.


Maybe falcon and dog tracking collars that use radio telemetry aren't the way to go. What about putting a pocket on the main d bag that will hold cellphone with data and GPS.

Phones with data are getting pretty small, it isn't a huge amount of weight to add to a d bag.

It would be cheap, cost of the phone, and minutes. You can use a prepaid, or you can use your existing phone. It is only in there for the jump itself. Using an existing phone means no extra equipment or monthly service cost.

Because it is on the d bag you can open a container to remove and charge, and drop it right back in before you make that next jump. Not as effective as a setup that activates only when the canopy is chopped, but it is always on, and not a huge inconvenience to open a closed rig, since the canopy itself doesn't need to be repacked.

Chop the canopy, can't locate, use a find my phone app to hopefully get the rough GPS coordinates.
"The restraining order says you're only allowed to touch me in freefall"
=P

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I still think we're a little ways off from cell phones being compact enough to be a thing you'd want to get into your pack tray. There's also pretty significant battery limitations with existing technology.

GPS transmitters and RFID systems are already compact and low-power enough to fill the role, it's just a question of putting time and effort into development and finding the appropriate battery pack. For an interesting read, check out what the FBI did for their tracking devices with technology that was already pretty old.

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padraigbrowne


These are real viable solutions, no longer so expensive if limited range is OK, which it should be. Cheap enough that one could be put on the main, and even sewn into the reserve freebag. There might be a lot of work to get mfgs to specifically allow a pocket on the freebag, but who knows?

Other possibilities mentioned in the comments from the above link:

https://www.sticknfind.com/


http://www.kensington.com/kensington/us/us/s/3068/proximo.aspx
People are sick and tired of being told that ordinary and decent people are fed up in this country with being sick and tired. I’m certainly not, and I’m sick and tired of being told that I am

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Cool stuff! This is much better than my original phone idea.

It looks like StickNFind has a more powerful until in the works that has an advertised max range of .5m line of site.

https://www.sticknfind.com/BlueTracker/2/7/

Not available yet, but it looks like a sweet spot with size, range, and battery life. 2 month battery life, smallish size, and .5 line of site so you don't need to be so close with your initial search.
"The restraining order says you're only allowed to touch me in freefall"
=P

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DougH

Cool stuff! This is much better than my original phone idea.

It looks like StickNFind has a more powerful unit in the works that has an advertised max range of .5m line of site.

https://www.sticknfind.com/BluTracker/

Not available yet, but it looks like a sweet spot with size, range, and battery life. 2 month battery life, smallish size, and .5 line of site so you don't need to be so close with your initial search.



Yeah, this seems perfect, once they actually start delivering products. 1/2 mile range, 2 month battery life per charge, about the size of a container of dental floss, and only $90. Reasonable insurance to ensure you get your main back promptly.

Seems like it shouldn't be that hard to design a pocket in the d-bag to hold it.

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cstaylor71

http://www.thetileapp.com/
I believe this fits your requirements.



With a range of only "50 to 150" ft, it is not ideal. And since they are still raising money to produce things, it's not available now.

This looks very similar to the product Sticknfind currently has on the market (in terms of range and size), so if that is sufficient for your needs, at least you can buy those now.

IMO, if your canopy lands off in the woods, 50-150 ft range would be better than nothing, but you may have to do a lot of wandering about the brush in the hope of getting close enough to pick up the signal.

As I noted above, the thing that would be ideal is the BluTracker that Sticknfind is trying to get to market. Half mile range should be sufficient to get any canopy located within 10 min or so.

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I emailed them, they believe final FCC approval is coming in the next two weeks, and production is starting right after. The price is going to be sub 100 dollars, I am definitely going to get one or two of them to play with!
"The restraining order says you're only allowed to touch me in freefall"
=P

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The new upgrades from the Etrex you have have all kinds of new features, like glideslope, glideslope to target, speed, and getting air speed is supposedly easy, but I haven found that so easy, and speed to target and vertical speed as well as a deviation screen to watch if you want to hop in a cloud.

Trouble is at this point there is no easy way to collect the data. It is a real pain to steer and hold the thing, as well as being a major distraction safety wise. Additionally your body can interfere with reciving the signal as well as the thing is a little jumpy...

But it does seem to work.

I went looking for the Etrex that you mentioned for that jumpmaster program and Garmin informed me that many of their new higher end models basically do all that the older models did plus some new features.

They say that the data can be streamed out of the usb port to any device that has software but I dropped the search at this point....

I think soon someone will have real time software and devices that can help with much of this, time will tell...

I really would like to know what some of our canopys are really doing, I did find the glideslope to target entertaining though!

Set a waypoint on the field, set the screen to show glideslope on one screen , and glideslope to target in another window, and it worked very well. You could play with your glideslope to match the GPS's glideslope to target and get the hang of it very quickly....

C
Thanks again Doug...

The tracking feature is available from Garmin, but the monthly cost for the service was about 60 bucks and I just didn't want to spend the cash to see how well it works at the moment.

The other thing was the "kid finder" device, I was wondering if anyone had any experience with that thing?
But what do I know, "I only have one tandem jump."

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$100 would be cheap insurance to virtually guarantee you get your main back after a chop. But biggest failure mode would probably be failing to keep it charged, since you would have to get into the container to attach the charger.

I wonder if sewing a pocket on your d-bag to hold the transmitter would be an issue for the container mfgs.

It also occurs to me that the more limited range units (50-150 ft) might be useful for your free bag in conjunction with this one on your main. Once you locate your main, the free bag is almost certainly going to be found somewhere along the wind line that intersects the position of your main, so it would greatly narrow the area you would have to search to locate it. The limited range units are tiny: about the size of a US quarter coin, so less likely attaching to the free bag unit it will cause a nuisance when packing the reserve. (But more likely to require approval of the mfgs).

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