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Drone flyaway is the worst thing that can happen to anyone. This type of thing is going to happen to everyone sooner or later. It doesn’t matter if you are an experienced pilot or a beginner user, there is always a risk of your thousand dollar investment getting out of control and crash landing out of your sight.
It may be a challenge to prevent drones from flying away because they stem from different reasons. This is the reason why drone owners should be prepared ahead of time by using a drone tracker. The tracker can home handy to find and recover your precious craft.
A GPS-based tracker can easily locate your drone in case a dreaded flyaway situation happens. Details on the latitude and longitude of the place would help you to zero in upon the precise search zone. This will improve the probability of recovering your drone in the event of a flyaway.
There are so many GPS-based drone trackers available today so sometimes things can get a bit confusing. We prepared a list of the most popular and reliable GPS trackers for locating your lost drone to help you get rid of such confusions.
According to Trackimo, a GPS tracking company, thirty percent of people who lose their drones never find them. Drones are prone to get lost any time they lose their connection. Drone-owners are advised to invest in a tracker for their drones. This article will delve into several ways of locating your lost drone, with or without a tracker.
Why drones get lost
Before going into detail on how to locate a drone, it is essential to know why they get lost in the first place to establish the right steps towards finding them.
What does a dropped connection mean? When your drone drops the connection, your control is blocked, and the live camera feed is disabled. In either of these situations, your drone is likely to crash. In such a situation, the owner should think about the direction they were flying in before losing connection.
If there are any structures that your drone could have hit, then that is most likely your crash site. A helpful tip is to check your app for the last known GPS marker. However, new models have some fail-safe functions that keep drones from getting lost for good. With such a function, your drone may hover in place or, in some cases, return to your home point when it loses connection. Loss of the live feed may be a sign that your drone is returning to its home location.
Sometimes, interference may wreak havoc on your control. In this case, refer to your app for the last location marker of your drone. Your drone went down in rugged terrain. Sometimes, accidents happen over rugged terrain, making it difficult to navigate. In such a case, it may be too much of a challenge to retrieve your drone. An example is if your drone goes into deep water like an ocean or a lake, in which case, it is non-retrievable.
Eight ways of tracing a lost drone
For lost drones, the best and least hectic way of finding them is with the help of a tracker. With a tracker, you can pinpoint a particular search area. Drone-owners can purchase trackers for about $80 or less.
Some trackers work with SIM cards and provide coordinates when you need them.
Other trackers have a cellular connection and work with Google Maps. These are, of course, more expensive.
There is a wide range of tracker options for users to pick from that match their preferences and budget. Some trackers are even waterproof.
For drone-owners that don’t have trackers, there are still several ways to find a lost drone. Here is a list of practical things you can do to find your drone if you don’t have a tracker:
1. Take screen captures
This method, if anything, is more of a preventive measure. When flying your drone ad, you notice your image getting choppy, screen capture immediately. With that, you will have your drone’s last location before you lose connectivity. You now have a visual to go along with the telemetry readings on the controller. Note that this method of locating your drone only applies if your drone has a camera.
2. Keep your controller on
As you look for your drone, make sure to keep your controller on the entire time. However, this will not work if your drone battery dies. With this method, you will, at some point, come back into range, and the controller will reconnect.
3. Keep an eye on the telemetry information
The telemetry numbers going down means that your drone is coming back. Walk around searching while making sure to look above. Drones sometimes get stuck in tree branches.
4. Search at night
If you have an extra drone by chance, it can come in handy when locating the lost drone. Even if you don’t have one, you can rent one out instead of getting a new one.
If your drone still has power, this may save you quite some time when looking for your lost drone because you will likely hear your propellers buzzing. Also, the lighting at night may be just right for your drone’s light to attract your eye.
5. Post “LOST” poster
This may seem like a dead-end. But if you lose your drone, have tried the methods listed above, and still can’t seem to track your drone, posters may be the way to go.
6. Check online market places
Some honest people in the world would return your drone to you if you printed out posters of your lost drone. However, to cover all available options, you should consider looking into online marketplaces like e-bay or local online marketplaces. Having your drone’s serial number will come in handy. You can contact the seller and have them return it to you before resorting to calling the police on them if they fail to do so.
7. File a police report
This option is essential just so that you make sure to cover all bases. File a police report with your serial number and FAA number so in case someone brings it to the station, the police can identify it as yours.
8. Use the Find My Drone App
The app is free for IOS and connects your phone to your drone. This app can help locate your drone even when it is out of range. It locates your drone and directs you to it. The app also includes features such as a map view of your drone’s location, a report of your drone’s battery levels, and its current status.
How to avoid losing a drone?
As the common saying goes, “Prevention is better than cure.” Below are a few acceptable practices that you can use to avoid losing your drone.
- Download an app – Downloading apps like Find My Drone or DJI GO is free.
- Buy a GPS tracker – To be on the safe side, it is advised to purchase a tracker as you buy your drone if it doesn’t come with one installed. However, the ones that come with installed trackers die along with the battery. If your drone gets lost and its battery is low, you are bound to have a hard time finding it. Moreover, external trackers are, in most cases, waterproof. That way, if your drone ends up in the water, you can still locate it.
- Set your RTH (Return Home Function).
- Ensure you have proper lighting – if you have an FAA waiver to fly your drone at night, make sure to use proper lighting so you can keep a better visual of your drone.
- Whenever you can, make sure to keep the drone in your line of sight.
The best drone trackers
There is no way of finding your lost drone that is more efficient than with a GPS tracker.
When looking for the best drone tracker to purchase, what should drone owners be on the lookout for?
- The tracking capability- Trackers use GPS to find your drone. Many trackers work for drones as well as other devices and can therefore be used both outdoors and indoors.
- Coverage- Trackers that work for unlimited distances are the best. However, if you don’t usually fly your drone too far, there is a wide range of options for you to choose from.
- Battery life- Your tracker’s battery life is vital. Different trackers have battery lives varying from one day to battery lives up to ten days.
- Price- With the investment made on purchasing a drone, it would be more of a loss to lose the drone than to purchase a tracker. Some trackers can be too pricy, but there are various options to pick from for users on a budget.
Below is a list of some of the best drone trackers
Trackimo Drone GPS Tracker
The following are included in the Trackimo package:
- Trackimo GPS device
- USB charging cable
- Battery door
- Waterproof case
- Magnetic attachment
The Trackimo GPS Tracker is an amazing product, surely the best drone tracker on the market. It is a light-weight device with a powerful set of features for keeping tabs on your drone. If you are concerned about losing your expensive flying machine then this is the perfect device for you.
The Trackimo GPS Tracker costs only $139. This drone tracker relies on cellular network to coordinate with satellites for finding the exact location of your unmanned aerial vehicle in real-time. It includes free software, which can be installed on your iOS/android Smartphone, to help you find your drone. It also has amazing connection so you will almost never lose it. Also, another great thing is that web-based tracking using a browser program is possible.
Another amazing feature of this drone tracker lies in its ability to send immediate alerts on demand. You can manually ping it to find the real-time location of your drone. Not only is the Trackimo suitable for drones, but users who find themselves in emergency situations can send out their location detail by clicking on an SOS button found in the device.
The Trackimo GPS Tracker comes with a waterproof case so even if your drone accidentally lands on a water body, it can still send the location details. It only weighs about 40 grams, and is compatible with all types of drones and multicopters.
Trackimo’s battery lasts for 2-4 days depending on usage. The motion-activated tracking schedule is specifically designed to prolong battery life. This will allow the tracker to enter sleep mode once it detects that the drone is no longer moving.
Other benefits of the Trackimo GPS Tracker include the following:
- One year mobile service included
- One year manufacturer warranty
- Alert for low battery, geo-fences and speeding beyond threshold
- No contract needed
Flytrex Live 3G
The Flytrex Live 3G is built by Flytrex, a company that specializes in drone tracking technology. This device is designed specifically for drone tracking and is another awesome lost drone tracker. It uses GPS technology to track your drone in real-time and sends its positional data to you via a cellular network. The Flytrex Live 3G does require a cellular service and a SIM card, but it also has some amazing features. The 3G has a micro SIM card slot and it has the ability to provide live flight telemetry. This is why it is considered to a mini black box for your drone. The Flytrex Live 3G would let you know precisely where your drone has landed in the event of a flyaway or crash. It comes integrated with Google Maps to provide you the direction to arrive at the crash site. With 3G network coverage, the Flytrex Live 3G is able to maintain good signal strength even during high altitude flights.
In addition to helping you locate your drone in the event of a flyaway, there is a social media aspect. Your flights are automatically logged and you can share them online. You can also see what other flyers have done with their drones. And finally, the badges are awarded for different achievements.
The Flytrex Live 3G tracker gives the best protection and the strongest coverage with its hardwired power directly into your drone batteries. The 3G tracker is ready to go whenever your drone batteries are ready to go, so you don’t have to charge yet another accessory to take your drone out and be protected from flyaways. This is why this tracker is considered to be the best on the market.
Apart from drone tracking, the Flytrex Live 3G can also provide you information such as speed, ascent, altitude, duration and distance of your flight.
Installing this tracking device can take a bit of technical skill, depending on which drone you’re using. Most drones require the buy of an installation cable in addition to the main module. Also, you will need to solder two wires to your drone’s circuit board in order to provide power to the unit. However, some drones allow for solderless installation with the buy of a CAN BUS adapter. These drones include DJI Phantom 2 Vision+, DJI Phantom 2 Vision and DJI Phantom 2 drones, DJI WooKong-M, DJI Naza-M 2 flight controllers and the DJI A2.
If you have the 3DR Pixhawk, DJI Phantom 1, 3DR APM 2.6, DJI Phantom FC40, Blade 350 QX3, DJI Naza-M 1/Lite, Blade 350 QX2, Yuneec Q500 or Blade 350 QX you’ll need to be comfortable with a soldering iron to install the Flytrex Live 3G.
If you lose track of your drone visually and are not able to bring it back automatically, or if you have got your drone on an automated flight path, this device can let you know precisely where it was when it lost power. The Live 3G can lead you to the wreckage if your drone has crashed. However, it can help you recover your drone intact if it landed automatically.
We will wrap up this guide on the best drone tracker devices with TrackR. The TrackR is a small, coin-size Bluetooth UAV tracker that helps you locate your lost drone. You can easily attach it to your drone or any other belongings that are valuable and you don’t want to lose. These small devices are normally used to track your costly smartphones. However, the TrackR is also incredible to use as a drone tracking system.
The drone tracking application is free for both Iphone and Android. Both the TrackR and your connected phone will notify you with an alarm when they’re out of range of one another. You can press the button on the TrackR to manually search for your connected phone. It will cause it to sound an alarm when in range. As for battery, this tracking device uses a standard CR1616 coin cell which has to be replaced once a year. The good thing is that you don’t have to worry about recharging your TrackeR. However, the bad thing is that there is no real way to tell when the battery is dying. That could be inconvenient if you lose your drone right before the battery dies.
Also, you can have your TrackR laser etched your address, phone number or name so if anyone else finds your drone they will hopefully return it to you. This will add another level of safety.
The TrackR is recommended because of its amazing price. This is not a 3G style tracker or GPS drone tracker. However, it does provide some coverage to find your drone. All that you have to do is to put a little leg work in to get within 100 feet of your copter.
Eaglerich Coban GPS102B Mini GPS tracker
👉 Key features:
- It is a mini device
- It works for unlimited distance.
- It has an in-built microphone that you can use as a ‘silent listener.’
- It has two modes: GSM and GPS.
- It comes at a budget-friendly price.
Marco Polo Ultra-light Drone/UAV/Model Rocket Location and Recovery System
👉 Key features:
- It is easy to use
- It has a 2-mile line of sight.
- It doesn’t need GPS reception to work.
- It has long battery life.
- It is exceptionally accurate.
Track 2020 Model Mini Real-time GPS Tracker
👉 Key features:
- It has a long battery life (About 2-3 days) and a battery saving mode to prolong battery life.
- It works in GPS, A-GSM, and GSM modes outdoors and with Wi-Fi indoors.
- It comes in a mini size.
- It is affordable.
Many seasoned drone users have experienced crashes and flyaways time and again. Having your drone crash or flyaway on you can be a horrible experience. The risk of flyaway will always be there, regardless of whether you are using drones for aerial photography or just want to have some fun. This is the reason why you should use one of these drone trackers to make sure you are protected. Isn’t it better to be safe than sorry? The choice remains yours.