Afraid to lose your drone in bad weather or due to bad RC connection? Learn how to choose the best drone tracker to find your lost drone.
A stray drone is every drone owner’s nightmare. Explanations for lost drones range from loss of signal, interference from other devices or just bad weather. Whatever the reasons, if no precautions were taken, drone hobbyists are doomed to scouring the landscape for hours to find their expensive machinery. To prevent the worst, we have scanned the internet for the best drone trackers on the market.
Some manufacturers like DJI ship their drones with drone trackers. Some allow the drone return to a “home spot” that can be accessed from the controlling apps. However, the rest of us is not left to despair over the loss over the expensive equipment. A small, but steady stream of tracking devices has become available over the last years. Some are dedicated drone trackers, others are general purpose devices that are just as suitable for the task.
Ideally, you should fasten a drone tracker close to the drone’s center of gravity to avoid undesired changes in its maneuverability. Also, when you buy a drone tracker, be sure to practice with it a couple of times. (Heck, this can even make for a fun scavenger hunt with friends and family.) You don’t want to read the manual while you see $1000 of tech flying towards Nirvana.
The tracker is connected to the network of satellites circling the earth in service of the global positioning system. While this technology allows for tracking virtually anywhere on the planet, there are two practical limitations. First, the drone tracker’s signal must not be obstructed by solid structures. It won’t track very well from inside buildings etc. You get best results in the open. Secondly, you need a cellular plan for the tracker, otherwise, it cannot send its position to your phone.
These trackers broadcast radio waves that are received by detection devices. The good is, this technology does not rely on GSM reception as GPS drone trackers do. That is why they work even in remote areas with little infrastructure. The drawback: Most RF trackers available on the market give you a maximum range of 2 miles.
Over the last years, a series of devices was launched that had no GPS capabilities, using the 10-15 m range of Bluetooth instead. On a larger scale, these systems relied on other users of the same system whose smartphones would locate your item by passing through the drone tracker’s Bluetooth broadcast.
As these companies have yet to amass a following that would make crowd tracking a viable alternative to GPS tracking lost drones, we have decided not to list them in this article.
This device by DroneScape is dedicated to tracking lost drones. Accordingly, the developers came up with a number of features that cannot be found in any other device on this list. For example, you can access vital data such as battery life, and signal strength. The tracker is attached with velcro to the drone.
Since the drone tracker relies on GSM network, the person who finds your drone can call you on your phone and speak to you. So, you need a monthly cellular plan for the tracker to work. The drone’s position is displayed in a smartphone app. Similarly to other solutions, you may define a geofence – in case your drone crosses it, you will be notified.
The device shouldn’t affect your drones flight abilities, as it weighs 85 grams. Still, it’s the heaviest drone tracker.
The Loc8tor is an RF (radio frequency) tracking device. Put simply, the tracker broadcasts a radio signal, the detector receives it and points you to the location with a combination of sounds and lights. The manufacturer markets it as finding device for pets and keys, but the small size of the tracker makes it a perfect fit as a drone tracker.
Unlike other solutions on this list, the Loc8tor does not require a monthly cellular plan to work. So, if you fly your drone often in remote areas without GSM infrastructure, this device is one of the best drone trackers for you. Deciding whether the Loc8tor or the Marco Polo is the best drone tracker is a tough decision. Both are using the same tech, but the Loc8tor costs only about a third. On the other hand, it has a smaller range of only 122 meters compared to the 2 miles of the Marco Polo. However, the detector is only about the size of a credit card, allowing you to carry it in your pocket.
The Marco Polo is an RF (radio frequency) drone tracker. The underlying idea of this device is that the handheld locator uses Doppler automatic direction finding. When you activate the tracking mode on the detector, the screen will direct you with arrows to the location of the drone tracker. The handheld detector is quite bulky, but the tracker itself weighs only 12g.
According to the manufacturer, the Marco Polo works within a radius of 2 miles of the detector. This is not much in comparison to the other items on this list. However, unlike other solutions on this list, this device does not require a monthly cellular plan to work. So, if you fly your drone often in remote areas without GSM infrastructure, this device is the best drone tracker for you.
The Scout Universal GPS Tracker is a device that combines GPS, GSM, Bluetooth, vibration sensing and accelerometer technologies. This means you get real-time data on speed, heading, in addition to position tracking. Although a general purpose device, the Scout is suitable as a drone tracker due to its low weight of 24g. Users locate their drones with a smartphone app (iOS, Android).
Like similar drone tracker, you can draw geofences in the app, alerting you in case the drone leaves the geofence. The built-in vibration sensor will come in handy if someone attempts to move your drone, as the app will notify you instantly. Take note, that you need GSM cellular reception for the device to work and a monthly cellular plan. Is this the best drone tracker? With this featureset, it comes very close.
Trackimo’s GPS Tracker is an all-purpose tracking device that and be mounted on any drone. The drone tracker can be monitored via a web or a smartphone app (iOS, or Android). Tracking works worldwide and in real-time. Take note, that you need GSM cellular reception for the device to work and that you require a monthly cellular plan.
The package includes everything to set up your drone: a universal drone attachment kit, batteries, and SIM Card. At 40g, the drone tracker shouldn’t affect your drones performance.