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Old Oct 05, 2008, 12:59 PM
Tri-Quad-Hexa-Octo-copters!!
United States, TX, San Antonio
Joined Feb 2007
14,519 Posts
Discussion
Loc8tor Plus improvements for R/C

Hello,
Ive been using the Loc8tor Plus for a few months on my quadrokopters. I've had two successful finds that would have been difficult without it. It is not a perfect system, and I think sharp minds could make it more usable and reliable if we share our techniques that improve chances of success.
My flying area is full of 100's of acres of 60ft oak trees, so this is a must have item for me. Optimizing it is essential for best performance!
One thing I would like for someone to figure out is how to keep it searching until it locates the tag. *Edit: Done! See next post! It has this 2 minute or so time-out that seems not to have an adjustment. One of my techniques is to mount the handheld on a 16ft pool pole and slowly scan the area. I then move ten paces and scan again in a zig-zag pattern. I've tested the range when mounted to the pole and get about 50ft more range when a tag mounted to an aluminum plate is upside down on the ground or facing away in a tree, which simulates how I have it mounted on my quadrokopter.
Another mod I have made is to replace the AAA batteries with a 12V lipo that is regulated with an Anyvolt regulator set to 3.5V. I wanted to make sure I had plenty of current that would insure max range.
Any ideas out there?? I mean, besides finding a bald earth area to fly in...
Cheers,
Jim
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Old Oct 05, 2008, 03:17 PM
Tri-Quad-Hexa-Octo-copters!!
United States, TX, San Antonio
Joined Feb 2007
14,519 Posts
Keeping the Loc8tor searching

I just discovered a way to keep it in search mode! So simple... Hold down the center white button until it finds the tag. It will still time out, but then it steps through the menu and starts searching again.
When it is mounted on the 16ft pole, I hold it down with a plastic bag clamp that you can get at Wal Mart ...Still searching for my quad...
Cheers,
Jim
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Old Oct 06, 2008, 07:08 AM
Tri-Quad-Hexa-Octo-copters!!
United States, TX, San Antonio
Joined Feb 2007
14,519 Posts
Found it!

Well the good news is that at 5PM yesterday the search was successful! I have the Loc8tor plus so it has a graphics LCD. I mounted it on a 16ft pool pole to max the range, although in my tests, it only made about a 50 foot difference with a tag attached to a similar aluminum base like on the lost quadrocopter. One of the nice things I discovered about the Loc8tor that helped tremendously, is a work around to the search time out if the tag is not found. On the Loc8tor Plus, if you select the tag to locate, then press and hold the center white button, the search continues until the tag is found! That helped allot since I had it on that 16ft pole and saved allot of work resetting it every 2 minutes... I used a bag clip and half a pencil eraser to hold the button down.
I will follow-up with a report on the find, but for now: I lost sight of it over trees about 500 feet away and 300 feet high. I was attempting to have it keep altitude as I was running to get a view around the trees. It is hard to tell where the head of a quadrocopter is when it is that far away, so my attempts to "guide it back to me" obviously were wrong... It was found 2000 feet away from where I was flying according to my GPS tracker. I got a first search discover beep two hours into walking the acreage on a search pattern that was parsed into the last 7 days. I was about 200 feet away from it when it triggered. It was upside down, so not optimum for propagation.
It paid for itself yet again. There is still room for improvement with this device, probably in the areas of weather-proofing the tag and maybe a better antenna in the hand-held.
Cheers,
Jim
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Old Oct 06, 2008, 10:07 AM
Registered User
Joined Jan 2005
132 Posts
Jim,


Thanks for the tip on the timeout. Armed with this info i am going to have another go with my easyglider search.

Wish me luck!
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Old Oct 10, 2008, 08:42 PM
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Joined Jan 2005
132 Posts
Took the Loc8tor rx up for a ride

I finally got some time to try a few tests attaching a loc8tor rx to a fpv plane.

Long story short a 2.4Ghz video tx does appear to affect the loc8tor rx range. In my case i'm using a rv 500mw video rx.

If the loc8tor was placed within 4 inches of the video tx the range from the loc8tor rx to a tag was maybe 5 feet.

I did a little better by placing the loc8tor rx further out on the wing of my easyglider. with > 6 inches of spacing the loc8tor could locate a tag to approx 50 feet.

Although this appears to be a proximity issue i may try a different vid tx frequency just out curiosity.

On a positive note, i could hear the audible loc8tor ping through the fpv mic
even with the motor on.

I'm going to continue playing with spacing to see if i can come up with a workable solution that maintains a reasonable cg on pitch/roll and minimizes interference from the video tx.
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Old Oct 10, 2008, 08:50 PM
Tri-Quad-Hexa-Octo-copters!!
United States, TX, San Antonio
Joined Feb 2007
14,519 Posts
@Wilkyz,
I think you might want to set up a channel to turn off the video TX if you need to use the Loc8tor. It is also on 2.4Ghz and 500mw is allot to overcome.
Cheers,
Jim
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Old Oct 10, 2008, 09:41 PM
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132 Posts
Hey Jim

Do you know the exact frequency that the loc8tor uses?


I might try the pole trick that you used once the leaves come down. The launch spot has a favorable line of sight relative to the search area that i want to concentrate on. I don't think 200 feet is going to cut it, but who knows?


this is strictly a curiosity project now. The plane has been out in the elements since june. I don't even know if the loc8tor tag is still functioning. It could easily have been damaged by moisture/heat/humidity.




--Tim
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Old Oct 11, 2008, 07:08 AM
Tri-Quad-Hexa-Octo-copters!!
United States, TX, San Antonio
Joined Feb 2007
14,519 Posts
Tim,
The Loc8tor site only states that it operates in the 2.4Ghz band, but a video TX closeby would easily overdrive that weak digital signal.
Was the tag inside of the plane?
Cheers,
Jim
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Old Oct 11, 2008, 07:46 AM
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The tag was just aft of the wing saddle, topside
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Old Oct 15, 2008, 12:17 PM
Tri-Quad-Hexa-Octo-copters!!
United States, TX, San Antonio
Joined Feb 2007
14,519 Posts
Loc8tor insides

Here are some photos of the insides of the Loc8tor. The antenna still looks to me like some improvements could be made to locate the tags at longer distances. Suggestions?? Ideas??
Cheers,
Jim
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Old Oct 16, 2008, 08:02 AM
Tri-Quad-Hexa-Octo-copters!!
United States, TX, San Antonio
Joined Feb 2007
14,519 Posts
Successful Loc8tor find of DF quad - follow-up

Here is a re-creation of the events in a video to show what I went through to find my lost quadrocopter. It is a week's worth of searching compressed into 7 minutes.
Successful Loc8tor Quadrocopter search! (7 min 6 sec)

Hope it helps others find their wayward models!
Cheers,
Jim
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Old Oct 16, 2008, 09:33 AM
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Joined Jan 2005
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Jim,

I wouldn't mind trying an external ant to improve range.

It's hard to know what type of ant to use.

Something like thomas scherrer's 2.4 Ghz patch external with a pcb mount sma connector?

The loc8tor, i assume, tranmists as well as receives to activate the tags.

If work ever slows down maybe i can try a few experiments.

Thanks for the video. It was very helpful. Nice choice of music too!

--Tim
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Old Oct 16, 2008, 06:20 PM
Oxford Panic
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United Kingdom, Oxford
Joined Feb 2003
3,655 Posts
Tim,

The antenna looks like a simple dipole according to the inside view of PCB. See the picture just under where the scribbled on writing is.

Andy.
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Old Oct 17, 2008, 07:22 AM
Tri-Quad-Hexa-Octo-copters!!
United States, TX, San Antonio
Joined Feb 2007
14,519 Posts
dish antenna?

Here is a possible antenna to test:
http://www.engadget.com/2005/11/15/h...-dish-antenna/
It's too heavy to carry around, but it might be a good starter antenna to narrow down the search.
Cheers,
Jim
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Old Oct 28, 2008, 03:35 AM
Loc8tor Technical Team
Joined Oct 2008
2 Posts
dish antenna?

Hi - this is the Loc8tor technical team. We are enjoying reading of your exploits and will, where possible, answer technical queries and get involved in discussions. Much of the stuff we do is not for publication, but if it's possible to measure what you need to know but you don't have the kit then we will try and help.

Re. the antenna discussion, the antenna on the Loc8tor+ board is a 2-element Yagi, with driven elements and reflector (the 'unconnected' strip of copper track) on the printed circuit board and then two printed conductive ink directors on the underside of the sliding lid.

For a much greater range it would be possible to mount the handset at the focus of a parabolic reflector made of fine mesh, with the handset 'looking' back at the reflector. You could use Jesolins' clip method for keeping the handset in search mode.

However, using a dish antenna will limit the angle that you can 'wake up' the tag you are searching for, so a search pattern would be to move, stop and slowly rotate, then move on if nothing heard. When searching the handset transmits for 2 seconds and is silent for 2 seconds (you may notice this in a perceptible dimming of the backlight if the batteries are well used).


Incidentally, the black tags on sale with the Loc8tor Lite are of a greater power and sensitivity than the original grey ones. This will more than double the distance in the open. The original grey ones and the new black ones are interchangeable.
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