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aeajr

475 Posts

Posted - 08/31/2006 :  12:57:34 PM  Show Profile
Updated September 2014


During my early pilot development I learned how hard it can be to find a plane that has landed in the woods, tall grass and other places where you can't see it. I lost my Aerobird, my first RC plane, when a huge gust of wind carried it over deep woods and I was too inexperienced to deal with it. Even though I was certain I knew where it went down I could not find it. I bought another Aerobird and flew it often.

When I moved on to gliders I started flying a Spirit 2 Meter. I got into trouble and it went down into heavy woods and brush. Fifty feet into the woods, trying to decide how to proceed, I heard Beep Beep Beep. The plane was about 150 feet away in heavy tree growth. I had the plane located and out in 10 minutes. Believe me, where it had landed I likely would not have found it.

The difference was a little device you put in the plane that gets attached to the receiver. If you turn off the transmitter, the thing starts beeping loudly and you can hear it from quite a distance.

This is what I used in my Spirit Sailplane and several of my other planes.
http://www.californiasailplanes.com/Lost%20model%20alarm.html

It hooks to any channel or it can share a channel with one of your servos. It has the connector to pass through to the servo.
This will work in any plane with a 72 MHZ receiver and the updated version works with 2.4 GHz receivers too.

Low Voltage Watch

In addition to helping me find planes, this locator also monitors my
battery pack voltage and sounds an alarm if the pack voltage gets below a safe level. This is especially valuable on my gliders. Every time I turn on a glider, it does a pack voltage check, under load, and reports that pack condition as a series of beeps.

If the pack voltage falls below a certain level, while I am in the air, the beeper will sound. If the plane is close enough, I can hear and know not to go looking for another thermal.


Channel Conflict Test!

For 72 MHz pilots you can use this to check for frequency conflict.
As a test to make sure no one is flying on your channel, turn on the
receiver only. If the device does not go into lost plane mode then someone else is on your frequency.

A similar device that I have in some of my planes is the SkyKing RC Lost Model Locator - $20 http://www.skykingrcproducts.com/accessories/lostmodel/lost_rc_model_alarm.html
Review
http://www.slopeflyer.com/artman/publish/skyking_lost_model_alarm.shtml

Here are some other beeper type finders I have not tried. Note that on a calm day you can typically hear these beepers for 100 feet or more if you put the beeper by a hole in the fuse to let the sound out. If you bury it in a sealed fuse you will reduce the effective sound range.

100 feet is usually enough to find a model that has been lost nearby or when you have a good fix on the location. This is especially valuable when the model is in tall grass or on top of trees where you can't see it. These are cheap enough to put in the plane and leave it there. Also work well in combination with the longer range finders.

Lost plane finder
http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/store/__13064__Signal_loss_Alarm_Lost_Plane_Finder.html

ebay search
http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_kw=signal+alarm+lost+plane+finder

Tower hobbies
http://www3.towerhobbies.com/cgi-bin/wti0001p?&I=LXSZ87&P=7

Value Hobby
http://www.valuehobby.com/gt-power-lost-model-alarm.html



Loc8tor- RF direction finder type device.
More on this in the next post.

About 400 foot range
http://www.loc8tor.com/everyday/loc8tor-lite.html/
About 600 foot range
http://www.loc8tor.com/everyday/loc8tor-lite.html/
Loc8tor GPS Based Tracker
http://www.loc8tor.com/everyday/loc8tor-gps.html/

I purchased one of these. Works as advertised. Typically we have a pretty good idea of where the plane is and can get within a couple hundred feet of the plane. But even then we sometimes can't find it. Or it is in a tree, covered by the leaves. This device can find it.






LONGER RANGE USE
RF direction finders


The plane Locator transmitter/receiver is about $250 and extra transmitters are about $50
http://theplanelocator.com/rcplane/index.html
Product review and discussion
http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1846268

This is a radio beacon/finder system. It does not connect to the receiver but sends out a continuous signal that you can home on with their receiver. A fresh battery is good for weeks.

There are two models. One is good to about 1/2 mile and the other is good to about 5 miles on the ground. Similar to the Walston in concept but the in plane device is a bit bigger and the range a be shorter but also much lower in cost.



Marco Polo - In aircraft transmitter is about 12 grams and may be a little bulky. This will likely not work on a hand launch due to size. Might work with a 2 meter or larger glider. $220 with receiver and one transmitter.
http://eurekaproducts.com/shop/marco-polo-rc-recovery-system


Walston - RF Direction finder -
http://www.walstonretrieval.com/main.htm

This has been the standard for competition sailplane pilots and free flight pilots for a long time. For really long range finds, measured in miles, there is the Walston system. This is a very popular system in use by many sailplane clubs.

The plane unit is about $140 while the tracking unit is $400-$800. This is good for clubs, especially sailplane clubs, or for people who need a very light transmitter measured in a few grams. If your sailplane costs $1000, a $140 transmitter is worth the cost. I have one of these that I move from plane to plane. And I have a beeper in some of those planes too.



FIELD EXPERIENCE


I have used the small beeping locators. These are so cheap and work so well, at short range, that you can put one in every plane and leave it there. In some cases I have had both this and a Walston in the glider.

One thing to note on the beepers, some people can't hear them. If you have hearing loss at the higher frequency ranges you may not be able to hear the sound, but others will likely be able to hear it. Test it to be sure you can hear it. If you can't, ask others to see if they can hear it.


I have a Walston transmitter that works with the club's Walston receiver. It has helped me find my plane and other people's planes as far as a mile away. A fresh set of batteries are good for 100 to 200 hours.

I have tested the Loc8tor at the field at up to 400 feet and it works as advertised. In most cases you should be able to get close enough to the glider for this to help you find it. A fresh battery is good for about 30 days.

I have also used "The plane Locator" and that seems to work well too.

In all cases, where you place the device matters. If you burry a beeper deep in a foam plane it will not be heard as well as if it is set by a hole in the fuse or if it is on the outside, but it still helps.

With any of the RF types, Walston, Loc8tor, or "the plane finer" the signal can be blocked by a carbon fuse or potentially masked by a large battery. I tape my Walston on the outside of the fuse and leave slack in the antenna if it is laying along a carbon boom.

In all cases, consider your installation and test it out. The time to see if it works is before you have to go find your plane.

Best regards,
Ed Anderson
Long Island Silent Flyers
ESL Newsletter Editor

Edited by - aeajr on 07/11/2011 4:41:20 PM

aeajr

475 Posts

Posted - 11/03/2007 :  07:28:13 AM  Show Profile
SHORT RANGE LOW COST RF LOCATOR
Update July 2014

Suppose you want something with a cost and range capability somewhere between the $10 beeper and the $400 Walston ( transmitter/receiver)

Consider the Loc8tor. This is a short range transmitter/receiver system that is good for 300 to 600 feet. That is enough to help find your model if you can get within a few hundred feet (foot ball field) of it, even if you can't see it.

Since this does not connect to the receiver it will work with any radio system. Also it is not dependent on the receiver battery as it has its own battery.

The Loc8tor Lite- up to 400 foot range
Includes receiver and two transmitters.
http://www.loc8tor.com
Product review
http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=907418

The system consists of a tag that you put in the plane. The battery is good for months. This is bound to a receiver that can read the signal and take you within a foot of the plane. The higher the plane, the greater the range.

In windy conditions, such as when you are slope soaring, a sound beeper may be hard to hear. The Loc8tor would work much better and provide longer range.

Also note that most of the sound beepers work off the receiver battery. If the crash is hard enough, the receiver battery can be disconnected. The transmitter on the Loc8tor uses an internal battery. Even if it is thrown from the plane, it will be powered by its own battery. You should still be able to find it and be near the plane.

You can move the tags from plane to plane or buy more tags, they are about $25 each. For the Lite receiver, you can monitor and locate up to 4 transmitters up to 400 feet away. I purchased one of these. Works very much like a short range version of the Walston system that many glider pilots use. Works as advertised.


The Loc8tor Plus includes 4 tags, and a 50% longer range, up to 600 feet. It will monitor up to 24 tags which would be good for a larger fleet or for club use so you can buy one and share it among a group of pilots.


If you saw where the plane went down these devices should work for you. If you consider that you can probably get within a few hundred feet of your plane pretty easily, these locators give you a pretty wide area of coverage. Of coures if you dropped it 3/4 of a mile out, getting within a few hundred feet might not be so easy.


FIND IT ANYWHERE ON THE PLANET!



LOC8tor - GPS
http://www.loc8tor.com/Store/Loc8tor-GPS.aspx
Reports actual location via GPS

This unit is larger than the other. Likely would not fit in a small to medium size glider or something like a Supra. Not enough room in the fuselage. However it may be very useful for cross country soaring or for larger airplanes.

Best regards,
Ed Anderson
Long Island Silent Flyers
ESL Newsletter Editor

Edited by - aeajr on 05/12/2010 07:34:30 AM
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aeajr

475 Posts

Posted - 06/14/2008 :  6:21:10 PM  Show Profile
Another ESL article on the subject:
Link broken and I can't identify the article ( July 2014)



Best regards,
Ed Anderson
Long Island Silent Flyers
ESL Newsletter Editor
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cluft

14 Posts

Posted - 07/30/2008 :  02:26:25 AM  Show Profile
Wow, it's been 4 years since I wrote the piece about tracking a downed plane. I must say my tracking equipment works really well- Haven't lost a plane yet.

I read through the piece and checked some of the links to see if they still work and for the most part, they do. The links that don't work you may be able to find if you google search. I thought I'd update some of the information here.

For a time, a second company called "the plane locator" was marketing a tracking system that worked very much like the walston and for alot less dollars. However, the FCC decided to shut then down. I got one of the transmitters and it works about the same as the walston. I can track it with my VR-500.

There's now a WiFi tracking device called the Loc8ter as mentioned in another post by "aeajr" and they now have a newer, cheaper version at around $80.00 that includes two tages and a receiver the size of a credit card. this should allow you to find your plane up to about 600FT away.

This brings up something that I didn't mention in my original piece on tracking, and that is range. It is important to know the range of the tracking device that you mount in your plane. Lets say you purchase a Loc8ter and you think your covered. Now your at the CASA contest and you just chased after that far off lift and you see your plane drop in the woods. You now have a bearing on your plane and can follow that bearing until you get a signal with the receiver. The Loc8ter will work well in this case.

But what if your in a boomer and your plane is just a speck, and you blink, and now it's gone. You don't know where it went. First, you have to find the signal, then you have to find your plane.

I had this very discussion with a flier at this years DBSF/SJSS contest. A Walston receiver tracking a walston transmitter is good for several miles. A receiver such as the Yaesu VR-500 listening in CW mode is almost as good. a receiver set to AM or FM mode will have a lot less range but more then the Loc8ter.

My Yaesu was a good investment.

Carl Luft
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aeajr

475 Posts

Posted - 09/12/2008 :  2:23:48 PM  Show Profile
I have revised the original post, added some new information and fixed links

Best regards,
Ed Anderson
Long Island Silent Flyers
ESL Newsletter Editor

Edited by - aeajr on 09/12/2008 2:36:56 PM
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aeajr

475 Posts

Posted - 05/12/2010 :  07:20:44 AM  Show Profile
Upated links and added the new GPS Loc8tor.

Best regards,
Ed Anderson
Long Island Silent Flyers
ESL Newsletter Editor
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aeajr

475 Posts

Posted - 09/28/2012 :  12:38:26 PM  Show Profile
Here is a new one that is only $8. There is an active version and a passive version. I just ordered 4 of the passive ones. Will let you know how they work.
http://www.lostmodelalarm.com

Best regards,
Ed Anderson
Long Island Silent Flyers
ESL Newsletter Editor
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aeajr

475 Posts

Posted - 07/17/2014 :  2:30:19 PM  Show Profile
I just updated the first article.

Best regards,
Ed Anderson
Long Island Silent Flyers
ESL Newsletter Editor
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tbroeski

24 Posts

Posted - 07/19/2014 :  06:15:39 AM  Show Profile
I've been selling plane finders of all types (beepers, buzzers and long range locators) for years. There is usually at least a couple(myself, Don Richmond and Dave Beach if not more) receivers for the 20 or so locators I have on my list at most ESL contests and the NATS. So if anyone is interested, let me know.
http://adesigner.com
tom@blueridgesoaring.org
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aeajr

475 Posts

Posted - 07/19/2014 :  08:03:28 AM  Show Profile
I have used Tom's finders and they fit well in our planes.

Best regards,
Ed Anderson
Long Island Silent Flyers
ESL Newsletter Editor
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aeajr

475 Posts

Posted - 07/25/2014 :  08:54:08 AM  Show Profile
In 2012 I purchased 4 of these, put them on the bench and forgot about them as they fell behind everything else. I got the passive version. http://www.lostmodelalarm.com


This season I Permanantly installed one in my Radian. Works great. Radian is R/E/T with rudder on the right stick. So I have this on the left stick rudder channel which is not normally used. If I don't touch that stick for 10 minutes it starts to beep. I can hear it easily with the plane at 600 feet high. It is in the receiver compartment so it is not ideally situated as the glider is on the ground that area is semi-covered. But I can still hear it for 50 to 100 feet. I may leave it there or I may move it to a better spot. But it works and it would help a lot if the glider went down in the woods, brush or tall grass.

Best regards,
Ed Anderson
Long Island Silent Flyers
ESL Newsletter Editor
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aeajr

475 Posts

Posted - 09/26/2014 :  09:03:30 AM  Show Profile
Updated the article today and added the Marco Polo.

Best regards,
Ed Anderson
Long Island Silent Flyers
ESL Newsletter Editor
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aeajr

475 Posts

Posted - 10/08/2014 :  10:08:39 AM  Show Profile
STROBE LIGHT AS A PLANE FINDING AID

Strobe light as a plane finder
http://www.flytron.com/light-systems/99-strobon-navigation-strobe-light.html
Here is another, low cost idea. Put a strobe on the glider. I don't know how visible it would be during the day but if you can't find the plane, just wait for it to get dark and look for the strobe. Naturally there is a chance it will be covered based on how the glider lands but I would think if this was mounted on the side of the glider it would probably not get covered. Even under a wing would work as the strobe would reflect off the surroundings.

This is just another item that might help you find the glider. Some may find it useful for long distance visibility. Not sure how effective it would be for that but at $7 it might be worth a try.

Best regards,
Ed Anderson
Long Island Silent Flyers
ESL Newsletter Editor
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