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GUIDE: Ultimate GPS tracker setup for Phantom 3

Discussion in 'Phantom 3 Help' started by VoicOfReason, Jun 2, 2015.

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  1. VoicOfReason

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    UPDATE V3: I soldered in 3 resettable (polyswitches) fuses in-line to protect Phantom, GPS, and LED in case of short-circuit. I used a .9ma and two .2ma fuses!

    UPDATE V2!!! I moved GPS tracker inside the Phantom and wired a 16v to 12v switching regulator in-line to allow for an LED that I wired in with a switch. Setup is VERY clean now, very professional looking. Go to page 2 of replies to see my updated pictures! I will need to assess GPS cell signal strength inside and perhaps have small antenna coming out.

    V2: http://www.phantompilots.com/thread...-setup-for-phantom-3.43844/page-2#post-409078

    ---------

    Hopefully this post won't take too long to load with the pictures. So, since I got my Phantom 3, I'd been toying with idea of a GPS tracker, for all the obvious reasons. But, I didn't want to weigh it down or pay a lot of money. After looking at a lot of different options (Trackimo, DroneMods, etc.) I wasn't pleased with the options. For example, DroneMods tracker costs $130, weighs 56 grams, and then costs $5 a month. That's $190 for the first year.

    Here's what I found and I think it's a great setup.

    Setup guide:

    DISCLAIMER: you might void your DJI warranty, you might cause a short if you're not careful. Do this at your own risk. You might COVER YOUR GROUND SENSOR IF YOU'RE NOT CAREFUL.

    What you'll need:

    - White shrink tubing (1" pieces and smaller pieces to cover JST wires)
    - Heat gun (for shrink tubing)
    - This particular GPS tracker: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00T8UDW2Q?psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=oh_aui_search_detailpage
    - H20 wireless SIM card with $10 plan (see below)
    - Soldering iron with solder
    - T screw drivers to get off Phantom cover
    - Gimbal Camera guard from uavbits.com: http://www.uavbits.net/store/p19/Carbon_Fiber_Camera_Guard_for_DJI_Phantom_3.html
    - Some low profile velcro strips: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000WFRMBI?psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=oh_aui_search_detailpage
    - White mini zip ties
    - 24 gauge solid insulated wire (Radio Shack) --> IF YOU GET PLAIN RED WIRE, MAKE SURE YOU KEEP TRACK OF POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE SIDES!!

    1. So you know up front, in order to keep the weigh down, and since there is no battery in this GPS tracker (step 2), I wired it to my Phantom 3's power source. I realize this may be a long step and intimidating. So, do at your own risk. It is fairly straightforward to do this. Get some T screwdrivers to remove the screws while facing Phantom upside down. Now, the tricky part: squeezing the bottom side of each plastic arm to open up the clips so the cover will pop off one leg at a time. For me, I had to squeeze extremely hard but the plastic is tough and won't crack. Once cover is off, GPS cable is connected, so be careful lifting up. Here's a video to give a preview of the inside:

    Inside.jpg

    Notice on the picture, on the right hand side you'll see 2 terminals on the main board (RED/BLACK). I used solid 24 gauge (not stranded) wire (more rigid for staying in place) and put a little solder to attach each lead to the pos and neg. I also put a mini zip tie at the base of the wire around the new wire attaching it to the main battery wire already there. That's just in the wire comes lose, it won't flop around and bridge the gap between pos and neg and cause a short (you never know). Run the wires side by side out the side vent, or else you could go down through the top of the leg right next to an antenna wire. I just didn't want any electrical interference so I went out the side vent. Make sure you can keep track of which wire is negative and which is positive if you're wire is all the same color!

    2015-05-23 08.31.42 copy.jpg

    Put some white shrink tubing around the wires along the way when you can so they blend in with the Phantom. I ran the wire down the leg and it hasn't affected RC signal or video.

    2015-05-23 08.31.42.jpg

    2. Buy this for $35 on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00T8UDW2Q?psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=oh_aui_search_detailpage

    Screenshot of Google Chrome (6-2-15, 8:11:49 AM).jpg

    3. It weighs 36 grams in its case. But, if you remove the 2 screws, and take off the case and slide off the rubber wire protector and cut the end connector off, it weighs 20 grams (with SIM card installed)! KEEP THE CASE as it has the IMEI number on the back you will need later!

    2015-05-30 16.35.19.jpg

    4. Purchase an H20 Wireless standard size SIM card for $.01 to a few bucks: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00C0DL9FK?psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=oh_aui_search_detailpage

    Screenshot of Google Chrome (6-2-15, 8:15:32 AM).jpg
    5. Once you receive the SIM, register the SIM with H20 wireless and buy the $10 pay-as-you-go refill. You will NOT need more than this. It only costs 20 cents to do the 2 initial text messages to set it up, then it literally costs 1 penny for every 2 flights for data usage. Since the minutes expire after 90 days, you'll be wasting anything more than $10. At $10 every 90 days, that comes out to $40 a year maximum ($3.33 per month) and if you take a month off during the winter or more, it will cost even less. Keep in mind that the SIM card will deactivate if you don't top it off within 30 days of minutes expiring. So, if you let the SIM card expire, you'll have to open up the GPS and replace the SIM card.

    Fine print:

    Refilling H20 SIM.jpg

    6. Register your GPS tracker here: www.sky200.com. You'll need the IMEI number off the back of the case you removed the GPS tracker from.

    7. Download the iOS or Android app by either scanning the QR code on the box (cardboard part of box, not sticker) or else searching for "Keelin" app (you may not find it). Or, you can track on the web at www.sky200.com. It's Chinglish, but readable, (e.g. "Okey"). It saves your flights/trips, so you can go back and view them later. More on this later.

    Android App found here: http://www.keelin.com.cn/download/Keelin.apk

    8. Pop out the SIM card keeping it in the standard size plastic. If it falls out of that, it can be popped back in.

    9. Insert it into the GPS tracker and slide it flush with the outline on the GPS circuit board. It will be lose. So, take a piece of strong sticky tape or double-sided tape and put it on there to hold it in place.

    2015-05-30 16.51.33.jpg
    Picture shows double-stick tape (very strong) used. over the metal insert tab covering SIM card, holding all together. Remove top plastic so tape can stick to cover you'll make later with shrink tubing.

    10. You need to register the card with H20 Wireless. So, hook up some temporary leads from the Phantom ("don't cross the streams, Ray!") to the RED and BLACK wires of the GPS. The other 2 GPS wires are not needed and normally monitor a car's engine/system. You can trim those back, etc. TAKE OFF YOUR PROPS and turn on your Phantom (crossing your fingers that you didn't short any wires!) Place a text from your phone to the phone number of the SIM card you registered with H20. You will be texting just 1 command and that's it (you can also see this info. on the sticker on the GPS box):

    Text your new # xxx-xxx-xxxx (your number) with message:

    "apn,att.mvno#" (without quotes)

    You will get back some kind of "ok" message that it worked. It worked almost instantly and painlessly for me. Here's some more info. you may not need, but here's where I found the APN address I needed:

    SIM.PNG

    11. Go online, log in, and make sure you can get it to track you. You may need to be near a window. If the blue and red lights are slowly blinking on the GPS that is a good sign, but may take 30 seconds. Don't mind the message that says whether the GPS is online or offline. That isn't always accurate. Look at the military time stamp and the location updated on the map. It starts in China but should change over to your location soon. (I'm leaving out some details on how to navigate the app/website, but you'll figure that out pretty quickly) The tracker seems to update, at best, 1 time every 10 seconds or so. But, it's enough to accurately track your Phantom, in my experience. You can also do geofences and other things and it saves your flights/trips so you can go back later and review them.

    12. Once everything is working, start wrapping your GPS tracker in 1" white shrink tubing (Radio Shack). I used a JST connector type and soldered that to the RED and BLACK GPS wires hanging off.

    2015-05-30 18.49.13.jpg

    It won't add a lot of weight, but it will add a little, less than the case adds: 28 grams vs. 36 grams. I left the antenna coil partly uncovered on the end, but you can probably cover that if you need to.

    THE END OF PART 1. PART 2 NEXT POST.....
     
    #1 VoicOfReason, Jun 2, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2015
    fastsmiles likes this.
  2. VoicOfReason

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    PART 2....

    Here's what antenna uncovered looks like:

    2015-05-30 18.49.22.jpg

    13. Put some velcro on the back side.

    2015-05-30 18.51.03.jpg

    14. Mount the UAV Bits Gimbal Guard you bought (from materials list in PART 1). There's only 1 way/place to mount it. Mine happens to be white. You may have to request this as this may not be publicly available.

    2015-05-23 08.31.42.jpg

    15. You'll have to work out how you want the wires situated, but the only place to really mount it, is to the bottom of the Gimbal Guard, underneath, using velcro on the guard. I know this seems like a place that could damage it, but for normal landings, it will be fine since there is a gap between it and the ground, unless you did not use low profile velcro or you used very thick shrink tubing, or you do hard landings on concrete or crashes, of course. If you crash, you will likely have enough time before you hit the ground to get a GPS track of its location. It can't really be mounted on the top because camera bumps into it. But, if you do crash, it's only $35 to replace it, not $130, like some cost. Another option is to add something to get landing gear to raise up just a little bit (like big zip ties wrapped around).

    !!! WARNING !!!! If you mount it so that it sticks out even a little toward the rear, it will interfere with ultrasonic ground sensor! It happened to me! You want the back edge of the GPS flush with the back edge of the gimbal guard. It sticks out in the front a little and this won't usually be visible if your camera if faced directly downward, but sometimes it will a little if moving around a lot, but it's not terrible.

    2015-06-02 09.25.53.jpg 2015-06-02 09.25.45.jpg

    The reason my wires look like a mess on the landing gear is because I made a JST Y connector to hook up some lights as well to the back of the Phantom for visual orientation from a distance (and fun night flying). No doubt you could get this MUCH cleaner looking with the wiring if you work at it for awhile. Also, I used pretty thick shrink tubing because Radio Shack was out of the stuff I needed, so thinner tubing would make it cleaner looking.

    LIGHTS: 2015-06-02 09.26.15.jpg

    By the way, the GPS tracker itself can handle the voltage coming from the Phantom 3's battery just fine. It's rated from 9V-60V. So, you don't need regulator.

    FUSE? I considered a fuse for protection and may wire one inline at some point.

    16. Use a JST to JST connection on the leg so if anything bad happens or you just want to remove the tracker, you can just uncouple it from the power cable going to the Phantom. I also made a terminator from a JST connector removed, to protect the connection when not using it:

    2015-05-23 08.32.14.jpg

    FLIGHT TIME: I haven't noticed any decreased flight time. The gimbal guard is less than 9 grams and GPS is around 28 grams. The GPS draws 30ma and 12v when working and 10ma in standby mode.
    GPS STATUP TIME: Hot/warm/cold start time:3s/15s/60s
    INTERFERENCE: I haven't had any interference problems, but I've kept the GPS mounted farther away from compass just to be safe.
    BALANCE: mounting the GPS in the middle, I haven't noticed any stability issues.
    RELIABILITY: so far, it has worked flawlessly, but of course your coverage area (GSM) may vary from mine.
    DATA USAGE: it doesn't appear to use SMS to update location, but uses 1 cent for every 2 flights worth of data. H20 charges 10 cents per megabyte.
    RETURN TO STOCK: You can return your Phantom 3 to stock and remove all this if needed. There is no drilling required.

    Here's a portion of the GPS playback map at sky200 (didn't post whole thing for privacy sake):

    Screenshot of Google Chrome (6-2-15, 9:40:35 AM).jpg

    There are other options that I may figure out later that may include a "falling warning". Hmmm. Interesting. Officially, the product description says: "
    • Supports multiple alarm, acceleration sensor can be added (B models, optional component), so as increase vibration, collision and falling alarm
    You can also do geofences. Might be useful.

    What about a switch to turn ON/OFF: I hardwired a switch to turn the LED lights I attached on or off but the switch malfunctioned and made me nervous, so I removed it and just physically connect disconnect via JST connections if I need to.

    NOTE: the GPS tracker does NOT need to be activated through any kind of command to begin tracking. It will start tracking as soon as it is turned on.

    I'm sure some of you may have suggestions for how to better mount this. I've thought about putting it sideways and using velcro to a leg. But, this is more aerodynamic. If anyone has fuse ideas or improvements, let me know, also.

    UPDATE: I think a future upgrade would be to just tuck this GPS inside the Phantom's case. It would be good theft protection, as well. I probably will do this at some point.

    Enjoy!
     
    #2 VoicOfReason, Jun 2, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2015
    Oso likes this.
  3. Oso

    Oso

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    Very awesome post. I am so tempted!
     
  4. VoicOfReason

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  5. Todd Richert

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    Just to be clear there is no might about it. You WILL void your warranty. On a $1200 purchase to save $150? Buy a pocket finder, attach it and be done with it.
     
  6. delirious

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    Great work. I like the inginuity of it all. I personally went with a trackimo so I could put it on my child and on my inspire. But THIS is a great one unit solution.
     
    #6 delirious, Jun 2, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2015
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  7. jlo

    jlo

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    Cool project and great write up. Thanks.
     
  8. VoicOfReason

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    Or get a third-party warranty like I did.
     
  9. VoicOfReason

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    Trackimo looks great, too. Easier to do.
     
  10. VoicOfReason

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    But, also keep in mind, that you can remove all of this and return it to stock setup. Just remove the little bit of solder inside and pull out all the wires and cover your tracks, and you're good to go, back to stock, unless DJI knows somehow if you open the case. But, I don't see a seal to prove this. This is a side-issue to my main post. I'd rather focus on the GPS tracker, not warranty issues. But, good point you make.
     
  11. saltire

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    Great post and thanks for taking the time the do it.
     
  12. Todd Richert

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    Out of curiosity, which warranty did you buy? I've been having difficulty finding anyone to cover drones in writing. Sometimes a sales person tells me yes but the contract says otherwise.
     
  13. jlo

    jlo

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    If you've recently purchased it I believe squaretrade will cover it as a "Digital Camera". You may try calling them.

    I also saw a thread here about a private company offering a warranty. These guys: https://www.neary-aerial.com
     
  14. RyanK

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    https://www.neary-aerial.com/
     
  15. VoicOfReason

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  16. Phantom751874

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    I'd rather run from a separate power source and not potentially void my warranty.
     
  17. VoicOfReason

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    Fair enough. There are some advantages to this setup:
    1. Lighter and cheaper
    2. If you put GPS inside the case/cover, it is invisible and offers theft protection.
    3. If you have already voided your warranty by modding your RC for long-range.
    4. No extra battery to charge (and go dead by accident!) - a GPS tracker that always has a power source is more reliable
     
  18. TeamYankee

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    So what happens if the Phantom flies off, crashes and the battery pops out like normal!

    I'll stick to my TK102 on the outside... my TK102 sends me an SMS when the battery is low so I know when to charge it.
     
  19. RyanK

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    I'd disagree on point 4. With an external tracker with its own power source, the tracking ability isn't dependent on the battery of the p3. That could be beneficial if the p3 battery dies, or if you lose the bird because of battery failure of some sort.
     
    reboot81 likes this.
  20. delirious

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    ah, good point. I've seen where batteries were ejected on a hard crash.