Once in a blue moon a product comes along which just plain works and exceeds expectations. The BigRedBee 70cm GPS rocket tracking device transmitter is one of these.
The BigRedBee transmits its GPS coordinates every few seconds (configurable) at 100mW (configurable) on any of the 70cm HAM radio carriers (configurable). The GPS coordinates are transmitted using standard APRS packet formats, so any HAM radio or TNC can receive and decode the information.
In addition to transmitting its GPS coordinates, the BigRedBee will store GPS data, at a much higher sampling rate, in internal memory. Using the supplied cables and software, the internal memory can be uploaded to a PC and plotted using GoogleEarth.
The BigRedBee package includes a Lithium poly battery, software to configure the device using a PC, and all required cabling and drivers. The BigRedBee is ready to use out-of-the-box.http://www.bigredbee.com/BeeLineGPS.htm
Parts of the system
Configuring the BigRedBee
The BigRedBee comes with a small daughter board and USB cable. The USB interface provides both PC based configuration as well as a charger for the attached battery. Even though the same daughter board is used for configuratoin and charging, the physcial connections are different, so configuration and charging cannot be done at the same time. No big deal, honestly.
The software is self explanatory.
Using the BigRedBee with a Kenwood receiver
Using the BigRedBee is as simple as turning-on the BigRedBee, connecting the eTrex and Kenwood together, and waiting for the GPSes to acquire the satellites. For me, it worked first try. Once everything is running, the information below displays.
The BigRedBee stores high frequency GPS position in its internal memory. Later the memory can be transferred to a PC and seamlessly imported into GoogleEarth, which can display a 3D plot.
Since I only walked around the block near my house, the GoogleEarth plot is boring, but it serves as an example. Although the neighborhood is "heavily wooded," the BigRedBee maintained satellite lock.
With the BigRedBee sitting on the ground, I was able to receive its signal
from 1 mile away (and probably farther) using the 7 element Yagi from
Arrow Antenna. Again, the neighborhood is not RF friendly. I'm sure the
range of the BigRedBee will be excellent in the air, line-of-sight.
My first project using the BigRedBee is a minimum diameter M rocket. The BigRedBee will sit inside a hollow cedar nosecone with a metal tip. I hope to fly the BigRedBee in a minimum diameter O late in the year.
Project updates soon