|I can't believe nobody else is at least FOXHUNTING with this incredible gear! Beeline has now come out with a GPS/RDF Tracking Transmitter. Get this. It includes a complete satellite GPS tracking system in a module the size of your thumb. Errr.... the module includes a lithium polymer battery pack good for 8 solid hours of transmitting and is rechargeable. So... lemme see here. GPS Receiver, TNC built in, transmitter built in, Lithium Polymer Battery Pack and charger. All under $300. Now, here's the really good part. (Jeez it just keeps getting better and better). You can use your Kenwood TH-D7 handheld for tracking. It displays the latitude and longitude either in text mode to 4 decimal places or in APRS mode (!!!!!) to 2 decimal places. Incredible. And it will beacon your APRS location directly onto whatever frequency you program it for. Now, it does have some problems... it has trouble with the satellite lock when you exceed mach something. That, for you laymen, is VERY VERY fast. On the other hand, if you are flying it in a rocket as I am, the rocket will only be coming down at Mach speed if there is no chute deployed.... in which case you don't really want to find the thing anyway. We picked up a Kenwood TH-D7 this weekend and turned the Beeline GPS on... keeping in mind that we have NOT done the firmware upgrade yet nor programmed it for the D7... it was decoding immediately upon turning it on. Amazing. Just amazing. You owe it to yourself to have a look at the Beeline RDF Tracking Transmitters that I reviewed earlier... and you owe it to yourself to have a close look at the Beeline GPS. If you have any kind of UHF capable receiver and any kind of TNC decoder.... you have it made and are ready to go. Try this new "geochaching" phenomenon. Or APRS (stick one in your wife's purse or in the dashboard storage compartment on your Ford Freestar and know where the kids are all the time! And with the Kenwood TH-D7 and an Arrow Antenna.. it is a dream come true for rocketry enthusiasts. Now that the good weather is here, we are going to be out playing with the units with the local Scout troop, etc. Oh... and if you are concerned about weatherproofing? A 35 mm film canister and a wee bit of silicone cement to seal it up works gangbusters and is easy to pull apart to recharge when you are ready. The Beeline GPS has the same high standards as the Beeline RDF Tracking Transmitter, albeit they are two seperate chassis'.... they even turn themselves off when the battery gets low to prevent damage to the sensitive high output Li Polymer cells. And... get this. For you rocketry guys out there... Greg is working on a software mod that will turn off the GPS receiver as soon as the unit stops moving (i.e. hits the ground). If someone picks it up and starts moving it again, guess what? Saves enough battery consumption to extend the battery life by two or three times. These units are nothing short of outstanding in terms of quality of construction and in terms of performance. Hava a look at their website, keeping in mind that this is a labour of love and a hobby enterprise for Greg. His response time, BTW, is also amazing. I sent him an email on a Saturday about giving a demo of his products to the Buffalo Rocket Society Dinner... get this... he found me at the banquet hall!!! And donated some discount coupons as door prizes. On a product that I can't build for what he sells it for. Talk about a labour of love! (Do I sound excited? I wish he sold dealerships... but, alas, he only sells direct - probably so he can break even on this stuff. One last thing... everyone talks about range. Well, take a look at the range problems that we had in the prior review. We could not get far enough away to get the signal below full quieting for RDFing. We have had to find an attenuator in order to use the thing at two miles range or so. I am sure the range is going to be two or three times that. The range on the units, both the RDF Tracking transmitter and the GPS/RDF Tracking Transmitter with built in TNC, line of sight, is something in the order of 20 MILES. That's okay... it means you need a bearing while it is in the air. Once you have a rough bearing... you use a compass or a small used GPS to track the bearing in the direction of the downed transmitter... and eventually you will pick up the beacon. Presto. One found fox.. or one found rocket. And if you have the GPS unit, it will give you the last known LAT/LONG, which you program into the handheld GPS that you have purchased (find them on eBay or Rocketry online for $50 - $75).... it will steer you to the rocket or fox... and you do NOT have to head directly for the beacon - you can go off road, around obstructions like lakes and rivers, etc. Eventually you will find yourself close enough to the fox or rocket to find it. It is like shooting ducks in a barrel. All of my rockets will now be finbreglass and carbon composite (very expensive) as I will have no fear of losing them in the cornfields. Is this great, or what?|
Earlier 5-star review posted by VE3HI on 2005-11-13
The Beeline RDF Tracking Transmitter is, in a word, OUTSTANDING. Check out their website listed above. You can program callsign, any string of CW characters, choose to have the unit transmit battery voltage with its transmitter on and/or off, choose low battery voltage shutdown for the Li Polymer battery, choose various lengths for tracking beeps, space between beeps, number of beeps between callsign/character string/voltage readings. The unit transmits anywhere in the UHF ham band on NFM, user field programmable. How amazing is this so far? We tested two units today in the field with a 7 element portable yagi and our problem was that we couldn't get far enough away to get less than full quieting in the park... at a range of almost two miles. Oh... one can set the power output as well. Field programable. The antenna is a small stiff piece of wire soldered to a pad/hole on the PC board, but an optional SMA antenna connector is available for something like $10. They have a GPS enable version coming out right now! That is... it will transmit GPS data via ARPS packet. Incredible... I have ordered mine sight unseen. At $250 the GPS unit is a real bargoon... keep in mind that it is both the satellite receiver, GPS unit and RDF transmitter all rolled into one. The transmitter only comes fully programmed or you can program it with downloadable software. At $59 this is one bargoon of a Fox Hunting transmitter and makes it a snap for your club or group to begin foxhunting immediately and on a tight budget. I don't normally write reviews unless I am really REALLY impressed. And it takes a lot to impress me. THIS Beeline gear has done so. Check out their website and tell them VE3HI sent you. To top it all off... they are great to deal with (direct only) and take PayPal.