Fresh from the world of Kickstarter, you may have seen this project spread like wildfire across the Internet last year. Meet the RSSI Pro Track.
What is it?
The RSSI Pro Track system is a revolutionary form of antenna tracking allowing you to receive a much stronger signal from your 5.8ghz video transmitter. The system uses 9-turn helical antennas which are great at picking up signals even over a long distance. The problem with helical antennas is that they are highly directional and need to be pointed directly at the video transmitter to get the best feed. This is where the RSSI Pro Track excels. The tracker will automatically find your craft in the air, follow it, and keep the centre antenna directly pointing at the craft.
How does it work?
Instead of beginning with how the RSSI Pro Track works, I’m going to tell you how most other trackers on the market work. Usually on board an air frame you will have a dedicated piece of hardware and an additional telemetry link. The telemetry link will send details of the air frames location back to a ground station. The ground station will then complete a series of algorithms to work out where the air frame is in relation to itself and then point the antenna in the correct direction. This method of tracking has worked fine for many years however there is lots of setup involved, lots of equipment to carry and lots of risk. If the ground station briefly loses the telemetry signal, that’s it, game over! The tracker will not be able to find the air frame.
OK, so how does the RSSI Pro Track work?
The RSSI Pro Track has not one, but three helical antennas. The centre antenna is the main antenna, hoping to be pointed at the video transmitter and ultimately receive the signal. The outer two antennas are on the same channel but instead of actually using their video feed, an on board micro-processor is actually comparing the signal strength between the two. If one antenna has a much higher signal strength, the tracker rotates until both antennas have roughly the same RSSI. This means, in theory at least, that the centre antenna will always be pointing directly at the video transmitter.
Does it work?
Well, I’m extremely pleased to say it does! I have personally tested this using a fixed wing aircraft. I decided to use the fixed wing as it would move much quicker and I wanted to see if the tracker could keep up with fast movements and quick changes of direction. It performed flawlessly and not once did the RSSI Pro Track loose the plane. I also placed the tracker in such a position that tree’s were directly in the way. Yet again, the tracker didn’t loose sight of the plane plus we had a solid signal with minimal static.
How will it help me?
The RSSI Pro Track is already being used in the commercial drone market. The tracker will allow you to fly further and also allow better object penetration. In the UK we are legally limited to a 25mw video transmitter running on the 5.8ghz spectrum. Using traditional aerials, the range could be very limiting. Many people will confess to using higher power video transmitters to overcome this, but now you can stay safe and within the limits of the law.
Another huge plus point for the tracker is that the ground station can be moved without recalibration. With other systems, once the ground station has been placed, you are fixed in that area. This could be invaluable in several instances including search and rescue missions where the searching party may be constantly travelling.
Whilst the unit has an element of looking home-made it has proved to be rugged and reliable in the multiple trips to my local flying field. The advantages far outweigh the disadvantages and is now a vital tool in my arsenal of equipment.
I believe the RSSI Pro Track can be used for commercial flights, hobby flying and even drone racing so if you do one or more of these activities, the RSSI Pro Track is for you.
Where can I buy?