I was wondering around the web last week, when I came across this curious product which claimed to be able to find my drone, with no GPS required. Intrigued I dug further and found the Marco Polo. Initially designed to be a pet tracker they had extended it to be used on Drones.
This isn’t something I would put on the my stripped down SCX racer, however it would be something I would put on my Cinetank or my Skywalker. RC UAVs which I am flying long range FPV, there have been some heart stopping moments when I have lost one of my RC projects, and luckily I have always found them. There was even one instance when my quad got stuck in a tree, I looked everywhere but up for half an hour, then had to find a long pole.
Perhaps the biggest issue with flying FPV is often when something does go wrong its the video link, and if it isn’t the video then often the VTX gets smashed in the crash. The potential is see with the Marco Polo is that it can be stored in the body of something like a Skywalker or Cinetank as a bank up for when the worst does happen.
System Radio Frequency Operational Specs.
- Method – Frequency Hopping Spread Spectrum (FHSS) 50 Channels
- Band: ISM 902.5 Mhz. – 906.5 Mhz.
- License Requirements: ISM/unlicensed, operates under FCC Part 15 Section 247
- Modulation: FSK
- Single Frequency Dwell Time: 50 msec. once every 4 mins.
- Transmit Power: 250 mW
- Receiver Sensitivity: -125 dBm
- Communications Coding: Data coding and forward error correction allow the system to operate with a BER as low as 1:10, significantly improving overall system range.
- Line of sight: up to 2 miles typical
- Open terrain, rolling hills with few obstructions: up to .5 – 1 mile
- Dense suburban areas: 2,000 ft. typical
- Up to 3 transceiver tags per Locator
- Internal audible alarm
- External siren alarm (optional)
- External auto dialer (optional – requires telco landline)
Locator Physical Specifications
- Height: 6 in. (152 mm)
- Width: 3.5 in. (90 mm)
- Depth: 1.5 in. (44 mm)
- Weight: 7.8 oz. (221 g)
Locator Battery and Charge Capacity†
- Rechargeable Li•ion battery (included)
- 3 days when in continuous tracking mode
- 8 hours in searching mode
- 3 days in monitor mode
- Light rain
Tag Transceiver Physical Specifications
- Height: 2 in. (64 mm)
- Width: .93 in. (23.62 mm)
- Depth: .5 in. (12.7 mm)
- Weight: .42 oz. (12 g)
Tag Transceiver Battery and Charge Capacity†
- Rechargeable lithium polymer battery, included (non-user serviceable)
- 10 days idle mode
- 3 days tracking mode
- 30 days monitor mode
At 12g the transmitter unit is certainly small enough to fit on most drones 300 size and above. The fact it has its own power supply is brilliant as it means even if your battery is ripped out in a crash you can still find your model, which our eyes makes it better than just running a GPS on an FC. The TX battery life is also easily long enough to last you a whole days flying, for some even a weeks flying without a recharge, meaning that hassle is a minimum. The fact it doesn’t use GPS is also a bonus as it does not rely on often sketchy coverage. If you are flying a city area or around powerful Transmitter towers, GPS isn’t always an option, and so the ability to use a local radio signal is a big plus.
Though we haven’t been able to get our hands on a Marco Polo it still seems like and interesting buy for RC hobbyist, especially if you are running expensive kit. It is amazing how easily if you are flying in a field a Drone or plane can get lost in the long grass. I personally fly with pink props to counteract this on most of my miniquads, but for AP ships running Carbon props or a plane, that is not possible, so the Marco Polo would be a useful addition to the hanger.
All in all it’s certainly worth a look, check it our Here