Modified SPOT tracker that runs for months

Modified SPOT tracker that can run for months


Developer GPS Guided Trans-Atlantic Robot Boat  has produced a control box to work with a SPOT v1 tracker to extend it’s function to months. The unit was designed to track a trans Atlantic model boat but can be used in balloon missions. Robin, the designer from the UK said”  We are doing 24/7 testing at a waypoint in the corner of Bray Lake on the boat. This is helping us solve basic problems like finding leaks and proving the total boat system, including solar panel based power systems, GPS-PICAXE-rudder servo autopilot, SPOT tracker, and the boat itself. The SPOT tracker enables us to monitor the boat from home – particularly if it runs aground. See the SPOT map for recent position reports.

On low left you see a very crude means of making the SPOT Messenger send regular position reports, currently every hour. A PICAXE based timer (on left) operates a servo to press the “OK” button on the SPOT to initiate a position report. The small loudspeaker is just for test – to play “Popeye the sailorman” just before transmission 🙂 A tidied up version of this SPOT tracker, was put in boat 8 for 24/7 tests on Bray Lake, until the SPOT Messenger eventually failed, after months of continuous operation. We now have a Mk2 version in the boat that does not need a servo. It has also been running for months.

My spot tracker is a self-contained sub-system. It breaks all the rules on what spot say you should do.e.g. I have Ni-Me rechargable AA cells each giving about 1.6v. In parallel with those I have 3 NiMH cells.Two 6v 80mA solar panels in parallel charging power. Picaxe off the same power as spot.This is NOT a proven solution, even though tested for months, so anyone would need to do their own experiments starting with a SPOT messenger (off ebay?) and £90/100Euro of air time.”

We hope to get more details of the box design when Robin has more time.



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