Tracksoar

Open source APRS tracker

 

Take flight.

Flight Data.

 

Tracksoar is the smallest lightest open source APRS tracker available. It makes tracking weather balloons, model rockets, RC aircraft, and anything else that flies as easy as possible. It is able to report location, altitude, temperature pressure and humidity to the internet once a minute for twelve hours with 2xAA batteries. Because Tracksoar is open source you can also add your own modules to accommodate custom sensors to meet your specific requirements. Tracksoar can also use a range of drop in transmitters to allow for easy world wide operation. By flying Tracksoar on a weather balloon you can reduce the required helium and balloon costs per launch and it can pay for itself with just 2 launches. No other APRS solution offers this level of integration, compact size, and customization. Additionally all profits from Tracksoar sales go to supporting the Santa Barbara Hackerspace and improving the resources we offer to the community.

Our Story

 

Created with open source software & hardware

Weighs 45 grams / 1.6 oz

Developed over more than a year

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Requires an amateur radio license to operate

We at the Santa barbara Hackerspace have been involved in around a dozen weather balloon launches. We have had a lot of fun with these launches and learned a lot, but found some issues. Most of the commercially available APRS trackers are closed source, large, and heavy, all of which add to the complexity of launching a balloon. So we decided to do something about it, and the Tracksoar was born. The tracksoar is designed to be flown under anything capable of lifting 60 grams, including balloons, RC planes, quad copters, or anything else that flies. The Tracksoar uses the 2 meter radio band (144.390MHz) which requires an amateur radio license to operate.

Tracksoar has been developed and prototyped for nearly a year now and is finally ready for its debut. We have gone through several dozen iterations and almost a dozen prototypes. We have several prototypes of the version 1 board, which we have flown successfully. Tracksoar is an open source project, and all source code, schematic and board files are available here.

 

Get Your Tracksoar Today

Open source. Lightweight. Customizable.

Technology

The Tracksoar is built around the excellent and mature Trackuino project. We have modified their code and schematics and board a bit to make the Tracksoar as compact, lightweight, power efficient, and integrated as possible. The Tracksoar comes ready to nearly ready to fly, just add your Amateur Radio call sign and you’re ready to go.

The Tracksoar uses the very mature and nearly ubiquitous APRS network for reporting data. APRS has been used by amateur radio operators for decades to send location and weather data. With sites like APRS.fi you can receive your Tracksoar data without a radio on any computer or smartphone.

Hardware

The Tracksoar is built around an ATMEL ATMEGA 328P running the Arduino bootloader. It has a UBLOX MAX-M8Q GPS receiver for precise high speed location data, with a compact and lightweight chip antenna. In addition the board has a BMP180 barometric pressure sensor, SHT21 relative humidity sensor / temperature sensor, this sensor suite allows for precise atmospheric data.

Tracksoar also makes several digital and analog pins from the MCU, as well as SPI/I2C busses using a standard pinout to allow the creation of daughter boards to make it easy to add new sensors. The Tracksoar also has a boost regulator to allow a range of power options, accepting between 1.5v and 5v from a battery pack. To get all this data to the ground Tracksoar has a 300mW 2 meter transmitter available in a range of frequencies for a number of countries.

Software

The Tracksoar software is built around the open source Trackuino firmware, which is well developed and quite mature. We have modified it slightly to read data from the sensors and transmit it via APRS, as well as to accept location data from the MAX-M8Q GPS receiver.martphone.

Amateur Radio

“Before you can get on the air, you need to be licensed and know the rules to operate legally. US licenses are good for 10 years before renewal and anyone may hold one except a representative of a foreign government. ” – ARRL

Getting your amateur radio license is a very easy and rewarding process. Getting your license allows you to broadcast on frequencies allocated solely to amateur radio. Additionally learning how to operate a radio is a very useful skill for everyone. This has been proven time and again to be invaluable in emergency situations, keeping contact while in remote locations, etc.

The Technician license is the entry level license and requires passing a multiple choice 35 question test. The entire test question pool and answers can be found here. There are a lot of resources available to help you study for your licensing test, including books, classes, and online resources. To find out more about getting your license contact your local HAM radio club, or check with the ARRL.

To operate the Tracksoar at least one person must be present throughout the flight who has their license and the Tracksoar must be programmed with their call sign.

 

High Altitude Ballooning Made Easy.

Tracksoar News

New Tracksoar Version Release

After much work designing and testing a new revision of the Tracksoar has been released. Version 1.2’s biggest change is moving from two separate sensors to measure temperature, pressure, and humidity to a single single sensor. In addition some minor changes...

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Tracksoar Instructions

While we continue to grind away on putting together a complete set of instructions and instructional video here are the basics:   Whats in the package:  1. Tracksoar Main Board (shown here without the Radiometrix Tranmsitter module). Note the version number just...

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Tracksoar v1 is Shipping!

Production Tracksoars Assembled and Tested After over a year of development and testing the Tracksoar v1 is finally shipping. We have fulfilled our first 20 orders and so far have received positive feedback from everyone. We couldn’t be happier with the quality...

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