Even the best drones in the hands of the most experienced drone pilots can still crash when thrust into unfortunate circumstances. While crashing your drone is one thing, recovering it is another. All drones have GPS capabilities that you can use to locate them, but what if it suffers major damage and is no longer functional? What’s the most reliable way to track a drone that no longer has a functioning GPS module?
The Trackimo 3G GPS Tracker is just the device that will save you when this happens. This has been a favorite among the drone community for the last couple of years. Is the Trackimo all that great? Should you get one yourself?
Build quality and design
The Trackimo 3G GPS Tracker is a highly compact, lightweight, and completely independent GPS tracker. This means that it has its power source and does not need to be hard-wired to your drone. It comes with a hard-plastic case with a glossy finish which looks fine but is nothing impressive. Although it’s lightweight, the Trackimo feels solid enough for us to not question its quality.
The Trackimo weighs only 1.1 oz. without its battery and removable magnet. At this weight, the Trackimo will hardly weigh your drone down and should not influence its flight performance. Securing it to any surface can be done through several options – it has a removable magnet, a high-quality Velcro surface at the rear, a spring-loaded clip, and even a lanyard tether.
This compact tracker comes with a custom rubber-molded case which gives it some degree of water and shock-resistance. It’s definitely not waterproof, though. Case, in fact, its charging port does not have any kind of cover. If it looks like it’s going to rain, it would be better to stop flying your drone, for the sake of both your drone and the GPS tracker. The rear Velcro connector is still accessible when the rubber case is put on the Trackimo.
Securing it to your drone can be tricky, especially since you can’t use its magnet attachment. The Velcro connector would work best, but we’re not too confident that it can hold up on its own when your drone takes flight. You have the option of buying a custom bracket that fits your particular drone model from third-party stores. If you have a 3D printer, you can make your own bracket.
Using a bracket to secure the Trackimo adds quite a bit of weight, though. If that doesn’t like it fits your style, then you can get the extra strap connectors that were especially designed for use with drones. These additional Velcro straps wrap under and around the Trackimo, making a very secure and snug connection. We’re sure the Trackimo won’t come loose with these straps, although it takes some time to secure.
The Trackimo continuously scans for GPS signals and only needs to detect four GPS satellites to determine its location. It needs to be within the coverage area of a cell tower to transmit its location to you. This limitation is hardly limiting – there’s hardly any area nowadays, that is not covered by a cell tower. From the cellular network, the location data will then be sent to your online account via the Trackimo server.
If the Trackimo fails to secure a GPS signal, it will attempt to piggyback into any WiFi signal that it detects. This isn’t very accurate since the tracker will be sending the location of the WiFi transmitter. Still, this is a “better than nothing” approach that might still end up useful.
If even a WiFi signal is unavailable, the Trackimo will instead triangulate its location using the signals it receives from the nearest cell towers. This can be very inaccurate and can have an error of up to a mile.
Mobile app connectivity
Tracking of the location of the Trackimo can be done almost real-time via the Trackimo app. “Almost real-time” might already be stretching it, as we have observed a delay of around 20 to 30 seconds. This might be a problem if your drone is moving too fast, so we don’t recommend using the Trackimo real-time location tracking for navigation. You can also adjust settings via the app to command the GPS tracker to report its location more frequently, to a maximum of four times per minute.
Despite some sluggishness in response, the Trackimo app is one of the best-designed mobile apps for GPS trackers we have seen. Available in both Android and iOS versions, the Trackimo app has a very intuitive and organized interface, and its features are easy to learn. A satellite map makes it easy to visualize the real-time location of your drone, while easy-to-access options allow you toggle alerts and adjust settings. Thru the app, you can even set a geofence which will trigger an alarm if the tracker moves outside your pre-set limits. There are also alerts for low battery status and speed limits.
The Trackimo and companion app has a couple of other features designed to help you locate it, even in the most unfortunate circumstances. Using the app, you can command the tracker to emit an 8-second high-pitched tone. The app can also connect to the Trackimo via Bluetooth, although this feature only works within a 10-meter range.
The Trackimo has a small 600 mAh lithium-ion battery housed inside a compartment that is secured by a small screw. This small safety measure keeps the battery from getting dislodged, even when your drone gets into a bad crash. According to the manufacturer, the battery of the Trackimo will last up to 48 hours while is actively tracking and can last as long as six days in passive mode. While in tracking mode, the remaining battery power can be easily monitored through the mobile app.
Flight records of all the trips you’ve tracked using the Trackimo can be accessed and downloaded thru Trackimo’s secure web portal. There is currently no option to share these trips publicly – you’ll have to log in to the site with your account and password to view them. The logs contain all the information you could need such as detailed date and time records, position, and speed. The tracks recorded by the Trackimo can be exported and viewed on Google Maps.
The Trackimo relies on cellular service so it can send location data, which means it needs to have an active cellular subscription. You won’t need to worry about this at the onset since the Trackimo comes with one free year of cellular service. After a year, you only need to pay a low price of $5 per month to maintain the service.
More than a GPS tracker for your drone
One of the biggest benefits of the Trackimo is that it’s not just designed for tracking your drone. You can probably come up with a lot of useful applications for the Trackimo – you can put it inside your check-in luggage, attach it to your car using magnets, tether it to your pet’s collar, or clip it into your bag that contains your expensive gear.
If you have a young kid, the Trackimo is an excellent little safety device. The left and right keys on the face of the Trackimo can be used to send custom messages to your mobile device, just in case your kid needs to get in touch with you. When worse comes to worst, your kid can press the SOS button to send a distress signal to your phone or to local law enforcement.
Great quality for consumer-grade GPS tracker
A brand new Trackimo 3G GPS Tracker costs about $180 to $200. The initial cost for a Trackimo is much higher compared to other personal GPS trackers or even other models made for drones. If you want to buy a cheap GPS tracker, then you can probably get one for half the price of the Trackimo.
However, the Trackimo shines in its low monthly subscription rate. The $5 per month rate for cellular service for the Trackimo is much cheaper compared to the $15 to $20 that other trackers charge. Another great deal that shouldn’t be overlooked is that Trackimo provides free cellular service for the first year, a $60 value which you should consider if you’re seriously pinching pennies.
Is it worth it?
If you’re looking for a GPS tracker specifically for your drone, then there are certainly cheaper models than the Trackimo. However, those don’t come with the same combination of size, wide coverage, and auxiliary features that the Trackimo offers. We especially like how small and light the Trackimo is, making it easily attachable even to compact drones like the Mavic Pro.
It’s worth noting that the Trackimo might come at a higher price tag, but its cellular subscription rate is much cheaper. In the long run, the Trackimo is still the more economical option. With its stellar quality and user-friendly features, all wrapped up in an small, lightweight, and affordable, the Trackimo is certainly a GPS tracker that we highly recommend.