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Finding Models

or perhaps not finding them

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Erfolg27/07/2019 14:57:34
11749 forum posts
1337 photos

Recently I mentally scoffed at a number of people who landed out (a generous description) then having difficulty finding the errant model.

Then much to my surprise three of my models disappeared into the very same fields. Of course, as you can imagine, it was all down to equipment failure and in one case the ballast not being replaced after servicing. All my wives fault, as you can imagine.indecision

I do have a few in line alarms to servos, although i am no fan. Particularly given in one arrival (or was that a crash) the Lipo disconnected. In the other two cases the cast iron servo train was every bit as noisy as the model finder.

Yesterday a club member mentioned that he had bough a "Car Key" finder, or wallet finder that is operated by his phone (an app), using GPS and even a map to find the errant objects.

Another member mentioned he had bough a device for the same purpose from a £1 shop. The cost was most attractive at a £1. On further though I thought what can you get for a £1? It is possibly as accurate as my devining rods.

A search on the internet has identified a number of Android phone driven devices. My problem is my current phone is a 4G Microsoft product and i guess these do not operate with a Android product. I have a old 3G Samsung, but will it operate with any of these devices?

As a aside they have a 300 m range indoors and greater out doors.

Then there are others which seem to have a base station and a hand held finder which has a hand set which seems to use sound to provide direction, Will this system work at the field and is it useful? The claimed range appears to be similar to the phone system

Both systems seem to be a viable for between £12-£20. The base system providing six units .

You may think I am paranoid, I can confirm this. Not withstanding my issues what experiences and knowledge do others have.

Edited By Erfolg on 27/07/2019 14:58:08

Edited By Erfolg on 27/07/2019 15:00:49

Brian Cooper27/07/2019 15:50:03
553 forum posts
27 photos

I have seen a couple of these "finders" working via a mobile phone. . Yes, you get a trackable signal, but the accuracy leaves a lot to be desired. They can be about 100 yards out.

However, they might work well if used in conjunction with an audible "lost model" alarm.


John Lee27/07/2019 16:05:08
747 forum posts
73 photos

The July edition of the Magazine gave the Vifly Finder2 a good write up. It's a stand alone unit which uses a 'very loud beeper' & LED light signals.

edgar27/07/2019 16:10:00
78 forum posts
28 photos

A fellow club member had one of these (I don't know which one) on a small racing drone (quadracopter), the tracker seemed to work if the drone crashed with a clear line of sight to the receiver, but this (obviously) didn't seem to happen often. If the drone landed inverted, in a dip in the ground, in long grass etc. (I.e. all the situations it was most needed) it was as almost useless, with range reduced to a couple of metres. It therefore worked fine when the drone was in clear view but not if it was hidden. Some might be better than this, but I don't think they have a very powerful signal, and I suspect many may be subject to the same limitations.

Steve J27/07/2019 16:18:37
1907 forum posts
54 photos

I have homemade audible lost model alarms (RC-CAM's LoMA) on most of my smaller models. I have found them very useful for locating slope gliders in long grass.

My larger and more powerful models have GPS telemetry which means that in theory I should be able to take the last known location from my transmitter, enter it into my phone and walk to close to where the model went in. This remains untested.

A standard for small unmanned aircraft transmitting their location directly to smartphones ('Direct Remote Identification' ) is due to be adopted next summer (I'll believe it when it happens).


Edited By Steve J on 27/07/2019 16:18:57

Erfolg27/07/2019 16:31:43
11749 forum posts
1337 photos

I should have perhaps emphasised that the phone used GPS to find the model, which should help in overcoming undulating ground and crops?

That is one of the suspected draw backs of the ground station model?

ken anderson.27/07/2019 16:55:09
8685 forum posts
808 photos

erfolg save your £1...check out here....waste of £1..

ken waste dept.

Dave Cunnington27/07/2019 16:55:17
173 forum posts
58 photos

T'other day thankfully one of our guys had his camera drone and gear in his van - my errant T Trainer (due to pilot misjudgement) was soon located in a standing (wheat?) crop but was totally invisible from standing eye level

Thank you again Roger for your assistance

Rgds DC

Capt Kremen27/07/2019 16:59:51
361 forum posts
144 photos

Having recently had the misfortune, (probably due the 'loose nut on the Tx'!), to land out, my fellow club mates and I, spent a fruitless few hours searching for my model. 'We' believed we had a reasonable fix on where it went down too.

As many will know only too well, at this time of the year, farmers crops are (very) well grown = 'high'. They also are in the process of being cut by those wonderous monster combine tractor machines! Despite all the 'bad press' quadcopter drones get from us fixed wing aviators, this flier was glad of their abilities. The following day, a mere 15mins 'hovering' over a tall crop field, some distance from where we all earnestly thought the model had gone down, the missing aircraft was located via the drones on board video link camera.

So this prompted me to examine what is available for locating models.

I subsequently purchased a 'Loc8ator' and a 'VIFLY Finder V2' unit as mentioned above.

Whilst not expecting NASA or GCHQ tracking accuracy, I can vouch that both systems work very well.

The 'VIFLY' in particular, is exceedingly good for its modest £10 cost. It has its own mini LiPo. This charges from the flight pack via a normal servo connection to the Rx. It can be triggered by a spare channel on the Tx. (Very loud bleep!). AND if the A/C power source disconnects in the crash / 'arrival', the units LiPo keeps it bleeping away for many hours PLUS flashing a bright LED, if externally mounted. The 'Loc8tor' uses a tiny fob 'bleeper' which can be easily swapped from model to model e.g. attached around the flight LiPo. In use a small handset is 'bound' to the fob in a manner not dissimilar to Tx / Rx binding, so has a unique coding, enabling others to have and use their 'Loc8tor' units simultaneously.

Whilst not claiming these are 100% perfect, as aids (plus help from a friendly drone perhaps?), you may stand a reasonable chance of finding your errant model.

John Privett27/07/2019 17:52:56
6046 forum posts
241 photos

Some months back I used the telemetry on my FrSky Horus to locate a slope soarer.

Due to a bit a brain fade I had flown the foamy soarer high over, just behind, and to one side of me, put it into a dive and pulling of the dive to head out over the slope again I had flown it 'through' the sun...

I lost visibility of the model and failed to regain visibility of it! After a few seconds scanning the sky in all directions I started to come to the conclusion that it had "landed" somewhere. I walked to the edge of the slope and started to walk down. That was the direction the model had last been heading, so logically it must be somewhere at the bottom of the slope. Oh joy... sad

At this point I got a spoken "RSSI low" alert and realised I could use that to help find the model. It also suggested that the model was most likely somewhere at the top of the slope. So standing on the edge of the top of the slope I rotated, looking for the position the RSSI signal was lowest. That would be when my body was directly between the model and transmitter and attenuating the signal. So turn 180° from that point and start walking. I repeated that a couple of times and was lead directly to where the model was - sitting happily between two bushes at the back of the landing area.

Without the telemetry I'd have found it eventually - or somebody else would have done. But I could easily have wasted an hour or so and had a long walk down, and back up, the (rather steep) slope.

Martin Harris27/07/2019 18:18:32
9338 forum posts
252 photos

One little tip for those of us with telemetry is in the event of an "arrival" which hasn't disconnected the receiver is to use the signal strength indication to locate a model. Simply hold the transmitter close to your body and rotate either way until the signal strength is at it's lowest - in the best pantomime fashion..."it's behind you!"... As you get nearer, the accuracy improves and when fairly close when the "dip" is difficult to detect accurately you can go into range check mode if necessary.

I used this method after getting stuck in a flat spin into tall maize (model largely unscathed but now with a larger rudder!) and anyone unfortunate enough to have lost a model in "elephant's eye" high corn will know how thick it grows and that you can easily walk past a yard or two away from it without seeing it. I literally walked straight to the model.

Some years ago, our club invested in a Loc8tor and supplied individual units to members at cost (a little cheaper to buy in bulk) but we found them too easy to fit and forget - with a 6 month or less battery life they were less and less likely to be working when you wanted them and I don't think anyone is still using them. The devices with inbuilt rechargeable batteries seem a very good idea.

Edit. Sorry John - I was a bit slow posting and seem to have overlapped somewhat!

Edited By Martin Harris on 27/07/2019 18:30:09

Doug Campbell27/07/2019 19:09:52
106 forum posts
2 photos

What is to land out? Our planes land. Full stop.

Martin Harris27/07/2019 19:14:55
9338 forum posts
252 photos

It's usually known as a crash (or some other phrase not allowed on this forum!)

stu knowles27/07/2019 20:05:38
606 forum posts
49 photos

On a slightly connected topic, If anyone has the misfortune to 'land out' with an electric model in one of the many cornfields that abound at this time of year, may I suggest that giving up on it is absolutely not an option. Not for the Pilot, the Owner if different, or the host Club from which it came.

The thought of a Lipo being ingested by a Combine Harvester full of dry straw and dust does not bear thinking about. Any subsequent bill could run into several hundred thousand pounds. Modern Combines can come in at a quarter mill alone.

Erfolg27/07/2019 21:12:24
11749 forum posts
1337 photos

The point that you have made Stu is what drives many who search for a lost model, it is as much the potential to create an issue, however defined, I am sure we all agree.

From my perspective, model orientated niche products are often of limited benefit, Example are typically the in line sounders that I have, or the so called bespoke model orientated lost model devices. As Bart Simpson would say, they more often and not suck, not working in many circumstances and expensive for what they are as objects and capabilities.

Personally I will or would be happier with a mass market device targeted at hundreds of millions users, where the cost of development and production costs are optimised. It is just finding what works, Thanks to Ken we now know one brand name that does not. I want to hear about what does work. smiley

Steve J27/07/2019 21:28:29
1907 forum posts
54 photos
Posted by Martin Harris on 27/07/2019 19:14:55:

It's usually known as a crash

Not necessarily. It could be a perfectly good landing somewhere other than the designated area caused by a deadstick in the case of a powered model or loss of lift in the case of a glider.


Martin Harris27/07/2019 21:35:00
9338 forum posts
252 photos

Hence the use of the word "usually"!

Another phrase often associated with unfortunate incidents is "an unplanned arrival" - perhaps that would satisfy the less light-hearted amongst us?

Incidentally, I am very aware of the origin of the phrase, having made the acquaintance of several farmers' daughters after making more than a few successful but unplanned arrivals in various fields around the country during my gliding days...

Edited By Martin Harris on 27/07/2019 21:38:51

Steve J28/07/2019 14:21:43
1907 forum posts
54 photos
Posted by Erfolg on 27/07/2019 21:12:24:

Personally I will or would be happier with a mass market device targeted at hundreds of millions users, where the cost of development and production costs are optimised.

Be careful what you wish for.


Stephen Smith 1428/07/2019 18:01:07
210 forum posts
Posted by stu knowles on 27/07/2019 20:05:38:

The thought of a Lipo being ingested by a Combine Harvester full of dry straw and dust does not bear thinking about. Any subsequent bill could run into several hundred thousand pounds. Modern Combines can come in at a quarter mill alone.

Another reason to fly big petrol

Bruce Collinson29/07/2019 20:45:54
537 forum posts

At my former clubs field, the topography was weird, with a lane then a river, both with an S bend just downwind and behind the pilot line. A large-ish model stalled some way out on finals, disappeared behind the trees bordering the river and was witnessed and marked by several of us.

it eventually turned up about a quarter of a mile further back and a good 3-400 yds to the side of the consensus opinion of where it went in.

Intrigued, and miffed at losing half a day’s flying, I got the OS copied and compared it with an aerial image. The final approach line was significantly different to our assumption, because the S bend threw out the line of sight on the ground when viewed from the strip. I learned two lessons.

First, if a model lands out, out of sight, a copy of the OS is very useful to at least get an accurate line.

Second, they’re always further away than you think. Unfortunately, I have tested and established the latter principle a couple of times recently.


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