Question: GPS Tracker for finding bikes, friends, tracing your burn, etc.?

Questions, answers, tips & tricks for newbies and veterans alike
Post Reply
Posts: 9
Joined: Wed Aug 02, 2017 1:38 pm
Burning Since: 2016
Camp Name: Camp Swig-N-Swing

Question: GPS Tracker for finding bikes, friends, tracing your burn, etc.?

Post by pterodactyl » Thu Aug 09, 2018 2:00 pm

Hi all,

I'm looking for a GPS tracker that doesn't require cell service for the purpose of finding a bike [if stolen] and friends [when I actually care about finding them]. A bonus would also be something that would allow me to trace my journey in BRC after the burn.

I've searched the forum and found a few helpful threads, and while I found one solution posted (Garmin Rino 650 GPS/2-Way Radio) it is quite expensive (at least ~$250 each). Here are the threads I found:
2017: Tracking" your Burn?
2017: Preventing Bike Theft / Finding 'Lost' Bike Ideas
2014: A GPS track of my wanderings in BRC 2014
2011: GPS

I know a lot of you will say "lock your bike", or "losing your friends is part of the experience". Let's just put those comments aside and talk about a solution.

I'm trying to find a solution that is as inexpensive as possible, and it only needs to be effective for burning man (i.e. I don't care if it spans 50 miles or worldwide; only about what I need it for at BRC).

Are there any phone apps that would work without cell service?

I stumbled across a product that looks like it'd work perfectly (aside from the tracing aspect), but they don't start shipping until November 2018. They are called LynQ, crowd funded through IndieGoGo. You easily synch up to 12 of these and toggle through the other devices, showing you an arrow and distance away. Price is still kind of up there ($82 - $99 pre-sale, depending on how many you buy; might go up to $140 after pre-sale), but more reasonable than the Garmin. Providing this just to give an idea of what I'm looking for:

I'm going to continue searching on my own and I will post a solution if I find one, but I figured others may be able to share something they've used before. Hopefully this thread helps other people looking for this sort of thing as well.

Thanks in advance!

User avatar
Posts: 4267
Joined: Tue Sep 02, 2003 2:55 pm
Burning Since: 2001
Location: Gold Country, CA

Re: Question: GPS Tracker for finding bikes, friends, tracing your burn, etc.?

Post by Token » Thu Aug 09, 2018 2:49 pm

Well, you are trying to cram in a whole bunch of requirements into a single solution and it’s gonna be real tough to realize it.

Let’s break them down a bit.

1. You want to track your own movement and capture the GPS data for later use.

That one is easy. Any number of commercial products can do that. Heck, your cell phone does it secretly all the time. Get a cheap used basic hiking Garmin with a USB port and you’re good.

2. You want to track items from a distance.

Bit more challenging but doable. There are trackers based on simple radio repeaters where you can direction find them like a fox hunt. Triangulate by walking in zig-zag pattern. Alas, no GPS data with this ancient proven tech. Look for cat and dog trackers. Real good stuff tho and considering it hunters that use this - trail and swamp tested.

Then there is the Bluetooth beacons. Real cheap for the little button size transmitter but crappy range (100 ft max) and you gotta lug a laptop or at least a smartphone to get the signal handshake.

Then there is WiFi based RTLS solutions with much better range but unless you are a mega-geek maker and build your own, the commercial products are expensive. Aruba, Meraki, Cisco expensive. And again you end up lugging a laptop.

None of the available gizmos listed above will have sufficient range to cover the BRC footprint. This is why the whole GPS + GSM tracking is so prevalent. Much better range, precision and response time. Down side is the required cell service and shitty battery life.

3. I want to be able to find my friends and vice versa.

You already found the Garmin Rino. Please note that you can’t “find” or “track” the person on the other end unless they reply to your call - i.e. they have to PTT for you to see their location.

If you dig hard, you can probably find used Rino 120 units for $50-100 depending on condition. They are black-white LCD but otherwise fine even in today’s OLED craze times. Also have serial connection so can link to PC to download GPS history. Loved mine but eventually destroyed them over the years.

And finally, you are too cheap.

Even the cheapest cat tracking radio unit is $100.

Bluetooth beacons are in the $10 arena but very limited range.

Unless you can budget more for this, your best bet is finding 15 or 10 year old gear that was hot stuff back then but can be had on eBay for cheap.

Post Reply

Return to “Q & A Tips and Tricks”