Our Growing Tracking Ability

Our Pajero Tracking VehicleJan 2016

Pajero Tracking Vehicle Update

So lets look at what my son, Jason (14), and I have done and are doing about our tracking vehicle. We will have more, but we are planning on at least having our 4WD SUV ready for anything that is headed our way, but tracking is all important. Note that this tracking article appeared on our Project ThunderStruck website some months ago.

So what do we Need/Have in our Tracking Vehicle?

  • Efficient layout. Yes
  • All wiring behind the vehicle covers. Yes
  • All antennas and cables the optimum size with maximum gain. Yes
  • All antennas capable of folding down below the roof rack (security and access to underground parking). Yes
  • Access to multiple 6 x 12 volt accessory points Yes
  • USB charging at a minimum 2.1A capable on a port. (2 pairs – each pair with 2.1A capability) Yes
  • It does not attract attention in city mode with the antennas down. Yes
  • Multiple tracking systems
    • APRS transmitter. Yes
    • Mobile phone tracking (APRS compliant) Yes
    • Digipeater (APRS) Yes
    • iGate (APRS) (soon)
    • AvMap Geosat 6 APRS GPS Navigation system (soon)
    • UHF low power tracking Yes
    • Satellite Tracking Yes
    • Internet tracking Yes
  • Internet Access
    • High gain external antenna Yes
    • Wireless and wired access point / modem Yes
    • Must perform extremely well in marginal areas. Yes
    • VoIP phone service for marginal data areas where phones don’t work. Yes
  • Radio systems
    • Kenwood D710A dual band UHF/VHF with APRS Yes
    • Icom 7000 HF, VHF and UHF 100w AM / SSB / FM Yes
    • Icom CB and commercial FM Yes
    • Commercial UHF Digital DMR (soon)
  • 4WD drive – our Pajero vehicle including Air Conditioning Yes
  • Tow Bar Yes
  • Bull bar (soon)
  • Second Battery/solar charging Yes
  • Driver comfort and safety systems
    • Head Up Display Yes
    • High Resolution accident cameras front an Yesd rear with GPS and time stamping – separate recordings in Hi Res. Yes
    • Reversing camera Yes
    • Cruise Control, Anti lock brakes, air bags – Yes
    • Normal GPS Navigator Yes
    • AvMap Geosat 6 APRS GPS navigator with target tracking – visible for driver and navigator (soon)
    • Entertainment
      • Prerecorded on SD/USB/CD Yes
      • Bluetooth play – multiple sources Yes
      • Good AM and FM radio Yes
      • Multiple video capability when not driving Yes
    • Inside and outside temperature displays Yes
    • Current and voltage readouts main battery – current shunt for high power Yes
    • LED internal lighting Yes
    • LED side lights Yes
    • LED rear lighting (soon)
    • LED local lighting for High Beam Yes
    • High intensity LED spot lights Yes
    • Tire pressure and temperature sensors and alarms (wireless). Yes
    • 2nd battery – current and voltage readouts for solar charging Yes
  • Safety features
    • Tracking Yes
    • Good off-road tyres that are pretty quiet on the highway Yes
    • Accident cameras Yes
    • HF, VHF and UHF radios Yes
    • Multiple car batteries Yes
    • Solar charging from roof top solar panel Yes
    • Amber roof top safety beacon Yes
    • Under hood/bonnet loud-speaker (soon)
    • APRS GPS navigator with target tracking – visible for driver and navigator (soon)
  • General
    • 240V AC mains inverter Yes
    • 12 volt powered solid state Computer – for tracking, entertainment and other activities Yes
    • Phone holder and charger – with WiFi to the wireless access point Yes
    • 2 x 7″ android tablets mounted on the sun visors Yes
    • Rear mount for 10″ tablet for tracking, etc from the rear seat. Yes

Fitting all that Equipment in the Vehicle

Above all, we need an efficient layout of all essential equipment. We don’t want wires everywhere and we don’t want confusion with stuff all over the place. Logical and simple design that looks like it was meant to be there. Connectivity you can rely on.

Since this is all amateur at this stage and not commercial, we can use the Amateur Radio Packet Sydney called APRS. Wiki says: Automatic Packet Reporting System (APRS) is an amateur radio-based system for real time tactical digital communications of information of immediate value in the local area. In addition, all such data are ingested into the APRS Internet System (APRS-IS) and distributed globally for ubiquitous and immediate access.

We are working on a private VHF tracking system for our country and rural work. We will secure VHF channels from the Australian Communications and Media Authority and have our own relay system. That is another story for another day.

NovAtel OEM615 NovAtel GPS tracking for missile grade uses.

NovAtel OEM615 GPS tracker

Below is the video of our progress to date on our tracking car and it is a formidable mix of technologies, but you will see the simple aspects of the APRS system in use – compass bearing and distance. We will have other tracking systems including a real time telemetry the flight using a missile grade GPS unit. That is the one pictured on the right. It has been kindly donated by NovAtel and its Melbourne, Australia based agent. More on that very soon. We will have integration with the Internet and hope to also have NovAtel integration with maps.

As for the APRS tracking, it will provide 20 second updated information for the balloon flight and a general idea of the first trans-sonic flight.

On the Internet, we will have a screen showing the speed during its flight overlaid on the video of the front facing camera. If full NovAtel integration is achieved, then maximum speed if we get over mach 1.5 will be displayed. Without this integration, we will only be able to display the speed from a regular high altitude GPS unit. The video display will then stop showing speed at Mach 1.5 and above. The balloon will also have live video and APRS tracking. So back to the tracking vehicle:

Let’s keep this update short and sweet. If you watch the progress video above, it will take 17 minutes! I hope you enjoy the hard work that we are currently doing.

Below is our console showing 2 of our radio systems and the radio video display that we will be using to access our solid State PC Great progress on keeping it well laid out.

Pajero 2016-01 - interior console


Below is our wireless keyboard and track-pad for our PC

Pajero 2016-01B PC Keyboard.

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