Hi there, I am planning my time building flights and I always thought about the idea of transmitting the position of the aircraft live via 3G so someone from a computer or an app of an ipad could actually check where you are. I think this gives an extra safety as your position is sent all the time and recorded, and could be done for free using the 3G of a phone.
If you know any app that does this, it would be very useful to know about.
Safe flights :)
Not quite what you have in mind but I use a Delorme SE – means I can also send and receive text messages
My ADL120 weather receiver can be used for tracking and SMS in/out aswell. 3G will only work up to a certain altitude (5000 ft IME)
I should think this requires a website – either one you set up for yourself, or a public one fit for the purpose – to which you communicate your position in lat-len-alt-time, for others to consult? Come to think of it, the easiest would be transmitting ADS-B so that you would show up on FR24 and similar sites?
Check out glympse.com.
eddspeter showed it to me and it worked nicely.
FR24 picks up ADS-B and Mode S. I imagine that with ADS-B is works more reliably because multilateration is not needed, unless you are radiating Enhanced Mode S and doing lat/long in there as well.
But regarding the OP’s question, mobile data (GPRS, 3G, 4G) or even plain old SMS tends to not work above a few thousand feet – except in mountainous areas where the towers are set up to work up there, to get more money from climbers and people trying to rescue them I guess One gets reception sporadically at almost any altitude and if I do a 5hr flight across Europe, FL100-150 say, I reckon I will get email and web, very briefly, maybe 5 times. Especially on 4G. So this is OK for messaging but no good for position reporting. And there is absolutely nothing over the whole of Belgium at FL100+, IME. Well, not on Vodafone or anybody they roam with.
I don’t think Europe has any options which actually work high up, other than something using an Iridium or Thuraya satellite phone. Thuraya is much faster and cheaper but being run from the Middle East (UAE I believe) they have “certain issues in customer service” in addition to not being all that reliable (but much better than years ago). Iridium is pricey and very slow but is US run and is used by all commercial services. For position reports, Iridium is fine because the data is tiny. But probably you want to run your own server and just use UDP. More upmarket you have Inmarsat, made famous by MH370
Yes, Glympse works great, IF you can get a connection. OTOH Glympse is just another smartphone app which (like Whatsapp or Telegram) does nothing until it sees an active internet connection, and that takes some time to establish or re-establish (which happens much faster on 4G than 3G). Like all the other apps, Glympse doesn’t do anything clever to seek out a mobile data connection after it lost it, etc.
In fact, plain old SMS is the most reliable thing at altitude, because it requires no “context” (an active winsock or whatever it is called nowadays, preceeded by DHCP etc). The phone just needs to see a GSM signal for a few seconds. If I was doing this I would use a proper real old phone like a Nokia 6310i, not a fancy smartphone which tries to send messages over 3G etc etc. The 6310i will also get a usable signal long after every smartphone has become totally useless.
But being lower than 10000ft I imagine you would get signals much more often, I will check glympse,
I know some websites that provide this service for glider pilots, like https://skylines.aero/tracking/info which is using the LiveTrack 24 format (http://www.livetrack24.com/docs/wiki/LiveTracking%20API) and is available with the same service and technically this works for powered flight as well.
The Delorme solution offers a dedicated personal web page for flight folowing which makes life very easy for the followers. – the only trace they see is your own. Flight Radar 24 coverage I find very patchy. I seldom get worthwhile mobile coverage above 2000 ft
I believe AirNavPro has such a feature, and you can see the position of other aircraft.