Custom Firmware Makes A LoRA-Enabled HAB Tracker Watch

High Altitude Balloons (HAB) are a great way to get all kinds of data and shoot great photos and video, but what goes up must come down. Once the equipment has landed, one must track it down. GPS and LoRA, with its long wireless range and ease of use, are invaluable tools in tracking payloads that have returned to Earth. [Dave Akerman] has made handheld receivers to guide him to payloads, but wanted something even smaller; ideally something that could be worn on the wrist.

One day he came across the affordable LilyGo T-Watch which includes GPS and LoRA functionality, and he started getting ideas. The watch has the features, but the stock firmware didn’t measure up. Not to be deterred, [Dave] wrote new firmware to turn the device into a wrist-worn GPS and LoRA chase watch.

Not only is the new firmware functional, but it’s got a wonderful user interface. GitHub repository for the new firmware is here, and you can see the UI in action in the brief video embedded below.

Tracking downed balloons and payloads is an art and science all to itself, and [Dave] is no stranger to the process. Want a handy companion to this wrist-worn tracker? Check out [Dave]’s self-contained LoRA repeater, to help with tracking down any troublesome signals.

4 thoughts on “Custom Firmware Makes A LoRA-Enabled HAB Tracker Watch

  1. Looking in to these guys they are 57 bucks for a Lora/GPS version, suck you cant get the heart rate monitor too. I have a 6 year old girl we go to the middle of nowhere for desert hikes a lot, especially since this pandemic started. I think these watches would be a cool way to keep tabs when kids run off in situations like this, without getting phone carriers involved. You could have one watch ping the other via lora and return the gps coords. I havent worked with lora, anyone have an idea on what kind of range one might expect using the internal antenna?

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