Today we’ll be looking at one of the newest FAA approved RID modules, the AeroPing by the UK based company DRONEDEFENCE.
As we’ve mentioned in other articles, the activation date for Remote ID is coming up on September 16th, 2023.
On that date, all Unmanned Aerial System Pilots that are operating a non-remote ID-equipped drone will need to take the step of either flying with an RID module attached to the aircraft or fly within the boundaries of a FRIA location.
This will apply to hobbyist and Part 107 pilots alike. As a Hobbyist you will be able to use a single module for all of your aircraft.
Sorry to say, as a Part 107 operator, you will be required to have a separate module for each of your registered aircraft.
FAA response to RID-specific issue
As this has been a matter of some confusion, here’s how the FAA responded when I inquired about this very issue.
“The answer is dependent upon the operating rule you are flying under.
Recreational flyers essentially register themselves as a hobbyist. They receive a single registration number, which applies to all of the drones they own. If they opt to comply with the remote ID rule by using a single broadcast module for their inventory, then they register the broadcast module remote ID serial number, then list as inventory all of the drones they will fly with that module.“
Part 107 requires each drone to be registered individually by make/model/serial number. Each drone must carry its own unique registration number. Additionally, 14 CFR Part 48.110(7) states, “The serial number of a remote identification broadcast module provided in this application must not be listed on more than one Certificate of Aircraft Registration at the same time.”
The practical result is under Part 107, each aircraft must have its own broadcast module. The registrant will individually register each aircraft using its remote ID broadcast module’s serial number.“
It does look like such manufacturers as DJI. Will be including more of their legacy aircraft than previously thought.
It’s going to take some time, however with such firmware updates to come out, with most being pushed back to December for such aircraft as the Phantom 4 Pro V2 and the Mavic 2 systems.
It’s great news, really it is.
Before the latest announcement, these systems were not going to be included in the RID compliance territory and would have required the use of an RID module.
There’s also the fact that as the industry’s leader, once DJI decides to move in a certain direction, others follow.
It’s difficult to say which other legacy systems may become compliant and just which manufacturers with follow suit; one thing is for sure, there will be some.
It leaves many though that will require the use of an RID module.
This includes such systems as those home-built drones or other older legacy aircraft that will not be brought into compliance through a manufacturer firmware update.
We’ve looked at quite a few modules as they have come out. They are all very similar in their function and purpose.
That’s no real surprise as the FAA has described the standards they are all supposed to be using, and just exactly what is needed for one of these modules to receive its Declaration of Compliance.
As of now, the only compliance required for us pilots is the use of a Broadcast Remote ID.
This may change in time to being Network Remote ID. The door has always been slightly ajar on that one.
For now, though it’s Broadcast Remote ID that will be needed for compliance.
AeroPing RID Module
When it comes to affordable options for a Remote ID module, the field is pretty limited.
Then we have DroneDefence’s AeroPing Remote ID module with a price of $150. Now that seems pretty reasonable compared to some modules that we’ve seen to date.
The AeroPing module actually surprised me with all that the little black box offers, at that price point anyway.
It not only has the required Broadcast RID, but it also offers Network RID for those in the industry that will be working with that type of system.
You would think that all Remote ID modules would be the same and equal to one another. That’s just not the case.
As a matter of fact, most are simply broadcast RID, and that’s where it ends.
So, in the long run, they will do what you need as far as compliance is concerned; they don’t offer any possibility of growth.
Meaning that if and when Remote ID moves towards Network Remote ID (that’s not to say it ever will, it is a possibility, though) these simple modules will no longer be a viable option and will require making yet another purchase to get into compliance.
Let’s pause right there as we have raised a good question. What is Network RID?
Network Remote ID
I will reiterate that at this time, Network Remote ID is not the form being implemented on September 16th, 2023. Only Broadcast Remote ID is, for some good reasons.
When RID was originally proposed, there was a lot of discussion as to the form Remote ID would take and one of those was Network RID, which is much like it sounds.
It would have been a system that would have worked through a cellular type of service and connectivity and much like your cell phone would have likely required a data plan to operate.
Now this is awful enough, more out-of-pocket cost for you, the pilot. And even worse than that, it would be a recurring cost on a monthly basis.
That’s not all – as it would have been cellular-based, it would have the same issues as you find with any cellular service. It’s not present everywhere, there are still plenty of dead zones out there.
I know, I live in a mountainous region and believe me, there are plenty of places where there is no cellular service whatsoever.
As a cellular-based system, there is also a privacy concern, as anyone with an internet connection would have been able to access any stored log data, even if they are several states away.
We dodged this one, thankfully.
Now there is a way that Network Remote ID could be employed and be beneficial.
This sort of Network RID can be used to send real-time data to multiple persons within a closed network and, as such, would allow for more advanced operations between manned and unmanned aircraft within the same airspace.
Anyone with access to this network would be able to view in real-time what is occurring. This sort of system could be employed in a disaster area to coordinate all parties operating in that airspace.
Another means of employing this type of system would be the use of monitoring or mapping shipping containers within a seaport where multiple aircraft are operating, and the use of overhead cranes and wires could easily be an issue.
This is actually in use right now in many seaports and has increased productivity in those operations. For the more down-to-earth pilot, this is an unneeded and unnecessary feature.
Although well worth the cost to a commercial operator who may be working within a closed network area, it would be burdensome to a Hobbyist or Commercial operator working independently, as neither would need this type of ability.
Broadcast Remote ID
That brings us back to the Broadcast Remote ID which is the form of Remote ID that will be effective on September 16th, 2023.
This is what these modules are all about – the ability to broadcast the required information from the module itself through the use of a Bluetooth system and, as such, to only those within the proximity of the aircraft and the module itself.
Information such as the following:
Drone Remote Identification with Broadcast Module
- Remote ID capability through module attached to drone
- Limited to visual line-of-sight operations
- From takeoff to shutdown, drone broadcasts:
- Drone ID
- Drone location and altitude
- Drone velocity
- Takeoff location and elevation
- Time mark
Due to the way Broadcast RID is set up, this information is available through many apps that are available and can be viewed by anyone using such an app within the area of the module itself.
This is a range of 1 to 2km. This includes apps such as OpenDrone ID, DroneScanner, and others.
Let’s get back to the AeroPing module now that we have a better understanding of the two types of broadcasting it’s capable of, as it is a Broadcast and Network Remote ID Module.
As someone who’s reviewed several of these types of self-contained modules now, I was glad to see that DroneDefense took the time to go with some decent packaging.
The module arrived in a nice box with a cover sleeve to keep it closed.
Removing the sleeve, I was able to open the box and was greeted by a nifty little black case with a zipper, something no other module maker has supplied.
It’s a decent quality case to store and protect the module itself, and as a consumer, I appreciate that.
These modules overall are small and can be easily misplaced.
So having an actual storage case for it is nice. Plus, it makes it seem like one is somewhat getting their money’s worth.
Inside the case, I found the AeroPing module itself.
Also contained within the case was a charging cord and, naturally, some small Velcro tabs for attaching the module to my device.
Also, in the box and under the AeroPing case, I found a Set Up Instruction Guide. It was a simple folded card, and walked me through the setup process.
Following the setup process was amazingly easy, and within just a minute or two, the module was good to go.
The Module has a single toggle switch – one way for set up and the other way for turning it on.
Really easy. By toggling over to the setup side and using my phone to access the Wi-Fi I was able to enter my Operator ID and Description.
Once I clicked submit, the AeroPing was good to go.
As I said, we’ve looked at a few of these modules, and this one was by far the easiest yet to set up.
The AeroPing Module itself
The AeroPing module is kind of big and very close in size to another module we’ve already looked at, the DroneTag Mini. They are very comparable to one another.
I know size matters in certain situations; sometimes bigger is better, but then again, sometimes smaller is better.
The AeroPing module is one of the larger of the modules we’ve seen so far, with it measuring 46mm x 57mm x 20mm.
When directly compared to the DroneTag Mini at 54x35x15 mm, it is just a fraction of a size larger.
Another slight drawback is the module’s weight of 38g. This does make it larger and heavier than other modules we’ve looked at.
For most drones, this wouldn’t be a big issue. For some smaller FPV quads and other smaller drones, this weight and size could have some effect on performance. That’s it for drawbacks, though.
It has an exceptional 8-14 hours of operation, depending on the configuration.
I found this to be quite accurate when testing it; I was easily within that time frame and consistently got similar operation time form the unit, on average around 12 to 13 hours.
So, you can get a whole day’s worth of flights in with it without the need to recharge in the field.
That is actually one of the benefits the module’s size provides, as it does allow for a larger battery and therefore longer operation time.
It has a LiPo 3.7V 500mAh battery. The charging time wasn’t far off from the specs either, with it being around 2 hours from a low or weak charge to being fully charged.
With its use of Bluetooth Low Energy and Wi-Fi in the 2.4GHz band, I found that the range of the module was also fairly accurate to the company’s claims of 1 to 2km.
It did change dependent on the aircraft’s altitude and the environment. Using it was easy, and with the LED indicators, it was easy to understand what the module was doing.
- Glowing red ‘STAT’ – device requires setting up
- Red and green flashing ‘STAT’ and ‘CHG’ – Connection is currently being established
- Solid green ‘STAT’ – Connection is established and AeroPing is ready to fly
- Red ‘CHG’ – Device requires charging
Much like other modules we’ve looked at, the AeroPing does have a tracking app and website designed for it.
The Aerotracker app. Here’s a link to it: AeroTracker | International Air Traffic Tracking
This is where I did run into a bit of difficulty. Not due to the app but due to user error, I suppose.
In order for the AeroPing to be picked up within the AeroTracker app, the serial number does need to be inputted into the system, and it does require certain permissions my basic account doesn’t have.
This was a step I missed and had to go back and correct.
As to other Broadcast RID apps, it does show up once a GPS lock has been achieved.
Apps like OpenDrone ID and Dronescanner had no problems with showing the AeroPing module and the information it was putting out.
However, in the OpenDrone ID app, it did seem to pop up as more than a single module and kept showing as multiple drones, with all the same information, which got somewhat confusing.
These apps are still in the testing phase and will most likely be updated in the future so that this doesn’t continue to happen.
One of the best features I found in the AreoTracker app was that it incorporates not only unmanned systems, it also reflects manned systems within the same airspace.
This is something none of the other apps actually do.
DRONEDEFENCE – the company
Founded in 2016, as a company, DRONEDEFENCE has the distinction of being the first UK-based company to receive an FAA Certificate of Compliance for their AeroPing RID module.
They are a company that is built mainly on counter-drone solutions, and they have an impressive product line that is designed to protect such areas as critical infrastructure, prisons, airports, stadiums, and arenas.
They cover such areas as drone detection with products like the Aerosentry, Aeroeye, and Aerosense.
These systems can be deployed in areas such as those mentioned above and are designed to use RF signal processing to detect, identify and track drones operating within a wide area, with a range of 1 to 5km.
They do also go a step beyond just detection with such systems and products such as the Paladyne E1000MP, and the next-generation Paladyne E2000HH.
Pictured above is the Paladyne E1000MP, a portable drone Jamming System.
Pictured above is the Paladyne E2000MPHH, similar to the more portable E1000MP.
These systems are designed to block the control signal and the GPS and video signals being broadcast from the aircraft to the ground control station the operator would be using.
These two systems, by way of blocking or jamming those signals, are designed to force the aircraft to either drift away from the area protected or cause the aircraft, if so equipped, to initiate a return to home.
On their website: Drone Defence | Drone Security Defence Solutions
They do have an interesting section on drone incidents on their website.
I found this to be a fascinating addition that provided some great information on drones acting nefariously, as their focus is on counter-drone operations.
As a company whose main focus is on tracking drones and monitoring their location and counter-drone operations, it does seem they are uniquely qualified to produce Remote ID hardware.
AeroPing RID Module
The AeroPing module is a great product and does just as it is required to do so and then some.
It offers many features that are only found in pricier options, and it does what it does very well.
Yes, it is a bit large and is not going to be fitted to a tiny whoop, as it would have a direct effect on the operation of such a small drone that a larger system wouldn’t be affected by as much.
Its long operational battery time per charge and the ease with which it can be set up make it a good option for someone who needs one of these remote ID modules.
At a price of $150, it sets itself apart from other modules with similar features, without leaving such a big dent in one’s pocketbook.
As a self-contained module and with the features it offers, the AeroPing Remote ID module is certainly one you may want to consider as it will provide what is needed to be within compliance and is easily one of the more affordable options for your budget when looking at self-contained remote ID modules.
Fly Safe, Fly Always, Always Fly Safe!