As many of you know, we adopted a new family member in July 2019…Loki. Seeing we live full time and thus travel, we find ourselves in different locations with different environments etc which of course would also all be new to Loki. So in knowing this, we knew that we would want a way to track him if he was ever to get lost. Enter the search for a GPS Tracker! 

In searching we came across two, one that has been around for some time, and one that, at the time, was very new to the market, the Fi GPS Dog Tracker!  In reading about both and doing research, it was not as simple as just picking one based on reading stuff…nope…we decided we had to get both and do real world testing! After all, if Loki was to get lost, we wanted the best chance we could have at finding him.  That turned out to come down to one main thing…BATTERY LIFE!    

Turns out that the battery life and how to achieve the maximum use of it comes down to more that just battery size.  After all, you could have a large battery and solve the issue that way. But then you would have a very large tracking unit and that would not only not look good, but could hinder your furry family member. So in order to achieve some really stellar battery life, you need to put some thought into the issue and then come up with creative ways to maximize the battery, thus giving you a much better chance at recovery. 

Not getting deep into it, let just say that some real thought went into the development. Not only into the tech that is used, but the “logic” on how it operates. The tech side is actually easy…Use wireless devices first for location tracking that use the least amount of power.  Thus Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.  You see, once you need to kick on the GPS receiver, that draws more power as it needs to be on long enough to get X number of satellite readings to get a good position.  Solution…don’t turn it on unless you really need to. But how?  Simple, use the low power Bluetooth to have the unit connect to your phone and use your phones GPS Location Services and it’s data connection to update position. (The app can be on all your family members phones!)  Yes, your dog is with you so you don’t need the tracker at all at that point. But what if he is with you and something happens and he bolts?  Bet you would be glad then that it was conserving power, for now you are going to really need that power to help locate your family member! 

You see, turning on the GPS receiver is one thing that uses a lot of power, but the biggest use of power comes from the LTE-M 4G connection that will be needed to send the updates on the location.  The Fi, as well as other GPS trackers, use the AT&T 4G network to send out location updates. For some reason AT&T is the only service that offers services to devices like trackers…we have not once seen anything like this that runs off Verizon. And before you say this is only good if you are in an area that has AT&T…TRUE!  However I would rather have the CHANCE that he will at some point get into an area that has service than not have any chance at all of recovery.

But anyway….Seeing it now needs to turn on the most power intensive parts of the device, then the next part is to use that power wisely.  For example…when you activate LOST DOG MODE, the next time the Fi connects to check in, it will see you want full tracking, it will then start to ping the location every one minute or so.  However, it will only do the updates if the dog is actually moving (for why use the power to send out an updated location if the location has not changed?) and two, if the dog is moving away from you.  Now, understand, we want updates for sure.  But if the dog is moving towards you, that is a good thing, so we would require LESS updates and thus save the power as the dog is coming in the right direction.  Make sense?   It’s all about getting the most number of readings from the battery which of course then increases your chance at recovery! 

Now remember, this only works if it can connect to AT&T to send the info.  So if it turns on it’s 4G module and can’t see AT&T, it will then sleep for X amount of time, and the dog must be moving, then it will check again for a signal and we hope the dog had moved into an area where AT&T can be used.  But as you can maybe understand from my short description of operation, a lot of thought went into how and when to turn on the power hungry devices inside the Fi Tracker and that is one of the reasons that it sets the Fi so far apart from its competitors.  

Now there is more to it, but one thing you need to know if you want one of these for your furry family member(s)…You MUST have full time Wi-fi with Internet in your coach or RV.  You see, one of the features of this unit is that it also uses Wi-Fi.  The “Home Base”, which is also it’s charger, connects to your local Wi-Fi and also has Bluetooth. So the Fi Collar connects to the base via Bluetooth when you are not around and thus it knows your pet is home and safe as it is connected to the base.  The base uses Wi-Fi to report in as needed, thus the need for Wi-Fi and an Internet connection.  If not, it would use your phones connection when you are around or it would need to use the 4G connection thus killing the battery faster, thus defeating the best feature…it’s battery life! 

One of the BEST PARTS that comes in very handy for us travelers is that it is very easy and quick to update the current location for the “Home Base”.  When you arrive into a new RV Park and get all setup, just open the APP, press the 3 line menu icon on top left, click on BASES, Click on your base, and click SET LOCATION at the bottom. You can just then update your current position and save.  Done!  Your new home location is set complete with safe zone all set.  (A Safe Zone is an area around your location where your dog is considered to be home or safe. In other words, not lost or outside the zone.) They likely never really thought of the use like this…But it sure is handy when you live on the road!

And hey, it’s not like you need to understand it, after all, that is what you read our blog for.  For you know we only post about things we actually use or would use.  And when it comes to tech, you know David surely played with it and learned all he could about it before making a choice and then letting you all know about it.  In this case, 6 months of playing around.  Here is a 12 min video of us talking about the need for one and also a LIVE FIELD TEST of the Fi in action!

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