Thread: Discussion Reckless Bill's FPV Setup
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Old Jun 06, 2009, 06:23 PM
FPV Bill is offline
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Austin, TX
Joined Sep 2007
423 Posts
New Ground Station

Lately I've been wanting to fly more often and realized that I would probably do so if my setup was lighter and easier to use.

The field I fly at is within walking distance of my house but I still found that I didn't fly nearly as often as I had the opportunity to. In the past I would typically drive to the field rather than walk because my gear was just heavy enough to make it a pain to carry. That compounded with the time it took to setup, teardown, download videos, and recharge batteries usually kept me from flying more often.

So, I decided to rebuild my ground station. The goals for this ground station were:

Design Goals
* Everything should be self contained in a single, easy to carry unit
* Setup should be VERY easy with no wires to connect (except for the battery)
* Everything should run on a single battery that will last between 45 minutes and an hour
* Flight recordings should be easy to manage (easy to start and stop recording)
* Recordings should be easily transferable to computer (no slow camcorder downloads)

The resulting ground station can be seen in the photos below. Here are some of the highlights:

Notes

* The box is a hardware box from Lowes and measures 17" x 15" x 4"
* The 8dbi patch antenna is attached to the top inside half using velcro
* Upon setup the patch antenna is moved from the inside to the outside of the lid and secured with velcro
* A small wooden stick is used to prop the lid at roughly 45 degrees so that the patch sits at an angle
* I constructed a little black box to hide some of the wiring and contains the following components:
- 900MHz video receiver
- 2 channel video splitter
- 5V voltage regulator
The black box has 4 RCA plugs exposed for video (2) and audio (2). It has a JST plug for power and exposes a 3 pin servo connector which outputs 5V (this is used to power the DVR)
* Flight recordings are handled by an IntelligentFlight-like DVR (bought from eBay)
* The whole unit is powered by a 2500mAh 3 cell transmitter lipo battery (Tx batteries are smaller than normal flight batteries and I don't need the high C rating of a full flight battery)
* Video goggles have their own little spot and are secured with velcro
* The video goggles don't actually get their power from the ground station although that is likely to change sometime in the future as my design goal is to have ONE battery to charge
* The transmitter has it's spot and is buffered with some foam
* I have 2 small plastic zip lock bags which contain the following:
- Couple strips of velcro
- Zip ties
- Rubber bands
- 2 small screw drivers (phillips and flat head)
- Bind plug
- Battery voltage tester
- Charging plug for goggles
* Extra flight batteries are secured with velcro

So far I've been very pleased with this ground station and have definitely been flying more often now that I have no concern with walking to the field. As I had hoped, setup and tear down is remarkably simple and easy. One of the things I sacrificed with this ground station was dual antennas and an Oracle diversity switcher but so far I haven't missed it at all. My flying tends to be within .5 miles of home and so the single patch has been more than adequate for that.
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