FPV Base Station build

May 29, 20111 Comment

I have finally gotten around to posting a basic documentation of my first FPV base station build.

closed-case open-case
It all started with a spare hard shell case that I had laying around which was actually my first quadcopter travel case. After staring at it for at least a week I determined that I would be able to fit all the necessary base station components inside of it and still close the lid. A quick stop at the hardware store secured a couple of panels of cabinet quality 1/4″ birch plywood, some hinges and magnetic cabinet door catches, as well as other assorted hardware.

fascia-back
Here is the fascia panel (back) with the monitor and panel meter openings, and other various mounting holes drilled. I used a forstner bit in a bench top drill press to make the large round holes. Dry fitting consisted of many rounds of assembly and dis-assembly. Once everything seemed to work well in place, I disassembled everything for the last time and sealed the birch wood with clear varnish.

fascia-back-with-monitor
The monitor in the fascia panel is a 7-inch, 16:9 wide-screen color LCD display, displaying 720p. It also has stereo speakers which play the audio from the microphone on-board the quadcopter. The LCD TV is held in place with a very simple aluminum strap pressing against a round rubber pad on the back of the monitor and is powered by its own 5300mAh LiPo battery pack.

panel-meters fascia-back-with-monitor-and-panel-meters
Two panel meters are installed to monitor the operating voltage of the entire base station. The round switch in the center is used to switch the 9-volt battery supply on/off, independently powering both LED panel meter displays. Each panel meter has an individual lead coming from a 5000 mAh LiPo pack.

post-sleeve-1 antenna-posts
I cut short sections of aluminum tube and secured them into the back corners of the bottom of the case. These are the sleeves which securely prop up the 21-inch tall “towers” holding high-gain 8dBi antenna panels. Each antenna “tower” is actually a lightweight telescoping handle from a bathroom shower cleaning tool with the cleaning pad removed. Once installed, the antennas can be easily be turned or “tuned” for the best reception.

base-out base-in
The bottom of the case was designed to contain the video signal diversity box, LiPo battery packs, and power supply hub, as well as the twin high-gain antenna panels when stowed. I built the base partition assembly out of birch and oak which fits into the bottom of the case. Careful planning ensured that all components fit neatly and do not infringe on each other once the station is packed up and closed for transport.

receivers receivers-mounted
The dual high-sensitvity audio/video receivers operate on the 900Mhz frequency ensuring perfect compatibility with my 2.4Ghz Futaba FASST radio control system. Each is mounted on either side of the 7″ LCD TV on the fascia panel.

diversity-front diversity-back
The Oracle video diversity controller automatically switches to the best signal picked up by the two audio/video receivers. It has 2 sets of audio/video “in” ports as well as 2 sets of audio/video “out” ports connecting both the LCD TV monitor in the case fascia panel and the FatShark video goggles.

powerbox-front powerbox-back
All base station power, with the exception of the LCD TV, is routed through a PowerBox hub which simplifies cable mess and provides clean, redundant, distributed power. It has a video buffer ensuring that each of the connected devices receives a clean signal. Each of the DC power jacks contains a heavy-duty LC filter for clean, glitch-free power to each connected A/V device. The PowerBox hub accepts power supplied from 2 separate LiPo battery packs and even has an audible low-voltage alarm.

diversity-and-powerbox-in
Heavy duty Velcro pads hold the PowerBox hub and Oracle diversity controller in place.

hinge-front wires-and-zipties
Simple galvanized hinges allow the fascia panel to partially swing open allowing access to the hidden wiring behind. Wiring is kept tidy with zipties and self-adhesive ziptie mounting pads.

magnet magnet-plate
Magnetic catches installed in the case lid hold the fascia panel in place using metal plates attached to the back of it.

mock-up packed-up fully-packed-up
Here is the base station in an early operational mock-up state, then halfway packed up, and fully closed with the lid latched. The laptop is used to capture the live video feed to a hard drive for post-flight reference and sharing. So far the system has worked well and as an added bonus the case easily fits into airline overhead luggage compartments for convenient “cross country” transport.

 

Filed in: Build Tips

About the Author ()

I'm a professional tinkerer. Supreme wonderer. I NEED to know how things work and often I find out how by destroying stuff. I built, flew and crashed my first r/c plane within 3 minutes when I was 12 years old. I then discovered that r/c nitro hydroplane racing was pretty fun. When boats flipped or quit in the middle of the pond all I had to do was swim! I often have recurring flying dreams and I found that FPV flying is the closest thing to dreaming while I'm awake.

Comments

Crispy Cargo says:

“basic documentation” ???

This is fantastic. Major insane props to you sir. That is fantastic. I’m so excited for you. We’re going to need to bring a hefty generator to charge all of these batteries we’ll be bringing!

When will we see more flights?

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