I recently approached my local SAR team to utilize UAV's to aid in their efforts and would love some constructive criticism on my plan. I offered both a hexacopter setup but also offered the possibility of a winged platform to increase search times and distance. Below are some ideal requirements for the winged platform that I plan to build.
1. Endurance. Reliable 30+ minute flight time. I currently have a host of 5000mah 3s packs which I can use. Two pack flights would be a nice option if extended flying times are required.
2. Video Feeds. The ability to carry dual video transmissions 910mhz and 1280mhz perhaps. The primary video feed from the plane would be for the pilot and navigation efforts. I suspect I will be using a APM 2 or APM 1 for this. Currently I have a Minimosd setup for OSD which seems to be doing great. It has been working great thus far on my hexacopter setup.
- The secondary video feed would be controlled by the APM or via a secondary radio setup so that a camera could be pointed at a certain spot, i.e. a person, object, location. This is currently available from what I understand in the arducopter 2.5 build. It would be nice to fly over the objects/person position and get the GPS coordinates from the OSD, or program the APM to point the secondary video camera at a point which is logged when you fly over it. Flicking a switch possibly locking those GPS coordinates as the camera's target.
- I suspect that the pilot video feed would be the typical pod based setup on the nose of the plane. The secondary feed could possibly be done in a belly type arrangement that has been thrown around lately as a design concept. An alternative could be to mount the secondary camera under a wing or on top but I am unsure how this would effect the flight characteristics. Another option is to mount a camera through a semi bubble on the side of the plane like the battery hatch but this would narrow its viewing capabilities.
3. Plane. The possibilities here seem pretty endless. Currently I am thinking a Skywalker, 1680 or 1900mm, although I am hearing that the 1900mm may be better for heavier payloads. Can anyone verify or falsify it? Other options might be an X8 but I don't think this would be the best setup right now given the reports I've heard on it's flight characteristics.
- One debate that I have heard is around the skywalker utilizing landing gear or not. I like the ability of hand tossing as in SAR situations a take-off area is often not possible. The other downfall I see is drag.
4. Pilot Control. Currently I have a Turnigy 9x in the mail with the DJT and am waiting for a DF8rII to come into stock at my supplier so I can order it. With this setup I am expecting to get about a 1km ideally. That would be an ideal situation. If needed I would go with an EzUHF system. (I have my amateur license). I am thinking of utilizing a set of xbee`s to provide telemetry Data and also utilize waypoint navigation if possible. The secondary camera control could be done with a dx6i I have, or stabilized as I mentioned above via the APM. The pointing of the camera would need to be done in the Mission planner.
5. Ground Control Station. I am intending to build a custom ground station to house a video monitor for the both video feeds. I have a set of Fatshark Predators that I can use for FPV for pilot control OR have the head-tracking in the Fatshark`s control the secondary camera to look for objects on the ground.
- This ground control station would require a decent power source and would have the option to run off of a car battery, DC all outlet or more 5000mah packs. Is there any hardware that can switch power sources without being noticed, i.e. from a LIPO pack to a lead acid car battery
-Ideally I would be able to utilize an antenna tracker system but am awaiting the possibility of a new ardustation. Ardutracker 2 is out there but I have not seen it widely embraced yet.
- Given the above comments on the mission planner, I would need to incorporate a laptop into the mix, creating significant power requirements to run the ground station. I have a Dell laptop that runs MP flawlessly at the moment.
- I have a Manfrotto 190x ProB tripod that I can use to mount the main ground station on. A secondary a.)tripod or b.) heavy duty stand could house an antenna tracker setup which could be raised to 8-10ft from the ground to provide increased coverage. Is this worth the effort at all. I live in a very hilly environment.
- A power distribution setup would be needed to run at a minimum, two small 12v LCD screens, two 12v receivers, and perhaps an antenna tracker.
- Voltage Monitors for all battery sources. Programmable alarms if possible.
- To provide easy issue diagnosis, I believe that a video distribution panel could be used to diagnose technical issues quickly.
- Efficient use of switches to ensure power before launch.
- Standardized pre-flight checklists to ensure all systems are playing nicely and are ready to go.
So that is where my mind is at right now. I`m likely going to post this in multiple different places to diversify opinions.
Thanks in Advance,
Mr. Frazer, may I inquire as to your setup for this build? Primarily looking a 2nd camera with its own GPS coordinates of where it is actually looking, not where it is at. Any ideas would be awsome.
Just noticed this post now.
Since I am currently building a similar drone to this, I'll give you some information I've gathered.
If all you need for the drone is video transmission, you can go with any FPV setup but I think the problem is with the GPS lock for the camera orientation, one of many reasons is the GPS delay. However, you can have another person controlling the camera. There is recently a RETRACTABLE camera solution with pan and tilt to be placed on the belly posted for an X8 solution:
However, I suggest using only a single video transmitter since weight and interference is one of the major factor for a scale model. You can use a Video Switcher. You can just use the FPV camera to look for the target then after you arrive at the target location, you can have your drone loiter around then you can switch to the other camera. X8 flying wing is also a good solution for an airframe because of its glide ratio and payload of up to 2kg, especially you will have 2 cameras. But camera-wise, a copter is still the best for this situations, the only limiting factor is flight duration.
By the way, you can check the Canberra UAV for ideas. Their drone is an entry for a search and rescue UAV contest.
So if you want to still use a fixed wing drone, here is the whole UAV setup I can suggest to you.
Airframe: X8 Flying Wing
1 FPV camera with pan-tilt
Optional: 1 Surveillance camera with retractable pan-tilt
3DR 900MHz Telemetry Radio or RFD900 - these can be used for telemetry as well as the controls of the pan-tilt camera
1.2GHz Video Transmission (Known for long range transmission with the right antenna setup)
2.4GHz Manual RC Control (Just a backup control, also known for 10km+ transmission)
If you really want another video transmitter so that there will be 2 video feeds buy an extra 5.8GHz Video transmitter but it is not proven for longer video range, for longer range use the 3DR 433MHz telemetry radio then a 900MHz extra video transmitter.
However, I suggest a thorough research (which I assumed you already did because this topic is posted months ago). If you also finished up your research, I am interested to know some ideas or solutions you came up with.
Just noticed based on your discussion and this post that you are more experienced and more knowledgeable than me. XD
Forgot to notice the moderator label. haha. XD
However, I can still suggest to you the retractable camera pan-tilt which is posted in the X8 thread in RCGROUP, X8 only flutters at higher speeds, but with proper adjustments to the wing and the winglets, it can be greatly reduced.
Any new updates on this build?