Compact Rugged Ground Control Station

It's been a while since I posted write-ups or photos of any of our latest series or batch production models here, but this system has been available since March this year, so I'm not putting this out any further.

As many of our previous all-in-one units, it is built into our favourite Peli 1400 enclosure, so IP67 during transport is already a given. While all controls, seals and the entire manufacturing technology is at least at IP67 levels, we only rate the stations up to IP54. The main reason is because we don't want people to use high pressure water jets to wash these with some sandblasting effects on screen sunlight readability... :-)

This very unit was our prototype back then, so it still carried a couple of experimental and testing features. It has separate power controls for all internal and external modules, (Gb Ethernet, USB, RF box, keyboard, RC TX, etc.), which are replaced with group switching for the different application scenarios in the production version.

The built-in battery is a PCM managed and balanced 10Ah 4S LiFePO4 block, which gives more than eight hours of autonomy under all circumstances, even if all the RF modules and the antenna tracker are powered directly from the station.

Mainly as a support for legacy analogue-digital hybrid systems, which are using 2-3 separate RF bands RC/telemetry/video it also has a dedicated built-in SDR for field spectrum analyser purposes in the 10MHz-6GHz range. The optional SDR have found its final location in the external RF box, while there are still reasons for keeping such a sensitive unit away from the high-power RF modules.

However, as the latest digital transparent IP RF link modules are also based on SDRs, and thus can function as SAs in their particular band, there's no general need for adding a separate SA hw in there. Still, as the RF link is the most crucial element of nearly every UAV system, it's always nice to have a separate tool in the box to see what's going on around you.

The mechanical build follows our usual upside-down case format, which not only makes enough space for the joysticks and the controls, but it also creates a natural sunshade or hood around the 12" high res and high nit screen. The mandatory energy chain between the body and the lid runs into a sealed tunnel and an internal cable cavity, so it doesn't compromise the overall ingress protection level here.

Because the embedded IT hardware can range from Pentium Core M to i5-i7, proper thermal management is critical. Since we cannot just ventilate the enclosure directly while keeping it waterproof, we opted for a sealed robust thermal interface. It is based on an internal and an external heat sink directly connected to each other through the wall of the enclosure under the handle. While we also made provisions in the original design for an optional Peltier element there, the large surface of the direct metal contact was enough to keep things cool inside.

Both as a support for direct joystick control through telemetry and for training simulator purposes we've also included a PPM2USB interface, which can be switched both as an alternative and a simultaneous signal route from the RC TX logic. This gives you all the flexibility you need for different control options including an emergency redundant manual override.

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Comment by Nikola Rabchevsky on December 3, 2017 at 10:49am

That's very cool.  Do you have a parts list with sources that you can share?

Comment by Azjeg on December 3, 2017 at 11:05am

Send me a PM. Most of the structural and mechanical parts are manufactured in house.


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Comment by Vladimir "Lazy" Khudyakov on December 6, 2017 at 11:57am

Nice job! Congrat!

Comment by Azjeg on December 7, 2017 at 3:10am

Thanks Vladimir, as always, just trying to keep carrying the torch... :-)

Comment by Guy Tzoler on December 11, 2017 at 5:55am

How can i build \ buy one? please PM with details

Comment by Kyle M on Wednesday

How much and where can i buy one? Thanks

Comment by Azjeg yesterday

Guy and Kyle: I sent a PM with my e-mail address and company details.

Comment by Kyle M yesterday
Got it, thanks. Great product!

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