Learning the Basics

Hey everyone, Grant here.

Right now, I want to build a UAV system (most likely with the new Skywalker frame) that has a range of >3km, and HD FPV video. I'm training on an EasyStar now, then either going to add FPV to it or make the switch to the Skywalker/GoPro FPV setup. Once that's done and FPV is running smooth, I'm going to work on adding in the UAV components.

As I'm reading and doing some research, I'm realizing I don't know much about radio systems at all, nor about choosing components to go along with an airframe that best fit a desired goal (optimizing battery life, achieving longer flight times, easy handling, etc.). Right now I feel like I "don't know what I don't know". Whenever I look something up, the explanation usually leads to 3 other things I also don't know, and each of those things leads to 3 more, and so on. I'm looking to start at the beginning and build my way up, as opposed to jumping right in the middle and having to trace my way back.

I want to be able to pick out parts and plan an efficient setup using my own knowledge, as opposed to following a plan someone else posted (and not understanding why they chose the parts they did, or, say, how one motor and prop affects the system as opposed to another). I want to understand Tx/Rx enough that I can look at different parts and know whether or not they'll fit my needs (ex. for the HD FPV I was checking into this, except I don't know if I could use a different transmitter/receiver and get the same results only using their board (and saving $$), or how the system even works).

My questions are: What are the technological basics, and what disciplines do they fall under (Aero Engineering, Physics, Electrical Engineering, Computer Programming, etc.)? D'you guys have any advice on resources I can use to learn them (books, websites, videos, you name it)? Right now I'm primarily interested in the technical knowledge that goes into designing my own setup, and the technical knowledge that goes into FPV/signal transmission (although if you have any great resources for any of the UAV side, like specific forum posts or anything else, I'll gladly take those too!).

Also, as a heads up on where I'm at, I just finished up a college level classical mechanics class, as well as Calc 1 (learning the basics of derivatives and integrals). I'll be in E&M, Calc 2, and Matrix theory next semester.

I'd really appreciate any tips you guys have, I'm feeling a bit lost at the moment. Thanks!

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  • Greetings and don't feel alone about your questions. This subject is filled with shifting information that shifts while watching it and trying to understand what you are watching shift!

    There are many disciplines applied to UAV technology that you named above and several you did not. The missing discipline that applies to the Tx/Rx question is specifically Radio Engineering/Communications which is a subset of Electrical Engineering. The regulated portions of the radio spectrum that are used are in the ISM bands. For the novice, material published by the American Radio Relay League can help tremendously in understanding how RF is used to convey intelligent information by that method. Link to their Store.

    It sounds like you are in a classic engineering degree program. All the maths will help you understand how the theory is supposed to work, eventually, but putting that study into reality is different altogether. Don't let your interest in the subject be killed by the coursework you have to take. Find tangible applications for the book work. That's how I was able to get through my courses.

    Good luck and keep asking questions!

    You might find some of the information you are looking for at DroneSpeak. At the very least, you will be able to enjoy the presorted DIY Drones blog posts and other useful links to information and suppliers.


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Aug 25