Well first of all I'll start with the reason I chose to build this ground station instead of using a laptop

So after many times of carrying the laptop around assembling and disassembling parts and cables xbees usb cables and such I figured my laptop days as ground station will be numbered

Because of this I decided that I needed a ground station that would save me the need to deal with the assembling and disassembling in the field and will be more durable then my laptop

First I had to plan my shopping and inventory list

I had an old laptop with a broken screen that did not survive its frequent trips around and my poor handling skills And an older laptop screen that i planned on using with the other laptop mother board in order to do it I had to buy a lcd adapter that will let me use the vga port on the motherboard with the lvds laptop screen

That's about what I had to start with

The second thing was to look for a case that will be large enough to contain the mother board the screen another small screen that will fit in the remaining space and some lcd meters for giving a better look mostly and some 3 position switches

After many searches I found an old stock of Pelican at an affordable price and size that is suitable for my budget and needs i measured the space that left after installing the main screen and figure out that a 5 inch screen will just fit

then i needed to think of a way to install everything in a way that would give me easy access to the parts just for any case

after trying multiple materials Plexiglas plywood and others which are not very easy to work with without machinery which i didnt have access to i found just what i needed a pvc foam it is not the perfect material consider his toughness which is lacking but it is very easy to work with and so i chose it and start to cut holes and install the switches and lcds

for the finishing touch of the station i used a vinyl sticker in a 3d carbon woven pattern which gave the panel a nicer look



some technical details:

for powering the station i chose to use a sla battery instead of lipo for some reasons

first it is easier to deal with in terms of charging it and is much safer then lipo

second it is cheaper and heavier so I can save money and use it for balancing the case

i also wanted to be able to hook the station to ac power when its available

so i searched for some ac/dc converter that will meet my power demends and it turned out that i missed it in my calculation by a bit but for the moment it is working and i see no reason to change it but when it brake i'll certenly buy a bigger one capable of outputing more current

I then wanted to charge the battery while using the ac/dc convertor and giving the station more reliability i found a charger which is also a ups that is just what i wished for

also used step up regulator from 12v to 19v for powering the motherboard

and a step down regulator from 12v to 5v for powering the usb hub

both regulators are adjustable with lcd meters for convenience reasons and capable of outputting more current than consumed 


bom for the station is:

laptop mother board and screen - free

pelican 1520 - ebay

LCD Controller Board DIY Kit  - for connecting lvds screen to the motherboard - ebay

VGA 2AV driver board 5inch HSD050IDW1 800×480 screen - ebay

12v to 19v step up convertor with lcd for powering the motherboard - ebay

temperature meter with two sensors (inside and out of the case) - ebay

power meter with 2X lcd voltmeter and amp meter - ebay

12v to 5v step down convertor with lcd for powering usb hub - ebay

picoUPS-120 12v dc micro ups system - ebay

4X  3 position 6 pins switches - bought at a local electricity store - ebay

4X  Delta Fan for Compaq 12vdc  .15A  40mm EFB0412HHA - ebay

3d carbon woven pvc vinyl sticker - deal extreme

ac/dc convertor 100-240v input 12v output 3.2A  or higher :) - ebay

pvc foam sheet - ebay

access point modem asus wl-330ge - ebay

usb hub 7-ports - ebay *

thermal skin for wires - ebay


* if you want to build your own usb hub you can do it using fe1.1s chip or similar very easily

**and so on with the other regulators it is just to my believe cheaper and faster to order it assembled :)

features of the station:

up to 2.5 hours of use on a single 12v 7Ah sla battery

secondary screen switchable between av and vga (via pc hdmi port and vga converter)

wireless connection to antenna tracker (xbee repeater, Bluetooth, 5.8Ghz)

access point modem - for multiple connection to the station (andropilot for ex)

can be easily modified and upgraded


sorry for my poor writing and description capabilities/skills

the uav station is not done yet still need to do some more things I will update the post as It go

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all you need to do is buy some tools read some technical stuff have a vision of what you want to build make a sketch and find out that almost nothing work on first trial as you aspect :) give you a chance to modify and improve it as it builds

I guess you can use this kind of station for what ever you want it's just a control station

regarding the small helis I would go maybe on a small tiny pelican with 7" touch screen (dumping the need in keyboard or mouse) maybe use a small ps joysticks as they are cool and durable

and filling the bottom of the peli with embedded pc / pc on board / pico\nano itx of some sort with lipo batteries

should cost around 300-400usd with tools and miss ordering 

found picture on Google credits to


Hi elad,

I have my GCS working on the bench now. I am using a mini-ITX with an Intel Atom motherboard and a 128GB SSD. I purchased a new 15" WXGA LCD display off of eBay and am using a VGA to LCD converter to connect the PC to the LCD display. Everything works as intended. MP looks nice on the WXGA LCD screen.

I am now in the process of mounting the LCD display in the top of the Pelican 1520 case. I am using rubber isolators to mount the LCD panel to help reduce the effects of mechanical shock to the display. Next I will mount the mini-ITX, which is in its own case with two cooling fans, in the bottom of the Pelican case along with the 12vdc SLA battery, car battery/internal battery switcher, and last but not least a mini keyboard and touch pad. I should have it done in about a week or so.


TCIII ArduRover2 Developer

Thomas J Coyle III

that's sounds awesome

upload some pictures of your work (documenting it will help you also in the future to remember what goes where :) )

have you considered adding a picoUPS just in case you want to use other power source along with charging the battery?


Ya Pics  pls Tom. thanks

I would also like some detailed pictures of this, and if it's not much to ask for, please let us have a detailed list over your items used to build this GCS.

I'm in the process of building something similar, and would appreciate all the inputs/help I can get.

Hi All,

Yes, I will upload some pictures as soon as I have the LCD panel mounted in the lid of the Pelican case. I am in the process of mounting the rubber isolators to the inside of the lid of the case. The rubber isolators have 8-32 threaded shafts that are screwed into HDPE plastic squares that are epoxied to the case surface. The other end of the isolators have threaded holes that I use 8-32 SS screws to attach the panel to the isolators.

The LCD panel mount is made up of a 1/4" thick EPVC panel and a 1/8" thick Masonite panel with the LCD display sandwiched in between the two panels. This way the LCD panel floats between the two panels and is shock mounted from the case lid.

I then have a VGA cable and a power cable for the VGA to LVDS converter going to the bottom half of the case where the mini-ITX PC is located along with the 12vdc SLA battery, keyboard, touch pad, and car/internal battery switcher (Micro UPS).


TCIII ArduRover2 Developer  


Here is a list of the components used to build the GCS:

Pelican 1520 case new: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0000DYVAV/ref=oh_details_o02_s00_...

Mini-ITX Intel Atom motherboard: http://www.mini-box.com/Intel-D2500HN-Mini-ITX-Motherboard

Mini-ITX DC - DC ATX power supply: http://www.mini-box.com/PicoPSU-120-WI-25-12-25V-DC-DC-ATX-power-su...

2GB DDR-3 SO DIMM Ram (2): http://www.mini-box.com/2GB-DDR3-SODIMM

Scandisk 120GB SSD: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B006EKJCWM/ref=oh_details_o05_s00_...

Mini-ITX case: http://www.mini-box.com/M350-universal-mini-itx-enclosure

Mini-ITX case wall mount: http://www.mini-box.com/M350-wall-mounting-bracket

Mini-ITX case fan (2): http://www.mini-box.com/Top-Motor-40x4010mm-Case-Fans

Mini-ITX fan mount: http://www.mini-box.com/M350-HDD-Brackets

12vdc Yuasa SLA battery: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002MA6FYG/ref=oh_details_o01_s00_...

12vdc Micro UPS: http://www.mini-box.com/picoUPS-100-12V-DC-micro-UPS-system-battery...

Two button touch pad: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000SDW7K0/ref=oh_details_o05_s01_...

Mini keyboard; Pulled it out of my junk pile:-)

15" WXGA LCD Display new: http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=141037182494

VGA to LVDS converter new: http://www.ebay.com/itm/160836597984?ssPageName=STRK:MEWNX:IT&_...

PC to VGA display cable: Got it out of my junk box :-)

Expanded PVC panel: http://www.ebay.com/itm/140984603885?ssPageName=STRK:MEWNX:IT&_...

Rubber isolators: http://www.ebay.com/itm/171034479534?ssPageName=STRK:MEWNX:IT&_...

Windows 7 OEM Home Premium SP1 32 Bit: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00942EI4O/ref=oh_details_o05_s01_...

You will need an ATA CDROM drive to install Windows on the SSD if you do not have one already.

I also purchased four Male A to Female A panel mount USB extender cables to make it easier to hook USB cable devices to the mini-ITX: http://www.adafruit.com/products/908

The reason I bought a number of the items from Amazon.com is that I am an Amazon Prime member which means no tax, free two day shipping, and a pretty liberal return policy, especially on the SSD, The Amazon.com Pelican case price is within just a couple of dollars of what they charge on eBay for the same case, but used. The issue, to me, with buying the used case off of eBay is the shipping charges which are usually around $20.


TCIII ArduRover2 Developer

Congrats for making it to Hackaday!

thank you very much

been on a vacation in Catalonia for a while and between my job and school

I don't get much chance to work on the station and the drone but it most defiantly gave me a drive

to finish everything in the near future

again thanks!

and i hope that more and more people will join this great site and this wonderful hobby

@Hi All,

Okay Gentlemen, here are some pictures of my GCS. It is almost done. I still have to paint the top plate that covers the SLA battery and the mini-ITX computer. I am holding off painting the top plate so I can add a couple of small speakers and a 1 watt amp so that I can hear the MP voice:-)

Here is a shot of the Pelican 1520 case. This is what you would see when lugging the GCS around.

 Here is a shot of the open case. On the right side is the small touch pad and on the left is the keyboard. They are attached to the top plate with Velcro so they can be removed easily. The row of A Female USB connectors allows me to attach the keyboard, touch pad, USB WiFi transceiver, and the 3DR 915MHz telemetry radio to the mini-ITX computer in the bottom of the case.

Here is a shot of the top cover minus the keyboard and the touch pad. The slot above the keyboard is where the mini-ITX fan exhausts are located. The vertical row of holes in the upper right are for a battery indicator so I know when to charge the onboard battery if I am not hooked up to the car battery or the garage battery adapter.

Here is a shot with the top plate removed. The SLA battery is in the lower right hand corner and the mini-ITX computer is in the upper left hand corner. The mini-ITX case houses an Intel Atom 1.8GHZ twin processor motherboard, a SanDisk 120GB solid state drive, and a very compact switching power supply that runs off of 12 - 25vdc. 

In the upper right hand corner you can see the power connector for the car power input, an auxiliary 12vdc connector for a FPV radio receiver, and the mini ups (in a black protective case) that switches between the car power input and the onboard SLA battery.

Here is a shot of the 15" WXGA LCD display. On the back side of the LCD display is the VGA to LCD display converter. The tape is holding on a protective plastic screen until I finish the GCS. You can see the LCD display control push buttons in the top center of the frame. The LCD display is sandwiched between a piece of EPVC and the black top frame. The EPVC plate is attached to the case top with four rubber isolators and there are poly crush columns spaced around the bottom of the EPVC plate and the case lid.

This shot shows the GCS in action with the MP being displayed on the LCD screen. You can see the VGA cable and 12vdc power cable over in the lower right hand corner of the frame going into the top plate.


TCIII ArduRover2 Developer

@Thomas J Coyle III

excellent work looks very professional and nit

great build !


how do you intend to recharges the battery? I see the plugs on the right and the box with the picopsu

do you also have an ac-dc adapter? or do you plane on charging it from a secondary battery?

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