my diy ground control station

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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  • Gravity measurements are a reflection of the earth’s gravitational attraction, its centrifugal force, tidal accelerations due to the sun, moon, and planets, and other applied forces. Gravity gradiometer magnetometer measures the spatial derivatives of the gravity vector. The most frequently used and intuitive component is the vertical gravity gradient, GHz, which represents the rate of change of vertical gravity (gz) with height (z). It can be deduced by differencing the value of gravity at two points separated by a small vertical distance, l, and dividing by this distance. The two gravity measurements are provided by accelerometers which are matched and aligned to a high level of accuracy. Units The unit of gravity gradient is the (abbreviated as E), which is equivalent to 10-9 s-2 (or 10-4 gal/m). A person walking past at a distance of 2 meters would provide a gravity gradient signal approximately one E. Mountains can give signals of several hundred Eotvos.

    Request a Quote for Scalar Magnetometer & Gradiometer
    Scalar Magnetometer/Gradiometer The GSM-90 EUROMAG is a Scalar Magnetometer Our GSM-90 offers high absolute accuracy (0.2nT) and low long term … Cont…
  • interesting

  • Admin

    @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:-)

    3692829192?profile=originalHere is a shot of the Pelican 1520 case. This is what you would see when lugging the GCS around.

    3692829474?profile=original 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

  • 3D Robotics

    Congrats for making it to Hackaday!

  • current photos of the station sorry but i'm too lazy to finish it

    please send me specific requests or points that you wish me to include in the upcoming complete how to guide

    again sorry for starting and not finishing ( yet :) )



  • Admin


    Can you tell me the inside depth of the lid of your Pelican case? I have not been able to find information on the inside depth of the lid for the Pelican cases. The website only gives the internal depth from the top of the inside of the lid to the bottom of the compartment.

    I am presently putting together a GCS to be powered off of my car's battery with a SLA battery for backup. I am using an Intel mini-ITX embedded Atom motherboard that runs off of 12 - 25 vdc with a 120Gb SSD. The mini-ITX is running MS W7.

    I have looked at various 15" LCD OEM displays and the Pyle 15" LCD is self contained and is designed for RV installations. It only needs a VGA input and 12vdc and comes in a shallow metal chassis that I think will fit in the lid.


    TCIII ArduRover2 Developer

  • WOW! In my dreams ;)  - might have to ask my techy guy to help me out... Thanks for the post, awesome job!

  • Good Job Elad, but there is some potential issue needs to point out:


                 2.Rainproof, nothing really, just capable for expected mission!

  • Admin

    Very good job. Would love to make one like this soon.Will be in touch when I start.

    One more thing.Instead of hardcase keyboard, you could use rollable  rubber keyboard that can be placed inside.

This reply was deleted.


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