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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  • My Company Is prototyping and designing a ground station that we will be offering for sale this is what we have so far its an amd quad core it has video capture for the osd in mission planner solid state hard drive it has 2 1.3ghz receivers and a diversity controller an additional 7" lcd 900mhz telemetry radio  it has 10 amp hrs of battery witch is running it on battery with  everything running for around 3 hrs just looking to get a feel if there is anything else a commercially available ground station should include oh yea the price point is going to be right around 1000$ your thoughts comments appreciated 3689611581?profile=original3689611535?profile=original

  • 非常好,学习了。谢谢。。。。。

  • GOOD JOB! I am a chinese.thanks for you share!

  • it looks great, do you still use the rc transmitter or do you program the flight into the flight controller and let it do all the work?

    I am still in the process of building the quad so have a long time before i get to your stage i have all the equipment but as yet i have not put it together.

  • Hi William, 

    The million dollar question is, why do you require 6VAC? If you are trying to use a device designed to work with a wall wart (transformer) that supplies 6VAC then the device almost certainly has an internal AC-to-DC power supply as almost all electronic devices are driven by DC. It is then likely that the AC is simply rectified to DC. What happens after that depends on whether its internal power supply is linear or switching. If this scenario is what you are trying to accomplish you can feed DC into the "6VAC" jack without too much trouble, but you need more than 6 volts since almost all AC-DC supplies use peak rectification of the AC, which is (for half wave rectifiers) about 1.4 times the AC voltage. An 11.1V (3S) Lipo would probably work fine as it is very close to that half wave peak rectified voltage of a 6 VAC source. If you connect it with the correct polarity the internal diode(s) will just feed the DC to the internal regulator. If you connect it with incorrect polarity it won't do anything; no damage should occur. This assumes the much more common half wave rectification on the internal supply. If it is full wave rectified this won't work.

    On the other hand, if you are trying to power something that really needs AC - like a motor, or a linear supply that is full wave regulated into + and - supplies, or voltage doubled, or some other funky thing, then you need AC. That can be done as well though it's more complicated and heavier. 

    Before you connect anything, it would be helpful if you can post what exactly it is you are trying to power. I can probably help you make it work from a DC source that you already have on the quad.



  • I have not run across a solution to convert DC back to 6 VAC.  AC power is tricky because of the frequency. 

    I am sure there are circuits to do this.  Concerns are weight. 

    • Hi Michael, there are two main ways of converting dc to ac.

      The first is a rotary converter which is a dc motor directly connected to a small alternator i remember seeing several in armored vehicles  in my past life.

      And second is an inverter, an inverter for low wattage  is probably the lightest, most brushless esc's are very close to inverters, a brushless motor is is a 3 phase ac motor.

      what is it that you want to power and how much power do you require?

      i bet you could just buy one of the small inverters like this one:-

      and adjust it to give you what you want and it is only at $2.72 so not that bad even if it does not do what you want that is how i go about trying to make something that is different than most people want.


      Poppy Ann.

      • Poppy Ann

        Thanks  I like your Ebay solution as it appears to be light weight. 

        The originator of the question was William Bryant. 

        My question to William is how many watts does he need. 

        Everything is a copter is basically DC driven (Yes the ESC's provide AC current to the brushless motors)

        I guess you could have some sensor that requires AC power.  Ok. 


        • The ebay solution does not supply 6VAC. Rather it is a 12 or 24 VDC to 220VAC supply to drive mains devices from countries that use 220V/50HZ. The 6V listed in the title refers to the USB DC output and that's also wrong, as it should be a tightly regulated 5V, not 6V.

          • I know it does not supply 6 volt ac i said it would contain everything you need to get the 6 volt ac and you would have to play around with it.

            even if you just get a small transformer from the 220 volt ac to 6 volt ac would be easy to find and if you cannot find one they are easy to make, 

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