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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    • Really good one! 

      How heavy is this? 

    • Hi Thomas

      How does the lid stay up without lid stays?


    • Hey Tom,

      I know this thread is over two years old now, but how's that ground station holding up? Also how does the screen perform outside in the bright sunshine? Looking to build mine now, as I realize that I have 90% of the parts laying around, just not sure if I should get a brighter screen.



      • Admin

        Hi Jordan,

        The screen does washout just like a standard laptop does in the sun. However I use the GCS in an area that is shaded from the sun most of the time.


        Tom C AVD

        • Good to know, thanks for the quick reply!

  • Nice Job :) Good to see a good stuff :) keep it Up :) 



    Unmanned Engineeria | Expert unmanned engineeria makers
  •  Hey elad,

    How do you make a diy joystick recognizable via USB?

    I am thinking  make a rc controller like joystick for Android based ground station using controller's joystick like the one below.




    • I would just buy a cheep pc joystick and take it apart and use the electronics from that to give you the usb connection, i doubt you will find anything easier to do it with, i have been thinking of using a flight stick for my control input to my radio transmitter as with a flight stick you get three directions in one stick as the yaw can be controlled by twisting the stick which is easier than trying to balance two joysticks at the same time.

      i have been looking for  a small flight stick that i can fit to my transmitter as well when on the computer playing any type of flying game it is much easier to fly that way than using two joysticks like on a RC transmitter.

      regards Poppy Ann.

  • I really like this concept and you guys have completed great GCS's that are portable, clean and rugged.

    I really like the idea of having a permanent hard mounted telemetry antennae that swivels for closing, that seems to be a weak link with a laptop.

    What is the best screen to use in order to avoid the dreaded glare when out in the field?

  • 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…
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