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Does anybody know if i can use the RV IR sensors with Ardupilot out of the box?
Do i need to modify anything?
Welcome to DIYDrones. as the name implies this is the best spot that I know of to hangaround and learn about DIY UAVs . You Submarine Project looks pretty impressive , where are the balast tanks or are you using the frame pipes for boyency ?
Now as to your questions, Answers(to best of my knowledge just to get you started) are as follows next to your original text.
is there any difference or advantage of using the http://www.sparkfun.com/commerce/product_info.php?products_id=8772 (with a mini-usb cable) VS. a simple FTDI to usb cable (from the diydrone store)?
(y/n)? No Idea , will let others answer it
are they "advanced" replacements for the xyz sensors? Simple answer is No in context with Ardu Pilot or any AP that is using FMA / IR sensors.
i'm was considering going with the standard "Easy Star", but am too content in making an UAV that looks like a Predator UAV.
I'm basically just asking if its a huge deal to use something "unsupported". Though Chris , Jordi and others will try to help as much as posible by guiding you, however Being DIY zone the support will not be same as any commercial product where help desk person would work with you or fix the for you problem. You are welcome to try out new platforms like many others and will have to experiment, share it with forum all if possible( that iswhat everyone is doing here for and having fun too)
I'd probably go with the first link, just because of my "nub" factor, and the "one box" kinda thing. BTW the model predator is not the easiest thing to fly IMHO however you are encouraged to try it if you want but if you ask me then not recommended, AP are best researched/tested in very stable platform( like high wing trainers or simple foamies etc) to keep the fun intact :)), you don't want to crash few models, damage electronics an, loose money and in the end loose interest in hobby... right ?
I think i'll use two http://fmadirect.com/detail.htm?item=1778§ion=20 . If i've read correctly there is no real difference between using those vs. the ones supplied in the diydrone store. No Idea.
If i use 72Mhz RC gear, does it matter whether i use 2.4Ghz or 900Mhz xbees? Other then the range difference. Can someone give me an aprox max range of 2.4, i reckon its sufficient. , No it does not matter as long as you don't use any of the transmitter module( video or telemetery /data modems very close to RC rx so as to defeat its purpose. The safe distance to assume the range of standard 72 Mhz radio is 800 to 1000 mts however this will probably be beyond your viusal range considering the size of small model planes( if you can see it you can't fly it :). With additional power modules , hobbiest are known to have flown as far as 14 miles using FPV. Keeping all them in different bands is important, GPS module are known to get into trouble with some tx modules in 1.2 Ghz and advied to kept clear of it band
in the manual, ( http://docs.google.com/View?id=ddjmqgw3_43gm6gvggf )
its talking about 2,4Ghz transmission and video.
lets say i use my xbees for the ground station (the laptop one), is there enough bandwidth to also supply a video feed from something like a http://www.sparkfun.com/commerce/product_info.php?products_id=8739
perhaps not. Nope unless some one else says other wise
I'd be more inclined to simply record video from a camera. What would be required. just wondering if any of you have a video recording rig, and how its setup. Not sure if something like a "flip mini" is popular, or if there is a better, lighter, cheaper DIY approach. There are many , search for FPV( first person view) products, the output of video receiver is standard analog output in most and there could be recorded in any VCR.
That is indeed a lot of questions, but I'll take a stab:
1) As mentioned, we don't recommend the 3.3v Sparkfun FTDI, which has caused us a lot of trouble.
2) Those are the individual gyros for the now-discontinued first version of ArduIMU
3) Unless you are a very good RC builder and pilot, I would not recommend the Predator. It's got very little interior room, is a pain to set up, and very fiddly to fly. We use our for showing off at trade shows, but that's about it. A very poor choice for a first UAV.
4) Feel free to use the two FMA sensors, but you'll have to set one of the XYs as a Z yourself. Out of curiosity, why not use the DIY Drones ones, which will work out of the box?
5) The 900Mhz Xbees have better range.
6) No Xbee has enough bandwidth for video