This drone 'stuff' seems to have taken over my brain, with FPV thanks to John Arne Birkeland's "Crawler 1" videos. I like how John's thinking process worked, testing the vehicle's drone capabilities via FPV driving made sense to me, and also FPV just looked cool!
So I've resigned myself decided that I'll be buying an autopilot eventually, but there are things with my vehicle I'd like to do first, and make sure they're compatible down the road. (that makes it sound like it's a bad thing, but it's only bad for my wallet!)
My current 'ride' is an 1/10th RC Truck, the Axial Wraith specifically. I've been playing with it since Feb/March 2012, worked out some of the problems with it, shaken out some of the more-easily-broken parts, and got it to a place where I can compete on the rocks and bash on the trails and have lots of fun in both places (without leaving a trail of parts behind me).
I realise from all the ardurover talk that the Wraith itself probably won't be the Urban Assault Drone of my dreams. Being 1/10th scale it has a problem with stairs and large curbs and other urban-environment things. It is also prone to being top-heavy and rolling over (less so now with my CoG lowering changes), and the environments I drive in can tend towards the muddy/watery, so I'd have to make sure everything's water 'resistant' at the very least. But I think it will be a good vehicle to test the various technological capabilities, so that in the future if I want to upgrade to a 1/8+ size vehicle, I'll have much more experience with a functioning smaller-scale system (as well as some hardware I may just be able to transfer over).
Under the Hood, all basic electronics squeezed to fit!
Rear View, showing the space I've cleared for future electronics. I think the APM2 will just fit into the space between the shock mounts.
I'd like to be able to film FPV (and eventually drive FPV w/ same camera), with a camera mounted into the cabin of the vehicle. I've been looking at GoPro w/ AV out on a pan/tilt gimbal. Spacing will be tight, I may have to kick He-Man out of the driver's seat, but I think it'll fit inside. To do FPV with OSD I'd need the A/V cable for the GP and to add the various OSD/Tx stuff for that, and that's where the options are starting to get confusing.
I'd also like to be able to 'map' where I've been, even if I don't use any of the RTL/autopilot automatic driving stuff. What made me think of this was the rock-crawling competitions, I could map my own line and use the waypoint setting ability to mark where each gate is on the course.
I know the APM2 can do the auto-mapping (I've seen posts to that effect buried in here somewhere), but it's the various FPV/OSD combinations I'm wondering about. It would seem the 'easiest' way to get what I want, with a minimum of overlapping abilities, is APM2+minimosd, but I wouldn't mind some real-world confirmation and usage pointers for stuff like that. There are OSDs made for FPV that also function as a mini-autopilot, with their own GPS and RTL capabilities, but I'm not sure if there's a single all-in-one unit to rule them all or not.
So please, if you don't mind, I'd love to read opinion on this, how your experiences have worked out for you, pointers to other web-resources I may not have read already over the last few months. I'm sure I'm not the only noob with these questions. ;)
In the end, I'll probably attempt a total-awareness vehicle, driving around tracking everything, mapping wifi, maybe even terrain mapping, but I'm trying to limit myself and start small, instead of jumping into the deep end with both feet and ending up over-my-head and drowning-in-bits!
Also I've been lurking here long enough I thought I should at least introduce myself and my ride: ;)