Cool Pixhawk-compatible long-distance directional radio

Pharos matches a dynamic directional (beam shaping) radio on the air with another on the ground, with the two tracking each other for multi-mile range for video and telemetry. Coming to Kickstarter in 2-3 weeks. 

The Pharos is a newly-developed smart antenna. Unlike conventional omni-directional antennas that waste energy in all directions, the Pharos concentrates the available power where you need it most. Working in conjunction with the Pixhawk autopilot (a version with its own autopilot is being also developed), the antenna activates the side facing your UAV, boosting reception and range. A second Pharos can also be used on the aircraft, quadrocopter or UAV, keeping ground control in aim at all times.  The Pharos is also circular-polarized, granting immunity to polarization losses and multipathing signals, an optimum choice for challenging environments.

Air:

Ground:

Views: 4699

Comment by Jason K. on May 19, 2016 at 10:15am
That’s great! That's what i was looking for. I have a few small sized 2.4GHz antennas that I can use for that.  

 

Comment by Monroe King on May 19, 2016 at 1:15pm

Check this out? http://www.aaronia.com/ look at the 3D Scanning antenna. You can google "RDF radio direction finding switch" just looking at images I found some interesting stuff.

Comment by Monroe King on May 19, 2016 at 1:24pm

This shape looks familiar :)

Comment by Monroe King on May 19, 2016 at 1:35pm

Another variant could use cell towers for navigation.

Comment by Jason K. on May 21, 2016 at 11:34am

I have an Iris and an Iris+ and I think its about time for me to make an upgrade as both of them are worn out.  I’m considering either buying the phantom3 or a solo. Each one has pros and cons but I’m a fun of open source so I am leaning to the solo. My main issue is it’s its barely acceptable, at least for me, flight range (0.5 miles according to the real life tests and according to 3DR) which is not even close to phantom3 and especially the newest phantom4. I like the solo’s video quality and smart shots though but 0.5 miles is a show stopper for my drone usage. I was wondering if a pharos controller with 2.4 ghz antennas like these: https://fpvlr.com/store/product/rhcp-half-sphere-helix-2-4ghz/ can be used to extend the range of the solo by 3 or 4 times. But then again, this same method will increase the range of the phantom by 3 or 4 times, right? Will it be ok if I place the antennas on the 4 sides of the solo as per the attached picture with the pharos controller placed in the middle of the solo frame? I can 3D print some small covers for these antennas so they will look like part of the solo body. Thanks in advance.  

Comment by MAGnet Systems on May 22, 2016 at 4:11am

@ Jason, The Pharos antenna (and its integrated controller) is compatible with the Pixhawk firmware only. To make it compatible with other platforms (i.e. the Phantom you mentioned) we would need to have access to their telemetry code (which we don’t, neither are open source). So, the Pharos antenna can extend the range of any platform it is attached to as long as this platform can output the correct commands for the Pharos integrated antenna controller. Currently, only the Pixhawk does, although we wrote our own code for the Teensy board that makes the Pharos a complete standalone unit not requiring an external FC. But this is a future version we are preparing and not related to your questions.  

Going back to the combination you present of 2.4GHz antennas with the Pharos controller, yes, this shall work fine with the Solo and it will at least double (2-3 times) its range. Using a 2.4GHz Pharos on both the Solo and on its ground controller should get you close to 2.5-3Km of flight range and I’m sure this range is supported by the Solo battery (i.e. flight time) for a round trip at 3Km. We don’t have access to a Solo but if you try this combination let us know how it worked. If on top of that you apply the mod presented here (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6eGhpqDHMm0) in combination with the 2.4GHz Pharos, I trust you shall get 5Km with the Solo but then I’m not sure if the Solo can make it for the round trip. Normally it should if it flies for example at 40km/h (25mph) and still supports 20 mins of flight time. It will take 7.5 mins to get there, 7.5 mins to return plus you’ll get 5 more mins of flight time at that range. 

Comment by Albert Pienaar on May 22, 2016 at 2:18pm
Would you consider making a versions available without the antennas to keep cost down
Then we can add our own.
Thanks
Comment by MAGnet Systems on May 23, 2016 at 1:08am

@ Albert, Yes we will offer the antenna controller as a standalone device and also accompanied by a pre-programmed Arduino-mini (or Teensy) that includes the basic code to control the antenna activation sequence.

The Arduino code will allow you to press a button on your keyboard (1 through 4) to activate each antenna respectively. You can add your own code to allow more advanced functions i.e. controlling the antennas activation sequence depending on location, orientation, etc but we will be releasing this advanced code as well that makes the antenna controller a complete “geo-referenced” antenna just like the complete Pharos does. Expect this to happen slightly after the kickstarter campaign ends.

Also, we will be offering a 3D mapping application that allows you to activate the antennas activation sequence by clicking on the map. Clicking a location on the map will activate the antenna that points towards that direction.

Finally, we will share schematics of how to connect your own GPS and IMU to the antenna controller to make a complete automated antenna controller that does not need orientation to the North (location/orientation aware) but you’ll be also be able to enter these attributes manually (location and orientation) in case you don’t want to use additional sensors. 

Comment by MAGnet Systems on May 23, 2016 at 4:21am

This video shows a special version of the Pharos antenna that includes a spherical video camera at the bottom of the antenna (more on this shortly). You can see the activation sequence of each one of the 4 antenna panels (by the corresponding LED) as the IRIS is yawing 360 degrees.  The HOME point is set behind the cameraman. 

Comment by MAGnet Systems on May 23, 2016 at 4:22am

And this one shows how to manually activate each antenna through an Arduino and a serial monitor by typing the respective antenna numbers 1 through 4. You can use any serial monitor i.e. from an Android smartphone as on this video. 

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