How to DIY a ground 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


I didn't really traced every buy that I made for the station but roughly everything sums for less then 400$ in total


- ebay is not the cheapest by any mean


* 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 complete yet still need to do some more things so I will update the post as It go

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  • Ahh sorry forgot to ask, i know this is a really old post but do you:

    1. Do you still have this Ground Control Station ?


    2. Have you made upgrades to it over time and resulted in a completely different build ?

    thanks loads in advance for info on my 2 pesky questions, really grateful for the insight :)

  • Good day to you elad orbach !

    i just wanted to say, thanks so very very much for sharing your design !!! even though it was made in 2013 - its still inspiring a lot of folks - WELL DONE MAN !!!!

    Signed up to DIY Drones just to say that lol !

    LOVE this place/website, lol !!!!!

    elad orbach's Page
    elad orbach's Page on DIY Drones
  • @Luca Spano


    well if you look at the data-sheet of your mini itx board you could figure out the polarity

    you can use dc -> dc voltage converter to power it safety (just verify the current consumption - also in the data-sheet)

    in terms of ups its a nice feature but its not a must (i used picoUPS but might be some new H/W nowadays)

    and last in terms of power density sla (solid lead-acid) isnt the best

    you can go the safe way with li-ion batteries (probably same as in your laptop) 

    or use li-po batteries which have higher power density (but need more caring) 

    3702411796?profile=originalthere is no shame in reading the data-sheet and triple checking with a multi-meter the voltages and polarity

  • Hi Elad, can you send me a picture of the battery connections and the precise components you used to power the card? I'm using a mitx card but I have doubts about the power supply from battery and the connection to the charger, I wanted to use the electronics of a UPS but I'm afraid that the battery lasts a little. Tips?

  • Moderator


    @ozzie - note of warning

    Please stop now. Use a PM. 

  • Just waiting for APM Planner v3 so that it has all the features in Mission Planner and I can use it on Raspberry Pi.

  • Hey Elad!

    I think your GCS is fantastic!!! I want to build my own but I can't understand some parts of the station.Do you have a schematic diagram for this ground station? If it is possible, could you share for us :)

    Thanks a lot

  • This is SLICK!!!! I hate lugging around the laptop and all the other associated junk I need to keep it running. I have a Samsung tablet that works beautifully with DroidPlanner, but this is the ticket for sure. I just purchased the 3DR FPV monitor with the 7" screen. Would that fit where you have the 5" LCD?

  • I'm sure ill ask more :) Thank you very much!!

  • @Off Grid Technical Consulting

    hope i answered all your questions and please share your build once you complete it

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