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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  • Greetings, this is my first post, HELLO EVERYONE! Elad if i may ask?  You have this listed in your build, VGA 2AV driver board 5inch HSD050IDW1 800×480 screen, that 2 items correct? 1 the VGA 2AV Driver Board, and 2 the 5inch HSD050IDW1 800x480 screen. example ebay link to driver board.

    Thanks, Off Grid

  • Admin


    I am using a mini-ITX in the GCS that I am presently building and I am using this ATX power supply that can run on 12 - 25 vdc:


    TCIII ArduRover2 Developer

    PicoPSU-120-WI-25 12-25V DC-DC ATX power supply
    picoPSU-120-WI-25 is the smallest plug-in 12-25V ATX dc-dc power supply
  • very nice.

  • Ted how do you plan to power the mini-itx?

    i'm working on something very similar too, but havent found a good way to power up a mini-itx board.

  • Fantastic builds, I decided on using a mini-itx and an old dell laptop screen.  I found this led driver for guys like me that like pluging and go:).

    The keyboard with integrated mouse is a heck of an idea too.

  • Hello everybody,

    @ elad_o:congrats for your work, looks very promising and inspiring as well. Keep up posted please..

    @ Hunter_Parris: What's the say in English? "Great spirits always met?"... To say that mini-ITX is the path I decided to follow a couple of weeks ago after spending some time looking for second hands laptops (as I didn't want to take my private one on the field), it occurs to me that it was an almost  cheaper solution, plus more versatile and open to improvment to my taste...

    I'll open a build up thread later on

    Have a great day

    Kind Regards


  • Use a low speed drill for drilling holes in acrylic :)  High speeds and high temp will cause the acrylic to split.

    It's a bit on the expensive side, but will withstand the rigorous treatment by TSA and the loadmasters at the airport :)

    Connections will be be via wired link to the antenna tracking system via push-pull connectors.  I'm going for professional, military grade equipment.  I'm looking at marketing these to local companies and want to have a beasty design but simple to operate...hence the mini-ITX which will come later that does away with the acrylic platforms for the motherboard and any exposed electronics.  Eventually it will have a custom anodized aluminum panel with all the bells and whistles.  The case is larger to accomodate keyboard/mouse, antennae, cables, and accessory storage.  I will eventually move to a smaller case with a panel-mounted keyboard/trackball with flip-up joystick/throttle assembly, making this a complete system in a box.

    Spare no expense :)

  • looks expensive :)

    at the beginning I tried to work with acrylic but it was to fragile and broke when I drill the holes in it

    I thought about using some kind of shock observer but dumped the idea just because it was simpler to just

    mount it to the case by the way you can make a bigger hole for the mounting screws and use a piece of rubber to

    observe some of the shock of course there are million ways of  dumping the shocks but eventually as there are no moving parts in the case beside the joystick i'm not concern regards to physical shocks

    and I found that working with the pvc foam is extremely easy and all you need is a sharp knife plus it is cheaper then acrylic and weight less

    waiting to see your final design :)

  • I'm actually working on a similar GCS but with acrylic and ABS.  Instead of mounting the electronics to the case itself, due to potential physical shock from the case transferred to the boards, I am using standoffs and acrylic platforms to mount the electronics to the ABS panel which will be isolated to the case with elastomeric spacers. a couple of photos of my progress.  This is just a prototype for marketing.  The final product will have a mini-ITX car computer as the brain and open-frame monitors for viewing.3692646763?profile=original3692646782?profile=original3692646808?profile=original

  • No problem!

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