RFD900 Telemetry: http://store.jdrones.com/jD_RD900_Telemetry_Bindle_p/rf900set01.htm

During the USA trip I'll need extra telemetry range for emergency landing situations, aircraft recovery, poor transmitting environments, etc. While the 3DR radio has performed very well, the airplane's cruise speed would allow it to be out of range in less than a minute if it were to fly away from the ground station. To remedy this, JDrones sent me their RFD900 transceiver set which not only operates at 10x the transmitting power, but features the identical software and set up as the 3DR modules, meaning they are plug and play.

The 3DR modules lost more than 60% of their signal at about 2.5km from the ground station, and received sporadic transmissions up to 4.5km away.

The RFD900 modules dramatically outperformed it by transmitting 99%+ signal strength at almost 5km, while banking at 40 degrees. Amazing.

See you next week!


Safety Statement: This flight was very unusual as I didn't maintain line of sight during the whole flight. I DO NOT RECOMMEND DOING THIS. I RARELY do this, and only after the absolute strictest of preparation and research. To prepare for remaining safe, I:

-obtained personal permission from a vast majority of property owners (I couldn't reach all of them)
-maintained a continues watch for full scale aircraft, and;
-maintained direct control of the aircraft for the majority of the flight
-this airplane and system has OVER 1,000 MILES of perfect performance, with 90% of it autonomous with this exact set up. It has been tried and proven many, many times, including over 200km of cross country flights
-the autopilot was programmed to continue to fly after a signal loss, which has been tested and proven to perform many, many times
-the flight was over a very open and low populated area, with 99%+ of the area being open fields or trees
-the altitude read over 120m, but elevation increased during flight as I took off out of a low valley. True AGL for the flight is 100-120m.
-avoided all airports and populated areas.
-I've flown at this location 3-5 times a week for the last year. I know it very, very well.
-I conducted test flights with the new set up that I did not show during the video to confirm stable performance
-and many other things to remain as safe and ethical as possible.

Raptor 140b+ Stats:

Weight: 2280g
Max Flight Time: 70min
Max Range: 97km
Stall Speed: 35kph
Cruise Speed: 90kph
Max Speed: 135kph
Radio Range: 1.5km
Energy Carried: 167wh (15,000mAh at 11.1v)
Drive Power: 850w
Total Flight Time on Craft: 7.0 hours
Total Flight Distance on Craft: 498km

The equipment used---

Raptor 140 airplane: http://store.mygeekshow.com/product-p/raptor-140-kit.htm

Radio Tx: ParkeFlyer Turnigy 9x Tx: http://parkeflyer.com/

Telemtry: 915mhz 100mW 3DR http://store.3drobotics.com/products/3dr-radio-telemetry-kit-915-mhz
Laptop: Compaq Presario CG57
GPS Dongle: http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B000PKX2KA/ref=redir_mdp_mobile?redir...

Flight Controller: APM2.6 https://store.3drobotics.com/products/apm-2-6-kit-1

Reciever: 6ch FlySky http://www.hobbypartz.com/79p-r6b-receiver.html
Telemtry: 915mhz 100mW 3DR http://store.3drobotics.com/products/3dr-radio-telemetry-kit-915-mhz
Battery: (3) 5.0Ah 20C Lipo: http://store.mygeekshow.com/product-p/5ah-3s-battery.htm
ESC: 60A Brushless http://store.mygeekshow.com/product-p/60a-esc.htm
Motor: 3542 1450kv brushless http://store.mygeekshow.com/product-p/1450kv-3542-motor.htm
Prop: 10x7 Carbon Fiber Folding http://www.hobby-lobby.com/10x7_carbon_fiber_cam_blade_798_prd1.htm
Servos: 11g digital http://hobbyking.com/hobbyking/store/uh_viewItem.asp?idProduct=42620
Onboard camera: http://www.ebay.com/itm/16-V2-Lens-D-808-Key-Chain-Video-Camera-/38...

Learn More:
Raptor Details: http://www.mygeekshow.com/theairplanes/Raptor140.html
USA Trip Details: http://www.mygeekshow.com/usatrip/

Follow the Show:

Website: http://www.mygeekshow.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/MyGeekShow
Twitter: http://twitter.com/mygeekshow
Skype: MyGeekShow
UStream: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/mygeekshow

Filmed, Edited, Produced and Published by Trent in Arkansas, USA

Views: 8843

Comment by Hugues on April 10, 2014 at 10:08am

Aah ok that explains the UFO sighting over Brussels ;) you were really not in LOS

Comment by Dean Franks on April 10, 2014 at 10:15am

Looking at the website and documentation, the RFD900 is not FCC certified, just designed to comply.  Arriving at customs with a drone they are likely to take a detailed look at what you have and it is unlikely you will be allowed to import a non-certified transmitter.  The FCC rules do allow you to operate a non-certified ISM transmitter for the purpose of research but this is limited to 10 transmitters and I don't think there is any allowance for import.

9 times out of 10 you will get away with it, but with the current "security" climate and the sensitivity towards drone operation I would be concerned in your shoes.

Comment by Trent at MyGeekShow on April 10, 2014 at 10:19am

Hugues: Ha! Maybe I'll do the USA to Brussels flight after the USA trip : )  You are correct, I was not in LOS for the entire flight. Please read the Safety Statement I included above. I think you'll find I went above and beyond to make this safe and ethical.

Comment by Trent at MyGeekShow on April 10, 2014 at 10:26am

Dean: Thank you for the heads up. Sounds like you know a bit about this, what is the difference between being compliant and certified?

Comment by Dean Franks on April 10, 2014 at 10:53am

Compliant means almost nothing.  It is says that the engineer thinks that it will meet the FCC rules.  Certified = legal in this context, compliant = illegal for import, commercial operation or non-research use.

While the rules are a little unclear here right now, the consensus is that we can currently operate UAV aircraft under the accepted rules for RC operation.  IANAL, but my understanding is that this means under 450' AGL, not in controlled airspace (typically around an airport, but you should look at the aviation sectional to be sure), with explicit permission of all property owners you will overfly (including the city/county/state for roads, right of ways, etc) and always within LOS (no exceptions).  This has nothing to do with safe or ethical, this is the legal requirement.

I would suspect that you will have trouble with customs on entering the country and if you run afoul of local or federal law enforcement or publish videos of UAV operation that is in contravention of the rules above you may find yourself unable to get a visa for the US in the future.

Comment by Trent at MyGeekShow on April 10, 2014 at 10:59am

Dean: I'm sorry, your second paragraph, is it referring to use of compliant transmitters, or RC aircraft in general? 

Comment by Gary Mortimer on April 10, 2014 at 10:59am

Does Trent need a passport to cross the state line?  

Comment by Trent at MyGeekShow on April 10, 2014 at 11:03am

Gary: Nope! "United" Sates of America : )

Comment by Dean Franks on April 10, 2014 at 11:04am

Sorry, I got the impression he was heading here from another country.  On the second paragraph, there are probably better authorities here but that is my understanding of the rules for RC aircraft operation (and the rules our group operates under).

The whole commercial operation thing is a separate issue.  My understanding is the the appeals court ruled that the FAA had only established a recommendation for operation and not a rule.  This probably does not prevent the FAA from hauling you into court anyway, but means they will probably ultimately loose.  The prudent approach would be to keep a very low profile if you are doing anything commercial with a UAV.

Comment by Trent at MyGeekShow on April 10, 2014 at 11:05am

Gary: In fact, on both my Cross Country flights, I flew across the Arkansas and Missouri state line. There is a sign telling you that you are in a different state, and that's it. 


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