Possible Backup Communication System


Edit: Forgot to put in links:

So we're going into the Outback UAV challenge and I've been brainstorming ideas about a backup communication system as it's not really desirable to lose primary communication at all. So I know the Aerosonde guys use satellite data packets for their backup telemetry (namely iridium), but having looked at their prices and latency I don't think it's a good option. Enter the GE864. I'm currently working with it at my day job and it's a fantastic little unit with so much functionality it's almost silly. It has an in-built python interpreter with 1MB of program memory which is pretty good. It also has a slew of GPIO and emulated bus protocols such as SPI, I2C, etc that can be multiplexed onto the pins.

If they wanted to, I'm sure someone could make an Autopilot out of it, but I am more interested in it as a backup communication method. With a suitable antenna, at the altitudes and speeds which we fly at, we should be able to get GPRS reception in most areas. Would it be viable as a platform for sending intermittent telemetry to a internet-connected ground station?

If so, one could write a python application that accepted a serial input (such as the one you would normally send to a radio) and send it to a specific IP address.
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  • Might be an interesting "oil pan" or basement board for the ArduPilot Mega as a failsafe backup for location determination...plus internet access - and that may not always be available at the field or on location.
  • I've been looking at the same thing although the GM862.

    It is under $100 includes the board, arial and GPS

  • Admin
    Thanks Nima, my rough guess was this but didn't know for sure how to proceed. So pls let us know what & how if you take this route. Thanks.
    @Ravi, "but the use level doesn't justify the cost [yet]. " Until we loose one complete setup that flew into the dusk never to be seen again :0) . A complete redundant comms link is must IMHO
  • I dont think it would even be too good for a backup COM, unless it has decent altitude. It would be FANTASTIC to transmit (text message?) its GPS coords so you can find it, as you said. I was looking into getting that, but the use level doesn't justify the cost [yet].
  • Ravi, that's exactly what I'm proposing. A backup system for autonomous missions. If your plane flies out of COM range, you'll atleast know where it is, what it's doing and whether to take action or not.

    Morli, Connecting two modems to the same port is not difficult, You would need a MUX and the autopilot/failsafe could switch over in case of a brownout. The module itself could still ping the ground station intermittently to keep the link alive and to let the operator know if the backup link could fail as well.
  • From what I know, using a cellular network presents high latency, only making it suitable for a back up, or for autonomous missions.
  • I have a prepaid T-mobile sim card that should work good in this !
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