Hardware

This picture shows a suggested hardware setup for your system. This is a full setup to make the utmost use of the FPV app capabilities.

Note that the electronics on the plane side (2-6) are optional. If 2-6 are omitted, the CyberData POS router chip (7) is also not necessary.

This setup is only a suggestion. There are many other interesting setups possible, including ones with autopilots. The only requirement for the platform is that it can send the telemetry over UDP multicast to the ground station and transmit H.264 video over UDP multicast as well.

hardware

  1. Long Range R/C control system with RSSI output. The RSSI is usually output as an analog voltage and goes to one of the ADC’s on your IMU/processor board.
  2. Controller board with IMU. Displayed here is the ArduIMU v3, which is sufficient for all the peripherals being connected to it.
  3. GPS chip connected to IMU through serial (uart) link.
  4. EzOSD current/voltage sensor, communicating with i2c.
  5. Analog airspeed sensor, in this case the MPXV7002DP. Note that this is not the most favourable sensor to use, as it also measures vacuum, thereby reducing the resolution in the positive range. Any other airspeed sensor can be made compatible and one recommended is the EagleTree airspeed sensor, which comes factory calibrated.
  6. Sparkfun W5100 breakout board. It’s connected to the processor board over an SPI link.
  7. CyberData POS router chip that I’m using in my setup. I removed the plastic and only attach the bare board.
  8. Ubiquiti M2HP pico station. I’m using a CP skew planar wheel for the antenna.
  9. Arecont Vision Compact MegaVideo IP camera. Other IP camera’s will also work, but they must be able to output 720p H.264 at 30fps using UDP multicast. ( The reason for requiring multicast is that lost sessions require renegotiations, which take some time ).
  10. High quality antenna, in this case a CP 11dB patch.
  11. Ubiquiti M2HP bullet.
  12. Mid 2011 Mac Mini or later with memory and HD upgrades.
  13. 720p goggles, in this case the Sony HMZ-T1 (ST1080HD or the Zeiss Cinemizer OLED’s are probably better choices, as they have more favourable power requirements).
  14. HyperDeck shuttle (V2!) for uncompressed HDMI recording. This is optional and is only interesting if you want to have footage with the OSD overlay. Saving the video with OSD on the MacMini is impossible due to the high CPU requirements for encoding the stream on disk.
  15. Pure sine wave converter for providing power to the Bullet, 720p goggles and the Mac Mini. Verify the power requirements for each to choose the correct power output of the converter. Also verify the cut-off voltage of the DC input, as some may cut off at 10.5V or 11V.

Budget:

  • Not included in this evaluation is the plane, associated hardware like servo’s and radio control equipment.
  • About $250 for the plane’s electronics
  • About $100 for the Ubiquiti M2HP+antenna
  • About $50 for the CyberData pos
  • Between $300-$800 for the IP camera¬† (better optics means better image quality. It is also advisable to select at least a 2MP sensor instead of 1.3MP to increase quality further).
  • Between $80-$120 for the patch antenna.
  • About $80 for the M2 bullet
  • $1000 for the MacMini with memory and SSD upgrades
  • About $150 for the pure sinewave converter
  • About $800 for the 720p goggles
  • About $500 for the HyperDeck shuttle + SSD drive + SSD dock station (to retrieve files)
  • $100-200 for shipping

The cheapest setup is around $2600. The full setup is around $4000. Notice however that the majority of the cost, $2000 is in the ground station and that these components there are reusable in different contexts. My MacMini doubles as the home theater PC and the 720p goggles can also be used for PC gaming, or you could buy an analog to HDMI converter for $50 and keep using the better quality goggles for regular analog FPV flight. If you have a large backyard and have issues with wifi, these are great wifi modules to extend your range significantly.

When the shuttle is used, make sure the desktop of the MacMini is fixed to 720p (not “best fit for the screen”) in the display options. This ensures there’s a valid signal output to the goggles.

The Shuttle needs a non-included SSD to function like the OCZ Vertex-4 (256GB). Recording HD video typically requires 1.5G per minute when Apple ProRes is used. This allows for 170 minutes of recorded video on a 256GB SSD.

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