Well, I've never written an autopilot, but one based around an on-board
GPS sounds like a fun project. My hands are a bit full with DXLab right
now, but I will give it some serious thought.
From: Jim Lux [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Monday, June 28, 2004 16:44
To: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
Subject: RE: [TowerTalk] Actual LP Performance vs Tribanders
At 04:15 PM 6/28/2004 -0400, Dave Bernstein wrote:
>A model helicopter with a GPS receiver, a UHF link for the NMEA data,
>and software for navigation and position/signal-strength recording --
>what a cool idea! Are there off-the-shelf model helicopter controllers
>with RS-232 or USB interfaces?
> Dave, AA6YQ
>[mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org] On Behalf Of Michael Tope
>Sent: Monday, June 28, 2004 15:43
>To: Larry Phipps; email@example.com; Jim Lux
>Subject: Re: [TowerTalk] Actual LP Performance vs Tribanders
>One of my colleagues at work fly's model Helicopters. Seems like a
>model helicopter with a small beacon transmitter might be the way to
>make a poor man's HF antenna range. Alternatively, a tethered helium
>balloon with a small beacon might be another way to build a cheap HF
I've been looking into this very approach, except using a powered
paraglider model: much, much easier to fly than a helicopter, and a lot
less metal, and mechanically much simpler. The idea is to fly a GPS, a
PCR1000, and a small computer. You also need three short antennas and a
switch (GaAs MMIC will work just fine, it's low power), because you
know the orientation of the antenna.
I have a 1/3 scale paraglider with a modified weedwhacker motor that can
carry 5-6 pounds of payload. The only real problem with the PPG is that
it's not all that fast (about 11 mi/hr) (which is good for making the
measurements, but a real pain if there's any wind).
Essentially a poor man's RELEDOP (google for it).
I looked into the whole autopilot thing and it's really, really
(read several kilobucks) for anything that would work in this sort of
application (that is, suitably automated). You're really better off
flying the thing with some telemetry coming back to help you drive it
If you teamed up with someone with a helicopter who's good at flying it,
then maybe all you'd need is a little instrument package that they could
carry. I was looking for something I could fly myself and I am a
R/C helicopter pilot. Blimps are another possibility.
The robotics group at W4EFs work (mine too) have fairly fancy
helicopters that could easily run a pattern, and their payload is PC/104
based and integrating a beacon or a small radio wouldn't be all that
tough. Hmm, maybe we should propose it as a use for their devices.
See: http://www.mscomputer.com for "Self Supporting Towers", "Wireless Weather
Stations", and lot's more. Call Toll Free, 1-800-333-9041 with any questions
and ask for Sherman, W2FLA.
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