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Re: [TowerTalk] Inspecting or even de-icing antennas from the ground

Subject: Re: [TowerTalk] Inspecting or even de-icing antennas from the ground
From: Jim Lux <>
Date: Thu, 08 Dec 2011 08:10:04 -0800
List-post: <">>
On 12/8/11 7:58 AM, John W wrote:
> Santa is bringing my nephew a radio controlled helicopter for
> Christmas. It has a camera built in, with 4 GB of memory.
> It just occurred to me that being able to fly a camera up to the top
> of a tower could be a handy way to inspect to see if something is
> broken or amiss without having to climb. It also occurred to me that
> perhaps one could suspend some sort of a loop under the helicopter
> and, if it's highly maneuverable, maybe even use it to gently shake
> an element that has got ice building up on it, as a way of maybe
> knocking some ice off.

Photography yes, manipulation of elements, much, much trickier.

It's hard to tell from a distance, but the position control tolerance of 
most R/C flyers isn't all that wonderful.  Not that it can't be done, 
but it's pretty hard.  Little bits of air turbulence, etc. The things 
move around a lot more than it seems from the ground.

There's also a sort of problem that the helos with good 
autopilot/stabilizers tend to be more expensive than ones that don't.
There are really high performance ones used in things like film shoots 
with gyrostabilized cameras and VERY good autopilots.  They're in the 
many kilobuck range, though. A blade strike on an antenna element with 
any of the R/C helicopters is almost certainly going to be an expensive 

However, technology is ever improving.  My Parrot AR-Drone toy is 
remarkably stable (although hard to use in any amount of breeze 
outdoors).  You could easily use the onboard camera to fly it along an 
element to look at stuff.  It's light weight enough that if you did get 
a blade strike and it plummets out of the sky, it would probably not get 
too damaged (and there is repair insurance available for it, as well), 
and it probably wouldn't break anything else on the way down.

> Wondering if anyone has ever considered using a RC helicopter for
> this purpose, and wanted to throw the idea out there as a suggestion
> in case it hasn't been tried yet. I plan to give it a try. I assume a
> telescope, or at least a good pair of image-stabilized binoculars,
> would need to be used by the pilot, in order to be able to see
> exactly what you're doing from the ground.

A good pilot with a good machine could probably do it 100 ft away 
without too much trouble without binoculars.

What I want is a R/C flyer with enough range and speed to do far field 
patterns of HF antennas...

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