Being tired of assembling and disassembling parts/cables every time an electronics engineer went outside to fly his plane and he figured that he’d be better off building his own ground control station.
The core of the station is based on an old laptop with a broken screen he had laying around and an older laptop screen he had found. As the latter only accepted LVDS, an adapter that could generate theses signals from the standard laptop’s VGA output was needed. He therefore disassembled his laptop and fit all the parts in a Pelican case he bought, as well as a lead-acid battery, a 12V to 19V stepup converter (to power the laptop), temperature/voltage/current sensors with their displays, 40mm fans, an AC/DC converter to charge the battery and finally a UPS to allow uninterrupted use of the station when switching between power sources.
Because he didn’t have access to any machinery, PVC foam was used to maintain all the parts in place. Autonomy of his station is around 2.5hours on a single 12V 7Ah battery.....
“So … you really like drones?” - we’ve been getting this leading question a lot lately, often from friends and acquaintances who are mildly surprised that as engineers, we have shifted from sporadic articles about automoyibe safety to now stories about unmanned aerial systems or micro computing. Sometimes the questioners are excited about this shifts, because they themselves are tech enthusiasts and want to pick our brain on the topics. But more often than not, the question is posed in a tone that implies two follow-up questions: “Why did you choose to write so about drones?” and “Will you please stop writing so about drones?”
These are both valid questions. Now that we’re in the new year, we’d like to take a moment to address them. In many ways, 2015 was the Year of the Drone and the death of the Selfie: the year that unmanned aerial systems normalized to the point where you can now buy them at Makro, For example bought by people from all walks of life: kids, photographers, gadget enthusiasts, your neighbour. But for everyone who loves drones, we’d bet that there are at least 10 more people who find them deeply annoying, even alarming. Many of these naysayers are reacting negatively as much to the surrounding hype as to the drones themselves. The year 2015 has been the Year of the Drone, yes—but the title was not conferred by unanimous consent. The first licence was issued by the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) to Nicole Swart, making her the first person to receive such a licence in SA, the continent and most parts of the world, as many countries are still striving to come up with regulations to administer RPAS.
Before we talk about why people do like drones, it’s important to talk about why they don’t. For one thing, people dislike the recklessness with which many drone users have acted while flying their drones in public. If 2015 was the Year of the Drone, then it has also been a year of drone-related mishaps, largely thanks to untrained, inattentive, or heedless drone pilots. People don’t like being watched—or, more accurately, they don’t like feeling like they’re being watched. From the ground it can be hard to tell whether an overhead drone is or is not equipped with a camera, so most people just assume that the drone in question is an uninvited eye in the sky.
People don’t like being made to feel obsolete, and much of the pro-drone rhetoric centers around the many tasks that drones will soon be able to complete better and more efficiently than their human counterparts. Drones are the future of package delivery! (At least according to Amazon, a company that stands to make a lot of money if and when it convinces the world that drone delivery is both desirable and imminent.)The hype gets old. I understand. People don’t like being repeatedly told that something will change their lives when it’s clear that that change is by no means imminent. And we are guilty of hyping some of these things, too. But we do think drones will bring some fundamental changes in the way the world works. That’s why we like to report on the sector. And we think those changes will be more simple than you’d expect.
Stop and imagine the many ways in which an easily accessible, high-definition aerial viewpoint might expand your horizons—might make your life easier, or at least more interesting. Maybe it’s just something simple like getting a new vantage for family photographs, or letting you check and see what’s clogging your gutters without having to climb up on the roof. Maybe it’s something more complex, like giving farmers new ways to keep tabs on the performance and health of their crops, or inaugurating new methods of land surveying or resource management. And as drones continue to normalize and the underlying technology continues to improve, their users will find new and unexpected ways to use them. We’re still at the earliest stages here. In 2016, we hope that the world stops focusing so much on what drones might do in the future and takes a minute to recognize what they’re already doing right now. A camera-equipped drone gives people easy access to a camera angle that was heretofore inaccessible.