RC Projects


RPV flight box

I have very recently begun dabbling in RPV flight, or "Remote Pilot View".  The idea is that the RC pilot controls the plane by viewing a video image being transmitted from the plane's perspective.  It is the ultimate Virtual Reality ride!  This page will chronicle my experiences.
UPDATED 07/01/2002: New receiver mount
Before we begin
While the idea of RPV flight is very exciting, it entails some risks.   Adding the equipment necessary for RPV raises the level of complexity of your airborne equipment, and consequently adds to the number of things that can go wrong.  Anyone considering this should fully understand the risks.
The equipment
For my initial foray into RPV I chose the Hobby Lobby Wingo.  I've been flying the Wingo with a wireless video setup on it for quite some time, and I am very comfortable with how the plane handles the addition of the video equipment.  Also, the Wingo is a very gentle and predictable flyer which gives me one less thing to worry about as I learn the additional skills necessary for RPV flight.  You can see from the picture that my Wingo has been through the wringer, but a lithe more epoxy and she keeps on flying!
I use a ready-to-fly system from my own company Black Widow A/V.  I simply tape the tx on the outside of the nose.  This allows me to get the antenna low on the plane.  When I land, the antenna is pushed back and up out of the way.  The camera is angled down slightly so I can see a bit of the horizon when I'm climbing, and a nice mix of ground/sky when flying level.   One thing I caught myself doing while flying 'under the hood' was trying to look down while flying over an interesting landmark.  This prompted me to start thinking about a servo for the camera so I can pan downward. (future project)
This is the ground portion of the system.   The box is a 19" Benchtop brand toolbox from K-mart and cost me $9.99.  It is the perfect size to hold all my RPV field equipment.
Here you can see the system fully deployed.  The receiver is mounted on a boom made of 3/4 inch pvc pipe and various fittings.  Two 3/4 inch pipe clamps hold the base of the boom to the inside of the box using suitably sized nuts and bolts.   No glue is used in the boom so that the whole setup can be folded down for storage.  The whole thing collapses to fit inside the box.
This is another view of the deployed system showing how the boom is articulated.  This allows me to orient the antenna for best reception.  The receiver is mounted to the boom via the conveniently located mounting tabs on the side of the receiver.
This shows the receiver boom stowed for travel.  A future enhancement to the box includes some sort of tie-downs  for all the different pieces of equipment.  Right now they just sort of rattle round in the box (but I'm careful not to let them rattle too much)
These are my barely-recognizable Sony PLM-50 video glasses.  In their standard configuration they were virtually useless in full sunlight.  I removed the headmount, drilled holes at the corners to add a makeshift strap, and then crafted a gasket that would give an almost light tight seal around my face.  It's not much to look at, but it works well.  The black foam of the gasket was acquired from the junk bin at work.
Here's a fun little video I put together from the Wingo... I used a new camera with a 115 degree lense and mounted it on a pole looking back at the plane.  Certainly not something I'd try to use for RPV, but a fun video none the less.

Wide angle Watching the Wingo