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RC Radios, Transmitters, Receivers, Servos, gyros Discussion all about rc radios, transmitters, receivers, servos, etc.

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Old 02-22-2009, 12:05 PM   #1
Magnus.Persson
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Lightbulb Cell phone controlled model aircraft?!

Here's a bold idea: Wouldn't it be interesting to use a pair of 3G cellphone circuit cards as transmitters/receivers for controlling a model aircraft over long distances?

As a complete beginner in this hobby, I have marveled at concepts like First Person View (FPV), On Screen Display (OSD) and Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV). It seems to me that flying model aircraft is getting closer and closer to ”the real thing”, now that the pilot can be seated safely on the ground and yet enjoy the view from the plane through a pair of video goggles.

While these recent developments - in combination with high energy Li-Po battery packs - extend the range for model aircraft well out of eyesight, the range of radio control systems become a limiting factor. Even if it's possible to increase the range from 1 Km to 50 Km by replacing the normal 35 Mhz or 2,4 Ghz system with a long-range 868 Mhz system, few people do it in practice due to the cost.

Now, consider the possibilities that a couple of modern cell phones offer in this context:
  • Comparatively low cost
  • Virtually unlimited range
  • High resolution video camera
  • GPS receiver
  • High speed 3G network for exchanging control, video and GPS data
Well, what do you think? Is the idea feasible, and if so, are there any standard components and softwares that are suitable for this purpose? Are there even examples of this being done somewhere?

I really look forward to this discussion!

Magnus

PS. I have posted a corresponding thread at rcuniverse.com. That one might also be worth checking out! DS.
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Old 02-22-2009, 02:58 PM   #2
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It's possible, but it would be dangerous. think about how often your cell phone drops signal. If you had it as an autopilot system where you were only giving piloting suggestions to the plane then maybe, but at that point you've got a
UAV which is regulated by the government.

I wanna be a pirate. Arrrrr

AMA - 885997
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Old 02-22-2009, 11:19 PM   #3
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There seem to be two major problems to address:
  • Maintaining a continuous and secure data link over a 3G cellphone network. This might not be possible to the extent required for controlling UAV's, due to inherent limitations to the current packet oriented cellphone protocols such as UMTS/HDSPA/HSUPA. In other words: The suggested design could prove to suffer from occasional delays and even dropouts that are too severe to be accepted in a real-time application like this one. So, is there any telecom software designer around who can assess this problem theoretically, or do you think testing the concept in practice is the only way of finding out for sure if this will work as intended? In the latter case, I'm prepared to write a couple of prototype Java programs for exchanging at least servo control data between two cell phones...
  • Complying with regulations issued by aviation authorities. In Sweden, UAV flight is basically unregulated for the time being, but "regulations and general advice concerning unmanned aircraft activity" was referred for consideration until the 16:th of February (one week ago). The suggested regulations are quite rigorous regarding personnel and permissions for UAS (Unmanned Aircraft Systems) of category 3 (equipped for flight and control beyond pilot view). What's the situation in your countries? Will flying model planes out of view by use of FPV systems be out of the question for ordinary hobbyists due to overly complicated regulations?

Magnus
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Old 02-26-2009, 08:35 PM   #4
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I think this would be quite easy to to. You could hook up a trainer cable the mobile phone and send the control commands over the audio channel.

I dont think using the data channel is a good idea as the latency is very variable. The other option would be to have the plane fly itself and you could send waypoint co-ordinates over the data channel - in that case latency is not such an issue.
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Old 03-02-2009, 08:34 AM   #5
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Here's some good news: This CAN be done because it HAS been done. For instance, have a look at this video where a cell phone is used for remote controlling a model car as well as streaming video from the car: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0kzLFEw_wvQ.

Is there any interest in applying this stuff in a flying model, or should I drop this altogether?
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Old 03-04-2009, 06:01 PM   #6
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Yours idea impresses me as an EXTREMELY poor idea, a DANGEROUS idea, and one well outside the intent of legitimate model flying.

With appropriate clearances and approvals (in the USA it would be AMA; FCC; and FAA)for a minimum.
After 9/11 I have to ask for what legitimate purpose??

RC gear is presently quite advanced from that which I used roughly fifty years ago when I began in this hobby. What you propose is neither an improvement nor an advancement for our purposes.

Cell phones are known as much for their failures "Can you hear me now?" as for their successes. Reliability is not one of their long suits.

I would strongly recommend that this thread end right here and now.
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Old 03-08-2009, 04:07 PM   #7
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By now I have done some of my technical homework and found mobile phones to be unsuitable for UAV purposes. A more reliable and programmer friendly setup for the flying unit would be an extremely small single board Linux computer, combined with a servo controller board, a GPS board, a CCD camera and a 3G modem. The corresponding ground unit could do with the same kind of single board computer and 3G modem, but in combination with USB-attached video goggles and flight controls (stick, throttle & pedals). I think that would prove to be cheaper and more flexible than the existing radio solutions for long-range FPV and OSD, because it allows a lot to be done in software instead of hardware.

So far so good, BUT, as most of the feed-back has been negative, I won't pursue this matter any longer, at least not in public.

The terrorist angle was really a surprise to me, but I can see now that e.g. americans have reasons to take it seriously. From a swedish hillbilly perspective however, the bad guys tend to stay abroad, probably because we refrain from pissing them off there

I have been a skydiver since the early 90's, and as such I'm familiar with the struggle to keep the need for regulations at a reasonable level by restraining hotheads from hurting themselves and others. The rc hobby has the same problem, and I respect that.
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Old 03-25-2009, 05:46 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by constantCrash View Post
It's possible, but it would be dangerous. think about how often your cell phone drops signal. If you had it as an autopilot system where you were only giving piloting suggestions to the plane then maybe, but at that point you've got a
UAV which is regulated by the government.
Is a UAV G3 Phone illegal and regulated by the US government? If it is maybe attempt to build something other then a model plane. E.G. Model blimp. It does seem conceivable to use the G3 Network to remotely pilot with on board web cams. Using a civilian GPS and some specialized and unwritten code, if the Cell signal were to drop it would simply rise to about 250 feet and return to previous GPS cordinates, where the signal would return. I do understand that any sort of UAV could crash into power lines, or whatever... I'm not sure if it would apply to a lighter then airmodel craft.

The reason for building one is just to see if it work, and it would be cool too! It's not my fault a bunch of nut jobs attacked the World Trade Centers back in 2001.
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Old 03-25-2009, 02:39 PM   #9
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"Can you hear me now?" Man I can see that being a nightmare....

-Travis "aka" CLSSY56

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Old 03-25-2009, 05:31 PM   #10
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forget the terrorists... They just don't want drug dealers flying disposable planes filled with drugs anywhere and using drop modules with gps co-ordinates to have their guys on the ground pick them up in heavyily forested area's where there' is very little risk of being cought....

My 2cents...

SK

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Old 03-25-2009, 09:52 PM   #11
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lol, I think everyone should just chill out, seriously! He got everyones opinion on this stuff, so really no need to keep railing on it it's just bringing it OT....

I've considered the cell phone briefly as well as a possible money saver... seriously, how much would it normally cost to have GPS, data logging capabilities and all that stuff hooked up with your receiver?

I personally think a cellphone controlled rc aircraft is one of those ideas that sound like a great idea until you get into the details... it sounds like a good idea until you get into details of how reliable the signal is...

*power up*
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*CRASH*
"oh well...."
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Old 03-25-2009, 10:59 PM   #12
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Airplane transmitters cost less than cell phones.
The set r/c frequencies can be jammed if need be.

I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but Iím not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant

-Rob
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Old 03-25-2009, 11:24 PM   #13
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its been done, sort of

they used an iphone to control a uav but its not direct control, instead they use the iphone to transmit coordinates to the drone

http://blog.wired.com/defense/2008/0...iphone-co.html

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Old 03-25-2009, 11:37 PM   #14
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I went to a club once where a guy was setting up for a long range UAV drop contest... He said that there was a contest in Austrailia, where you had to take the plane out 3 miles, and drop a payload on a target... and fly back.... first prize winner was $100,000.00

he was using a gas J3 Cub...

SK

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Old 03-26-2009, 03:46 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by birdDog View Post
Airplane transmitters cost less than cell phones.
The set r/c frequencies can be jammed if need be.
yes the initial transmitter+reciever may be less cost, but how much does it cost to add in all the other gadgets on "standard" equipment? anyone have estimates on GPS?

*power up*
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Old 08-25-2010, 10:22 PM   #16
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Hi
This is an old thread but they have finally have a rc vehicle controlled by a cell phone
http://ardrone.parrot.com/parrot-ar-drone/usa
I must have one
Take care
Hank

"When wild the head-wind beat,Thy sovereign Will commanding, Bring them who dare to fly, To a safe landing."
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Old 08-25-2010, 10:27 PM   #17
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Hi
Do enjoy
Take care
Hank

"When wild the head-wind beat,Thy sovereign Will commanding, Bring them who dare to fly, To a safe landing."
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Old 09-21-2010, 10:26 PM   #18
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<sarchasm> Sure, why not? they already do more than my home computer. Some even let you make phone calls! </sarchasm>
(usually while doing 70MPH down the freeway<not sarchasm>).

"Give a man a plane and he'll fly for a day.
Teach a man to build a plane and he'll fly for a lifetime"
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Old 10-08-2010, 05:22 PM   #19
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ya the AR Drone looks cool im actually trying to develop source code to run the app on android phones capable of a infrastructure wifi mode (i.e. master mode)
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Old 10-09-2010, 12:21 AM   #20
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Have any of you thought about how much altitude you can get off a cell tower? I know the last time I went flying with a friend of mine, my cell phone did not have a signal.

-Travis "aka" CLSSY56

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Old 04-24-2011, 05:47 AM   #21
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I've wondered the same thing. With a few built in conditions I'd say that it ought to be safe. Surprising to me how many strong feelings there are against it. I've got a couple of projects that long range control and video would be needed, I was hoping that 3G would be the solution.
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Old 04-24-2011, 03:27 PM   #22
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While I am a Missouri Hillbilly and belive firmly that federal and state governments should not regulate average citizens as much as it does, I must accept that the average citizen probably SHOULD NOT possess what would amount to a UAV.

I could be all wet here, but I think that there are laws forbidding any "citizen pilot" from operating a r/c craft behond line of sight. I can find multitudes of reasons why this rule would exist. I think there are provisions for folks to get certified to fly "true" UAV's, but I could be wrong about that as well.

I would love to build and operate a UAV or at least a FPV rig, and I will some day. The police chief (my neighbor) seemed pretty interested in the idea of flying some quiet "eyes in the sky". Id like to build a blimp, and record/stream the country club when they have a golf tournament......the problem is, I just dont have the money to do it properly, safely, and legally. After all, most of the stuff I really want to look at is in populated areas. If something goes wonky and my plane turns into a yard-dart.....really bad things could happen. Thats bad enough with a 4 lb AV platform, but imagine the damage that could be done with a 10 lb UAV rig. A person could seriouly injure, or even kill someone. It doesnt take a lot of daydreaming to see a plane going thru a windshield at 40 mph of a car traveling 60 mph. I know my piloting skills are not there, and truth be told theres not many folks on this forum that have the piloting skills needed to fly a FPV or UAV plane over this, or any other, town.

Another factor I havent heard mentioned, is the fact that people are terribly reactionary. Every time a moron who ILLEGALLY possesses a firearm goes and murders someone, the small picture thinkers want to strip law abiding citizens of their rights to possess firearms. (Personally I think every male citizen over age 30 should be REQUIRED to possess a firearm, but thats getting a little politacal)

Think what would happen if some moron crashes a UAV into the governers mansion, or into the White House!

Theres my 2 cents

Possum

Founder, Chief Builder, Head Designer, an Lead Test Pilot of Possum Holler Aircraft Company. (A made up company that transforms styrofoam into packing peanuts, and balsa wood into toothpicks)
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Old 04-24-2011, 05:38 PM   #23
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I think I'm starting to see a little better where everyone is coming from, and I'm starting to agree that regulations would be in order, but not a full government lockout. I used to be involved in writing standards for industrial rope access, I believe the philosophies behind both should be the same; write rules to protect those who are doing it legitimately, and weed out those who are not. So here's the big question, are there any civilian groups out there working on getting some UAV standards that one can either be educated or certified in?
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Old 04-24-2011, 05:55 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by hypernikao View Post
I think I'm starting to see a little better where everyone is coming from, and I'm starting to agree that regulations would be in order, but not a full government lockout. I used to be involved in writing standards for industrial rope access, I believe the philosophies behind both should be the same; write rules to protect those who are doing it legitimately, and weed out those who are not. So here's the big question, are there any civilian groups out there working on getting some UAV standards that one can either be educated or certified in?
Hi
Welcome aboard
Im pleased to meet you
There are groups out there working to that very end and there are rules and regulations already in place by the FAA
The most important is line of sight flying
http://diydrones.com/profiles/blogs/...r-amateur-uavs
http://www.faa.gov/news/fact_sheets/...fm?newsId=6287
Take care
Yours Hank

"When wild the head-wind beat,Thy sovereign Will commanding, Bring them who dare to fly, To a safe landing."
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Old 05-12-2012, 09:19 PM   #25
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Default cell phone remote control

This thread needs a little more thoght. Our government is worried about terrorists so they create laws that will keep hobbiests from remotely controlling their planes. Terrorists don't worry about laws!!! They will build these type of devices if they so choose. I'm a hobbiest not a terrorist, and I want to remotely operate planes and think it would be awesome to build UAV, FPV planes. We don't need dumb laws like this to protect us from people that don't obey laws. Vote out your legislator if they voted for this; whether they are democrat or republican!

Do you feel safer because they require pilots do get fingerprinted? Yet another dumb law intended to make people feel secure.
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