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Rich

Futaba Aero EagleTree Immersion GS build log

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Let me start by saying that building an FPV groundstation can be a really frustrating experience, if like me, you want to build something awesome first time around..

 

You want it to be "Perfect" and have that "WOW" factor, and my groundstation build has been going on now for over 18+ months.... Endless research on which components are compatible with what, which ones have the best features, reading the manuals to see how hard its going to be to set them up and update them in future, which brands give the best possible picture and prove the most reliable, anyway, you get the idea.

 

So when Tim Nelson showed off his lexan cube groundstation, I wanted to emulate that as best as possible, but sadly, after 12+ months of measuring, cutting, and messing about, my groundstation was still just a pile of laser-cut acrylic parts sitting on my workbench, until some fresh inspiration came to mind in the form of a transmitter case that my transmitters don't fit in.

 

About a month ago, I bought a Futaba aero twin transmitter case from Fast-lad performance, thinking I could get my Futaba 10CG and my Spektrum DX8 into it, only to find the DX8 doesn't fit...

 

Futaba Aero twin transmitter case.

Futaba Aero twin transmitter case.

Futaba Aero twin transmitter case.

 

Well, on the verge of sending it back to fast-lad, an idea was born, and I shall name it;

"The Futaba Aero Eagletree Immersion GS..." What a mouthful...

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The Futaba Aero Eagletree Immersion GS; Requirements and planning.

 

So today is the day I'm going to start planning how kit will got into its case, but before I get into that later in the week, here is how I am going to build my FPV Groundstation...

 

Before I could even start to build my FPV ground station, I had to compile the equipment I wanted to put into it, the "features" if you want to call it that. I wanted

  1. Dual 12v hot swap power supplies.
     
  2. Video diversity without the need for multiple receivers or a diversity box.
     
  3. GPS co-ordinates of the model at all times.
     
  4. Emergency strobe light to help navigate if I get a bit lost.
     
  5. Auto-pilot return to home if the RC signal is lost.
     
  6. HD video recording and a display for others to watch.
     
  7. Dual goggle outputs so I can take a passenger along for the ride.
     
  8. Ability to plug-in my laptop directly for Google earth output and/or telemetry.
     
  9. Simple setup to carry to the field and "Switch on and go" (No messy wires and tripods)

Not asking for much huh? So what equipment will provide all this? Is it possible?

 

I wanted a carry box that all my kit can fit into, as I really didn't want the messy tripod/cables/suitcase setup. When building any ground station, I would say its ideal if you have your equipment already so you know roughly how much kit you need to make room for, and the cables/plugs that will all need routing and connecting, as this will help you choose what your going to fit it all into. It definitely helped me to know what is going into it, before choosing what to put it all into.

 

So I took my Futaba Aero case, and sat looking at it for a day or so, with the equipment laid out around it, thinking how to get it all in...

Here is what I am putting into mine.

 

11dBi Patch antenna

HiTec Pan and Tilt system

ImmersionRC Powerbox

ImmersionRC Duo5800v2 Receivers

Digital 12v power meters.

EagleTree EagleEyes FPV Groundstation

Random other items needed.

Archos 250GB DVR

 

So, now I have my kit ready, and something to put it all into, its time to formulate a plan and work out how the 2 shall meet beautifully :-) This is going to require some awesome thinking.. Off to get my thinking cap..

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The Futaba Aero Eagletree Immersion GS; Tear it up!

 

Well, after staring at all that FPV equipment for a day or so, I figured out a plan ;-)

 

Now I knew what I was going to have to fit everything into, I formed a plan of how this was all going to fit into it, and I see the only way of doing this is to make a lid for the bottom half of the Futaba Aero twin transmitter case, using the peice of plywood I got from Avicraft over a year ago, just in case I needed it for something, now has a use, finally!

 

I laid it across the open case compartments and also tested the pan & tilt for height, to make sure that the lid can close, with the pan & tilt sitting at the same level as the edge of the case, as its 125mm high, but discovered the lid will not close with anything higher than the foam around the edge of the case, so, the foam around the inside edge, and across the seperators will have to go!

 

Foam cut-away depth test

Internal foam edging cut away

Internal foam edging cut away

 

As you can see in pic.1, I cut off a small peice of the foam to see how deep it was before the plywood frame was visible, and got lucky... The plywood frame was exactly 6mm lower than the edge of the case :-)

My sheet of plywood I will be using for this is 5mm thick, so this is absolutely perfect as it will allow me to use thick sheet ply for strength, and some room to cover it when its finished.

 

I then cut off 6mm of the foam around the top of the inside edge, of the bottom half of the case, all the way round, and across the dividers, revealing the top of the plywood dividers perfectly.

It looks messy at this stage, but for now, I'm happy I have perfect dimensions and my plywood sheet will fit in there like it was meant to be.. I did have to go VERY carefully, freehand with the scalpel to cut out the foam, as its stuck on REALLY well, so I had to keep it neat.

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The Futaba Aero Eagletree Immersion GS; Internal lid fitting!

 

Today its time to cut the plywood lid for my Futaba Aero twin transmitter case, and I will say, it has a very odd shape internally, with the corners being 45 degree cut-offs and the bottom is rounded, so you cant put anything tight against the edges, so lets get to cutting out the plywood sheet so that it drops straight into the new recess I have created.

 

It pays to take your time here and clamp the plywood firmly, and cut it properly, and SLOWLY because plywood splinters easily if you cut it too fast, as I discovered.

I made my cuts OUTSIDE the lines, so that I can sand the edges smooth with my sander, taking off several mm, leaving a gap around the edge to allow for covering the plywood later.

 

Once I had cutout the plywood sheet, jigsawed the corners off and sanded to fit, it dropped into place perfectly. Keep in mind here that I had to ensure my patch antenna fits onto the tilt mechanism and the lid can close with the antenna still attached to the tilt mechanism, but turned out of the way. As I intend to have this groundstation to my left hand side, facing me when flying, I then marked out on the right hand side, where I wanted to drop-in my Hitec pan and tilt servo system.

 

Cutting a new internal lid.

Cutting a new internal lid.

Plywood plate finally in place

Plywood plate finally in place

Plywood plate finally in place

 

Not bad for a few hours messing about this afternoon with the saw and sander :D

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The Futaba Aero Eagletree Immersion GS; Fitting the Hitec pan & Tilt!

 

So, now I have a perfect fitting lid for my case internals, its time to get the biggest component in place, and make sure it all fits.

 

I did check the exact height of the 5.8gHz patch antenna on top of the pan and tilt system before I even started this build, so I knew that the patch antenna, when fitted to the Hitec pan & tilt system fit snugly inside the lid of this case, with the lid closed, which is what made it so appealing.

 

Today I marked out the required size hole for the pan system to drop into in pencil, then drilled loads of holes around the INSIDE edge of the lines and simply pushed out the plate and sanded the inside edges smooth for an ultimate tight fit of the pan unit. It fits in so snugly that it will not need screws to hold it, although I will bolt it into place just to ensure it can never move around.

 

Started drilling out the pan and tilt hole.

The patch antenna in place.

The patch antenna in place.

The patch antenna in place.

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The Futaba Aero Eagletree Immersion GS; Power & Temp!

 

How exactly are we going to run all this equipment in such a confined space?

As I want to run this ground station from a dual 12v battery setup, I wanted to install 2 x 12v digital meters, to show battery levels while powered up, and also have a temperature gauge visible too, just for good measure..

 

This however requires careful placement, because simply fitting them into the newly made plywood lid is not an option due to lack of space, and as I am going to be using the front compartment of this case for batteries, it made more sense to fit the digital meters directly into the front of the case, allowing the batteries to sit directly on top of them in some way.. This keeps the lipo's away from the movong parts of the pan & tilt antenna and sharp edges of the EagleTree FPV Groundstation.

 

I bought 2 digital voltage meters and 1 digital thermometer from the same eBay seller, just so I could get 3 meters that all match, and its not expensive, as mine were around £3 each + postage..

This is where we start making a mess, because in order to fit the 3 digital meters in the front of the case, we have to make 3 BIG holes, and the case is very thick... Its 2mm sheet aluminium, then 5mm plywood, then 6mm foam, so for this I used my dremel with a metal cutting disk on it to cut the 3 large rectangles out, again cutting INSIDE the marked lines I had drawn onto the case.

 

I marked out the area to cut using a CD/DVD writing pen as these wipe off easily with alchohol but do not smear of rub off with your fingers, then once I had cut out all 3 holes, I ground down the edges until the meters just fit snugly. The fitting had to be extremely tight, as there is only a 1.5mm overlap on the edges of the meters, and I wanted mine to be 1mm from the side and bottom of the case frame, so careful measuring was the order of the day.

 

Measure 3 times, cut ONCE!

 

So after making a ton of mess, here is what my new futaba case now looks like..

 

Marked out the meters

Marked out the meters

Cut out the meters

Holes done.

Side view

 

 

That was all done freehand with my dremel, so be careful if you do this, it makes a LOT of mess, and if doing it in your kitchen, make sure your wife is NOT home when you do this! :unsure: After doiing this, I had to drill some big holes right behind the middle panel to allow the power cables to go through the case to the powerbox, and then drill loads more for ventilation.

 

Cable routing holes.

Routing holes

Routing holes

Top view of the cable holes.

Not a bad afternoons work :-)

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