Winter time.......what can I say that you already dont know about it. If you are flying you are not going to be in shorts and a t-shirt. I spend the winter either building or writing about it on blogs or the Flite Test site.
I just wrote an artical about a Ground Station I built out of a track light can (see related articles below). It turned out really nice but before I built that I was using another GS I had built several month ago out of an electrical Junction Box or "J Box" for short. It is still my favorite GS but lacks the internal video spliter and DVR. It does have an internal battery wich is nice!
Article and pictures by Brett Hays
When I set out to build this I wanted something that was boiled down to as simple as I could get it from the build to the set up and use. I didn't need or want a bunch of bells and whistles and thing to plug in, tape to the tripod, cord hanging down, blah blah blah. I really didnt need the extra monitor or a large capasity battery. This J Box GS would be the ''combat GS'' of GS's or the JBCGSoGS's!!!!......... But I digress.
Back on task now.......
This GS was designed around my Circular Wireless Helical antenna but I also wanted to use my SPW with it as well for just flying around with a quad or short range airplane. This GS could use just about any antenna. It would just have to be laid out during the build depending on how your antenna hooks up.
I bought the J box and cover from the local Herdware Store. Be sure and buy the bigger of the four outlet J boxes. I dont know much about construction but I think the size I used is more af a heavey duty size.......Im sure someone will chime in on the comments as to what size this is.
The hardest part of this whole build was cutting out the steel face plate to place my battery monitor. I used a Dremel tool with a cutoff wheel.......Not a big deal but just thought I would mention it. The good news is that the battery monitor really isnt necessary. I was planning on using only an internal 2200 mah battery so I wanted to be able to keep an eye on it. Drilling the holes for the antenna lead and the Audio and Video out was easy! The drawer pulls protect the switch and antenna lead and gives me something to handle the GS by.
BTW......the shutter of the camera dosent take a very good shot of the digital readout but it is bright and easy to see even in bright sun light.
Here are the ''Guts'' of the GS all tucked in and velcroed to the lid. When the GS cover is taken off, all the contents of the box are connected to it and come out with it.
This is how I aranged things in the box. There is also an audible low battery alarm I wired into it as well. That is just in case I am not paying attention to the digital read out. You can just see it under the 2200mah battery on the upper right corner. The Lawmate VRX and the short antenna lead. I bought all the antenna connections off of ebay. Just type in SMA to the search box. These connections are a crimp style but solder joints are also available. The power for the GS is tapped off of the balance lead of the battery and the XT60 plug is not used. It could be used as an external power source for your goggles or monitor if you wanted.
I simply mounted my tripod shoe to the bottom of the box for tripod use.
Connecting and mounting the antenna are one in the same. By carefully measuring where I placed my antenna connection on the face plate I was able to use the connection as the mount. As I screw down the lead the antenna base kind of wedges its self against the side of the box. It is a very secure and sturdy connection but he problem with this arangement is that if you break the mount you break your connection of the antenna. Others may choose a different mounting system but I liked this for simplisity and I never left helical the antenna connected to the box when not in use. It works very well for what I wanted......simplisity!
The nice thing about this GS design is that I can use the Circular Wireless SPW antenna (or any other brand really) as well. I have also used this GS with a patch antenna hooked to a short lead and hung on the tripod. Any antenna can be used! The GS can also be set directly on the ground and used if desired. Your components are well protected........very well protected in the steel box both from RF interferance and physical dammage.
This GS is perfect for a hike and fly situation or just a quick trip to the park to fly. It is self contained and as easy as fliping a switch to use. The draw back its the low capasity of the battery but in all honesty I never reached a point where I couldnt fly because my GS battery was low. Even so it is easy enough to swap out......easier than swaping out your aircraft battery probably.
A coat of paint could also be added I suppose.........or not........whatever.
I hope you got something out of this writeup of the J Box Ground station. If you have any questions please post them in the comments.
AKA Galaxy Engineer