The "J Box" Ground Station. Simple sturdy compact!

by galaxy engineer | February 6, 2014 | (11) Posted in Projects

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.  



Brett Hays

AKA Galaxy Engineer


augernaught on February 7, 2014
OK, I don't know squat about this FPV/antenna stuff,
but I do know how hard it is to cram neat looking electrical work in
a 4-by J box, even in a deep well model...

But that first pic made it all look so big on the deck,
that the first thing that popped into my mind was...


You will soon find out which neighbors break out the binoculars to spy across the
pond at everyone else when you notice which ones started hanging mirror
film in all of their windows, after they notice that little ray gun of yours................

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galaxy engineer on February 7, 2014
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augernaught on February 7, 2014
Mark my words, my brother! Chrome shades are going up soon!!!

galaxy engineer, did you choose a metal box over the plastic ones, by any chance,
thinking that a metal box might squelch any interference between the internal
electronics, and a properly isolated antenna, over the fact you have that nice round
dictator plate at the base of the actual antenna mount-to-box? (isolated also???)
And do you think using a plastic J box would perform any less/more?

I hinted you did a nice job of putting all of those electronics in such a tiny box,
but this is truly an outstanding example, and I neglected to mention that I was
floored by your engineering, and fit/finish.

I don't care what it does, just don't point the dang thing at me, OK?

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galaxy engineer on February 7, 2014
Nawwww.......Im not that smart. It is just the biggest box I could find at the local Hardware store. If they had a good looking plastic one that was bigger I probably would have grabbed it.

Thanks for the nice compliments. I am glad you like it and I will keep it pointed the other!!
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augernaught on February 8, 2014
Thank you. I have enough problems already. /twitch twitch~~~ twitch~

I am guessing you get to play with a lot of float planes off of that beautiful deck?
Maybe even an RC boat or two, eh??
I would love to see some pics/video of that!

If there is ONE thing that connects all of us RC folks together,
it's that we truly enjoy looking at pics, and watching videos of what
other people are doing with their rigs.
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galaxy engineer on February 8, 2014
Well .....all you have to do is look at my related articles just above this comment section which contain pictures and videos of some of my other projects and exploits. You might get a kick out of my Cockpit simulator I built as well as the videos I posted of it. Check em out!!
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augernaught on February 8, 2014
I will look it all over right now........
just need to put my aluminum suit and hat back on so your ray gun
can't zap me through any videos I watch over the net.
Can't be too careful these days, ya' kno?
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augernaught on February 8, 2014
Aw jeeze... first thing I pulled up was the cockpit vid!?!
What the heck can I say after seeing that?
Glad I had my metal hat on though,
and these foil underpants are starting to cause me issues too.......

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hoggdoc on March 2, 2014
Plastic project boxes are available at Radio Shack and other electronics parts suppliers. I think they would be much better form this project, they are lighter, can be bigger, much easier to work with and look much better to boot.

Just my 2 cents.

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galaxy engineer on March 2, 2014
Nawww......I tried the plastic radio shack one and while they are easy to work with they are not sturdy enough for what I was trying to build here. This is suppose to be a heavy duty super sturdy box. The best I found so far is the track lighting fixture one I built. check out the related articles above. It turned out great and has a much bigger battery.
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fuzzylollipop on February 18, 2014
Where do you get an antenna like that?
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galaxy engineer on February 19, 2014
That is a Circular Wireless antenna available at or at Readymade R/C here.....

I get mine directly from Circular Wireless but Ready Made R/C is a very reputable vendor. In my opinion the performance of these antennas can not be beat. They are truly the best and sturdiest I have found. I love them!!
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kah00na on February 6, 2014
It would be good if you could find some thumb screws to hold the plate down. It would make it easier to swap out the battery.
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galaxy engineer on February 6, 2014
I agree 100%
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sailorJohn on February 6, 2014

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LatviaBoy on March 1, 2014
What do this thing ? please anserw ?
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galaxy engineer on March 1, 2014
Well my the title says it is a Ground Station. It is for flying FPV. It contains the video receiver and the battery that powers it. The video goggles plug into the RCA jacks along with audio as well. The antenna for the video receiver also plugs in as pictured above. The LED display is for monitoring battery power.
I hope this explains it.
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The "J Box" Ground Station. Simple sturdy compact!