The New, Improved, upgraded Cockpit Ground Station

by galaxy engineer | May 14, 2014 | (17) Posted in Projects
For thoes of you that have not seen the build artical of my Cockpit Ground Station (CGS) here on Flite Test, it is a good place to start so that you can understand the total transformation of my CGS project here is the link to that article....  

(or just see the related article section below for a hot link titeled "FPV "Full Scale" Cockpit Ground Station"!)


So here is the continuation of the CGS story.

     I am now at a point where I can call this project 90% complete.  In otherwords it is about 90% of what I had in my head when I started.  There will always be ways to improve or expirment with ideas to make it better but for now it is out of the concept stage and onto the fun of flying stage.

 Check out this "walk around" video!  


Before Upgrades

 You can see the interior upgrades by just comparing the above picture (before the upgrades) to the bottom picture (after all the upgrade).

After Upgrades

As you can see I put in a new more realistic control stick and throttle (the newest picture was taken before I had installed the new throttle quadrant.  You will see the throttle in the below video but it is a dual split throttle that can either work independantly (twin engin airplanes) or locked together and act as one throttle for single engine planes.  

You will also notice the addition of a few more and different gauges.  You will see in the video that some of them are actually animated with servos and servo drivers and move in conjuction with the stick and throttle.  

Also on the left hand side just in front of the throttle in the latest version you see a gauge.  That is the LCD screan of the Turnigy 9XR that has be hacked and modified to not only fit in the console but to be a integral part of the whole flight control system.  

Next to the landing gear lever you see a new flap lever and a ''tow release'' knob that is just another channel that could be used for tow release or bombs or whatever you would use a non-proportional channel for.  All the buttons work on the joystick and are wired in as well to a channel in the 9XR.  The flap handel is on a proportional channel as well as the 5 position switch in the dash right next to the artificial horizon instrument.  

Here are some pictures of the external upgrades.  Basically I covered the whole thing in aluminum sign board to make it more durable and weather proof incase I end up having to tow it in the rain or other weather.  Juan at Circular Wireless ( ) donated some graphics to me of his logo.  I am looking for other graphics as well to dress it up further.  I would like a flite test logo on it......(hint

External Upgrades



I would LOVE an opportunity to get the Flite Test Crew in this and give it a go!  I think they would love it and make for a great episode.  Email them and let them know you want to see more and I will do my part to make it happen......LOL!  

Please let me know what you guys think and I am always open to new ideas for it.  I have ALOT of ideas still swiming around in my head like motion and improved visuals that have come from my own imagination as well as friends along the way.  

Thanks for reading and enjoy these other videos below!!

C'ya for now!

Brett Hays


This is one of the best test flights of the CGS before the upgrade.  I thought I would re-post it here.....It is in the first article I wrote about the CGS build as well.

Best test flight EVER!!  I had so much fun!!


These Videos are of the upgrade bench testing and build.  They are mostly less than one minute each..


notsane on May 14, 2014
Have you flown with this setup? I'd love to see an over-the-shoulder video of that!

Too cool!!!
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galaxy engineer on May 14, 2014
Oh yes I do.......Please see this article I wrote during the build and testing of the whole CGS concept. There are a couple of videos there plus if you follow the video links to youtube and my other videos there are plenty more. This article has one video flying a fixed wing and another flying a multiroter.......
This is a link to the article listed above in the ''Related Articles'' section just above this comment section.
Thanks for the nice comment!!
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Kiowa Mech on May 14, 2014
This is truly impressive. How many hours have you spent on this? I had an idea of doing something similar, not this extravagant of course, but similar. I am inspired.
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galaxy engineer on May 14, 2014
Well i am very proud of it and I am very happy to inspire you. Thank you for that very nice compliment!! This one started out as a very NOT extravagant but I just kept going and going, and going. I'm actually still going but there comes a point where I have to call it done and just start using it......LOL! If you build one you will see what I mean........The ideas keep coming. I designed this from the beginning to be modular and easily changed or up graded.......Much like a real airplane cockpit. I am glad I did. It has been a labor of love and I couldn't possibly tell you how many hours I have in it. As far as money that is easy to figure but I really don't have a accurate figure.
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Widkin on May 15, 2014
This is just so cool! If only I had a the space to keep one like theese. Sometime though. Sometime...

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galaxy engineer on May 15, 2014
LOL.....I know!
Time, Money, or Space.........Pick any two!
Isn't that the way life goes?!?!

Thanks for the comment!!
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mlord57 on May 19, 2014
Hi This is Mike Lord
I am a designer and am working on a flight control system for FPV that will allow cross country flights using a cellular modem as the communications. Does this interest you. I am looking for test applications.
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galaxy engineer on May 19, 2014
It does Mike. I will email you.
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cjfla1 on May 19, 2014
I read your article, watched the videos and looked at the pictures. All I can say is WOW. That is an amazing creation you have there. NICE JOB!
I want to make a suggestion that could take you to another level on your project.
Besides RC I have been into solar power for a couple of years and have built a successful Hybrid setup on My house.
Solar would be a great MOD to your CGS. It would make it truly self contained. No Generator, no extension chords, no lugging gas cans for the Generator. Constant power from the sun.
For the price of a generator You could buy a Solar Charge Controller and permanently mount a couple of panels on the roof of the CGS that not only would power the station while you are using it, when you are not using the CGS the solar will charge and maintain the 12V system on board. It would always be ready when you need it. You can also charge your flight batteries from the system where ever you are.

I am curious about:
How many batteries on your 12V system?
What size inverter are you using? (Watts)

You would also need to know how many AMPS the inverter draws when you have everything powered up on the CGS.
I think your biggest power draw would be the 42" monitor?

keep shooting video of your experiences with your invention.

Again, nice job!

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galaxy engineer on May 19, 2014
Thanks Craig for the nice comments and you ideas.

Right now the whole Cockpit Ground Station is powered off of a 12v deep cycle battery that also powers the 700 watt inverter. The inverter powers only the TV and a the hour meter that you see in the latest walk-around video. I reset it to zero every time I charge the battery. According to it I can get about 2.6 hours of running time of the cockpit before the low voltage feature of the inverter shuts off the inverter and thus the A/C power. When that happens all I lose the TV but I still have plenty of power to run the cockpit and I can use the backup monitor in the center of the dash to continue flying. Of course at that point I would just return and land. When the inverter is begining to shut down it gives me a continuous beeping tone for at least 5 or 10 minutes before it shuts down. In other words I would have plenty of warning before I lose the inverter and even then it is really a non event as long as I have the 12v back up monitor.
Lets say that all that happens and I am still flying for some weird reason I will still have the low voltage alarm that on the Turnigy 9XR that would start chirping before the radio would shut down and then the monitor shortly after that. Luckily the 42'' TV shuts down long before that so I do not plan getting to that point ever BUT just in case, there is a small 2650mah 3s LiPo battery that I can switch to, to power the D/C bus. The back up battery does not power the inverter so in back up power there is no power to the TV. It is a very last resort power and only enough to get me home and land safely using the back up monitor in the dash.
The back up power switch isolates the two batteries from each other and there is never any cross connection between the two. During the switch the bus has a small bank of capacitors that will prevent a ''brown out'' of any of the systems. I will probably never need to use it but it is comforting to know it is
I am not sure what the watts is that the TV draws but it is not to much if I remember right and the hour meter is negligible I sure........and those would be the only two things on the A/C buss.

Again........thank you for your interest and idea of solar power. it had crossed my mind to use a solar panel but I just never really looked to far into it.

Brett Hays

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cjfla1 on May 20, 2014
One word of caution to you. Be careful about taking your 12v battery too low.
A fully charged batttey is 12.7V and a fully discharged battery is 12.0V. If you take a battery below 12.0V you will do irreversible damage to the battery. Over time the battery will not take a full charge and it will fail. I recommend you use an inexpensive volt meter on your battery to monitor your state of charge. It can be set up with alligator clips and be mounted on your dash board so you can see it while flying.
If you discover that you need more power to the inverter you can add a second battery to the system and wire them in parallel by using two jumper wires hooking +to+ and -to- this will double your amp hours and give you longer fight times.
If you decide to go solar or add another battery to the system and you have any questions I would be willing to help if you want want it.
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galaxy engineer on May 20, 2014
Not to worry. Like I said in my first response I don't ever plan to take it down that far. The inverter has an automatic shutdown feature that is meant to leave enough juice in the battery to be able to ''start the vehicle'' that the battery is usually in. Plus right next to the hour meter is the analog D/C voltage gauge. I didn't spend much time on it in the video but it is there with a low voltage mark. In addition to that I can set the low voltage alarm on the radio to alert me to any voltage ''danger point''. Right now I have it set to 12 volts. It sounds a piercing and continuous alarm at that level. It also has a digital voltage readout on the LCD. Again, by the time I get to that point the inverter will have long shut down and alerted me by shutting down the TV. I will know that I need to land at that point if I even let it get that far because prior to the inverter shutting down it also sounds a continuous (albeit quieter) alarm for 5 to 10 minutes. Trust me.......the only way I would get to a ''dangerous'' battery condition is if I was blind and def........LOL. Its all very closely monitored by several system alerts and 2 gauges. Even if I walk away and leave the CGS on the radio alarm will alert me if I am anywhere close that sounds after 10 minutes of inactivity.........That is actually demonstrated in the video......that alarm is reset by moving any of the channels of the radio.
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cjfla1 on May 20, 2014
Well it sounds like you have the bases covered and it looks well thought out. Who knows, you may have a prototype there that could someday be reproduced for retail sales. You have created the future of FPV flying!
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galaxy engineer on May 20, 2014
LOL @ ''created the future'' I wouldnt say that........more like captured a bit of the past of flying as a Flight Engineer in the Air Force. The only thing I love more than flight itself is the engineering that goes into it. It was a job I absolutely loved and miss. There is no feeling in the world like coxing 769,000 pounds of airplane into the sky. At the end of the day it gets down to Lift=weight and thrust=drag! Weight and Drag are free but Thrust and Lift have to be engineered!
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The New, Improved, upgraded Cockpit Ground Station