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  1. #1

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    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:
    [ul][*]Comparatively low cost[*]Virtually unlimited range[*]High resolution video camera[*]GPS receiver[*]High speed 3G network for exchanging control, video and GPS data
    [/ul]

    Well, what do you think? Is the idea feasible, and if so, are there any standard components 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 wattflyer.com. That one might also be worth checking out! DS.

  2. #2
    SunDevilPilot's Avatar
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    RE: Cell phone controlled model aircraft?

    Sounds dangerous.....

    "Can you hear me now?"

    SunDevilPilot
    SunDevilPilot
    Cub Brotherhood # 47

  3. #3
    carrellh's Avatar
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    RE: Cell phone controlled model aircraft?

    In many places, UAV operations are tightly regulated by government agencies.

    In the US, the AMA has released guidelines for FPV flight of regular RC models. The model must be flown using a regular transmitter within visual range of the pilot. The person with the video feed is connected to the master transmitter through a trainer cord. The pilot who is actually looking at the model can take control at any time.

    AMA is not a government agency. It is a private organization that attempts to work with our government agencies to allow safe ways to play with technology like FPV.
    - Carrell

  4. #4
    gadix's Avatar
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    RE: Cell phone controlled model aircraft?

    only with Nokia, naturally


    basicaly, should work, dont forget that cell phone is "roaming" aLL THE TIME!!!
    GADI,
    ISRAEL

  5. #5
    gadix's Avatar
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    RE: Cell phone controlled model aircraft?

    only with Nokia, naturally


    basicaly, should work, dont forget that cell phone is "roaming" aLL THE TIME!!!
    AND YOU WANT constant CONTROLL!!!!!

    Hello, Hello
    is it me you looking for

    GADI,
    ISRAEL

  6. #6

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    RE: Cell phone controlled model aircraft?

    There seem to be two major problems to address:
    [ul][*] 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?
    [/ul]
    Magnus

  7. #7
    carrellh's Avatar
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    RE: Cell phone controlled model aircraft?

    ORIGINAL: Magnus.Persson

    As a complete beginner in this hobby, I have................
    I guess I think you should learn to fly RC models the 'regular' way before you worry about writing programs to fly them with a cell phone or computer.
    - Carrell

  8. #8

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    RE: Cell phone controlled model aircraft?

    You've got a point there, Carrell. I might know a thing or two about systems development, but model planes are novelties to me. That's why I ask you guys for advice. Maybe flying models cross-country is missing the point of the hobby altogether?!

    Anyway, here's some good news: This CAN be done and 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.

    The tech stuff can probably be mastered, and that goes for the regulations too, but lack of interest will kill this project even before it's started. So, what do you think? Should I drop this altogether?

  9. #9

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    RE: Cell phone controlled model aircraft?

    This is interesting, but there are tiny cameras available for RC devices that plug into any Rx and either give you just video or even Telemetry.

    What is the point of using a cell phone as the Rx and Camera?
    Rich
    byronf16@gmail.com

  10. #10

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    RE: Cell phone controlled model aircraft?


    ORIGINAL: Magnus.Persson

    Here's a bold idea:

    Magnus


    My comment would be to use your first sentence but change the word 'bold' to BAD.
    That's the way I see it.
    The ground reached up and smote my airplane

  11. #11
    Mr. Mugen's Avatar
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    RE: Cell phone controlled model aircraft?

    These systems are out there already and there is a reason we can't use them. I know the gov't here has it and has had it for some time. What would any ordinary person need with such a device? Would you really want this to be available to the public....really? Have you met John Q. Public? I for one do not want him to have this technology.....

    Kevin
    Everything electronic runs on smoke.....if you let your smoke out, it\'\'s dead!

  12. #12
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    RE: Cell phone controlled model aircraft?

    I would suggest that a thread like this can have potentially serious unintended negative consequences to us all, providing all sorts of enticement for active imaginations of new ways to conjure downsides of this hobby, including ones that will never happen.

    In the US, the AMA is quite clear in its regs (Radio Control Safety #10) that they don't approve of autonomous operations, or operations beyond line of sight .. and while this method for control does not necessarily force those issues, it certainly creates a potential path to it. We must all follow these regs if we are to continue to enjoy the hobby.

    This topic is, IMHO, better pursued in specialist technical channels where appropriate uses of such technology are examined by folks with the right qualifications and appropriate missions.

    Just my two cents...

    Dave

  13. #13

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    RE: Cell phone controlled model aircraft?

    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 CCD camera, a 3G modem and a servo controller card. 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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