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Tuesday, November 24, 2009
TVN and Radiance Technologies RC Superhauler featured in last Sunday's Discovery Storm Chasers Episode 6 is a 30k system consisting of the following components:
First you have a 12 foot wingspan custom built airframe, RC radio and transmitter (2.4 GHz) with power booster and a 2-stroke (maybe 4) gas engine.
Second there's at least two cameras on the plane itself. One is a belly mounted swivel camera with radio downlink to the support truck and the second is a Contour HD helmet cam mounted to the tail. The plane has GPS waypoint navagation that can fly a preprogrammed path and then return to it's launch point and circle until the pilot picks it up and lands it. Eight of the probes record temp, pressure and dewpoint for later download (radioing these real-time to the truck at 900Mhz would be a better solution with no loss of data if the probe is lost). Two of the probes carry Contour HD cams as well. The problem with probe cams is they can not be pointed and swivel with the parachute. A better solution is to have control of the camera pan/tilt and zoom at all times. All ten probes radio back their GPS location to the support truck (900Mhz) for tracking and later pickup hopefully in accessible farm fields.
Third, you have the support truck with oversized camper shell. Radio downlink equipment for the belly cam video and probe tracking. There is a flat screen monitor in the cab for displaying the downlinked video. This video display allows for First Person View or FPV flying - this is where you pilot the plane by watching the monitor alone and works well when the plane is very small when viewed from the ground.
I have essentially the same gear as above with some key differences that match my slightly different goals for past years and going into 2010 but that is it in a nutshell. We are just on the cusp of what can be done with RC aircraft, both fixed wing and rotary wing craft and with electronics becoming smaller and cheaper every day - once the FAA clears the way, expect to see a lot more in this area.
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