Portable 5.8 GHz Ground Station

For most FPV flying, I’ve found Fat Shark FPV goggles to work OK. The model I have, the Predator (who thinks of these testosterone laden names??) has an integrated 5.8 GHz receiver, and when coupled with a right hand circularly polarized (RHCP) antenna can minimize the geekiness of the look when using it. I said minimize, but not eliminate. But as a backup to the goggles and also to allow for a better antenna, I wanted to make a full fledged ground station (GS). It also allows others to watch the video from the aircraft and the flight data displayed via the onscreen display.

I had an old plastic case that had been lingering in the garage for years, and I found a neat 9″ LCD monitor on eBay for $35. I already had a very nice ImmersionRC 5.8 GHz receiver and antennas, so I was ready to go. Amazon was the source of both a cheap tripod ($12) and also an extension mast. Power to the GS is provided by a 11.1 volt 3300 maH battery that will run the thing for at least six hours.

I have the choice of using either an omnidirectional antenna, which is equally sensitive in all directions, or a flat plate antenna which will go seriously far in the direction it’s pointed (and if it’s not in the right direction you’d better fix it fast). I’ve found with the 600 mW 5.8 GHz ImmersionRC transmitter I use, I get just over one mile with the omni antenna before the pictures starts getting bad. I don’t know yet how far the flat plate antenna goes as it probably exceeds the distance of the control link to the aircraft, and to find that out would be a bad day.

The complete ground station in a small plastic case and a packed $12 Amazon tripod.

The complete ground station in a small plastic case and a packed $12 Amazon tripod.

The case holds the monitor and provides storage for the receiver, cables and antennas. There is space reserved for a future DVR to record transmissions.

The case holds the monitor and provides storage for the receiver, cables and antennas. There is space reserved for a future DVR to record transmissions.

Ground station set up with omnidirectional circularly polarized antenna on top of the receiver on the mast.

Ground station set up with omnidirectional circularly polarized antenna on top of the receiver on the mast.

Closeup of the omni antenna on top of the Immersion RC 5.8 GHz receiver.

Closeup of the omni antenna on top of the Immersion RC 5.8 GHz receiver.

Ground station using directional plate antenna for substantially greater gain. However it must be pointed in the general direction of the aircraft.

Ground station using directional plate antenna for substantially greater gain. However it must be pointed in the general direction of the aircraft.

Closeup of the 13 dBi gain antenna.

Closeup of the 13 dBi gain antenna.