The new and improved ground station

My original ground station was built the way it was simply because I had a plastic case that had been lying around my garage for too many years. It wasn’t really large enough to hold all of the junk I wanted it to hold, and its latching wasn’t terribly positive. Then one day, while wandering through a local electronics shop, I stumbled upon a much larger Pelican-style case for only $39. Yay, new ground station!

If anything, this new black case is too big, but as a typical engineer I was seduced by its cheap price. I not only can keep all the ground station accessories in it, I can also store my video goggles there and probably enough food to get through a zombie apocalypse.

The small black box on the white surface is the DVR. The display just above it is the voltage readout.

The small black box on the white surface is the DVR. The display just above it is the voltage readout.

10" LCD display.

10″ LCD display.

The receiver is a diversity Duo 5800 by ImmersionRC for both near and long distance. The screen is a 10″ LCD from Lumeneir. On the panel is a voltage readout for the ground station’s internal battery, as well as a place to stick a digital video recorder (for lasting remembrance of aircraft carnage)

Is that a construction tripod in your pocket or are you just happy to see me? That's the diversity video receiver on top of the mast with both the long and shot range antennas.

Is that a construction tripod in your pocket or are you just happy to see me? That’s the diversity video receiver on top of the mast with both the long and shot range antennas.

While this is a big improvement from my previous ground station, it is, well…big and heavy. As in 11 pounds heavy. The tripod I had been using seemed a little questionable for this load so I began looking around for something more heavy duty. Turns out in the world of photography heavy duty = expensive.

Fortunately, I hang out in the world of Home Depot. I found that construction tripods (used for safely supporting multi-thousand dollar items of equipment like transits) could be had for as little as $60. So the tripod, while not as sexy as a photo tripod, is not going anywhere. I suspect that it could support me, were I so inclined to attempt pirouettes on its top. But I think I’ll leave that as a thought experiment….