Posted by   | 03/03/2019 | 0 Comments

Today I would like to speak about the communication. By communication I mean how drone being out in the air interacts with the operator on the ground. First of all, there are several types of data being sent back and forth - let's have a look at each. One of them is manual control - normally you have RC radio on the ground, RC receiver on the airborne side and this forms a standalone radio link to control the aircraft. Primarily, radio frequency for such systems is 2.4 GHz and the range is a few kilometers, of course if we speak about regulations compliant systems and don't take super Long range systems into consideration.
The second link is telemetry data channel - normally this is lower update rate link which includes all major information downlink from the vehicle like status, position, speed, altitude etc and uplink for high-level commands to the drone like take off, land, mode change etc as well as mission upload for autonomous flights. Standard radio systems usually operate at 433 MHz or 915 MHz depending on the country. The range is again just a few kilometers. Main disadvantage of such radios is very limited bandwidth - actually just a few kilobytes per second. As you can guess it doesn't allow to transmit anything really valuable, for instance, images or information captured with payload in real time.
The third sublink is real time video feed from the drone. People tend to use analog video transmitters, depending on the output power you can get pretty good range, however, on the ground side you need to have analog monitor. This comes as a separate screen and you need to have it along with your laptop or tablet. Of course you can have the video in GCS app on your laptop or tablet but you'll have to use USB video capture device to convert analog stream to digital. And as you can guess the quality of 480 lines of analog video is nothing compared to high definition video.
So, let's count. We ended up having three completely different and independent radio systems. Integration if far from ideal - we have a mess of cables, additional weight, higher power consumption and most likely problems with electromagnetic interference.
And now you might want to ask yourself a question? Why not to combine all these three together? Well, this really makes sense. DJI actually already thought about it a few years ago and created Lightbridge. This is the one of reasons which makes their products more advanced compared to the others.
However, this technology is becoming more available now. Just imagine one compact onboard module to which you can connect multiple cameras, payload etc and it will do all broadband long range communication! Same compact module on the ground which you just connect to your computer and instantly get control, telemetry and video - all in one app! Do stay tuned for more updates from Sky-Drones.

Hope you enjoyed this podcast, thanks for watching and see you in the next one!

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