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Using one Phantom as a repeater for another to extend range

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by BaldEagle, Sep 13, 2014.

  1. BaldEagle

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    I live in an area with many trees. There are times that those trees compromise signal. I wondered if anyone has ever used one Phantom as a repeater to extend the signal for another. Even putting a battery powered repeater aloft and stationary with any UAV.

    Just curious.
     
  2. MadMitch88

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    Re: Using one Phantom as a repeater for another to extend ra

    I was also thinking about this idea recently since I was using my Vision+ to film some deer in a field about 1,500 ft. away but I had to keep a minimum hover height of around 200 ft. to clear some tall trees between me and the deer in order to maintain line of sight. Even though the Vision+ camera has good 1080p resolution, I am still unable to tell if the deer were bucks or does and that's very important to pre-season scouting for hunters.

    The idea of a "helper repeater" is a cool concept that would add some cost to your overall system but would allow you to have all kinds of options with your UAV --- such as flying much lower to the ground despite obstacles in your line of sight. It would also effectively double the range of whatever system you now have --- so folks that are now getting 2 mile range with modded antennas and amps would get 4 miles with this "repeater helper" in the sky.

    Of course, a good zoom lens would also have helped me in this particular situation --- but I think a hovering repeater gives you many more options in your aerial videography bag of tricks. :mrgreen:


    [​IMG]


    Here's a screen shot taken from the video of the deer:


    [​IMG]
     
  3. ProfessorStein

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    Re: Using one Phantom as a repeater for another to extend ra

    Is that you on the left in your picture, Mitch?? It's good to finally put a face to the name! ;)

    But seriously... there are some aspects to the Phantom Vision wi-fi that would make this a little tricky to get working with that platform. Like, the subnet that connects the Vision camera to the standard extender is hidden, and probably not exposed to a standard repeater. But I suppose you could take the DJI extender aloft, and then you'd have an exposed SSID you could repeat.

    It'd probably be a tad easier with just a straight P2 and GoPro. Maybe that's even what you were taking about, Skyjunkie.

    The biggest problem I can see is power, though. Most repeaters don't run on batteries, so you'd have to pack your own, along for the ride. And I'd imagine that could get kind of heavy.

    It'd be pretty cool to set up a field with a wi-fi mesh, though. APs all powered from the ground.
     
  4. DBeard

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  5. ProfessorStein

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    Re: Using one Phantom as a repeater for another to extend ra

    Well...the DJI extenders - RE500 & RE700 - are battery-powered... and tend to last a few flights on a charge. I haven't ever tried to weigh one, though.
     
  6. MadMitch88

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    Re: Using one Phantom as a repeater for another to extend ra

    Yep, that's me --- after I suffer a couple months on a pure lettuce-and-prune juice diet and stay out of the sun for a few weeks. Chicks dig a sexy slim Phantom pilot. :mrgreen:

    Not sure why you're making this more complicated than it has to be? Most WiFi extenders make you choose which SSID you want to extend. You would simply tell it to extend the "Phantom_WiFi" SSID and voila --- you just repeated your Phantom's 2.4 GHz FPV signal. :D

    Now as far as the 5.8 GHz control side --- I'm not sure if repeaters exist that blindly repeat any 5.8 GHz signal that it detects in it's range since the control side doesnt broadcast an SSID. If there any that do (and I presume there are), then that solves the control-side extension problem. :mrgreen:

    Battery-powered WiFi repeaters already exist, my friend. I might attach this one to a used Vision 2 I find on Ebay to see if I can make my deer-spotting system work. :lol:

    http://www.amazon.com/EasyAcc®-Portable-Repeater-PowerBank-Smartphones/dp/B00CSFCYFY

    Setting up a mesh system would work for one's own private property. I'd imagine people are already doing this for UAVs that patrol their large ranch for livestock surveillance and trespassing problems?
     
  7. ProfessorStein

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    Re: Using one Phantom as a repeater for another to extend ra

    At least you have a smile on your face. ;)

    Because, there are actually TWO SSIDs in play, here. The hidden one between the FC200 camera to the extender, and the one the extender exposes publicly (which is the "Phantom_xxxx" wi-fi). If you are "repeating" the Phantom_xxxx one, then the signal for the hidden one STILL has to get from the camera to the RE500/700 extender. Repeating the Phantom_xxxx SSID will get you no extra range.

    The wi-fi you would WANT to repeat is the HIDDEN SSID. And some repeaters (or maybe even most repeaters) just aren't going to see it, unless you SSH into them and tweak their settings.

    Yes... but are they LIGHT enough.
     
  8. MadMitch88

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    Re: Using one Phantom as a repeater for another to extend ra

    Not sure if I'd be smiling after several months on a lettuce-and-prune juice diet ;)


    It appears to be rather easy to find and extend the hidden FC200 camera SSID --- scroll down to read RemE's step-by-step instructions (Post #5170):

    http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2019429&page=345


    I'm curious enough to order this thing off Amazon and find out it's exact weight. From the photos, it doesnt look any bigger than an average smartphone and hopefully doesnt weigh more than a brick :mrgreen:
     
  9. ProfessorStein

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    Re: Using one Phantom as a repeater for another to extend ra

    Isn't that what I said? You have to SSH in and tweak the settings. Which is "complicated" by some folks standards. Or... at least more complicated than "it has to be". ;)

    Never said it couldn't be done... just that it would take some extra effort aside from hanging a repeater under your Phantom and turning it on.
     
  10. MadMitch88

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    Re: Using one Phantom as a repeater for another to extend ra

    Yeah, it doesnt seem that complicated at all. Use any of the WiFi analyzer apps that are out there to get the necessary hidden SSID info. and away you go.

    I'll probably try using a range extender in the next couple weeks as a "proof of concept" exercise. After I know it works, then it just boils down to finding one that is battery-powered and lightweight and then choosing which quad I wanna use as my hovering "helper repeater" slave. :mrgreen: It gets slightly tricky once battery power approaches low end on both quads (preferably at same time) --- I'd probably just use RTH on the slave Phantom and let it land itself while I manually fly back my Vision+.

    BTW, I think the geeks over at Amazon are probably already brainstorming about using huge "mother ship" drones that carry 3 or 4 smaller drones that would do the actual delivery of items to customers' homes. Once the "slave drones" drop off the packages, they return to the mother ship and then it flies back to the local Amazon distribution center. This might make more sense than having individual slave drones performing roundtrip sorties when delivering packages since that system would waste time and battery power. Something to think about, anyway.
     
  11. ProfessorStein

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    Re: Using one Phantom as a repeater for another to extend ra

    Anything named a "helper repeater slave" has my vote! ;)
     
  12. MadMitch88

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    Re: Using one Phantom as a repeater for another to extend ra

    I think the concept of a "helper slave" drone will have increasing importance in the years to come. For example, repeating control and FPV signals to the "boss drone" is obviously an immediate need for long-range and non-LOS enthusiasts. What about a slave drone that carries extra batteries for the boss drone --- do a hot swap in mid-air like refueling tankers do for fighter jets? What about a slave that has a winch and grappling hook to rescue a boss drone that goes down or gets stuck in the treetops?

    Even just the idea of the slave drone filming the boss drone as it zips around seems like a nifty use. :mrgreen:
     
  13. ProfessorStein

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    Re: Using one Phantom as a repeater for another to extend ra

    Gotta wonder if the big military boys set up their own mesh between all the craft in the air.

    Then again, pretty sure they're flying by satellite, anyway... so really no point.
     
  14. MadMitch88

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    Re: Using one Phantom as a repeater for another to extend ra

    You just hinted at the next paradigm shift in civilian UAVs. :mrgreen:

    Although I think a more realistic (and cheaper) method would be to use the 3G/4G cellular network to get virtually unlimited range (and better, more reliable FPV). Of course, if you're using your UAV in some no-man's land without cell coverage, then fly-by-satellite will be the way to go.
     
  15. BaldEagle

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    Re: Using one Phantom as a repeater for another to extend ra

    Thanks, everyone, for thoughts. I was on an airplane and couldn't reply right away.
    Will read up.
     
  16. macheung

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    Re: Using one Phantom as a repeater for another to extend ra

    3G/4g would be good but latency may be an issue
    Why not use a ballon?
     
  17. DBeard

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    Re: Using one Phantom as a repeater for another to extend ra

    My point was the don't need to be airborne. You could blanket an entire area with a few ground based repeaters.
     
  18. sbarton

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    Re: Using one Phantom as a repeater for another to extend ra

    What about taking the repeater that is on your Vision Tx Controller and attach it to the bottom of a another Phantom? Your phone doesn't need to be next to the repeater for it to work. You could probably double your distance this way. Of course you would need to fly 2 phantoms at once.
     
  19. MadMitch88

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    Re: Using one Phantom as a repeater for another to extend ra

    I get slightly irritated when I hear this response. In my particular situation, using a ground-based repeater would've involved mounting one on top of a 90-ft. tower in the woods in order to clear the tall trees that were obstructing my LOS as I hovered my Phantom over the deer. Does that sound like a more reasonable solution than attaching a small battery-powered repeater to the bottom of a 2nd Phantom and use it to hover above the trees to maintain LOS while your main Phantom is able to descend to get a better video of the deer?

    Besides, "blanketing an area with many repeaters" seems like a feasible solution for Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg --- not the average Phantom owner with limited discretionary funds. :mrgreen:

    Please, people --- try to use some common sense with this dilemma. Using a 2nd drone as a "repeater slave" is a much better idea for about 90% of all situations.
     
  20. MadMitch88

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    Re: Using one Phantom as a repeater for another to extend ra

    You're actually kinda wrong about this.

    The whole point of the repeater is to amplify and send weak signals from your phone's WiFi radio to the radio onboard the Phantom. Otherwise, you'd be limited to flying your Phantom within 250 ft. of you so it could directly communicate with your phone's WiFi radio (since most phones need to be within 250 ft. of a WiFi router to pick up a useable signal).

    WiFi radios inside smartphones are low power devices and thus, range is not that great (because of battery concerns, health concerns and FCC regulations) :mrgreen: