Mobil Rig for Droning

I wanted to be able to view my drone videos in the field a little better than what my laptop would do, so I’m outfitting my Toyota Highlander to be a mobil drone rig. More to do, but my proof of concept looks OK.

I mounted an LG 43" 4K TV ($259 at Costco) on the back seat, viewable from the open rear hatch. My Highlander has a 110 VAC outlet in the back, good for 100 Watts. The TV draws 70. My laptop has a 19 hour battery (in theory), so I don’t have to plug it in.
I have only one day in the field with it, and it sure seemed nice to have. I have my eye on a PowKey 200 Watt (146 Watt-Hours) battery backup so I don’t have to run my car when viewing ($120 on Amazon). Two AC outlets and 4 USB ports for charging. Should give me about 2 hours of TV viewing.
So, for less than $400 I’ll be droning in style.


That is an ingenious setup that will offer spectacular views of the unfolding landscape from within the comfort of your vehicle where your “indoor” drone flying will not attract the attention of the usual suspects who might make it their business to accost a standing drone operator.

Furthermore, remaining within the confines of one’s rolling fortress is a prudent strategy from a security standpoint. Pulling up a chair to see the final iteration of this design.

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I have seen a few SAR guys have there rigs set up with a TV in the back! Looks great im sure you’re going to love it

Progress Update: I spoke with my son, who is a serious overlander, and he convinced me to buy a Jackery power supply, somewhat a standard in that community. Sine wave output, and simultaneous charging and power use were features I liked. I got the smallest one they make (240 Watt-Hour output with 200 Watt max power). The TV uses just 71 Watts when on, so that will give me over 3 hours of play time. On sale on Amazon for $179.
I ordered a panel mount combination USB female/HDMI female connector with 6’ leads to run to those inputs on the back of the TV, so I can plug in the drone microSD card directly on the panel, and connect a laptop if I want to use the Mission Hub on the big screen. The pic has a mock-up of the auxiliary panel which has four sections: (1) USB/HDMI connector to TV, (2) Jackery 110V outlets for computer & TV, (3) selector switch for charging from the car, solar or grid), and (4) a grid input socket for when I’m near a source of 120 v grid power. I designed the panel in a program called Lightburn and cut out a prototype on my xTool laser, using paper card stock. Final version will be on 1/8" white-faced melamine. Panel will be on a box attached to the Jackery so I can carry the whole thing around with that nice handle.

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And here’s the finished Drone Power Station:

I simplified the project a bit because compatible 12v charging connectors for the Jackery were hard to find, and expensive when I did. I 3d printed the rear box in Prusa Orange filament, which matches the orange on the Jackery. The USB and HDMI cables to the right in the pic run to the TV. If I just want to view drone footage I just put the microSD drone card in a USB adaptor and plug it into the USB panel port in the pic. If I want to view and edit the Mission Hub on the TV, I plug an HDMI cable from my LG laptop into the HDMI panel port in the pic. The LG laptop has a 19 hour battery, but if I need to charge it, I use the Jackery 110v plug in the pic. The TV plugs into a similar receptacle on the back (not shown), and the panel switch controls power to that. The Jackery has two USB 2.4 amp charging connectors that can be used for the drone, controller batteries and my iPad.
Now, if it ever stops raining in Orange County, Califoria, I’ll be travelling to the Newport Beach back bay area to fly a mission I’ve designed…

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This meticulously detailed rig rundown is appreciated sir, because for years I’ve nursed the idea of creating a drone ground station indoors at home, with 2.4GHz and 5.8GHz antenna connected via coax cable atop a 60-foot mast purpose built as part of my grand design that never quite took off, mainly due to my lacking the technical skills needed to make the dream attainable. All those components I bought for this project may not go to waste after all.

On an unrelated note your mention of Newport Beach took me back to summer days spent body-surfing after parking early close to 19th Street at Newport Beach early to avoid the weekend parking space stampede. The smell of santan lotion and the recalled imagery of our planets most stunningly beautiful bikini women flood my senses as I type these words here at the tropical Equator, seemingly a world away in time and space…

Oh wait a minute. I just woke up. But who are all these people in white coats? Keep that needle away from me. Aaaaaaargh!

Well, keep those dreams alive, and never apologize for fond memories of girls in bikinis, or guys in Speedos.

I fly with an iPad connected to my drone controller, and I just learned how to “mirror cast” the iPad’s screen to the TV installed in the car. Works easily and very well. So, theoretically at least, I could sit in a lawn chair looking at the TV, and fly a FPV mission, using Litchi or, for that matter, DJI Fly. Litchi Missions too. With that antenna you must now install, you could sit in your living room looking at your big screen TV and do the same thing.

So now I want a drone with “bomb drop” capability so I can deliver packages for Amazon. Oh wait, they already have done that I think.

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