I have lost FPV plane due to pilot error. It ended somewhere inside nice deep forest. Battery was probably disconnected during “touchdown” and OpenLRSng integrated beacon was not working. First and only plane lost in my 10 years of FPV….
After researching available solutions both opensource and commercial I decided I like CoolBeacon / tBeacon approach. It is based on familiar RFM22b module and Atmega328. For both CoolBeacon / tBeacon hardware is sort of compatible with OpenLRS. By some dark magic, authors get digital FSK based transceivers to transmit FM modulated voice. It is distorted but still pretty readable.
Friend of mine is building tBeacon compatible hardware out of plain Arduino Mini and RFM22b module by dead-bug method. It is tedious and missing some features. I decided to make my own boards.
I started with my existing design for OpenLRS MicroRx I am already using. I have redrawn schematics to fit both firmwares, added battery / power management IC from STmicro.
Power management circuit STNS01 does all the magic. When external 5V is turned on, it turns on power to the board and starts to charge battery. If plane crashes and main battery is disconnected beacon continues on internal battery. STNS01 also provides standard Lithium battery protection features. After successful flight button on Beacon is pressed for ~1s and STNS01 is put to “shipping state” where everything is off and standby current is around 500nA. Only way to bring it back to life is to connect valid external voltage. This is drawback as beacon cannot be turned ON without external voltage.
Schematic is pretty self-explaining. Also the layout. I have placed integral balun ETC1-1-13 on board for easy dipole antenna fabrication. Basically one wire goes up, second down.
I have also ordered stencil to ease the manufacturing.
Notice electrically short antenna tuned to desired frequency
Eagle files for download
Recently, I have acquired a few professional radios used in taxi service for a good price. Radios are very well made, very rugged and probably very reliable. They are VHF only. Service manual with full schematics and programming software is available.
After searching Internet back and forth for some information and software i have finally gathered all I need and I will share it here.
Original cable is supposed to be ICOM OPC-592. By looking at the schematic I realized it is simple one wire TTL-UART. In the past I hacked together same interface for Alinco DJ-X30 scanner. Here is the schematic:
If you do not have this “FTDI” interface, I would recommend buying one with Silabs CP2101 chipset. That one is least problematic. FTDI and Prolific are often fake chips and driver refuse to work with those.
My ugly hack cable:
If some wants ready made cable, leave a comment and I can make it for you.
Programming (cloning) software
Deep down on the web there was installation files available for download. I believe this software was sold by ICOM, but it is more that 15years old (and still works well on Windows 10). I think no one will be offended if I mirror it here. I consider this abandon-ware.
Do not ask me how to program X or Y, I still do not know. There are many options related to trunk operation in professional segment and I have almost no clue. I was able to program channels to get to my repeater and open VHF channels.
Download the software CS-F1600 CD-221501-003
ICOM service manuals do not stop to amaze me. One can learn so much by studying their block diagrams and schematics. It is invaluable to have it. I also own very old ICOM IC-240 from late 70’s and with help of service manual I was able to fix it and make new VFO unit for it!
IC-F1610 Service Manual
Main positive and negative conductors are made of copper strips cut from sheet. Strip ends go trough fiberglass part where end are folded back to secure the strips in place.
Detail of balance wires and connector. Output cable is already soldered on copper tabs.
Battery housing. Intelligent BMS and all the wiring in place.
Plywood separating battery and BMS space
Cushioning of battery compartment with foam. There is fiberglass “floor” (with blue foam).
Battery fits tightly and does not move with lid on.
This is the temporary battery. 12S / 7700mAh. Battery is a few years old but still can give 250Wh of energy. I did over 200km on this one. Range with this one is between 10km to 20km depending on speed and pedaling. It is made from two old 6S Li-Po donated by Vladimir L. Thank you!
New battery is Li-Ion 12S 8P made of Samsung INR18650-30Q cells. There is 96 of them. I used plastic trays and paper stickers for + pole as additional safety isolation as the included plastic spacer in battery can potentially melt during welding causing short.
Welding was done by my trusty Spot Welder.
Next step is to get amperes out of battery. There is always problem of getting output current from end of battery of this kind. Nickel strip is itself not enough to carry big currents. I got myself 0.5mm copper plate. I used my CNC to mill copper comb which is soldered to ends of nickel strips. Negative pole is simple. The stub is for soldering thick cable. Positive side includes custom made fuse holder.
That’s it for today. Battery still needs all wires soldered and some basic isolation. Last step will be to replace temporary battery with this one and enjoy range between 30km to 90km depending on how hard I will be on throttle.
Got myself half twist throttle. Old thumb lever is now used as brake. It is much more comfortable. Electric braking works great! Thanks to enormous direct drive hub motor, braking force is huge. Only very steep hills cannot be braked with this alone. Slowing down before turn can be almost always done with ebrake. Brake pads will probably last eternity. Braking does charge battery, but recovered energy is insignificant in long run.
VESC speed controller manages braking in very clever way. When speed is high enough, it PWMs motor phases to actually boost BEMF voltage higher than battery – current flows to battery. When RPMs are too low, it just shorts phase wires and all the current flows inside motor phases. In this mode which engages at ~6km/h motor is hard to turn.
This bike has non-standard steering stem of 21.2mm diameter for 22mm handlebars. No standard part of today’s era fits. 🙁 Clamp for handlebars is 22mm. So I needed to find tall handlebars (but no ape hangers) for 22mm clamp. After a lot of searching I finally bought handlebars for Simson Enduro 50cc motorcycle. Little heavy but very solid with shiny chrome. On the left there is heavy duty cell phone holder from RAM-MOUNT. I love it and also use it on motorcycle.
I got myself the biggest and most comfortable seat available in the store. Also new seat tube with clamp. Old one is incompatible. End of ass pain.
I managed to fit freewheel on motor and now I am able to pedal. Nice and slow pedaling saves me about 100W of power. And provides backup in case of drive failure. From ~6 test rides, nothing faulted yet. I am playing with idea to make it fix gear. That would save cables and levers on handlebars for other stuff. And less to go wrong. With motor I never needed to shift anyway.
I bought new tires, suitable for ebikes. Schwalbe Marathon Plus Tour. Not exactly cheap but they work well. Even for light offroad. Rolling resistance is lower.
A lot of other stuff needs to be sorted out. But I love this machine. With tall handlebars I can finally ride it without pain. Riding position is very natural and comfortable.
Bike is my fathers old one, manufactured between 1991 to 1993.
Full steel frame
Magic Pie 3 hub motor
8s/5000mAh old LiPo so far.
Almost two years ago I decided to build spot welder for batteries. After researching my options I choose construction by Albert van Dalen
It is microwave transformer based, controlled by arduino. It switches primary side with two big-ass thyristors. It also does peak detection of sine wave, to turn on welding exactly when phase voltage is highest. It uses double pulse method. Read his article. I think this is best free construction you can build.
I bought Sunkko welding tweezers. But those are crap. I dissembled them and created two independent swing arms. Arms are long enough for very big battery. Pushing force is adjusted by hand. There is a pedal input to keep both hands for welding.
I measured current trough secondary side with Rogowski probe. It was not during welding, but output was connected firmly together. Over 1200A, nice 🙂
And here is some examples of batteries made with this one:
And this one is done with my spot welder by friend of mine whom I borrowed it.