Idea Conception

A project log for Sky Anchor Smart Drone, Wifi / SDR w Tether

Smart tethered drone has unlimited flight time, onboard Raspberry Pis, machine vision tracking and robotic directional Wifi antennas

Josh StarnesJosh Starnes 07/01/2020 at 23:250 Comments

Before I start, for the record, I despise the word drone being used to describe a multi copter. It gives them a negative reputation as drones are the workers and defenders of bees and wasps and that gives off a negative reaction in our lizard brain in the back of our minds. So there I said it. I will probably still refer to it as a drone however because that is what most people call them now as that is what they have been labeled by the media starting a few years back.  Thanks Fox news :\

I have been wanting to do this project for the last couple years, as a matter of fact since the 2018 Hackaday Super Conference. I needed a way to lift an AP up into the air for extended times to control robotic projects like rovers, lawn mowers and such. Long range mostly unobstructed high speed internet access. This way I can collect data in real time and HD video from several cameras. That is how this project was born. I realized it could not only be used as a fast way to get a long range Wifi AP high enough to use , but other options too. To be useful the multi-copter needs to have an extended flight time, hours if needed without coming down. I came to the conclusion it needs a power cord tether coming from a generator or other power source on the ground. Given that the multi-copter will already have a wire tether, I realized it could potentially lift other things too. The next idea in the concept was getting either ethernet or fiber optic cable up to the multi-copter, fiber optic cable is much lighter than ethernet over a long length, so if I can get that to work that is ideal. but I will ether need a AP that is light and takes fiber or some kind of fiber to ethernet adapter.

I started researching if this has ever been done before, I did find a couple of groups that did it so they could fly their quad copter demonstrations at shows all day without swapping batteries.  They did that by using high voltage , 600 volts I believe I remember and stepped it down on the quad copter frame and it drug around about 20 foot of extension cord. It didn't look like anything special and it was certainly thrown together for this one purpose, and a temporary solution for shows for their product demonstration. Now that I knew it was possible, I really started digging into types of wire I could use to be lighter and other solutions to make this a overall better system.