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Question 5: How did you control the imaging system of the solar-powered plane from the ground?
Answer runs 2:03 MINUTES
Professor Stanley Herwitz, Principal Investigator, UAV Coffee Project: Okay, we started out back in October of 2001, selecting cameras that we think could be operational wirelessly, and tested it on a manned aircraft. And we had big computers, and big rack-mounts, and put these cameras in the floor of the plane with a lot of cables running all over, and it was all over the place. The amount of volume would be on the order of maybe 10 to 15 cubic feet. We then had to down-size this into a small pod that would be on the order of just one cubic foot really to have it all packaged within to have your cables in line so you can bring the power in from the solar-powered plane so our package would be solar-powered set up an antenna on the underside of our pod that could be seen from the ground. Thats how were really controlling the pods. So, imagine a small, elongate pod, with a window for the camera to see through on the inside. And, by the way, its environmentally protected. Its pressurized. And we would purge it with some nitrogen to get the moisture out before we went up. And this little antenna is our means of interacting with it. So, on the ground we now have an antenna assembly that we call a tracking station, thats a tripod equipped with two dishes thats rotating, following the course of the plane. And that has some cables running from it power our ground antennas, and then, some, basically, laptops that you can control the plane and the or control the plane-based payload from. So, basically, theres two imaging systems. So, theres two laptop computers and two separate dish antennas. So, its really quite simple. We were actually housed in a building adjacent to the antenna-assembly at Kauai Coffee, but you could go out and theoretically be in a truck with two laptop-computers, have your dish antenna assembly out in the field and be running it from a mobile truck. Thats what I actually envision for a disaster for fire monitoring.