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RC warflying

Posted: Mon Dec 18, 2017 2:50 pm
by d0uglas
Hey fellas. So I am an RC airplane addict (and a wardriving addict). I fly planes with 1.5M wingspans give or take, and if I want, lights for visibility. I'm able to, without FPV, fly them up to about 400m on a clear day. I can carry a payload of maybe 400g / 14oz easy; though the lighter the load, the faster I can ascend, the slower I can fly and the longer I can keep her in the air (my record is 45min). I'm curious of the volume of hotspots I can rake in flying slowly at altitude with either a cheap cellphone on board (could get a cracked Nexus 4 on ebay for pretty cheap) or a Raspberry Pi outfitted for this or whatever you'd recommend for sensitivity, as well as an estimate of an ideal altitude, if lower than 1000ft, to try this.

On the plane I can use telemetry sensors including GPS, an altimeter, airspeed and others to get a log to compare to the wifi collection rate in order to try to figure out the best altitude and speed.
If the phone makes more sense, in order to detect cell towers as well, do I need a live sim in the phone?


To a rational observer this sounds like more time, trouble and expense than it's worth, but damnit I'm curious!

Thanks gents,

Re: RC warflying

Posted: Tue Dec 19, 2017 8:52 pm
by ithink314
I think it sounds fun. A phone sounds easiest. A Unihertz Jelly Pro is less than 3 ounces, and an old Nexus with over-sized battery is less than 6. Of course a better antenna picks up weaker signals, and a faster CPU will process/find more for each pass. I'd guess lower altitude is better, but it would be interesting to compare results at different heights.

A phone without sim should detect cell towers fine; at least mine do.

Re: RC warflying

Posted: Mon Feb 05, 2018 9:55 pm
Love it.

Re: RC warflying

Posted: Thu Mar 08, 2018 6:14 am
by ssl-3
An interesting idea, and this is a slow yeah, this reply isa few months late:

I dunno, man. I've done some time atop tall buildings and towers (sometimes simultaneously), and while I've often fired up Wigle up there, the results these days are not very good. It's a mess of noise.

A ~decade ago the air was clearer.

That said it's interesting, and any data gathered will be useful to the greater project, and I'm excited at the possibility of seeing the results vs. my own aerial endeavors. I'd even be willing to help a little bit with the nitty-gritty on the software side depending on your skillset.

My first thought is this: Don't fly a cell phone. It's bulky and heavy (what with the screen, housing, and whatnot), and the antennas might be less than ideal.

If it were my project I think I'd start with one of the smaller Pi (probably a Zero W) boards and some manner of hardwired GPS receiver (easy and cheap and light-weight if you can solder), along with some manner of USB-connected dual-band Wifi radio with an external antenna connector. It's complete overkill, but it's cheap, and will run for way more than your flight time on an 18650.

Power the whole rig with a dedicated cell, just so that the warflying and the avionics don't compete for electrons.

Cons: DIY, non-zero cost

Pros: Lightweight. Cheap. Reliable (or at least should be). Lets you upload flight tracks to Wigle which can be downloaded as KML later, which (IMHO) is probably worth the cost of admission alone.

Examples: ... s-0176558/

Re: RC warflying

Posted: Sun Mar 11, 2018 6:19 pm
by arkasha
I know some folks have sent phones with their screens and batteries stripped away aloft on drones. This requires bridging the phone's power to the drone/plane's power source, but this is apparently not an insurmountable barrier in the case of at least some models (you'd need to make sure the phone could boot successfully on external power only)



Re: RC warflying

Posted: Wed Jun 05, 2019 12:02 pm
by ithink314
2.5 to 3 ounces, including protective cover and battery for Jelly Pro seems hard to beat. And a screen sure improves usability.