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Thread: Opportunity for using quad for cell tower inspection

  1. #1
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    Opportunity for using quad for cell tower inspection

    I'm not sure if this is the right place to post this but I was looking for some help in the area of using these for cell tower inspection.

    First off is legality... For cell tower inspection i would be flying within line of sight and also below 400 feet so I have that covered. Also I wouldn't need to be using goggles so there would be a screen. Is there any thing else major that I'm missing here?

  2. #2
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    You doing this for free? If not there could be a problem unless you come up with a work around.
    [I]TBS Discovery for start ,Honey Badger to learn the ropes, Disco Pro under construction, EZuhf, FCC ARL KK6CWA.
    FAA Comm, Instrument, multi,CFI.[/I]

  3. #3
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    i think the big issues would be from the the towers frequencies and the multirotor, you might have to wait for some of the techies on the stuff but i believe there might be some towers that will screw your frequencies up when flying close to them..
    Whers BooBoo at??

  4. #4
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    Would it be illegal if the owner of the cell tower bought the equipment and had an employee use it to do the inspections? Part 91 if you will.....
    Flying through the cash.

  5. #5
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    You had me at "Cell Towers".

    I have been working on Cell + Broadcast towers for almost 20 years and have been flying RC's, including quads for the last 10 years. I cannot stress this enough. Do not attempt to do this unless you know for a fact that all the antenna arrays on the tower are off line, locked down or disconnected physically from the RBS's or RRU's.

    Here's why:
    Currently, most hand-held radio transmitters that we control our RC's with fall into a few frequency bands: 23, 35 & 72 Mhz FM Tx's (Old School by some standards), 433 Mhz and 2.4 GHZ.

    Most Cell towers will have a mix of frequencies being broadcast from them which depends largely on the geographical area, carriers leasing space on the tower and the the frequencies those carriers are allowed to use as dictated by the FCC in that given frequency block. These frequencies vary from a ~695 Mhz -2800 Mhz (2.8 Ghz). For more info on these frequency bands, click here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cellular_frequencies.

    While it may seem that the frequency bands being generated by the cell towers do not match those we are using with either the hand-held control transmitter or the on-board video transmitter, there are a few fundamental facts you must be aware of: Proximity to the source, power generated and harmonics.

    Remember, your hand-held control transmitter, depending on model and frequency is only capable of about 100-500 Mw of transmit power. Most are throttled down to just 100 Mw.

    Most on-board Video transmitters average about 1000mw (1 watt), or less.

    Now, take into consideration the total allowed transmit power of most cell tower sites. They can range anywhere from 40W, all the way up to 1000 Watts or more in some areas.

    Here is a good analogy: even though your hand-held TX and video fall in-between the known frequencies of the carriers on a particular tower, you must contend with the raw power being generated by these carriers.

    It would be the equivalent of trying to whisper and carry on a conversation in English to your friends while they are 100 yards away from you. They can hear you & you can hear them, but it is a bit of a struggle. Suddenly, another person comes up to them and begins to scream French in their ears. Yes, it is a different language, but it makes it nearly impossible to continue the conversation in English due to the raw power being blasted upon them.

    You must also consider that no two towers with either single multiple carriers will be broadcasting the same set of frequencies. Every site is different.

    I have heard rumors of some quad pilots being able to "shield" their on-board receivers and have experienced some level of success, but I have yet to find anything definitive or conclusive.

    Trust me, I have been wanting to do the same thing you are seeking for years, but the risks are too high. I have found some limited success by either flying at a safe distance from the tower, or knowing it was a Raw-land/new-site build (nothing transmitting-all power off), and being able to fly around with ease of mind.

    Hope this helps.
    Last edited by Airbender; 29th October 2014 at 11:04 PM.

  6. #6
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    Desensitization of the RC receiver could be a real issue (this is why FrSky and some other 2.4GHz systems don't play well with 900/1.2 and 1.3GHz VTX).

    Then there are the cross-mod/intermod products produced by that mish-mash of frequencies overloading the front-end of the receiver (eek!).

    As Airbender suggests -- best to avoid very close proximity unless you know they're not transmitting.

  7. #7
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    I tried this exact thing and failed. I cannot recommend this endevor to continue.
    Talk to Channel 1.
    [SIZE="3"][B]Live Slow - Fly FAST![/B][/SIZE]

    FPV does NOT fly ASAP.

  8. #8
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    Fly by wire perhaps, though thats likley going to act as a huge antenna.
    Id possibly try some form of baloon, with the camera/fpv gear on. Though thats also going to have issues if its windy.

  9. #9
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    Make sure you charge you`re lipo first(assuming you have all the legalities covered)

    [I]"Roads? Where we're going, we don't need roads."[/I]

  10. #10
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    Those towers act like magnets to Phantoms



    [I]"Roads? Where we're going, we don't need roads."[/I]

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