For about 5-6 months I’ve been tinkering with a couple of UAV platforms – my UAir R10 quadcopter (which, thanks to UAir being nothing but a couple of scamming students with little actual clue about making quadcopters, has been almost entirely replaced after one crash) and a Hobbyking Bixler fixed-wing aircraft I’ve stuffed full of electronics.
I’m now finally at the point where I can start strapping proper autopilots to these, but to do that I need a ground station with some software to control the autopilot.
In general, the autopilots out there make use of a protocol called MAVLink to talk to a base station via a telemetry link (usually 433MHz). This is great, because it’s a consistent open protocol that means most UAVs can make use of common basestation software.
The UK has a massive, massive problem in the old infrastructure that is being propped up to support next-generation access. NGA implies that the access network is a next-generation technology, and in the UK’s interpretation of that it sort of is – we’re changing from ADSL2+ to VDSL2.
What we aren’t changing is the copper. We’re eliminating some of it by running some more fibre closer to people’s homes, but we’re not getting rid of the copper.
Copper has a limited lifespan. We’re already seeing this in some areas, both rural and urban. Especially where copper has been poorly installed or is waterlogged, 75+-year-old cables are not going to carry the UK into the next generation access era. read more …
Those of you who know me will know I’m quite up for doing seemingly mad things if someone throws them at me and they involve some challenges of a technical nature. Back sometime in April, already planning to go along to BUCK – Europe’s largest brony convention, held in The Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, UK – I asked their staff if they needed any technical people to help out on the day. “No, but we need a technical manager” was the response. How could I say no?
Two weeks from the gig, and things are now settling down to the nitty-gritty of producing content for the live stream. The stream itself is fairly complex – four Sony PMW-200 cameras, two of them with Wevi HD-SDI senders, a Roland V-1600HD vision mixer and a boatload of computers feeding in video. Any decent multicam production needs a little bit of glamour in the form of lower thirds (the things that pop up to say who people are) and some title cards. Of course, this being a quite low-budget production we wanted to do this on a budget. Enter CasparCG, a superb open source playout system designed and developed by our friends at SVT, Sweden’s BBC equivalent. This is a bit of a rushed walkthrough of how I put some of the stuff together. read more …