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Tripod for ground-based GPS equipment

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  • Tripod for ground-based GPS equipment

    Been wrestling with ideas on how to handle the GPS racing ground-based equipment (Snipe, Bluetooth sound transmitter, and Android device). TX mounting seems to be prevalent here in the U.S., and tripods look to be more popular in Europe. Until recently I used a custom TX mount and a cell phone. This adds a fair amount of weight, and for me the small phone screen is not really conducive to quick glances when needed. The real drawback is in contests, as your spotter can sometimes find it difficult to see over your shoulder.

    Decided to experiment with a tripod arrangement to see if I liked it. Tested with a camera-style tripod holding my slightly modified TX mount. The concept proved out over a couple of outings, and the ultimate goal was to use a tablet instead of a phone. A flimsy light-duty tripod was not going to work, so I set out to build a system stout enough for the added weight of a tablet while still being portable, and stable enough to resist blowing over in wind.

    Settled on a wide-footprint speaker stand as the primary structure, and an adjustable tripod head with a quick-release plate to mount the gear. The only significant challenge was attaching the tripod head to the speaker stand mast, as no off-the shelf solution exists. A couple of clamping U-bolts and some G10 board allowed me to craft a reasonably simple arrangement. Cost for all the components and hardware was about $120.

  • #2
    I started with a tablet on a tripod. If you are flying without help, it is harder to use the tripod setup. And you definitely need to rely on the stereo sound for the course alignment. You do get the benefit of a much larger battery in the tablet. And you can add an external battery to the tripod. You also have to find the tripod after hooking up for tow. This is less of a problem if you are doing a self launch. You will walk beyond the bluetooth range getting hooked up for an aerotow. The nice part is no extra TX weight especially for those that don't use straps or trays.

    The TX mounted phone is easier to glance at for the pilot. It also means that for most pilots, single vision sunglasses won't work. Looking down at a phone when you are at 500 is interesting on blue-sky days. If aerotowing, you keep the bluetooth connected if you have the TX with you and you can stand anywhere. The extra weight on a TX that does not have a strap really sucks. The other issue with everything on the TX is you need good cables for the connection. USB-C phones are much nicer, at least one cable end is more reliable that way. Minor data problems sometimes cause albatross to get confused. I always try to exit albatross and restart it instead of leaving it running from flight to flight. The phone battery is more limited.and needs recharging if you are doing a lot of flying. I have units in two of my sailplanes so the phone needs at least one recharge through the day. That is why I added a barebones QI charger board to my TX mount so I could charge with out messing with the data cables.

    I guess you could add a Finch RF on a tablet with Albatross at the same time as your Phone also running Albatross.

    You might also consider some kind of sun shade for the tablet.


    • #3
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      Now I know why I kept it for so long hidden from being thrown away by my family
      I got it to be used on F3F course, but I have never had a chance to use it
      Now is a time to use in different task
      It is not that heavy. Superbly adopts to the terrain. Very stable
      Surveyor's stand
      Last edited by SMYK; 01-10-2022, 06:25 PM.


      • #4
        Remember to anchor your tripod. Usually the camera ones have a hook on the bottom. Run a a line from that to a stake in the ground to provide more stability. F3b tripod 101. Someones going to kick a leg..


        • #5
          I hear you Michael

          Been there
          Done that

          Spikes in each leg
          Army anchor
          Harbor Fright strap

          Mike Click image for larger version

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          • #6
            Originally posted by mlachow View Post
            Someones going to kick a leg..
            Back in the day at an F3B event in Cal Valley, we left the tripods out on the field overnight. There was a herd of cattle nearby and they took great interest in standing there watching us on and off during the day. After we left, they apparently came meandering through, knocked everything over, and stepped on some of it.


            • #7
              Seems like Home Depot has tons of these stand devices components. Heavy duty, light duty and all kind of camera/laser pointer attachments
              The Bosch Compact Tripod (Camera Tripod) features a 1/4 in. mounting thread to allow you to add your Line and Point Lasers that have a 1/4 in. thread included. This Tripod can also be used with most Laser


              • #8
                Nice work, Tom. I like the simple and elegant solution you came up with. It looks reliable and very sturdy.



                • #9
                  Full multi-day test in AZ this past weekend. The tripod with a tablet is perfect.