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Why R/C? ( Radio Control ) Part 1

Ok, so it is not really amateur radio, it is a little bit related. Many years ago, while still in high school, I received a SIG Kadet MK II R/C airplane for Christmas. At least I think it was a SIG Kadet, it was used, but fully functional, just needed a little cleaning up. Everything worked. Radio was a Futaba 5 channel 72MHz AM radio. It was great! The previous owner took good care of it, but had a small accident with it, and smashed the wing. They rebuilt the wing and eventually it was mine. I took several months setting up the plane, as it was still winter, and in the spring went to fly it. When we got to the field and filled up the fuel tank, it proceeded to leak fuel everywhere. So back home we went. Took a few more weeks to get parts (this was in the late 80s, no WWW or internet) put it back together, then went off to college.  Things got busy with school and work, so it sat for a while. Eventually the batteries in the TX and RX went bad, then worse news. The frequency allocation for R/C models was changed One of the changes was 72 MHz was no longer approved for 'Air' models, only 'Surface' models, and I did not have the money for a new radio so it sat more. Fast forward 20 years, and the plane is still sitting on the top of the freezer in my parents garage.
 
So what to do with the Kadet MKII? Radio prices are still expensive, kind of like ham radio expensive, so it sits a little more. Now fast forward again, maybe 5 years, it's 2011, while surfing around YouTube one day, I came across something cool. Someone had hooked up a remote camera to a model plane and flew something called "FPV" or First Person View. Basically just like how the US Air Force flies their drones. You have either a headset that look like goggles, or video monitor and the remote camera transmits video back to you. You see exactly where the aircraft is going. Around the same time I stumbled on something called Ardupilot. An autopilot system for RC aircraft, or 'Drones' as some are calling them. I thought it would be cool to try out, but it was way expensive, so the idea sat for a while.  Now it's 2013, advances in technology are moving crazy fast, 3D printing, DIY new professional PCB design, low cost microprocessors everywhere. So what do I stumble across? I stumble across a low cost 9 channel 2.4 GHz R/C transmitter and receiver for $50. A few years ago this would have cost more than $500 for a name brand like Futaba or Airtronics. It is an import from China, however it is based off an Atmel microprocessor, and is hackable! A group of hobbyist found you could upload your own firmware to the radios microprocessor, and at that point I was hooked. 
(See part two for more)

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