Given suitable control systems, power supplies, wiring, and so on, the essential components of the airframe avionics systems are dealt with. On sophisticated platforms, many additional capabilities can be added, particularly if the autopilot or main control system supports a telemetry channel. It is very useful to be able to monitor fuel level, battery voltage, engine speed and temperature, and so on. This generally involves adding a suitable analog sensor, converting the output to digital form and transmitting the information back to the ground control station. Some of the more advanced aero-modeler radio control systems offer such capabilities ready-made,
Figure 6.23 A selection of professional-grade 5.8 GHz video radiolink equipment: (front) transmitter with omnidirectional antenna in ruggedized case, and (rear left to right) receiver, directional antenna, and combined receiver/high intensity screen unit.
Figure 6.24 A hobby-grade 5.8 GHz video radiolink: (a) receiver with omni-directional antenna and (b) transmitter with similar unclad antenna and attached mini-camera.
with the user simply having to buy and fit appropriate sensors, see, for example, the Futaba s-bus units, Figure 6.25. Given such on-board sensors, deterioration in aircraft health can be detected before it becomes critical. This is particularly important when flying long-endurance or long-range missions where the pilot may otherwise have no knowledge of what is happening on board the aircraft.
Figure 6.25 Futaba s-bus telemetry modules:(clockwise from left) temperature sensor, rpm sensor, and GPS receiver.