Concept and design of a UAS-based platform for measurements of RF signal-in-space
Field strength or signal-in-space (SIS) measurements have been performed by using manned helicopters, aircrafts or from ground level using extendable masts. With the availability of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) such as multicopters a new versatile platform for SIS measurements is deployable. Larger types show up to eight individually driven electric motors and controllers (therefore called octocopter). They provide the ability to fly along predefined traces, to hover at waypoints and to initiate other actions when those have been reached. They provide self-levelling and stabilisation and moreover, they may gear at a point of interest regardless of their actual position, e.g. during their flight around a tower. Their payload mainly depends on the platform size and allows integration of complex measurement equipment. Upgrading their navigation capabilities including state-of-the-art global navigation satellite system (GNSS) and ground station transmitter (real-time kinematic – RTK) enables precise localisation of the UAS. For operation in electromagnetic harsh environments a shielding can be considered and integrated into the concept.
This paper describes concept and design of an octocopter and its instrumentation, along with applications in recent projects, in which we measure and validate terrestrial navigation systems applied in air traffic and the weather forecast services. Among those are instrumentation landing systems (ILS), VHF omnidirectional radio ranges (VOR), airport traffic and weather radars as well as military surveillance radars, and UHF wind profilers. Especially to investigate the possible interaction of VORs and radars with single wind turbines (WT) or wind power plants has become a major request of economy, military and politics. Here, UAS can be deployed to deliver measurement data investigating this interaction. Once developed and setup to a certain extent, UAS are easy and cost-efficient to operate. Nonetheless, due to their compact size, UAS will have rather low interaction with the electromagnetic field to be measured compared to the operation of manned helicopters.