Goggles, search and rescue, and your opinions

I very much want to build a new drone (Search and Rescue) for our organization (the Civil Air Patrol). I want to use it for flying preprogrammed routes, which of course the APM line can do.
However, I have not seen nothing already made that can do it all. So here is my criteria list. Maybe someone here can give me the best way to combine the various elements together to achieve this.

  • Need to use goggles. But I want to have two cameras on board. One is for the pilot to be able to move his head around to give situational awareness while flying, and the other pointed straight down that will take photos. Ideally, the pilot would have a control on the transmitter that takes photos on demand. Of course, I know that the APM can do this by pre-programming a mission, but it would be great to also allow on-demand photo taking. I also need a recommendation on the best goggles.

  • Something on the ground that will record the mission in real time. A DVR perhaps. What brand or model would do this?

  • A sonic beeper on the copter that will allow it to be found if lost in the bush.

  • Optional, but the ability to talk and hear from the ground. In other words, to be able to transmit sound, like speech, from the copter. I could envision sending out a walkie talkie on a mission, but if that was integrated into the copter, that would be better.

  • The ability to drop lightweight cargo on demand.

  • OSD that will give location. I know this is easy with Lat/Long coordinates, but is there any way to translate those into UTM coordinates? UTM is useful for directing ground teams to a site.

  • Can APM accept coordinates that were typed into a spreadsheet and uploaded into the APM to create waypoints for a mission?

So, if anyone has recommendations on how or if this can be done, we would really appreciate it!


All the functions you ask for are available in Ardupilot.
Dig into the Wiki and read through the documentation.

Goggles - the best I have found are the HeadPlay. Hundreds of others on the market, it becomes a personal choice.
Head Tracker works independently of the Flight Controller straight from your receiver, I use RangeVideo for all this stuff but there are hundreds on the net, just google.

Video recording - HD or normal analogue video signal (TV resolution)?
There are solutions for both but the gear required is quite different. Simplest is screens with Rx and video recording built in for analogue. Again, your going to spend some quality Google time.

Speaker and amplifier, doable, dropping cargo yes, but it is all weight added, = less flight time.

Not sure about UTM, but that is a function in Mission Planner, so you could get the coordinates from there.

You can load a mission from file so you just need to save your spreadsheet in the right format as a text file to do that.

Thank you Mike for the reply. I apologize for the tardy reply on my end, but life got in the way.
Anyway, I am a newbie with Ardupilot, but not a dummy, so yes, I could scope it out with time. But I am also receptive to the idea of an as-built solution being out there somewhere.
Again, thanks much!

There are quite a few as built units out there in the market, but they come with a price tag.
Generally start around the AUS$30K or so mark for turnkey solutions.
It all depends on how complete a solution you want in the box.