Occasionally there are applications where you need long range radio communications, and bluetooth, wifi or Xbee just don't cut it anymore. Receiving telemetry data from an autonomous drone is one of these applications. That's exactly what DroneNet is designed for.
DroneNet is designed as an easy to use radio bridge with USB 2.0 interface, which makes it compatible with every modern laptop, Raspberry Pi, or computer system. Communication is unidirectional, from a transmitter to a receiver. That allows to boost transmission power considerably while keeping the BOM low-cost. The design uses a Nordic Semi nRF905 as RF front-end, and a Qorvo RF5110G as RF amplifier. The output power is configurable through USB up to a maximum of 32 dBm, which is equivalent to ca. 1500 mW. Transmission is in the unlicensed 868 MHz ISM band.
A good antenna is essential to obtain the maximum range performance. Cheap quarter wavelenth wire antennas won't cut it for that purpose. You can find good yagi antennas with a gain of 10 dBi on AliExpress for about €25. Never power up the board without antenna connected, as this will burn out the RF amplifier chip!
Power consumption of the board is ca. 750mA at 5V, so it can be powered directly from a USB BC 1.2 charging port.
All components can be ordered from only 2 suppliers, Digikey and LCSC. BOM is attached. Components that are unavailable from Digikey are marked in blue.