A couple of people at the University I attend and I had our first flight the other day, and we wanted to tell all of you about it.
I will start with the goals of our "team". Our goal is to create a network of UAVs that allow for mulitple users and/or multiple ground stations attempting to control multiple vehicles. We felt that the ArduPilot platform was perfect because we have access to source code, it is inexpensive and a vibrant community which could, hopefully, provide feedback.
We were able to encorporate two way telemetry by simply adding a software serial line to pins 8 and 11. Because it is a software line we are operating at only 38.4k baud rate
As of right now the ground station only supports three aircraft (because of communication restraints) and can successfully upload wps, tune trims and PIDs, command heading angle, switch to reading wps off EEPROM (when uploading new wps we store in RAM) and a few other, not as exciting things. We changed the telemetry system to a request based system rather than always talking, this was done because the XBees on each AC operate on the same channel.
Here is an older photo of the groundstation, no major changes have been made since this screen shot was taken
So our first day out was successful, we flew two aircraft with ground station and two way telemetry. We had an issue with the map being slightly skewed, so we are gonna try again soon. Luckily all commands work through Hyper Terminal or the Arduino Serial Comm screen, which is a bonus.
In the future we would like to try flying more aircraft and using the dynamic WP changing features to get a crude version of formation flight, as well as some other high level control schemes.