New ArduStation HUB Proposal / Request for Assistance; Call for discussion and crowdsourcing




There have been multiple discussions in the threads of various ArduStation posts in the last few weeks about form, function, capabilities both in conjunction with and without a GCS or planner. I have joined in on some of those discussions and what came out of many of them is that we all have different approaches to what we want out of an ArduStation-like component. Some people want a simple mechanism to just decode the LAT/LON, calculate a direction and point the antenna. Some people want it to point the antenna and pass along the data stream via another communication protocol. Still others like having the screen and buttons to tune PIDs, etc. Some wanted the whole enchilada PLUS a touchscreen to do away with the old text screen and buttons...needless to say there was not a lot of consensus - so that got us talking and a modular format became a part of the discussion.

So what I would like to propose is a new project called the ArduStation HUB. A completely modular unit that will allow people to build upon it and add each component they require. So chime in, tell me what you think. Do we even need anything like this? Is my design brilliant? lunacy? Let's crowdsource the design and I wil get them built - if we come up with something truly awesome, perhaps we can get it added to the store.  I know MANY of you have been working on various versions of hardware / software etc.  Can we come up with the modular software to match?


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Comment by Jani Hirvinen on October 19, 2011 at 7:32pm

OSD that we are working on already works both on air and ground. So it is really up to the user where they want to keep it.

Running VGA from APM CPU board can be a bit too processor intensive. If going on that way then it would be easier to look boards like FriendlyARM and others to do the task. As FriendlyARM already has all VGA/touch/ethernet/serial etc features. But still I would output video to normal video screen

Comment by Toby Mills on October 19, 2011 at 7:55pm


What do you envision the MicroSD would be used for, logging?

I think that could probably be an or situation where you had to choose between the MicroSD or OSD.

There is a risk in making it too complicated and expensive that it makes it less appealing.

Comment by Scott Plunkett on October 19, 2011 at 8:27pm

@ Toby - MicroSD could be used for a lot of things, logging, storage of audio files for alert playback, storage of interface image files (buttons, etc.) for a GUI on the touchscreen.  I agree that making it too expensive / complicated is the risk.  To me that just makes the modularity that much more important, each person JUST buys what they want.  I think there is a way to make this work with good selection of components and careful planning.


@ Jani - I agree completely that VGA is not the direction we need to go...we're not building a PC.  Is there a thread I can read up on about the OSD you guys have been working on??  Is it this one?  I saw the ArduCam project.  Or are you talking about the Remzibi OSD?  The Remzibi doesn't use the MAVLink data stream it uses its own GPS and sensors to do the overlay so I think it has to be on the drone.

Comment by Jani Hirvinen on October 19, 2011 at 8:42pm

Scott, yes I am talking about ArduCam OSD. That is our main project and then there are few side projects with similar electronics that we are working.

Comment by Scott Plunkett on October 19, 2011 at 9:04pm

@Jani - From what I have read on the ArduCam OSD it can be integrated with other projects easily, but I think it may have a lot more hardware than we need for this purpose (we don't need USB Host or camera control on the ground.)  What is the cost for the board?  Are you guys designing it to decode the MAVLink data and present that on screen?  What is the overall direction / goal of the project?  Maybe we can work together on some aspects or on figuring out how we can integrate it.

Comment by Dusan on October 19, 2011 at 9:45pm

If we want to put more than one antenna on tracking system and if we want more torque and precision to handle it  I recommend using stepper motors, with encoders and with belt drive system. and while at it, we can add active component that will know exact inclination and bearing  accelerometer and compass module, and for fast and easy deployment maybe its own GPS 

GS com antenna setup:

Video Downlink 2.4Ghz 24 dBi grid dish antenna or 5.8 with bigger gain to achieve same distance 3-4 pounds  

Xbee 12 dBi 900MHz 9 element Yagi Antenna 2 pounds

430MHz Long Range System for RC TX 4 tlement Yagi wit circular polarization  4 punds

metal hardware and low loss coaxial cables ( at best ) 2 pounds

Mount some low noise cavity filter on one of the antennas to reduce interference 1 pound 


My point, with 13 pounds at best and perfectly balanced setup and if we disregard wind load I'm having problems seeing precision and smooth operation achieved with servos. I might be wrong and i would like to hear your opinion.



Comment by Jeff E on October 19, 2011 at 9:47pm
IMHO having a video link is good but that is the same function as what the mission planner is already doing with video USB link support. My ardustation is what I use when playing around with pid without having to bring a big baggage fo laptop and all accessories. I have on my Ardustation pid's including the new parameters camera gain and flight modes so I can change on the spot. I have a telemetry data with battery voltage, gyro/acc/may x y z, rc channels raw , roll/pitch/yaw, GPS lock as well as the flight mode currently on. I think the main concern for this is what is the target full blown gcs/GPS+tracking/Osd or cheaper/simpler telemetry/GPS display but modular. I do hope we can recycle atmega1280 for this.
Comment by Alexander Novikov on October 19, 2011 at 11:55pm


I have self made Arduino Nano + MAX7456 (other side) + connectors for servos. 

Now I'm working on patching Happykillmore GCS.

Idea:  Happykillmore GCS sends to arduino antenna track info and info for OSD.

Comment by Scott Plunkett on October 20, 2011 at 6:30am

@Dusan - I have researched this a LOT and what I have found is that most of the radios we are using, with the various antenna types (primarily patch and yagi) they have wide enough beam widths that ultra-precise pointing is not usually necessary.  Of course, there is always the exception to the rule and I share your concern about weight.  What I have found regarding the weight issue is that you cannot just hang a bunch of hardware off of some servos and expect them to spin.  There ARE some heavy duty servos that absolutely can hold up to the load, but why cut the life of the components when a few metal gears and some bearings can carry the load and allow the servos to handle just the moment of inertia required to put them in motion and position them.  My point is that a well designed system can handle 20-25 pounds plus wind load on top of a heavy duty tripod, but it requires some good design.

-Now all of that said, I DO like the possibility of a "set and go" ultra precise system, so I would suggest that this is really a related project and an additional module that contains a GPS, magnetometer, and maybe even some other sensors with the stepper motor contollers / encoders (with encoders we should be able to determine the exact positioning.)  I believe ALL of that could be on its own board and connected to the main board via I2C and the GPS port - but again, as a separate project at a later time.  We can talk more via PM if you would like and I can share some links / research.

Comment by Andy Demartini on October 20, 2011 at 7:03am

@Scott - Initially, I didn't see real value to an SD card.  But there have recently been several airplane recoveries using the GPS, heading, speed data from recorded OSD video.  Saving Mavlink nav data to SD logs would be a backup/alternative to GCS logs.  Together with the battery state and current draw, you could even predict the landing area if telemetry contact was lost while in flight.  Not perfect but better than hiring a 172.


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