APM 2.5, SkyWalker X8, TetraCam ADC Lite, Sony 540TVL and 1280Mhz video downlink

We have been having great success with our SkyWalker and the APM. You guys have done an amazing job on this autopilot. We had a few stumbling blocks along the way but all in all it was a fairly painless process to get to the full autonomous stage.

We were recently approached by some farmers to try a few field tests with the TetraCam ADC Lite. Although it is getting pretty cold and nasty up here we could do a lot of testing with the HIL.

Looking for some tips on setting up the cameras for triggerd photos along the flght path via the Mission planner. Are there plans to add a feature that would allow us to add a shutter triggering function along with the waypoints? Or is there an alternate MP that has this function?

We have not received the ADC camera yet so I am trying to find as much info as possible to help with the installation and setup of the unit. From what I have been reading it is best to get IMU data for each picture as well as GPS information to aid in stitching the photos together.

I just read the blog on the geo tagging now available in the MP. That is a huge help. Thank you for that addition and the time you took to make the tutorial.

Would we use a similar function to get the IMU data and geo tag into one file? Also have a question about parachute recovery.

Does anyone have a diy setup for adding a chute to the Skywalker?

We are debating on where to mount the ADC. Under the wing close to the fuse or build a carbon box with roll stabilization that we will graft into the fuselage.

I apologize for the barrage of questions but this community seems to have a great deal of knowledge lurking around.

Thanks in advance.


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Hello, we also want to incorporate the camera into the ADC Lite Multiplex Mentor photogrammetry though we are with a SONY NEX 3. We will follow your progress very closely with the ADC.

i going to install a GPS unit to this camera to Geo-tag all the photos but didn't not plan to carried it with my SW at the moment because of it size and cost. For my SW, I prefer to do IR filter conversion on compact size camera and see how it goes.  

I tried to do some HIL testing tonight (I am using X-Plane 9 with all settings provided in the sim wiki) but I was having no luck getting the Stabilize function working correctly.

I adjusted Nav Roll PIDs through the entire range (0.700-0.000) but it was not affecting the how the PT-60 airplane flew in Stabilize mode.

It was incredibly sensitive in Manual mode and when switching to Stabilize the ailerons would just flap up and down and the plane would dance all over the sky. Has anyone had experience with this setup?

Just for kicks I loaded the Skywalker parameters in and had the same result.

I am hoping to setup a flight plan with some camera triggers in it. Can I verify the trigger by observing a servo on the assigned channel output? Should I see a servo movement?

Make sure you didn't have the X-plane 10 checkbox checked by mistake in the MP sim setup screen.

ADC Lite is very easy to setup and trigger remotely.  I have them in our O2.  All you need is a relay that shorts the ring and tip of the trigger jack and it will work just fine.


Verified unchecked.




Easy is good. Do you have them in a stabilized mount?

Received the TetraCam today.

Wow, Cool little camera.

Now I need to figure out how to pull IMU data from the APM 2.5 for each photograph taken.

It would be awesome if there was an option in the mission planner for inserting a camera trigger command along with the many waypoints needed for flying a "Lawnmower" pattern . I am way off from being able to custom code the APM. Does anyone have a simple solution for this task? I see this has been asked multiple times, but it usually involves some code insertion.

The process as I understand it is:

Setup mission to fly full coverage of farmers field.

Determine flying height and speed requirements for images and trigger intervals to have X amount of overlap?? (not sure on this)

Setup camera trigger points.

Start mission

I think with the IMU data it is not necessary to have camera stabilization??

NIR camera takes photos at preset intervals, allowing for processing time of camera.

Download images from camera and use software to stitch photos using IMU/GPS data.

Please let me know how much I am forgetting. :-)

Does anyone have experience with the Tetracam and if so, is a gimbal even needed?

I haven't used the Tetracam but after taking lots of aerial imagery I can tell you that you'll be fine without a gimbal in almost all cases, barring extreme crosswind flying. Check out the ebook Secrets of Aerial Photomapping by the gentleman whose name I will not try to spell. He is a big fan of using a gimbal so you'll be able to see all the reasons he likes to use them in there.

You shouldn't have to use any stabilization with the TetraCam. They are typically only used on sunny days which will increase your shutter speed. One factor you'll need to consider is your altitude and ground speed. If you're low and fast you'll end up with blurred photos. I've found it works best at 135 meters at 70 KPH. That gets good overlap on the pictures with no blurring.


Thanks guys, appreciate the feedback. I like the idea of keeping it simple and just to make it easier to install and remove I think i will forgo the gimbal

May be you can have a look @ maxmax.com, their vegetation stress camera may suit you with much lower cost. Their Canon SX230 GPS with CHDK will able to geo tag and CHDK will allow you to run script.  I agree with Jeff about the gimbal, I've try modify one in my SW without much success. Batter make it simple.

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