Hi everyone.

I'm planning on a quad build with the APM2. I'v done some arduino projects but still quite green in the arduino field.

I'd like to design a very capable lighting system for the quad as I intend to eventually get some night flying in. Not to mention the cool factor of nice lighting. I'm interested in some cosmetic lighting options but really want to focus on some functional and informational lighting aspects.

Some might include the copter orientation, accent/decent/hover indication, and certainly a good visual warning when battery level is close to critical, and whatever other information could be relayed to the pilot via lighting signals.

I plan to use the Arduino pro mini for the lighting controller. I am also considering the TLC5940 for PWM port expansion to drive 15 transistors for RGB light strips X 5 banks/strips 1ea for quad legs and 1 for center electronics platform. The TLC5940 PWM IC uses serial communications which we know there is only 1 available on the arduino pro mini.  In order to communicate with the APM2 it seems like we will have to implement the I2C bus for data between the two MCU's

I'm not a strong programmer, so I'd like your thoughts on the simplest way to impliment what I'm looking for. I can handle the electronics end of driving my RGB LED's and controlling them with the pro mini.

What I need your expert help with is figuring out how to extract useful data from the APM2 which would yield useful for lighting/ other experiments over I2C.  I think much of the data is already organized and available over serial from the APM2 via the telemetry port, but I'm not sure how to make use of it in this particular configuration.

Any opinions, ideas, and references would be greatly appreciated. If I can get get some solid ideas and make a plan, I'd love to document the project for others here of course.

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  • Check out the JD-IOBoard. You can use both the hardware/software or just run the software on your own Arduino board: It connects to the APM via a telemetry port and looks at the mavlink data to allow you to perform actions based on the state of the APM.


    jD-IOBoard v1.1, MCU controlled IO Board for driving LEDs, Relays, Servos
    R/C UAV and ArduCopter manufacturer and one stop shop. We make your FPV come true.
  • Any update on this?  I'm looking to do something  similar.

  • After some further research I'v decided to use the ATtiny85 microcontroller for each bank of LEDs.

    I'v also order up some RGB strip from tayda electronics.  They're in a waterproof package, we'll see how heavy it is. I'm fairly confident that the waterproofing layer can be removed to shed weight.

    I'v found an open source variant of BlinkM's design for RGB control. The ATtiny will be controlled over the I2C bus instead of serial like the TLC5940. This leaves open the serial bus to interface with the telemetry port of the APM2. We're getting closer.

    Still welcoming all the input I can get.

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