I am successfully using a 4G LTE network connection to send bidirectional telemetry AND HD (1280X1024 / 25fps) Video from my drones.  The video is perfect, the telemetry is perfect - regardless of range (assumes 4G is available).  I use my cell phone as a hotspot and connect using MISSION PLANNER on my laptop. The video is "snow free" and is viewed  on CHROME or FireFox browsers. 

The cost of all the equipment is under $100, but I do have to pay for a data plan ($15-$50/month) - and a small monthly amount for server time. The server setup is special to allow for the 4G<->4G connection.  The telemetry data is encrypted, the video data is not (at this time, anyway).  The system camera is non-standard but tiny.I can control the drone with a joystick connected through Mission Planner.  The latency is 0.8 seconds - max. The total weight of the system is 100 grams.  No equipment other than a computer running Mission Planner is needed on the "ground side" (except for a cell phone or other hot-spot).

I was thinking that others could use my setup as well. In that case I would have to set up multiple accounts on the server and manage them.  Before I take this any further -

Would anyone else be interested in the setup I have?

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I should add that telemetry only is a lot easier - and cheaper from a data usage standpoint.

I also have a RFD900 on-board.  My setup can use either.  Currently, the failover isn't totally seamless, but I'm working on that.

So if I'm running close-range, I use the RFD900's, but if the radio goes out of range, I can switch to 4G in about 20 seconds.

Hi Charles, it sounds very interesting.  0.8 second latency, pretty cool. I would like to try the stability of your server? BTW,  how you connected the joystick to Mission Planner. Since I don't have joystick, I wonder if my RC transmitter (Turnigy, 8 channels) may replace it.

Good job!


The stability of my server is 100%.  I'm using Amazon web services.  

Mission planner is designed to use a Logitech game controller connected to a USB port.  Not the best, but it does work.

Hi Charles, can I get an account for the server? Mind telling me the model-name of Logitech game controller? I'll try to buy one by local store.  Cheers.



This is very interesting. I was actually looking at some sort of system to have failover to 4G telemetry with video as an option and a gamepad as a backup. Also a RFD 900+ is part of my equipment.

There are a few now that allow you to put an android in you plane and do this. Here is one quite mature option from some clever guy in Egypt. Check out his thread: https://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?2301482-Andruav-Unli...   and his app: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=rcmobile.FPV&hl=en

I would be interested in seeing your setup. You should do a posting. At some point I do want to get this working as I am planning some long range FPV flying over water.

interesting. What hardware (i assume a 4G dongle on a companion computer ?) and software is needed on the drone side ?

I'm using a Raspberry pi  "ZERO" for telemetry only, or a Raspberry pi 3B for telemetry and video. I use the Raspberry pi 8MP camera.   The 'dongle' I'm using is a Novatel USB 551 (about $15 on eBay). My "failover" is a hand-wired circuit, although I'm in the process of laying out a PCB.  My setup works with both APM and PixHawk controllers.

The software in the Raspberry pi's is a bit tricky, as is the server setup (like I mentioned, I'm using Amazon's aws services), but there is no special software running in the flight controllers or my laptop, which is running Win10 and Mission Planner. 

For a test, I took off and flew in my friend's large back yard 13 miles away. He was my "visual observer" and kept me informed via phone.  

Would it be possible to use this with two camera plane? We (uavthunder.com) would need to choose from ground station from which camera the video is transmitted to ground station.

Currently, only one camera is supported with the CSI2 camera interface I'm using.  But I think you could add a second camera two different ways:

#1.  Use a small gate array to switch the one CSI2 interface between two different cameras, or

#2.  Use a different interface.  A Logitech C920 webcam has on-board h.264 compression and a USB interface. I have used ONE of those successfully at 1280 X 720 / 25 fps.  They are a bit large for your application.  I'm certain they could be shrunk, however.

So with some hardware work, yes, it would be possible.  If you want to work together on this, I'd be willing. I do have a EE degree.

completely interested over here!

Richard Huang said:

Hi Charles, can I get an account for the server? Mind telling me the model-name of Logitech game controller? I'll try to buy one by local store.  Cheers.


Charles Linquist said:

No, you can't connect to the server I use.  Not only do I pay for it, but you would have to know the protocols, the ports and a lot of other things to use it. The last thing I need is someone screwing up MY setup.

The Logitech game controller model is described in the Mission Planner documentation.

Richard Huang said:

Hi Charles, can I get an account for the server? Mind telling me the model-name of Logitech game controller? I'll try to buy one by local store.  Cheers.


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