Unless I'm mistaken I feel that diydrones would rather all flights use a Tx, but are we not very close to a point where we can to put an end of the Tx for drone multirotors as the primary flying device.  After all this is 'diydrones' not 'diyrc' and a Tx is just not very drone like.

I know there are some bad a$$ flyers out there, but for me I want more of a drone and less of an RC.

Push a button, take off, do a mission and return back home and autoland, use virtual controls if needed, more drone like.

With all the new functionality from that Arthur Benemann has packed into the latest droid planner 2, including 1 button take offs, follow me, dronie, guided and large screen phones and tablets it looks like we may be close.  All the strides that DJI and Parrot has done with virtual joysticks that are extremely accurate cant we get away from requiring the Tx.

We have geofence RTL, battery low RTL and tons of failsafes, we have continue mission if lost signal for those long missions.

The Tx is a great backup to the phone, but I have no backup for my Tx anyhow so why would I need a backup for my phone/tablet.  If battery on phone dies it can return launch.

Somehow the new Ghost is not even requiring a Tx at all.

Just my thoughts as id like to say bye forever of the requirement of a Tx :-)

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  • Tech change today is nothing new. In my research on Jack Headley (as Northrop Performance Engineer and well published aircraft modeler - see my blogs about him HERE) I came across an interesting 'disruptive idea' regarding the old 'TX' as it existed in 1972. The testing of it was funded by, no less, Phil Kraft himself.



    I think the most telling parts of this article are at the very end.

    It is encouraging to me that our hobby is supported by manufacturers and people who are receptive to new and different ideas. And even more important, people whose standards require a product be proven by extensive tests and use in the field before being offered to the public.

    Well I think we continue to see the new ideas and support even today. The second part of his paragraph deserves more attention today in this world of product consumers.


    rdstarwalt's blog - RC Groups
    RC Groups - the most active Radio Control model community: electric and fuel rc airplanes,rc helis,rc boats and rc cars. Features discussion forums,…
    • Doug,

      Thanks for the article, it's an interesting read. I might be missing something, but I couldn't see how the rudder worked. Was it a twist grip?


    • Glad you liked it Sam!

      Yes, a twist grip on single stick systems back then, had one large knob on top of the stick that was turned, like a volume knob, for rudder control. L/R was aileron like today, F/B was elevator like today. Twist was rudder and the top trim, in this case, was throttle.

      It was, as described, a total repackage of a single stick system in an attempt to make a true single stick control. The original single stick would have had throttle on a slider or otherwise a trim pot. No 'click' increments switches like modern TX today but real potentiometers for +/- trim settings.

      The reference to 'Apollo' type should be obvious. It had been just 3 years since the moon landing (yes, I do believe we landed in the moon!) and the hype and information about the tech was still going strong.

      THIS guy has a lot to say about Single Stick Stuff.

      In the course of this discussion, I think the word 'haptic' is inappropriate. When I push a stick, I do not get any feedback except that which is set into the springs. R.E. Jones adjusted the centering springs of the experiment above to compensate for the extended length of the Apollo stick and the fact of more shoulder/arm muscles would be employed rather than finger muscles. I take haptic to mean true feedback like a direct drive steering wheel in an automobile or bicycle. But then, the discussion turns into semantics instead of one about the next way to control a flying vehicle.

      Regardless of the method, it must be proven safe. Only time and constant improvements will see us reach that level of success.


      Radio Control Model Airplane & Single Stick Transmitter Stuff
      I showcase my radio control single stick transmitter stuff and some of my newer electric powered, foamies, and sailplane model airplanes here.
    • I think the word 'haptic' is inappropriate.

      No need to get into semantics.  I think it's clear what we're talking about here.

      "Haptic" is an acceptable term here.  You're getting force feedback to your fingers that is proportional to the length of servo travel you are commanding. (or motor current, yaw rate, etc.)

    • To slip a bit more into the side issue of feedback from the system we are controlling...there are several feedbacks in the conventional RC system.

      Feedback was a major concern when the 'fly-by-wire' (or previously hydraulics) systems were being introduced. As aircraft grew larger, the control surfaces did too. Humans only have so much force they can apply to a control stick to move those surfaces around. Our sensory inputs, in the previous case resistance to control surface due to air pressure, are part of the control system (so are our sense of balance and direction)

      When we learn to fly 'old school' RC, the feedback is visual input, the intermediate stage is muscle control of the fingers to the sticks, the medium is radio control, the last stage is the command to the servo and control surface. 3D pilots like to refer to the 'feel' they have with an aircraft. A typical comment from pilots who fly sheet foam 3D planes (regularly) and then fly a 'big' 3D plane is the 'feels like it is on rails'. Of course they are not actually feeling the differences between the aircraft but the difference between their visual input and the control system elements (and the difference between flying a motor and controlling an aircraft).


      When present, the autopilot (AP) is transferred some of the control elements from our bio-mech tech to the aircraft itself. There is no reason the red box with gimbals needs to be there except to provide some redundancy in the system - a point that is important for safety. Even that does not keep us from making errors and crashing. Even that cannot anticipate all the possible failure points (a popular subject) that exceed the system's ability to exert corrective commands.

      Edgar's main point is the transfer of the control elements into the AP software is certainly showing us that our bio-mech feedback days are coming to an end. It is only because of our electronics that multirotors are capable of flying at all. This is the same for 3D heli pilots (gyros, lots of them).

      The AVC each year shows us that we still have a way to go before the tech can completely be relied upon.

      Now, go fly something! (I'm building another of Jeron's Intermezzo flying wings).


      Autonomous Vehicle Competition at SparkFun Electronics - AVC.SFE
    • Very nice points Doug on all counts.  Someone mentioned that odd Bebop thing could even become the way our Tx may look like in the future.  It certainty is a possibility and has a 2 physical stick configuration that we all know and love, it could be a 1 stick version flying in drift mode, if it could it bind to a normal Rx and that included a telemetry module I don't see why BeBop'ish can't be the future Tx, as it would have redundancy and with a dedicated screen, dedicated software, could have configurable on screen controls, on screen buttons that are labeled like AltHold/Stab etc.  Buttons on screen could even be set to change based what you set your pixhawk and vice-verse to update the pixhawk directly instead of using MP.   Sunlight vs. Screen, software issues are always a pain, but we know they are today as sunlight affects even the APM and so does software issues, all this would need to be addressed thru testing, testing and more testing as we do with the APM.

      I don't mean to oversimplify, but certainty feel that the Traditional Tx will go through some big changes in the near future at least for Multicopters, I certainty feel that the technology can make flights of this new "consumer" market safer and better for everyone, not worse.

      I have had 2 APMs, 1 Mini APM and 2 NAZA and except Stab mode, I always feel like I don't really fly my quad at all, I just tell the FC where to send it via my thumbs.  I have personally never felt that the same controller that I use to fly my gas powered/servo driven Piper Cub is the right device to fly a highly computerized assisted non-aerodynamic flying multicopter, yes it flies too but most of the similarities end there.


      I’m certainly happy that 3DR/Chris/Randy seem to be heading in the right direction and it’s why my NAZA is not in anything and on my desk and the APM's are in everything I fly :-)

  • Oddly enough I just got an Ad on Facebook for 3DR(guess fb/chrome watches me), this 2 min ad would surely make anyone think that only a phone or watch is needed to fly an Iris/w Pixhawk completely without a Tx, if I were a wife shopping for my husbands Christmas gift and saw this I surely would not think he would needed a Tx at all.


  • Here'a a direction for Mr Scott to take in his quixotic quest for a stickless- wonder controller that eliminates the need to actually learn to fly. I suggest that with just a little bit of research and experimentation, along with some reviewing of N. Tesla's works, we can all  soon be driving to the field with a fish tank in the trunk of the car, wherein lives our controller. Training these bad boys should be a simple matter, like everything else around here. I think I'll name mine Edgar:


    See the full article on BBC at:   http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-30335335

    • Thanks Chim, I appreciate that, yes I do know how to fly been doing it for 10 years, at least once a month, maybe not as good as anyone here or as good as you but oh well.

      Sorry, I am a programmer and yea its just the way I think, but still think one day we will get there, maybe years away.

      Samuel, thats bad a$$, hope it becomes real, even if years away.

      Anyhow as you may know I have been working on a LEGO drone, and yes for safety it has a Tx at all times.

      Take a look at this clip, and you will see why I thought of it.  Yes mine is more "toy" like.

    • Hi  Edgar,

      I actually think you bring up a very valid issue, one that over this next year (2015) is going to get a lot of attention.

      I would guess the toy industry will release several robots - flying and otherwise that will be entirely autonomous.

      Hopefully their flying ones will also be so small, light and soft that they will also represent no safety hazard.

      You have brought up 3 scenarios - traditional RC transmitter communications or non-traditional tablet style communications combined with semi-autonomous UAVs and full autonomous UAVs without external control.

      Except for tiny little things that are intrinsically safe, full autonomous aerial vehicles are going to have a great deal of trouble getting traction due to safety and liability concerns, toy or professional.

      The situation will be more "interesting" with terrestrial robots which have no clear oversight (FAA) or imminent danger associated with them.

      I suppose the NTSB will eventually control them, but the safety and liability issues are still likely to weigh heavily in favor of external control or at least a kill switch for backup.

      However, I also think that the traditional RC transmitter, while brilliantly suitable to it's original purpose of flying simple RC planes is increasingly unsuitable for our far more complex and involved semi-autonomous UAVs.

      Using a weird combination of switches to set various auto and semi-auto flight modes has resulted in huge numbers of mistaken switch positions and resulting calamities.

      FPV will be more and more incorporated into our UAVs either as a primary flying mode or as an informational display and along with that real-time HUDs and maps as well (AKA Mission Planner).

      We really need a system that will let us fly with these continuously available and visually useful to us and that isn't what we have now.

      My guess is that 2015 will see much more interesting approaches to "ground control" than we have seen in the past.

      The weird controller thing from Parrot for the BeBop is probably indicative of what we can expect.

      We live in "interesting times".

      Best Regards,


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