Companion: Pi 2/3/Zero

A discussion page to allow me to add my experiences using a Raspberry Pi 2/3/Zero V1.2/1.3 as a companion computer for Ardupilot/APM/Pixhawk flight boards. I will update my experiences as I learn, feel free to comment and offer tips, it's all free here.



I'm building a github for my experiments:

Drone Unit: Raspberry Pi Zero V1.3 + Pi Camera Module
img file:

Ground Unit: Raspberry Pi 2

img file: <to be added>

Goggles Unit: Raspberry Pi Zero V1.3

img file:

Ardupilot Technical Questions:

Also, if you have any technical code/hardware questions which you feel may take ongoing contributions and help over an extended timeframe, feel free to ask over on technical discussion page here

I will update as I get by, please contribute by offering your 'plug & play' wifi adapters using Raspbian Jessie. Also, if you happen to pick up this project, and are working faster than me, then please send us your own .img file experiments. Thanks.

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  • Hi Radioelf this setup using RaspberryPi is to implement digital video, telemetry, and scripts - outside of - the APM flight controller platform (or at least that's what I thought of when I imagined the idea). I wanted to be able to have digital fpv + telemetry, and to be able to take geotagged photos for mapping. 

    I guess one could use a third raspberrypi zero with pxfmini + RT as a flight control board too, but flight control is not in my plan for this (just now). My plan is to spend as much thought and time as possible implementing a video system (and learning as I go). 


    Radioelf said:


    "APMpi_Jessie_Lite_V1_0.imgIt is valid for PXFmini ?

    "APMpi_Jessie_Lite_V1_0.img" it real-time operating system RT?


  • Patrick thanks.

    I understand that APMpi_Jessie_Lite_V1_0.img + Frank Durr RT and disable console.

  • Radioelf,

    On my build I am using the full blown Jessie with the Frank Durr RT patch. Then when everything is OK I just get into raspi-config and disable console, so it just a simple enable/disable of the graphical interface.

    Benbo can you comment on this ?

  • Hi.

    "APMpi_Jessie_Lite_V1_0.imgIt is valid for PXFmini ?

    "APMpi_Jessie_Lite_V1_0.img" it real-time operating system RT?


  • Here is release 2 of the Mini_ZEE

    I finally received the RPI Zero with Camera and decided to upgrade the motors as well.

    Still need some adjustments since the camera induces some noise on the GPS and now the Wifi Dongle need its own power. 


  • Thank you for good information on this thread:)

    Here is my pi zero enclosure with pi camera attached.


  • Hi, I'll make a folder on the github for Python scripts? And of course any progress anyone makes can be posted here with the file attachment & brief description. Glad to know there are others out there interested in pi-auto-geotagged photo scripts, makes me feel less pressure, so thanks for getting involved.

    Thomas Stanley-Jones said:

    I've written Python geotagging programs, but it was always post processed.  This is the main reason why I want the Pi onboard.  If I write this program, where should it go to be helpful?

  • I've had this happen to a few times to me with the Alfa units. You need to bypass the polyfuse with a solder bridge and then run a direct power and ground line from the populated solder pads but the usb jack to either the usb port for power or the correct gpio port. After this, no reboots or power failures. You're essentially bypassing all the power going through the board and letting the wifi card take as much as it needs. Make sure you beef up your power adapter. The Alfa units can really use a lot.


  • Hi Glenn Gregory
    Tower now working on Nexus 7, connected Pi to Tower via Alfa & Nano M5, no video, ran okay for 30 minutes. Pi camera light on for full 30 minutes
    Sorted video problem. Streamed video to Tower for 18 minutes before light went out on Alfa, confirmed Pi 2 also stopped.

    In the next day or two I will power Alfa separately and see whether the Pi still freezes.

  • Fnoop, I don't believe I'm drawing too much current as I am running via a 5V ubec connected to lab power supply so I can monitor the current. I have run more devices off this without problem, I.e a C920 webcam and another brand usb wifi. But I will try reducing power for test.
    Jon, I have a similar setup with where it automatically streams mavlink udp data for tower and udp video on phone. It doesn't have any issues with tower/video disconnecting until the wifi stops totally and blue light turns off. I will investigate more this weekend and let you know the result.
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