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: https://github.com/benb0jangles/Companion-Pi

Drone Unit: Raspberry Pi Zero V1.3 + Pi Camera Module
img file: https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B1cVb3uX0f0dQTZzSmVISFdYd3M

Ground Unit: Raspberry Pi 2

img file: <to be added>

Goggles Unit: Raspberry Pi Zero V1.3

img file: https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B1cVb3uX0f0dakFpaTAyVF9HV2s

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 Ardupilot.org technical discussion page herehttp://discuss.ardupilot.org/t/companion-pi-2-3-zero/9460

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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Replies to This Discussion

Considering installing Android Lollipop on my Jetson TK1 so I can have access to QTGstreamerHUD.apk through my goggles. Bit of an expensive hack for most peopls to have. Ultimate cheap DIY Digital FPV setup would be a Pi zero, 7" HDMI monitor Kit, and some cardboard + tape.

Is there a git for qtgstreamerhud I can take a look at? I may be able to do a linux build & test.

Patrick Duffy said:

@ben,   You can run the HUD on Android in case you didn't know.  I use it on my smartphone and the phone is connected directly to my router via wifi, and the phone is mounted in a Google Cardboard case you can buy for $5 online. There is also a VR version that spits the screen and you can run a dual-stream, provided you have the hardware that can support it.

I could port it to linux some time in the future, but just don't have much time right now. I am swamped with other stuff at the moment.

@benbojangles Can you please share some links to where to get the components at those prices.

@Ben,  the source is on Git.  There are a number of dependencies that you will also have to build on Linux, or get a binary dist. You'll need the Boost C++ library and QtGstreamer, and obviously, Gstreamer.  You need the source for GStreamer so you can build as it needs the headers.  The most difficult part is getting all the dependencies built, it will take me about two days of work to get the build env setup.

Your solution is inexpensive, but since most people have smart phones these days, you can setup android for the cost of your router and the google cardboard. The raspberry pi is just doing what your phone can already do, plus you have to assemble and configure your pi, which takes a bit of work, you have to add the 'time cost' factor to everything these days. For me to take a day to do something cost me $800 in 'opportunity', because I am not working generating actual revenue. 

It would be great though if you want to take a crack at porting to Linux.

@Patrick,  I must agree with you on this one :-)

Looking at the pile of incompatible dongles sitting on my shelves and multiply them by the numerous hours searching on google for drivers and stuff to compile-test-recompile-crash-recompile-unstable-discard-order new one and restart loop....

@ Patrick & Patrick +1 for: cost me $800 in 'opportunity', & pile of incompatible dongles.....

Personally looking forward to buy an DJI Mavic and a Parrot Disco AND a new hobby...

LOL  Paul... its just bad KARMA ...... got it ?

Yes, somehow very sorry state of affairs when the best off-the-shelf-consumer-kits are better than the state of the art DIY (that same DIY where the consumer companies copied and (give credit improved) most of the concepts from the DIY folks...... 

new definition of diydrones hobby: spending a lifetime and a fortune building something you can buy off the shelf for a few bucks at a shop around the corner

Well I was referring to the Gopro Karma == they too have been knocked out by the dragon on the first round....
So we might ad well go fishing on th Hudson , who knows, we mighy catch a Mavic?

I have to give some credit to 3DR because at least it seems to me that the Solo with all the flaws is still a better product than the Karma

Are you guys high or something? Don't make me give my speech on why I love making stuff over buying things! I still haven't ever bought an off-the-shelf drone/ebike/3d printer. Everything I have made I have made using a combination of parts & learning. I've etched my own PCBs as well as bought pcbs, I've modified firmwares and created my own codes (to varying degrees of success and failure) and that makes me more happy than ever worrying about the East vs West corporate electronics vortex.

@Ben ,

Dont get my wrong , I am a hardcore DIYer, all my ArduPilots are hand builded , either BBBMINI or my MINIZEE and so are my Cleanflight FPV based on discrete components. My comment here is about the the fact that sometimes you look at your inventory and make the balance between expectation-vs-results on a couple of components.  

For example, I spent a couple of hundred dollars on FPGA developments boards, they are all piling dust : Why ? Because the time and energy to make these thing work properly is enormous and the resources are non existent. Another example:  Erle-Brain 1: This was a technically very advanced Autopilot with, lots of features  and relatively expensive  (about 200$ without the BBB) and guess what ? Erle Robotics never really made it worked completely and pulled the plug on this product after few months of production :-( . .. so I happily ended-up with Mirko and its fantastic BBBMINI = less than 50$ and it is working perfectly.  

And getting back to the subject of video trasmission, I have over 10 different models of USB dongles... most of them do not work properly, based on my requirements == 5 Ghz, Long range and working as Master (AP on HOSTAPD).  There are not much chipsets that fit in this category, and the commercial product might not expose all the manufacturer features. So this is why I consider that Pat Duffy made a good choice using OTS radios Ubiquity. At the end of the day it was as a better investment both in development time and in product functionality, freeing his time for flying and experimenting... while I was still FTD trying to make my drivers attached to the kernel and getting the video stream getting out without crashing the USB bridge....   Some would call it techno-masochism, but there is not much I can do about i, I just love building these devices  :-)

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