Hi there

I'd like to present my project FlightZoomer, which offers telemetry over cellular IP at small cost:

  • Onboard device: a smartphone (cost: less than for a dronecell unit)
  • Ground device: a second smartphone
  • Crack the NAT/firewall barrier: simply by using a relay server (which adds features b.t.w.)
  • Reach the relay server via http://freedns.afraid.org/
  • UDP based
  • UDP hole punching trials did not bear fruit
  • The communication is error tolerant in any aspects
  • There is throuput throttleing as well as recovery from any failure. If e.g. the communication fails for more than 5 seconds, all the software communication layers are completely reinitialized from scratch
  • While there is a mode which guarantees message delivery, most traffic works with a second fire&forget mode
  • Communication using a proprietory, tailor made protocol
  • The onboard smartphone talks with an APM/PixHawk using a bluetooth connection via a HC-06 device (+MAVLink)

What shall I say?

It works, latency is less than 100ms, the focus already has moved to additional features, which easily can be added on a smartphone based platform (use the rest of the available sensors/periphery like GPS, cameras, WiFi..., synthetic voice output, touchscreen)...

Impressions&look&feel of the system:

More details:


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Replies to This Discussion

All the links on your website http://flightzoomer.com/ doesn't work.

My congratulations,

my suggestion is to remove dynamic DNS server,

remove DNS relay server, since you can establish peer-2-peer voice@data communication

over 3G-enabled smartphones, called 3G Video.

3G Video stays for voice call + live video broadcasted.

Live data channel can be used to transmit data two-way.

DNS can be replaced by MSISDN ( subscriber number)

Dynamic DNS assigned by mobile telephony network operator can be transmitted

from No.1 smartphone to No.2 smartphone as data via 3G video/data link

and the opposite.

If you don't have 3G coverage you can still use SMS messages to broadcast dynamic IP assigned to secondary smartphone and the opposite.

SMS message can be easily received, processed to extract assigned IP number to be used

by web server and web requests.

Technology is 20 years old

(broadcasting dynamic IP assigned via SMS or via 3G data link)

Any 3G modem offers this functionality ( software coming with 3G modem).

You can install Open-Wrt or another web server package to read SMS to extract dynamic IP address sent and to establish IP-2-IP peer-2-peer data communication link.



Strange, I remember getting this feedback earlier but for me all of them work....

E.g. this one covers everything regarding documentation and works for me:


This link works... huuh, very large manual ;-)

On your website i see for example the following link which doesn't work:


Maybe this is a browser or OS dependent problem, i am using Firefox 41.0.1 under Win 7 Prof 64

I fixed the website, should be fine with Firefox now too (tested Chrome and IE only earlier)...

Hi Darius

Thx for your response...

3G video has a number of disadvantages (IMO):

- Seriously restricted regarding supporting hardware

- Not supported everywhere

- Expensive usage (a permanent call would cost much more than the few dozens of KBs I send back and forth during a flight).

My approach works always, is cheap, low tech, minimized dependencies and allows interesting multi user scenarios, because I have a machine in the middle, where a large numbers of users could be connected to. Latency is acceptable, any further improvement probably hardly noticeable.

In addition it works well from EDGE to 4G while I doubt, that any SMS based approach would offer a satisfying latency/refresh rate.

Pls remove this solution and suggestion from your manual

since back cover can be easily detached from a smartphone undergoing shock, vibrations, ground impact, destroying valuable smartphone.

If the smartphone/back cover is detached in the thin air either smartphone or drone can be lost damaged.


excellent manual but 5-page long lighter  version is welcome Best practices The following images show some solutions how smartphones have been successfully attached to multicopters. A very successful approach was to fix only the back cover of the phone, so the phone itself could easily be detached from the copter.

SMS is supported by GSM, 2G, 3G, 4G

SMS generated on-the-fly to send dynamic IP assigned is my novelty,

removing the necessity to use dynamicDNS server or relay server, as in your case

since smartphones can simply shake hands, exchanging assigned IP addresses

(one-time procedure)

No lattency since hands shaking performed once before the flight.

3G Video is just an example since smartphone can support 2 data channels to work

in parallel ( one for voice, one for video 3G).

If 3G video is not supported, no coverage, EDGE works fine as in your case.

Relay server, Dynamic DNS server either generate latency (ping tests)

Removing 2 middle-men reduces latency.

you said:


while I doubt, that any SMS based approach would offer a satisfying latency/refresh rate."

nope, SMS message is generated once only, to send the dynamic IP assigned to No.1 smartphone to secondary smartphone and vice versa.

One-time SMS communication.

Nowadays  GSM, 2G, 3G, 4G service is pocket money expense, charged monthly at fixed rate, no  limit on data transfer or total duration of voice calls.

I just took a quick peek at the GS application on  the WinPhone store. Slick!

 I have a Lumia 1520 (6" screen) running "Denim" and I cant wait to conclude my project in San Diego to get back to my "hangar" and experiment with your solution.

So my "spare" phone is an old iPhone 4 I use with my AR Drone...looks like I'll need a cheap WinPhone for the Sensorics app...hmmm. I see a few of those on the Banggood.com store.

Could I run the GS app on a Lumia 2520 tablet running Win 8.1 RT?

             That unit I have also has a cellular 4G/LTE modem built-in... and it has a 9inch screen.

Thanks David for your response...

My groundstation runs on the Lumia 1320 (also 6") from my wife... ;-) The 1320 is probably the cheapest 6" handset out there. Very nice as a groundstation.

About the supported versions: Sadly I cant offer more than WP support at the moment. I have not yet decided to port the apps to other OSs. Android would be a candidate or Windows 10 on the other hand, because with Windows 10 I would support any thinkable size of devices with one version.

Ok, thanks Darius, I understand now better.

That should work, if you can use SMS with your app.

However peer-to-peer is still a shacky thing in cell networks. I have experimented quite a bit with it, but no sucess. Getting the public IP address of each device actually was the smallest problem. The problem that my connection should occupy ports in the public firewalls and use them from then on never worked out for me.

This thread highlights some of the troubles:



I'm not at all perturbed that you aren't looking to port to iOS...my iPhone 4 is darn slow anyway.  If you had a Windows tablet available, would you port to 8.1RT or WIn 10?

My wife doesn't much use her Win 8.1RT tablet (Nokia 2520), wonder how much porting would be required to run the existing WP GS app on that tablet...?



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