Michael Koukoullis's Posts (3)

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MAVLink Radio Telemetry for iOS

I wrote an article which demonstrates how to build an inexpensive Bluetooth bridge between an SiK telemetry radio and an iOS device.


The article will be of interest if you’re building telemetry or ground control station software for iOS.

When I first started working with Pixhawk I was frustrated that I couldn’t use my iPhone as a development platform. I’m glad to have finally solved that problem. The problem is that iOS doesn’t provide the required operating system level libraries to communicate with serial port interfaces such as those on SiK radios. You could attempt to join Apple’s MFi program but that's out of the question unless you're a company intending to develop an accessory.

Solving radio telemetry for iOS involves hardware, and at the core of the solution is an ingenious bit of kit from RedBearLab named BLE Mini.


Other common Bluetooth modules are simple serial port adapters over Bluetooth, however these are useless for iOS. In contrast, BLE mini provides a Bluetooth peripheral service and a set of characteristics which bridge communication with a serial port connected to its pin headers.

My article covers the solution from a hardware and software standpoint. An example iPhone and iPad primary flight display app is available from my GitHub which works with the described hardware setup. Follow the brief instructions in the README.md to get the app running.



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My research and development with MAVLink and Pixhawk continues.

Today I'm pleased to announce the release of PrimaryFlightDisplay, an open source Mac + iOS graphics framework for use in ground control station and telemetry systems for micro UAVs.


Key features include:

  • Convenient embedding and animation of a primary flight display
  • Highly configurable colors, sizes, and tape indicator scales
  • Crisp procedurally generated graphics
  • No external library dependencies, built using Apple’s SpriteKit
  • Flight stack and protocol agnostic
  • Compatible with MAVLink


The framework has been designed with easy style customization in mind. The primary flight display above has been customized to present a thinner heading indicator, a bank indicator with a smaller radius and ranging to 75 degrees. As well as custom colors for the attitude reference index, sky pointer, and ground component of the artificial horizon.

For further details please refer to the full writeup on my blog. To test how the flight display performs clone my demo Xcode project and follow the README file to get started with your Pixhawk.


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