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Another GCS for UAVs


I have been wanting to share this for sometime and seeing as several people lately have been posting about GCS ideas, I figured I would post a little about mine to give them some ideas. Above is an image of the GCS I had developed for control over some UAV projects I had worked on for my thesis/dissertation and work on in my free/hobby time.

The callout boxes are pretty much self explanatory. The battery (I fly with primary and accessory battery with larger aircraft thus 2) and flight timer indicators are 7segment displays, and the scrolling status box at the top is a 16x2 character LCD. The touchscreen on the right is neat as I have 4 different modes in it which will turn the GCS off, display numeric attitude values, GPS map, or the artificial horizon indicator (as pictured) which is similar to the one in the APM. The radios on top are two 900 Mhz antennas (one for video or one for data) and if FPV is desired over 900, a 433Mhz radio can be plugged into a spare USB port.

Most of the data transmission I do for my work however takes place over 5.8 Ubiquiti radios that some of my local DIY friends had recommended to me. They provide a very elegant solution to frequency conflicts and allow higher bandwidth than the current serial limited radios and only require I hook up the ethernet port of this GCS and network switch. But I digress.

The groundstation has a large internal laptop supply to handle AC input, or can be directly powered through DC terminals if out at the field. From there, custom power circuits clean the power to twelve and five volts and distribute it out through the internals of the system. Also, internally it contains several microprocessors to handle the messaging to the seven segments displays, touch screens, and interfaces with the buttons and joysticks that relay the information to the internal computer for further processing.

Lastly, the nice solution of this is that the internal computer acts as a TCP/UDP server for several groundstations. An APM or my custom control systems (AIRSIDE) connect to the ground station through a radio (serial or ethernet), which the data then becomes parsed and distributed through UDP multicast messages to the peripherals on the groundside. Then, a primary ground station software (whether the APM mission planner or my control interface (as pictured on main screen)) connects to the distributing server program through TCP. Essentially allowing for the downlink to be split into multicast UDP messages for everyone who is interested, but only allowing for uplink/downlink to one primary GCS software via TCP. Thus peripheral information can be displayed as long as you follow MAVLINK protocol. Most of the software internal to the GCS has been written in C++ or LabVIEW.

Anyway, if anyone has questions, would like me elaborate on something, or provide a comms/power diagram; Please post and I will answer when I can. Hopefully this gives everyone else who is still debating on what to include on their groundstation ideas on what a final solution could look/work like.

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