Skywalker X8 - Video and Telemetry via 3g internet

Here is a short video presentation of my Skywalker X8 UAV using 3g broadband internet for video and telemetry.


Onboard my X8 i have this ZTE MF60 3g/Wifi router which handles the communication for the APM2.5 and the Raspberry Pi model B. I didn't wanna use the Dronecell because i will place the load away from the APM2.5. I could have put a 3g USB adapter in my Raspberry Pi as well, but the Pi have more than enough to do transcoding the video-stream, so i use a Cisco Wifi USB adapter in my Pi to communicate with the 3g router and GCS.


The telemetry from my APM2.5 is sent to a Serial 2 Wifi converter which then is connected via Wifi to the 3g router. I then connect to my APM2.5 using TCP from Mission Planner.


The Raspberry Pi are using VLC Player for Linux to transcode the videostream from the Microsoft Lifecam webcamera to a resolution of 352x288 at 500kbit/s and 10 fps. If you want to use the same solution just change the hostname and port to you needs in the command below. I use Dynamic DNS (client configured in my Raspbery Pi) since mye 3g router gets a dynamic IP adress on every new connection.

Command in the Pi for starting videostream:

"sudo -u pi vlc-wrapper -I dummy -vvv v4l2:///dev/video0 :v4l2-width=352 :v4l2-height=288 :v4l2-fps=10 :sout='#transcode{vcodec=MJPG,vb=500,fps=10,scale=1,width=352,height=288,acodec=none}:std{mux=ts,access=udp{ttl=10},}' :sout-all :sout-keep"

At my GCS i start VLC using this command in a .CMD file to recieve the video from the X8 and re-stream it to the Mission Planner:

"C:\Program Files (x86)\VideoLAN\VLC\vlc.exe" udp://@ --sout=#transcode{vcodec=MJPG,vb=500,fps=10,scale=1,width=352,height=288,acodec=none}:duplicate{dst=http{mux=mpjpeg,dst=:8080/},dst=display} :sout-all :sout-keep

In Mission Planner you just enter "http://localhost:8080" in the "SET MJPEG Source" when right-clicking the Hud. I have a 6GB per month dataplan in my 3g router and my calculations says that this can give me more than 52 hours of videostream. My sim card is a non-firewalled APN.


For now everything is powered from a MaxAmps 11000mah LIPO  This is a high capasity battery and the weight is only 825gram. My plan is to have 2 of those in my X8 for a really long range flight.

Right now i'm using a Sanwa 35mHz radio, but i waiting for my Turnigy 9XR and 433mHz modules from Hobbyking. I don't use 2.4gHz because of the 2.4gHz in my 3g router.


Views: 27693

Comment by John McGrath on October 31, 2013 at 1:31pm

Tommy what is your motor / prop / esc combo? I am building up one for AG photography and looking to maximize duration. There is so much info and everyone has a different combo it seems so its hard to muddle through the junk. I will have the APM and a Cannon in the belly I will probably be using RF900 Radios for telemetry unless I can do this setup you are speaking of. 

Comment by Jean-Marie Binot on November 16, 2013 at 12:54am

Hello Tommy, i follow your mervellous work with APM video and telemetry on 3g and i've seen that you've tested the Android App "MavCell" with success.

I'm searching a solution with only using an Android smartphone 4G for video and telemetry.

I would to know if it's possible for you to send with MavCell the video stream in same time with an Android App as "IP Webcam":

I've tried it but without any success, may be have you a solution, please?

Best regards.


Comment by Saluka Udbhasa on December 8, 2013 at 6:49am

but I don't know how to configure raspberry pi and i don't know codings

Comment by Saluka Udbhasa on December 8, 2013 at 6:49am

but I don't know how to configure raspberry pi and i don't know codings

Comment by Corsair on January 17, 2014 at 1:43pm

Hello All,

Excellent work by Tommy. I can realize the advantages of this solution.

But Still I have couple of doubts in the solution. It would be really great if you all clear my novice doubts. Forgive my ignorance.

a) Why do we need wifi adaptor and wifi Router for this solution ? Will 3G/4G dongle alone solve the purpose.along with Ras Pi for video transmission.

b) what is main functionality of Ras Pi ?

c) What would be total weight of the system. Can this type of solution be applicable of Multirotors (Say quad of 30cm in dia)

d) What are the disadvantages of this system over traditional RF video transmission.

At this stage, Im looking for jitter free video transmission from my quad using 3G internet. Please suggest similar solution if available.

Thank you all once again.

Comment by Ronny Grimm on February 2, 2014 at 9:01am

Great Work Tommy!

I haven't sen anyone else doing this magic...both video AND Telemetry link for the APM via 3g!!

I had to order a Raspberry Pi today and give it a try in my UAV-3000

Think I will also go for the WiFi router option as you successfully did.

I will probably have some questions later when i start connecting everything up...

I´m looking forward to see some updates soon on how you are progressing with flying this bird

Many Thanks from Sweden!

Comment by Tommy Larsen on February 2, 2014 at 9:13am

Hi and sorry for not answering your questions earlier.

This solution is now "very old"! My current solution is much better and does not include a wifi 3g router, but a USB 3g adapter and some other stuff. I have said that i will make a new blogpost on my latest solution for a long time now. I will try to make this happen soon :)

Comment by Ronny Grimm on February 2, 2014 at 9:22am

I hope i have some use of my ordered raspberry in your new solution....Luckily I haven't ordered the wifi yet...

I will try to learn how the Pi works in the meantime

Keep us posted Tommy

Btw Here is a vid of my X-8 adventures...

Comment by Tommy Larsen on February 2, 2014 at 9:23am

I use two RPi's in my solution. One airborne and one at the GCS :)

Comment by Matt on February 8, 2014 at 6:02pm

Can't wait for the blogspot to go live!!


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