Description: This platform was inspired by the realization that almost all the hardware you need for a functioning UAV is contained in the high-end cellphone in your pocket: GPS, camera, two-way long-distance wireless data communications, onboard computing and storage. Why do the tricky hardware integration when some cellphone maker has done it better themselves? By using a Windows Mobile phone, a UAV becomes a software, not a hardware, project. (You can see the phone strapped to the bottom of the plane in the image above; the sensor to the rear of it is for the FMA co-pilot.)

Features: Control the UAV (dynamic waypoints, camera commands, "come home", etc) by text message! Plane can return GPS-tagged imagery in real time by MMS (also stores it onboard for later downloading). Phone steers the rudder along GPS waypoint path, circling on command, and controls the throttle to maintain altitude. Separate FMA co-pilot stabilizer on the ailerons and elevator keeps the plane flying level.

  • Airframe: Hobbico SuperStar (49" wingspan, $109). [If you want much better performance, you can upgrade it to a brushless motor and a LiPo battery]
  • Autopilot: HP iPaq 6515 Window Mobile smartphone (GPS, 1.2 megapixel camera, discontinued but widely available for less than $200 on eBay.)
  • Stabilization: FMA Direct FS8 Co-Pilot (infrared sensors, $115)
  • Interface: Rentron serial-to-servo board ($77)
  • iPaq to serial cable ($20)
  • Custom software: code running on Windows Mobile, using HP's GPS, Cameraphone and text message libraries. It's still a work in progress, but you can download a beta version that shows basic functionality, here. (Copy the CAB file to your iPaq and run it from the file manager to install the program. It requres the Rentron board and serial cable listed above to do anything useful.). The VB source code is here, so you can modify it for your own needs, including adapting it for Windows Mobile 5 and 6 and other GPS-enabled WM phones. Documentation coming soon.

Views: 9963

Comment by Frank Cates on September 13, 2007 at 5:47pm
Any progress on this project recently? I have been watching the others, all of these projects have been interesting concepts.
Comment by Ryan on October 6, 2007 at 3:22am
I like the idea of this one but cannot see how the gps course can be changed by texting the phone and how it can circle, come home etc without the gps coordinates already being in there.

Can someone explain this to me please as this is the system i would like to use and i have everything for it. I want the plane to fly a set route, circle round the "target" a few times and then fly back home so i can land it.

I just have visions of it dissappearing off into the distance.

3D Robotics
Comment by Chris Anderson on November 25, 2007 at 11:48pm
You just designate phone numbers that are allowed to command the autopilot and then txt the airborn cellphone number from those phones. We'll create an instruction manual eventually, but for now if you want to get the details on the message format for those txts it's best to examine the source code in the post above.

3D Robotics
Comment by Chris Anderson on January 24, 2008 at 6:00am

I actually have no idea what changes you'll have to make for the southern hemisphere! Perhaps you can try it and tell us ;-)

Also, I didn't write the software. But if you've got a few specific questions I can ask the author.
Comment by Scott James on January 24, 2008 at 6:38pm
Cool, I will let you know what I find with the north - south GPS info.
I guess my main question on the software was on the PID settings in servo setup and what was the meaningof those values. Thanks Chris.
Comment by Forbzy on March 5, 2008 at 6:35pm
Hello, i am also in the southern hemisphere and would like to build a UAV as cheap as possible, i currently have a largish electric V-tail with plenty of room for electronics in the fuselage, what would be the best way to build a fully functional UAV for as little $ as possible?
also do you have any UAV's capable of autonomous landing/takeoff?
Comment by Simon Pan on April 8, 2008 at 1:02am
What program is needed to open the source code? I have Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 but it won't open.

Btw, any ETA on the instruction manual? =) Using a cellphone for wireless communication, GPS navigation, and telemetry sounds pretty cool
Comment by Scott James on April 8, 2008 at 3:00am
Hey Simon,
Download, BASIC Stamp Windows Editor version 2.4 (~5.9 MB)
I have got most of the basic stamp autopilot working now, still yet to put it into a plane though.
Comment by Scott James on April 8, 2008 at 3:18am
sorry, I just worked out we are not on the basic stamp page.

3D Robotics
Comment by Chris Anderson on April 8, 2008 at 4:56am

You need the Windows Mobile Dev Kit (it's a free DVD):


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