Some of you might remember a previous blog post last summer about my trainer 3DR quad going into the trees.

As a result I broke the 433Mhz telemetry module and antenna, as you can see on the picture above (SMA connector was ripped off the board).

This module was in my drawer since then. At the price of such a module I really did not want to throw it away.

On the other hand I wanted to try using bluetooth to connect my Nexus 7 tablet (with Droidplanner, thx Arthur!) to my X8 Octo. I use it for AP and I want to have my tablet and my TX radio together (not possible to frame a picture with a laptop and control the drone at the same time).

So here was an idea : Build a new antenna for the broken 3DR module, then connecting a bluetooth module to this 3DR module.

1-Let's start with the antenna built :

Due to the damage of the 3DR module, it was not possible to solder a new SMA connector. Plus I do not like very much the standard 433Mhz duck antennas. In these duck antennas we have a quarter wave antenna.

I decided to build a half-wave dipole antenna. Here are the parts to build it:

-A a regular servo lead (>200 mm long). Any other wire will do. it must be thin enough to be inserted in a plastic antenna protective tubing

-A 300 mm long (or longer) antenna plastic tubing like these:

3689560092?profile=original-Solder & iron

-Hot glue

-a Ruler (>30 cm)

Start cutting a 300mm long plastic tube. Mark its middle. Use a hot solder iron to melt a hole in the middle. This hole will be used to pass the servo wires through each half of the tube.

As it is diffciult to pass soft servo wires in such a tube, you can use a small rigid iron wire (take the one your wife uses to attach the roses in the garden...) on which end you solder the tip of the servo lead. Then pull the servo wire through the tube.

It should look like this afterwars:

3689560321?profile=originalAt this stage the two servo wires are extending out the tube.

We now need to cut each servo wire to measure exactly a quarter of a wavelength (i.e. total dipole length is a half wavelength):

Based on this relation between the speed of light (c), the radio wave frequency (v) , the wavelength is:

3689560281?profile=originalSo for a radio wave of 433Mhz, the lambda calculation gives (in MKSA standard units, sorry for inchies):

3689560342?profile=originalSo we have theoritically to cut the servo wires to have a total length of 34,62 cm.

HOWEVER, there is a bit of wire length extending outside the tube (to the 3DR module) AND

the plastic tubing contains carbon. Carbon is an electricity conductor. Therefore carbon based plastics have an impact on radio wave frequency tuning. A rule of thumb : the more plastic (carbon), the more the theoritical length should be shortened. I went for an horizontal length of 30 cm (+ about 1cm of wire outside of the tube, so a total length of 31 cm). 

Thus, take your ruler and measure 15 cm on each side of the hole (300 mm total length) and trim both ends.

Final step : solder the two wires on the 3DR module. At this stage we have to solder one servo lead (half of the antenna) to the ground, and the other servo lead (the other antenna half) to the antenna port of the module.

Be careful when soldering that the wires should never touch!

3689560286?profile=originalOn the picture, the red servo lead is soldered on the ground port of the 3DR module. The white servo lead is soldered on the antenna port.

Now it is time to check is this home made antenna is worth something. I compared two configurations as follows:

1-the 3DR module with its default duck (quarter wavelength) antenna (and a FTDI cable to the computer on which I'm running mission planner).

2-the 3DR module with this home made dipole (and a FTDI cable to the computer on which I'm running mission planner)

Of course the physical setup/relative positionning between the telemetry modules & antennas remains identical in both cases.

1-Chart with standard duck antenna: RSSI measured between [170-190]


2-Chart with home made dipole (half-wavelength) : RSSI measured  >=200

3689560358?profile=original The home made dipole wins !

(The second part on the bluetooth connection follows below)

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  • Reset APM on USB connect does not resolve problem either
  • This thing does not work with Mission Planner for Windows. You can however connect with QGround Control. I think it is a timing issue where the BT module takes too long so MP times out. I am going to try re-directing to a vifrtual com port and then log on to that with MP
  • Hi

    I'm the guy behind Ghettostation.

    Just for info, Mavlink support has been updated & works like a charm on the GS.

    Now GS also support ground based OSD too ( GhettOSD ).

    Those kind of BT/3DR bridges works perfectly , that's what I used before developping the LTM protocol.


  • ohh, I've re-read my last post,  i skipped a sentence (typing on a phone) what I meant is that if using arduino, the code is already there, nothing new, it works perfectly! this is the ghettostation with mavlink feed needs debugging. however it's hardware is superior, it is possible to use a magnetometer for quick setup in the field, as well as self calibration not to mention its existing ability to take feed from naza controllers, multiwii, vrbrain and taulabs. 

  • MR60

    hmm I will have to dive in yet another new topic to learn.

  • yep, of course the directional antenna, dipole is a waist of space on the ATT. 

    well, it is fairly easy with ardutracker as all the code necessary for the tracking already exists, but might be buggy a little as it was mostly tested on LTM and not mavlink, though mavlink is support not tested much though:

    Multiprotocol antenna tracker and ground osd. Contribute to KipK/Ghettostation development by creating an account on GitHub.
  • MR60

    Hello Artem,

    your ideas are good. To take full benefit of an antenna tracker I would however modify the antenna type to use a more directiionnal one (the one I show in this post is quite omnidirectional).

    I've never tried MinimOSD on the ground side. It is indeed something interesting because it removes some complexity in the multicopter's cabling (which is already complex). Do you have experience in antenna tracking ? (I don't)

  • this is of course if all the issues with MP on PC connecting to your system would be resolved. 

  • @ Hugues, do you think it would increase range if your system would be put on an antenna tracker? in addition to the range benefits we could actually grub mavlink from TX pin and feed it to an ardu tracker. another benefit of mavlink close to the video Rx on the grond would be removing minimOSD from the aircraft and using it on the ground, this way we save a little bit of weight and more importantly we have OSD even if we have our video link down! 

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