Everything you need to know about Paparazzi in one sentence

From the autopilot's easiest, most newbie task: inserting the boot CD:

"On some laptops, you have to enter "knoppix nopcmcia", otherwise it hangs."

In Paparazzi land, that's actually the way they talk. You have been warned.

Views: 549

Comment by Cory on September 6, 2008 at 8:50am
I don't think that is a fair statement. You are mentioning a Knoppix issue, not a paparazzi one.

I think paparazzi is good stuff, but it is far from easy. You are right about that.

I have written a document about the minimum skills needed for success with paparazzi:

Able to install and configure Linux
Familiar with Ubuntu Linux
Understand package management in Ubuntu Linux
Experience with C
Able to compile software in Linux environment
Can program embedded systems
Know how to find the appropriate resources for support (forums, mailing lists, wikis, etc.)

Radio Control Aircraft
Be able to take off and land with confidence
Be able to fly simple patterns
Understand model aircraft setup
Be able to make simple repairs to model aircraft
Be familiar with tools and techniques used for model aircraft
Understand the care and usage of lithium polymer batteries
Be a member of the Academy of Model Aeronautics (For access to certain flying fields)

Familiar with embedded systems
Know how to interface electronic components to micro controllers
Be able to locate, read, and understand data sheets
Know how to troubleshoot electronic systems
Understand signal timing
Be able to solder small components and wires
Be able to fabricate wiring harness
Be able to read schematics

Control Theory
Understand PID control

Able to learn without guidance
Strong ability to troubleshoot systems

3D Robotics
Comment by Chris Anderson on September 6, 2008 at 9:31am
I think the decision to make Paparazzi Linux-only pretty much relegated it to fringe acceptance, with neither enough support for the guys buying commerical systems or easy enough for us low-end guys. As far as I can tell it's only really been adopted broadly by universities, which is a shame given how powerful the autopilot is.

I think that's is an opportunity for someone to port it to Windows and create a plug-and-play version, even commercially.

For me, life is too short to deal with Linux on the desktop (although we use it extensively on the server).
Comment by Cory on September 6, 2008 at 10:16am
"For me, life is too short to deal with Linux on the desktop"

We could debate for days on this one. I have been using Linux on the desktop nearly exclusively for more than a year now. For me, the pains in the beginning were very similar to the problems I experienced when I first started to use windows.

For me, the ease of system administration is the best thing. Every program is updated by synaptic, so it eliminates the constant nagging that one experiences with windows with a half dozen programs running system tray apps that beg for updates. I also do not have to deal with viruses or spyware. My biggest problem is MS office documents that do not play well with open office.

My father also got a new computer with vista on it, and he was complaining that he could not do anything with it. In addition, the very first program he downloaded was malware masquerading as an anti virus program. So I installed Linux for him, and configured all the eye candy. He loves it, and he can do what he needs without having to buy any software. His computer skills were weak to begin with, so to him Windows and Linux are equally difficult.

"neither enough support for the guys buying commerical systems or easy enough for us low-end guys"
I think that a Windows version of paparazzi would not change this, since the biggest hurdles (IMHO) are the systems integration, tuning, and configuration of the autopilot which are OS independent issues.
Comment by hotelzululima on September 6, 2008 at 10:17am
hi Chris,
Miraterre and other UAV companies supplying US military and other projects would tend to disagree with you Chris. in fact paparazzi craft were in the front of the swarm at MAV07 and others. And given the software needs of pararazzi I would NOT be looking at it in windows xp or vista anytime soon(you DONT want a system lockup while your UAV is in the air would you or the legal liability for same(hint look at the windows EULA)).

As for me I dont like ubuntu very much but as pararazzi runs on it I use it and simply adapt, you may want to consider the same .

kind regards

ps guess that makes me one of the lunatic fringe(already a propeller head)!!
Comment by Jack Crossfire on September 6, 2008 at 7:07pm
The killer for Linux is lack of power management on virually all laptops. It has other issues, like its tendancy to remap USB serial ports whenever it feels like it, the tendancy to suddenly tie up the disk running CRON jobs, and the lack of consistent behaviour across Linux derivatives.

The main advantage with Linux is it's efficient and much more customizable. You're basically running software on the silicon. For a ground based autopilot, the main fear with Windows is an advertisement popping up at the moment of truth. Oh yeah, they're not advertisements. They're "upgrade notices".
Comment by Cory on September 6, 2008 at 8:00pm
Can we get some mac fanboys to weigh in on this debate?
Comment by Howard Gordon on September 6, 2008 at 8:38pm
I have to run Linux, Mac and Windows for my work, but do most of my code development on Linux and just about everything else on the Mac because it has a big screen. When I can, I recompile Linux code for the Mac (mine is PPC, so no Parallels or Fusion), but more often than not, there are issues. I might use Windows a couple of times per month to test code compatibility, but that's it. I have been looking pretty closely at those new Dell Inspiron Mini 9's. $350 for a SSD Linux box plus a few bucks to increase storage looks pretty good for a test console.

3D Robotics
Comment by Chris Anderson on September 6, 2008 at 9:22pm
Let's all get some perspective. This isn't PhD Robotics.com, it's a site for amateurs. The whole point of what we're trying to do is to democratize aerial robotics so regular folks can do it.

You smart developer types may be able to handle Linux, but regular people don't want to. Whatever you may think of Windows or the Mac, they're what regular people use. Any project that insists on being Linux only is, by definition, not for for them.

That may be fine with the Paparazzi folks, but we have hopes of reaching a broader audience here.
Comment by Phil Wilshire on September 7, 2008 at 5:37am
Just my 10c

I like to keep both options open.
I have been full time on linux for over 8 years now and I am a professional systems developer.
I run Windows when I have to.

I like the arduino development environment enormously under Linux but have not managed to make it work under Windows. (not that I tried hard ).

I was among the first customers to buy Labview under Linux many years ago.
In some ways Linux (ubuntu in particular) can be very easy to use.

My point is that linux can be fun to use once you get past the initial stages.
Comment by Howard Gordon on September 7, 2008 at 7:01am
Chris -

I understand your frustration, but the fundamental issue you're addressing is that the technologies which excite you are not, for the most part, emerging from the consumer/commercial desktop user world, but rather from developer world that builds with open source compiler toolchains and a wealth of freely available development tools in an environment where it is easy to "get under the hood", and where virtually all of the components are freely shared.

These folks can make stuff run on Windows or Mac if they must, but it can be as painful for them to move their code to Windows (and to a lesser degree, Mac) as it is for the Windows users to navigate the developers' world. And perhaps more significantly, developers who package software for Windows users generally expect to get paid for the effort, while the developers building on open source don't necessarily have those expectations. Also, because the code they are building starts as open source, by virtue of the GNU (or whatever) license agreement, derivative efforts have to be published for free as well.

This isn't black-and-white - some interesting hobby developer projects have roots in commercial products such as Lego Mindstorms and might be mainly based around Windows tools. That might be the case as well with FIRST robotics - I don't know enough about that niche to draw any analogies. However, in both cases, these were commercial ventures with funded development, and to my knowledge didn't derive originally from open source efforts.

Anyhow, if you want make the work being done on Paparazzi or similar powerful open source projects more accessible, you might want to think about ways to help "amateurs" navigate the developers' world.


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