Android based GCS with Bluetooth <-> XBee bridge

Hello all,

When I started with my copter, I thought of making a Linux based GCS, as I don't run Windows. However, I decided that trying to duplicate all the work on the Windows GCS was counter productive. On top of that, my laptop is dying, so in the field it would be less than useful anyway.

I recently got an Android phone, in part for its programmability. Linking it up to a quad (or hexa etc.) seemed like it would be useful. Therefore, I've been working on an Android based GCS, and although by no means done, I thought I would share and maybe get some feedback on desired features.

The phone really only has WIFI and Bluetooth for connectivity, and my quad has neither of those as options. Finding a 802.11 link for on the quad proved tough, and the range on Bluetooth is not good enough for what I am looking for. To solve that I made a Bluetooth <-> XBee link: its small and just stays in my gear case while letting me use the phone at long range from the quad. When using my laptop, I can just use it's bluetooth connection and still use the standard configurator.

I needed a place for code, so if interested, its hosted at Copter-GCS Wiki. There are screenshots there showing features, but in a nutshell:

-Configure PIDs
-Calibrate Offsets and Transmitter
-Sensor graph for current outputs
-Map the quad GPS position, as well as the phone's

Like I said, its not done, and has some things to work out. Once I do I will make the code available (if there is interest). There are a bunch of things I want to try with this, like GPS following etc, but this seemed useful for in the field calibration/testing. When Arducopter 2.0 comes out, I will update so that the MAVLink protocol is compatible.



Views: 4848

Comment by Sebastian Gralla on May 1, 2011 at 2:05pm

did you have any problems with bluetooth <-> xbee connection?

which bluetooth unit did you use?


I'm planning something like this, but never got to actually try it out :(

Comment by Bart on May 1, 2011 at 2:09pm

No, its pretty straightforward, just cross the Tx/Rx lines, and give it ~3.3v.

The XBee carrier board needed to have a diode removed on the Din line, but other than that, it was just a matter of wiring it up.

I'm using


3D Robotics
Comment by Chris Anderson on May 1, 2011 at 2:11pm

Very nice! We're doing something similar with Xbee<->Wifi and an HTML GCS, mostly because we're scared of Bluetooth connection issues and want it to be totally cross-platform (iPhone, iPad, Android, Android tablet, laptops, etc).


But maybe we're wrong to be so worried about Bluetooth connection headaches across plaforms?

Comment by Sebastian Gralla on May 1, 2011 at 2:16pm
great, thanks for this info
Comment by Bart on May 1, 2011 at 2:28pm


I'll look forward to seeing the Wifi setup (any timelines/links?). I had a quick look around, and finding off the shelf bluetooth was easier/cheaper than building a wifi bridge.

The cross-platform feature is great though, and certainly a draw-back of my setup. Any concerns with the 2.4ghz hotspot being near the radio gear?

Comment by Sebastian Gralla on May 1, 2011 at 2:35pm

"Any concerns with the 2.4ghz hotspot being near the radio gear?"

I'm running xbee pro 2.4Ghz with full power next to my transmitter and reciever, no problems with 2.4Ghz DSM2 radio system

Comment by Scott Plunkett on May 1, 2011 at 2:59pm
Hey Bart, this is really close to something I developed called the BlueBee...just integrated all the hardware into one part - do you think there is a market for it?? I could Opensource the board, the guys could even sell it in the store - I just figured since my code was so limited I wouldn't bother posting. I have been away from the site for some time, but if you'd be willing to partner up let me know!!
Comment by Ritchie on May 1, 2011 at 3:03pm
@Chris iPhone Bluetooth is not exactly friendly with others xD thanks to Apple but with an authenticity chip and developer subscription you might be able to do it (or fake the transmission protocol I suppose).
Comment by d-creator on May 1, 2011 at 3:06pm
great job! now i can try to use galaxy tab.

Comment by Andrew Tridgell on May 1, 2011 at 3:17pm

nice work! Is the code available somewhere? I don't see a svn/git URL on the site. I have an android phone that I'd like to try this on.



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