Ardustation Uno

The Ardustation is an excellent piece of equipment. It allows you to see important information about your UAV at a glance, along with the ability to change parameters or issue straight forward commands on the fly.
There are, however, some additional features I wanted in my Ardustation. So I set to making my own.
The main features I wanted to improve on were
- Not be required to unplug the XBEE for programming (really slows down dev time)
- Not using a linear regulator for power
- Bring the buttons up to the level of the LCD
- Be as slim as possible
Then nice to haves were
- USB to serial onboard
- Run from single cell LiPo
- Onboard USB charging
- Integrated power switch
- Arduino Mega chip
- Graphic LCD with touchscreen

I realise that I could modify my existing Ardustation to implement some of these features, but I wanted to keep it neat as I could. My design that I am writing about here includes all but the last two points on the nice to haves, which shall have to wait for another revision.


I only got my etching kit about six months ago and this is the first PCB I’ve etched that wasn’t a breakout board. So I’m pretty chuffed with how it came out. I purposely made all of the pins like for like with the DIY Drones Ardustation such that the software remained compatible. I would also like to mention Adafruit’s shared schematics helped out a lot with the additional components.
The unit takes a single cell LiPo for power and has a 5v boost regulator. A 3v3 LDO powers the XBEE, with a logic level shifter providing the interface to the Arduino chip.

The Arduino has the Uno bootloader and is programmed via the onboard ATMEGA8U2 chip. The switch on the side of the unit can disable the XBEE during programming.

The buttons are on a separate board, which could be mounted to an enclosure or directly to the side of the LCD as shown here. All LEDs are SMD and so are hidden. I mostly used them for debugging the hardware rather than being useful in the field- so they never made it onto the button board.
I’m very happy with the finished product, and the USB interface with XBEE switch has made developing the software much much easier. This has been in part a proof of concept for a future design I wish to create with a bigger chip and graphic LCD, but it will certainly last me for a while.

If you want to see the design, or even etch your own, you can find the files on my GitHUB page.

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  • Paul, I've now got the MAVLink software up and running. You can find my post on it here:

  • Thanks Paul :-) Yes, I have revisited the software- building this has made development so much easier. The code isn't quite as good yet; the mission page, that you've shown the picture of, isn't working. But then there are a few additional pages.

    To get it running I've had to slightly adjust one of the mavlink libraries. You can try out my code, which is now on GitHub, but I'll post again soon enough when I'm more confident about it and have a video or something.

    Software for the Ardustation using the MavLink protocol - cgwood/Ardustation-MavLink
  • Colin

    Ardustation is good but I love your h/w update - USB and layout of switches big improvement.

    Also thought your screen layout on bincom version was great, would be really interested if you had re-visited s/w for MAVLINK.


    I'd been thinking about an improved ground station for a while and was looking at a hacked DSO Nano as a nice open bit of h/w with decent processor and bright graphics capable screen (handy wee oscilloscope too) but couldn't make the time.



  • As long as both your GCS type devices support mavlink you can do a Point to Multipoint Xbee setup, that is what I have done. Granted it would be nice to share the same Xbee if you are doing long range antennas.

  • Yes, you are correct, as the Uno uses the same chip- so just one serial line. I've been reading the comments on Heino's post, and your best bet at this point is to introduce a third xbee. I think its easier with series 2 (the only type I've used to date) but should still be possible with series 1. My software, which I'll post soon, is always listening for parameters, so shouldn't get out of sync with the laptop GCS. 


    I've had ideas about the "ArdustationMega" that I want to make floating around in my head for quite some time now, and the telemetry pass through via the USB was going to be one of the features. There are four ports available on that chip :-)

  • Am I correct that the Uno still has just one serial port available? It would be nice to have two serial ports for transparent Mavlink data pass-through to any groundstation software via the USB.

  • I've been working on modifying mine as well to make it fit in a case nicely, I like your additions of onboard USB and charging via USB. I think Chris if you were to start mass producing it what would be great is if we could get a case as well that fits the unit. My modifications also involved moving the contrast and backlit controls to larger control knobs externally. Now if I could just finish it one of these days that'd be great!

  • 3D Robotics

    Colin: Sounds good. Please email me at with the Eagle files and I'll start a thread with the 3D Robotics team to discuss details. 

  • I definitely would :)
  • Thanks Chris, I take it as a big compliment that you would want to mass produce this. Please do!

    If you do, there are a couple of tweaks I would suggest such as better alignment on the LCD header; also could you cite me on the product page :-)

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