I've had the pleasure of beta testing a new Android based Mapping/VR/Modelling GCS for 3DR Solo.  In addition to Solo support it also supports both Pixhawk based fixed wing and multicopters.  DJI Phanton3/Inspire 1 compatibility is likely to follow.

It is refreshing to see a GCS for Pixhawk that is as easy to use as my Sensefly eBee, requiring zero piloting skills, and 100% flown using a tablet PC.  I recorded the above video yesterday during another test mission.  The only time I touched the RC controller was to turn it on and off, otherwise, the app armed the motors, flew the solo, landed it, disarmed the motors, and then Geo-tagged all the photos, ready for upload for map processing.

Views: 2393

Comment by Alexey Dobrovolskiy on December 12, 2015 at 4:12pm

Not bad. I can't find authors site, who are they?

Comment by James masterman on December 12, 2015 at 4:49pm

Thanks Hai,

I am the lead developer on this, it evolved from some work I did during the 2014 outback challenge. The aim for this mapping capture app is to develop something that can make UAV survey work a little easier.

Mission Planner, Tower and others are all awesome GCS tools, fully featured and powerful. And for many users, they are enough.

This tool comes at things from a slightly different angle. Rather than making yet another general purpose GCS, this is a more specialist app for surveying. It doesn't try to give the user control over every little detail, the tool tries to make it fast to get to the business end. Key features to achieve this are:

  • Mission objectives dialog to let you choose desired GSD or altitude, overlap etc
  • Quickly drag out a box to indicate survey area and lawnmower pattern is created
  • Inserts the bits and pieces you need for a fully auto mission (takeoff, landing, camera triggering)
  • Automated creation of a geofence once home is set each time you turn on the aircraft (see the red ring on the map in the video)
  • Automated pre-flight checks for things such as mission uploaded (we use a syncing paradigm), camera turned on, mission and takeoff points inside the geofence etc. For plane it also prompts to do preflight calibration.
  • You can't fly unless all pre-starts pass.
  • Geotagging is done from the telemetry log database stored on the tablet. After flying your insert your cameras SD card in the tablet (Nexus tablets need an external SD card reader), and then the app does the rest.

With this tool you can't set PIDs or change channel assignments etc. For an aircraft like Solo, you don't need to do much of that anyway, and the Solo app is there if you need it. 

In the video we were using the Solo + GoPro 4 black  which is not ideal for mapping with its lens, but given it's part of the Solo ecosystem, it's easy to use. The app will also work with other cameras that support triggering via a PWM trigger on ArduCopter or ArduPlane platforms. DJI support is in the long term pipeline, but a fair way off currently.

On the business side: this is going to be a paid app. We will also be working with UAV makers who want to brand it to for their business. 

Note: The app is currently designed for 7 inch (at least a Nexus 7 2012) or larger tablets. Typically working with maps is more pleasant on larger screens! We've been using 2012 & 2013 Nexus 7's, Samsung Galaxy Note 2014 10.1 and the new Samsung S2 8 inch.

If this app sounds like something you might find useful we will be putting up details of a beta testing program shortly.

Comment by James masterman on December 12, 2015 at 4:52pm

@Alexy, the site is not up yet, we've been busy testing and building the app. We should have something up shortly.

Comment by James masterman on December 12, 2015 at 5:37pm

BTW Alexey - are you one of the developers of UgCS? If so, awesome work, it's the most professional GCS I've seen for PC/Mac and was certainly a source of inspiration for me. 

Comment by JB on December 12, 2015 at 7:15pm

Nice! Looks really familiar somehow!

Good job as always James.

Comment by James masterman on December 12, 2015 at 8:30pm

Thanks Sam (JB). Yes, no doubt it will bring back some memories of last years OBC!

There have been a heap of changes both on top of and under the hood since then, though. Lots of late nights as always!

Comment by JB on December 12, 2015 at 9:43pm

When you say you've made changes to the back end did you get around to adding camera control over telemetry (RFD900), or are you only doing it over wifi/3G? I suppose the solo is all wifi based? Have you dabbled in live FPV Video streaming in the GCS yet? There's a couple of low latency options we're exploring.

The late nights are what it costs if it's not the primary job! Lots of good memories though! :-)

Comment by James masterman on December 12, 2015 at 10:52pm

You can connect the app to the aircraft via a Serial radio (OTG USB or Bluetooth) or Wifi. I wouldn't try connecting directly to an RFD900 with OTG as the tablet probably won't be able to power it (especially if it's set to 1W). The normal 3DR radios are fine for OTG connection. 

The Solo uses a Wifi connection which obviously simplifies things and allows for high quality video streaming as well. Showing a video stream window in this app is planned for future releases, but the Solo app does a fine job.

Comment by naish on December 13, 2015 at 2:26am

Hi James, I sent you a friendship request so I can PM you 

Comment by James masterman on December 13, 2015 at 3:01am
Thanks naish88, I've accepted your request, PM away :)

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