Command and Control Architecture for the Wildlife Challenge RVJET

Hey guys, this is a proposed hardware architecture for the UAS.  It is preliminary and more to show what we can do for documentation and how we might layout our systems.  This is just the command and control system.  There are some things to figure out like camera connections, controller layout, etc.  I think we will have to diagram our software architecture as well but I do not think we can do that yet until we have a better idea of what we are using in the system.  Our critical design review is due April 30th so I think we can also do this with pictures from the plane and may not have to have CAD drawings if we do not get that far.  What I mean by that is that we can take a picture without the wires and photoshop in the connections for labeling.  I will now try to explain connections and what each piece of hardware is and does.

A. Odroid U3

The Odroid U3 is a quad core 1.7 Ghz microcontroller.  It is very fast has a lot of processing chops for our system.  This controller was proposed by Jono to use with Andrew Tridgewell’s on board image recognition software.  It should also be able to control other systems like metal detection and RFID.  Maybe not for this competition but eventually we would actually like to have the autopilot software loaded on the Odroid or a BeagleBoneBlack and we will not have to worry about having a separate APM or Pixhawk.  The Odroid will probably in the second fuselage and will be connected to the AP (D) through USB and we have an I/O shield for the Odroid for connections to the additional embedded sensor payloads.

 

B. XtremeOSD

The XtremeOSD (formally the ExtremeOSD) has not even hit the market.  It should be available for sale to the general public in the next couple of months.  It has been under development for over two years and is well worth the wait.  We are the first people outside of the development team to work with this board. We could possibly be the first with a production hobby class full color OSD in the world!  The XOSD is connected to the GPS (G) in this picture but in reality the GPS will probably be connected to the AP (D).  The GPS (G) and telemetry have to be shared with the XOSD (B), the AP (D), Teleflypro (H) and of course the Bluetooth (F) and radio downlink (C).

 

B1. This is a controller for more convenient placement of controls if the OSD is buried in the plane.

 

C. 1 watt OpenLRS Tx

The OpenLRS Tx is hacked to be a transceiver which is not a standard OpenLRS branch of firmware.  This will give us a bidirectional communications with the plane.  The receiver is providing PPM input to the Channel Wizard (E) and servo instructions are transferred from there.   (See radio control function through Channel Wizard)  The telemetry and mission control will be transferred back and forth from the UART of the tranciever and the AP (D).  In this picture I connected the UART pins of the XOSD (B) and the OpenLRS (C).  Actually the UART from the OpenLRS (C) will connect to the AP (D) and then the UART from XOSD (B) will then got to the Teleflypro (H) instead of from the AP (D) to the TeleflyPro (H)

 

D. AUAV3 or AUAV X-1

The autopilot or AP pictured is the AUAV3.  This is from our sponsors, Nick Arsov and Philip Kocmoud, of Arsov RC Technology.  They are also about to have their production AUAV X-1 underway.  The AUAV3 is very capable autopilot that runs MatrixPilot.  The MatrixPilot is underdevelopment and has a lot of exciting capabilities.  However,  the most of our peripherals have been developed and are stable with a Pixhawk based AP running APM firmware.  While we have the board we are going to experiment and will probably use it in our Drone Prize Cycolps, we will probably have to stick with the APM based AP for the Wildlife Challenge plane.  The XOSD, and the telemetry hack are all based in APM so it will speed development in our short timeline for this contest.  That is where the AUAV X-1 comes in.  We are waiting on the shipment of two of these boards from Arsov RC Technology in the next week or so.  This is their vision of the Pixhawk board with some possibilities of seriously upgrading the microprocessor.  I also liked that they forgo the flimsy molex connectors of the Pixhawk in favor of sturdy pin outs that are standard with most of our RC equipment.

 

D1. Current sensor board for the AUAV3

 

E. Channel Wizard

The Channel Wizard will actually have a twin.  We need it to provide servo pin outs from the Radio Control Rx (C) since it is actually a transmitter module that is hacked into a receiver.  It will serve as a PPM pass through for the first eight channels to the AP and will provide us with 7 additional channels in the first fuselage and 8 additional channels for the second fuselage.  Three channels from the primary fuselage Channel Wizard will control the XOSD (B) functions.  The plane should have a total of at least 23 usable channels for flight control, on board systems manipulation, and secondary user control of camera and embedded sensors.

 

F. Bluetooth

The Bluetooth module may or may not be used.  It can be used for wireless changes to AP on the ground without the need to dig in the aircraft to connect a USB.  This strictly for changes on the ground.  Changes in the air will be handled by the long range telemetry link of the 1W OpenLRS (C).

 

G. GPS module

The GPS module pictured is probably not the module that we wish to use long term.  The AP (D) has an onboard magnetometer but I believe that we will wish to use a remote compass on the GPS module itself.  I have it connected to the XOSD (B) but will probably wish to have it connected through the GPS UART of the AP.

 

H. Telefly Pro

The Telefly Pro is hopefully going to be more like an appendix.  We will wish to remove it.  The reason that we will have it connected is to modulate the GPS and telemetry data via the AV channels for the MyFlyDream Automatic Antenna Tracker.  We are not showing camera and VTX connections in this picture for two reasons.  This is a hardware layout for the control systems.  The peripherals will be shown as they are connected to the individual control components.  The second reason is because we will have to decide where in the video stream the connections will happen.  It will either be connected between OSD and Camera or OSD and VTx.

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Comment by Nick Arsov on March 26, 2014 at 10:16am

Hi Toby,

Just an idea - as you'll have enough free USB connectors over the Odroid, you may use a cheap 802.11n dongle instead the Bluetooth. It is cheap and light enough.

Another thought - it may be better to connect the GPS directly to the AUAV3 and use the outgoing telemetry data to feed the XOSD. AUAV3 won't start without the GPS.

Best regards

Nick

Comment by Gary McCray on March 26, 2014 at 10:55am

Hi Toby,

Really appreciate your publishing this layout for a more capable flight control system.

I think we are going to see more and more systems with vision systems that have a primary controller separate from the flight controller.

Also be interested to see how the color OSD works out.

I don't know if you are aware of it, but the ODroid U3 I/O piggyback board gives access to quite a bit of IO - GPIO, PWM and A/D via 2 of the Odroid's serial ports. (and they provide drivers).

Best Regards,

Gary

Comment by Toby Lankford on March 26, 2014 at 1:24pm

Nick - Thank you so much.  Yes you are correct, we are going to be moving the GPS to the AUAV3.  I was just making initial connections to see how it would look like with what I had laying around. I actually need to couple of GPS compass modules for all these setups.  I am looking forward to sticking the AP in a test plane and see how she flies.  Thank you and Phillip for helping us out with these autopilots.

Gary-  Thank you for the kind words.   I am not sure that I have given all the credit where it is due.  This is the same setup that Andrew Tridgewell is running and we are in communication with him and his Outback Challenge team on integrating this system in our own design. All credit goes to him and for our own team member Jono Parrot.  The tramsmitter to receiver hack is actually from a guy in Luxembourg.  We have been in communication with him and he has been walking us through this hack.  The XOSD is from Xtremecopters. Their team has been working on this OSD for sometime.  Of course, all of these systems are based around the APM and Pixhawk which we all owe to the community.  I am sure I have missed somebody in this article but we would not be able to do this without a solid research and opensource community.  Thank you and I look forward to sharing what all we do and if there are any new things that we are able to contribute.

Comment by Janis Kuze on March 27, 2014 at 5:34am

Hi, have you decided on mission planning and payload integration software to tie all this stuff into single user interface already?

As you know ugcs.com supports wildlife conservation UAV challenge and offers its software together with support for teams.

Comment by Toby Lankford on March 27, 2014 at 6:08am

Janis,

Thank you and we are getting ready to evaluate a few ground control software packages.  We are also looking at mission planner and QGroundCntrol. I am interested in UGCS capabilities and I really like that it supported on linux.

Comment by Janis Kuze on March 27, 2014 at 6:38am

Feel free to download beta from our site and contact me for more info or help with it.

Comment by Toby Lankford on March 27, 2014 at 11:28pm

Thank you Janis.  I will contact you soon. I am sure we will have many questions.  I look forward to getting a closer look at this system.

Comment by Parke @ ParkeFlyer on March 28, 2014 at 9:19am

OpenLRS is a great decision, but "OpenLRSng" is the way to go. It is now considerably more advanced than the original OpenLRS. (Maybe this is what you are already using.) Equally important is the hardware that this group is also working on. I would avoid, at all cost, the Orange/HobbyKing hardware you have pictured. The designs are old and build quality is unreliable. (I had two units DOA before coming across these other options.) Check out the "Deluxe TX" and the new 6ch and 9ch RXs from the OpenLRSng camp. There is also a 1 watt RX now, so you don't have to convert a TX to get a long range RX with telemetry. Great build quality, improved filters, and configuration software, etc.

Comment by Spyros on April 21, 2014 at 9:49am

HI,

could I please ask your opinion on something regarding the RVJET?

Did you connect your servos directly on the APM or did you use an external BEC to power them?

Thanks

Spyros

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