Comms Network for Multiple UAVs! West Coast UAV in the 2016 Outback Challenge

Team West Coast UAV achieved one of our major milestones during testing on the weekend, controlling multiple UAVs through a multi-point comms network suitable for the 2016 Outback Challenge. 

One of the main challenges for our mission will be establishing reliable communications between our ground station and the retrieval aircraft when it lands at a distance of over 10 km away. To solve this we will keep our support aircraft flying in the air and use this to relay the telemetry from the ground station to the retrieval aircraft on the ground.

On the weekend we successfully demonstrated the relay concept in the field using a 1W 900 Mhz radio link between the ground station and the support aircraft (Ben’s X-UAV Talon), and then relayed to the second telemetry link to the retrieval aircraft (Steve’s Crash Test Hobby Reaper) using a 25mW 433 Mhz radio link. Both aircraft were fully controllable in autonomous flight. The retrieval aircraft was flown to a distance of 700m from the support aircraft and still maintained a reliable link.

To read more see the full blog post at our website:

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Comment by Stephen Dade on September 18, 2015 at 1:23am

Awesome! That's something we've been looking at too, but we've not go to the stage of practical tests yet (soon I hope).

With the 900 MHz link from the GCS <-> Support UAV, were both telemetry streams using this link? Or were they using separate links for each UAV?

Comment by Ben Dellar on September 18, 2015 at 2:02am

The RFD900 900MHz link is operated as an IP bridge between two raspberry pi computers and both telemetry streams are sent as UDP packets over that link using MavProxy. This lets us also use other services on the same link if need be (ssh, http etc.)

Comment by JB on September 18, 2015 at 8:37am

Cool stuff Ben.

Are you planning on writing another excellent wiki instruction for the set-up of what you did to make this work, like you did with the mavproxy for Windows 7? I'm assuming you used the RFD900 multipoint mode for this?

Regards JB

Comment by Ben Dellar on September 21, 2015 at 11:11pm

JB - will consider for sure. If it becomes something that is sufficiently ready for mainstream use for sure. The basic pppd/slip init script that drives it is still being tweaked for performance.

It's actually best described as a relay network rather then multi-point. We are running a conventional 2 station 900mhz link for the support aircraft with a relay link between the support aircraft and retrieval on a separate 433mhz radios.


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