DIY UxV control station - DRAFT


This project currently is in draft status. I will update the article on my homepage, as it progresses.

Normal R/C transmitters are not the best way to control a UxV. For instance, they usually require additional components like ArduStation for the ArduPilot project, which means, the operator has to start juggling already with 2 components. Depending on mission and payload, there easily might be 1 or 2 more systems added. Based on this idea, I started thinking about a UxV controller which at least inconporates the R/C transmitter and the mission control component.

The R/C TX component is based on modules. I am planning to use the FrSky DHT module which is especially for integration in user projects. Another possible option would be to cut a matching rectangular hole into the UxV-CS' enclosure e.g. for JR compatible modules. The main board could be taken from a cheap chinese radio, e.g. the Turnigy 9x, but I am planning for the ERSKY9x board. The ERSKY9x board is a third party board which was developed as an improved replacement board for the 9x radios. It features a much more powerful CPU and runs Open9x firmware.

Instead of the usual R/C-joysticks, the UxV-CS will have 3-axis joysticks which pushbuttons. Additionally, a linear slide potentiometer and several switches are planned on the TX side.

The mission control component will be based on an Arduino Mega 2560 with a 40x4 character LC-display. The Arduino will feature  "softbuttons" with changing functions as well as a 4x4 matrix keyboard for data entry. Those will be complemented by mission-related switches and an external joystick module for camera operations. Also, a mini thermal printer will be integrated e.g. for adhoc printing of GPS coordinates in SAR missions. For communications, the 3DR 433MHz modules are planned.

Update 07JAN13, 1610UTC:
- Corrected some typos
- Updated link to project page
- Added reference to 3DR radio modules

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  • Updated my project page - added an additional layout draft with a 4.3" graphic LCD.

  • Using RC modules like the FrSky DHT, it would be fairly easy to integrate an RC TX into e.g. ArduStation(-Mega). Or make a USB-PC interface. After all, the RC TXs are just embedded systems and usually with a much smaller chip than an ATMega2560.

    The only thing you need is the respective PPM out. But that would be a different topic for a different project. My UxV-CS concept includes a ready RC TX :).

  • maybe the ardupilot GCS should be restyled to an app simular to that from parrot ardrone.
    Then you only have one device for flying the uav and control its missions and do everything else.

    To avoid lag and range issues on the primary flight controls, they should also develop some sort of USB RC trasmitter (be it analog FM, 2.4ghz or 5.8ghz). Plug it in to your GCS device (tab, smarthpone, laptop) and fly.


  • Exactly what I have been working on and missing. Also way better. really awesome!

  • Jani, tiedän, tiedän :).

    But I chose the ERSKY9x board for several reasons: It runs an ARM Cortex architecture CPU, which is substantially more powerful than an ATMega. The ERSKY9x board has options for supplemental hardware, like LCDs which are also sold by the team, so I don't have to buy another 9x radio and rip it apart, just to get the display and other hardware. Additionally, I don't want to use MAVlink for primary flight control because of lag-issues and range, so just connecting joysticks to a GCS is no option for me (if I wanted this, I could use the laptop/joystick variant with the Windows GCS). I also don't want to start writing the software for just basic flight controls when anyways a TX is needed and a TX does this job substantially better.

    I chose Open9x over er9x because of the feature set and because even the er9x developers recommend Open9x now.

    The ArduPilot and MAVlink support in er9x/Open9x is pretty rudimentary. You can set the mode and display MAVlink telemetry on the relatively tiny TX-display.. That's not what I want.

    I want a full featured integrated mission control system which can do much more than just switch the mode or display some telemetry on the mission control side.

  • Developer

    Stefan, ASM actually can be rather easily modified to use joysticks etc. I have been thinking to do system similar what you are working on. 

    Basically you can even run er9x software on ASM board as they both uses same cpu and graphical units. Gruvin9x is new replacement board for Turnigy radios that will do most of what you plan. It also runs er9x software inside. This software have already full support for ArduPilot and MAVLink.

  • If you read my text and look closely at the concept drawing, you will find that the whole point is to integrate the R/C TX and the mission control system (and maybe more) into a single unit and that my draft includes functionality which is provided by neither ArduStation variant.

  • Have you concidered using this ?

    jD-ArduStation Mega V1.5
    R/C UAV and ArduCopter manufacturer and one stop shop. We make your FPV come true.
  • At the moment, I'm working on the idea every evening a bit. I'm not yet totally happy with the layout and I might kick the 4x40 out in favor of a 4,3" graphic LCD. I'm playing a lot with ideas.

    But I'm about to order the FrSky tx module and an RX to start tinkering with the telemetry. I think, I'll order the enclosure also soon. I find it easier to think about the layout if I have the physical box on my desk.

    I'd also be interested in some feedback, criticism or ideas.

  • very interested project draft.

    when will you plan to make it more complete and implement it?

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