As my inaugural blog post on DIY drones, here's a video of my first step towards building an autopilot: browser-based flight instruments using HTML5 canvas and websockets, with measurements from X-plane via UDP. Here I am flying (badly) off into the subset over Cape Town:

HTML5 Flight Instruments Demo from Benjamin Nortier on Vimeo.

(ed: seems like embedding videos from vimeo are not supported?)

My intention is to build an autopilot, where I'll be doing in-silico development using X-plane at first, then moving on to actual hardware (if the autopilot proves feasible). The plan is to do things a bit differently than what I've read here so far. Notably I'll be programming in Erlang for the autopilot, with the intention of running on something like a Beagleboard on a plane. All my visualisation, ground station, configuration etc. will be browser-based (i.e. Javascript).

The reasons for this approach, in a nutshell are
1. A desire to homogenise the development environment between GS and plane
2. Ability to develop in-silico as much as possible, e.g. not having to deploy each build to hardware and use complicate Hardware-In-Loop setups for testing
3. If you don't know Erlang, it's a great choice for building fault-tolerant soft real-time systems, with the emphasis on "fault-tolerant".
4. Basing control and configuration on a browser will enable you to control and configure from a laptop, ipad, smartphone, form across the world.

Hopefully there will be more to come. Some of these ideas may turn out be be bad decisions, we'll have to wait and see...

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  • Benjamin, I have really enjoyed reading this blog post ! Your thinking and your intention is really very great as it is quite different as compared to the Race of people here at DIY !I wish you all the best !, I would love to hear further from you in this post.

    Best Regards

  • Erlang? I hadn't heard of it before. Interesting choice.
  • Looks interesting. Keep us updated.
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