FPV control over 3G celllular connection

We developed a simple controller to pilot drones/cars/boats/etc. via 3G cellular connection, using a custom PCB on top of a Raspberry A+ with a camera.

Here is a video of test flight controlled via a 64Kbps cellular connection:

A view of the Raspberrry Pi "Hat":

The PCB in a prototype 3d-printed case:

All the source files, schematics and CAD files are open source and on github:


Any feedback would be welcome in order to guide the development of the project.

Anyone else interested in FPV control over cellular connection? If so, what setup are you now using?

Views: 5729

Comment by Rana on October 14, 2015 at 7:41pm

David, It's really really great project, I am proud to back this project, wish you all the best !

Following is the message I got after backing this project;
"Contribution Summary: CellPilot
Payment Method: PayPal   
Total Contribution: $45USD

Please note that this is a Fixed Funding campaign. Though your payment will be processed immediately, you will receive a refund if the campaign does not reach its funding goal.

Your Perk: CellPilot assembled PCB+case      
Estimated Delivery:   December 2015"
Comment by David Janssens on October 15, 2015 at 7:35am

Thanks for your support!

Do you think more people would be interested in trying it if I try to make a version that can run standalone, without needing the Raspberry Pi under it? (that way it would also use less space, less weight and less total cost).

I think it might be possible by using a cheap ARM CPU like the Allwinner A20 (less than $4/unit and also supports hardware video encoding):


This way it would be possible to make a box that people just turn on and ready to fly without having to plugin the "hat" pcb on the raspberry, screw the enclosure, etc.

Anyway, just an idea, maybe more people prefer the "standard" raspberry environment, I don't know.

Comment by UAS_Pilot on October 15, 2015 at 1:01pm

Very cool project with alot of potential... Looking forward to seeing the progress... Great work....

Comment by Rana on October 17, 2015 at 6:39pm

Hi David ! sorry for the late reply. What I suggest is to first make the one for which campaign is going on and side by side also work on the H/W standalone autopilot without Pi, based on ARM Allwinner A20 running code based on Ardupilot code + streaming video.


Make a prototype, make nice presentation including 2-3 videos and post here. People would love it, I already started loving it the way you described it. 


The code has to be open source else people will bash it.

Comment by David Janssens on October 18, 2015 at 5:52am

Thanks for the suggestion. I started working on v2 already this weekend...

After search some more I found that the smallest/cheapest chip is the allwinner R8, which is used in the C.H.I.P: http://nextthing.co/ . It is also easy to use in a PCB because the RAM is included in the cpu itself.

However it seems the R8 chip can not be purchased yet, and I don't want to wait. So I decided to make a small board using the Allwinner A13. I will also try to make the PCB entirely in Kicad this time instead of eagle and will put in the repository after I test a first board.

Comment by David Janssens on October 18, 2015 at 7:29pm

Actually, I can put already all my files in github for cellpilot v2, so I can get early feedback from you or other interested people.

The first thing I want to make is a small CPU module based on the A13, that will replace the Raspberry PI and will fit in a small 4x4cm box (smaller than Pi, but with less peripherals, etc.).

I started to work on ir this weekend, I placed the A13 cpu and DDR3 SDRAM on the board already and started the RAM<->CPU trace routing (all in KiCAD).

I put the files for this in a separate repository here: https://github.com/nfco/tinycom (because it can be used not only in cellpilot but also in other projects).

So I will try to finish this small CPU module and then make a small base board with PWM output etc.

When the board is finished, I will try to fly it on a smaller mini quad and post a new video.

Comment by DavidFolts on November 7, 2015 at 8:14pm

David, have considered using an Intel Edison instead of the RPI?... it can run your code and with sparkfun blocks, would give you the same Io capability... plus interface with pixhawks, amp etc.  very small form factor and weight.  just a thought

Comment by Rana on November 7, 2015 at 8:25pm

Hi David,

At least me won't go for Intel Edison, interested only in RPi because it is much popular around the world.

Everything of RPi you get quite cheap off the shelf from almost everywhere. So would think of quitting backing this project. 

Comment by Rana on November 7, 2015 at 8:53pm

Sorry, I have quit.

Comment by DavidFolts on November 8, 2015 at 9:14am

did you get your David's mixed-up Rana?   I was only asking a question about another co-processor


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