Ground station survey


Ground stations are the means you have available in the field to interact with your autonomous vehicle, so they're a very important part of the toolset to conduct your work or hobby. The ground station as we know it now is not just there to support your activities to plan or execute the flight, they also contain functions for initial setups, configuration of sensors and parameters that manipulate their behavior and post-flight analysis tools.

I wrote a public, anonymous survey where my intention is to see how people experience ground stations in general, with the intention to learn more on how they are experienced. Are they easy to use?  Do many people just use them to log the flight data?  How many people are in your team?  How do you divide the roles?

There are ten questions, most multiple choice, so shouldn't take too long. Looking forward to the responses.

In good opensource fashion, the detailed survey results are also open, so when you complete the survey, you get a link to download the results yourself (so far, of course). My intention is to run this survey for about a week, which is about the time a blog post sort of disappears into the archives. So this survey will close sunday evening 1st of february at 24h UTC. After that, I'll get the results and make a new blog post on the findings and the numbers. 

The survey is available here:

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  • By the way, I will provide a link to the results when it's all finished and write a blog post about it. So nobody needs to redo the survey to get the link back, if they didn't save it. Redoing the survey would also skew the results of course.

  • I'm looking through the intermediary results and there are some surprises. Already the data from the survey provides some insight on what sw engineers building ground stations ought to look into more. A hint?  the survey clearly demonstrates that users consider them "feature complete".

    My statement about software is this:

    "What makes people appreciate your software are the functionality you offer. What makes users love your software is the attention given to little details in every day use that provide just that little bit of an extra edge versus an alternative product that will eventually win your users over."

    So if gcs's are considered feature complete, then we shouldn't focus on what functionality to build in next, but how to reorganize the gcs to make them easier to use and primarily figure out on which hardware it should run.

    Here are some extracts from the excellent commentaries:

    • customization of the elements of the GCS
    • saving and restoring context
    • specifying where to save cached images (so you can maintain a complete context of the mission to redo it again, allegedly?)
    • less bells and whistles, easier and clearer user interfaces with only things on screen you really need (less of an "engineer" interface more of a "pilot" interface)
    • integration with your radio (makes sense!)
    • "expert" and "easy" mode, less parameters.

    What is also a little bit surprising to me is the context and how the GCS is used by the majority. I had some different expectations there.

  • Moderator

    Great idea Gerard 

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