[Idea] PiStation : A RaspberryPi based GCS


Hi Guys,

I had been planning on designing an Arduino Mega based GCS for my new UAV running on an APM 1 donated by Martin (from BuildYourOwnDrone). A while back, I had discovered the ARM-based RaspberryPi and for $25, I had something more powerful and capable than a Mega, not to mention its other functionalites. I began to think of designing a Raspberry Pi based GCS as a replacement for the laptop I have to lug around.

It could have a seven-inch touchscreeen, an Xbee / 3DR Radio connected via USB / directly to the Pi's 3.3v UART. I primarily use an Extreme 3D Pro joystick for flying, so the Pi makes sense as it has a direct USB port (see below) for connecting the joystick, eliminating the laptop.


Some work would have to be done to port over Mission Planner to run natively on Linux and use the hardware UART for telemetry(or we could use a USB hub to multiplex the Xbee and joystick). Another advantage is that we can run the Pi off a Lipo and put the entire GCS into a tablet-sized box for easy use!

At the moment I do not have the adequate funds to get a Pi, and it will have to wait till December, but just sharing my idea so that interested people can give more ideas and generally get work started.

Materials needed for a PiStation (list may be missing some items):

  • 1x Raspberry Pi  
  • 1x XtreamBee Adaptor / 3DR (USB FTDI or direct UART connection)
  • 1x Xbee PRO / 3DR Radio (Assuming you already have one on the drone for telemetry)
  • 1x LiPo pack
  • 1x 7-inch display with a touchscreen overlay
  • A waterproof housing for packing everything into

Thats about it. May have missed some things, I'll add to the list if I remember. please comment on what your opinion is. Healthy criticism is welcome!


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  • Developer

    Thanks for the invitation Kevin. The problem is that my tablet (HTC Flyer) does not provide power to the USB Host devices. So I need to use a Y-cable etc.

    I'm an android ROM developer, so I could help you guys but there's that problem :( We talk more over PM

  • Developer

    The cost for an android USB host cable is usually about $5.

  • Developer

    Cool idea.  Although if you want to start from Android hardware (almost as cheap at $120 for a tablet and includes a nice screen) we'd love to have your help developing here:

  • Very interessting project, anyone with news for this idea?

  • We already have the ultimate GCS that many companies have spent millions developing.  It's called a laptop computer.

    Why not work on putting an ARM processor in the air?  It's never going to come close to even an old laptop that you can get for cheap 2nd hand as a GCS.

  • Why not use qgroundcontrol? It runs on linux.
  • You might be able to run mono on linux and run the Mega Planner. This will save you the hassle of trying to build everything from scratch/

  • What Andrew said makes sense to me. The advantage of using a device like the Raspberry Pi is the low cost but when you add a touchscreen, case, and other components to make it useable in the field it becomes very expensive relatively speaking. More expensive than a small notebook or netbook but with fewer features and more cumbersome.

    By using the Raspberry Pi to host a web based ground control station the user could then use any device with Wi-Fi to access the ground control station (tablets, phones, netbooks, etc.). The overall cost would be lower compared to making a dedicated device with a touchscreen and all. For example here's an $82 tablet that could access a web based ground control station hosted by the Raspberry Pi.

    The touchscreen interface can still exist but it would cost less and be more flexible and could be more accessible to other users.

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