Introducing OpenGSU : Cross-Platform Ground Station

I'm following this community regularly and I must say that I'm very impressed
by all the job done and the good spirit. Congrats to Chris and all the team players!

Some months ago, I started to build a ground station and I realised that
an affordable full-featured ground station with video + data link, antenna tracker,
a good visual way to get some status, in a small shape was not available.

Almost all the features needed their own independant device that need casing, wiring, source
of power, all kind of adaptation, settings to make stuff talking together, dealing with differents
suppliers to finally getting a big heavy mess of wires, connectors, pcbs and boxes.

Then I finally decided to design my own all-in-one integrated solution. So what seemed a simple
step in turning my heli into an UAV turned to a complete project : OpenGSU.

OpenGSU stands for open source ground station unit and the project aims to simplify ground
station building and to provide a rich set of features with the flexibility of open source software.

Today, the opportunity to share my work is sounding great to me, and this is probably due to the
influence of Diydrones sharing spirit.

Here the OpenGSU features list, some are already well running and some are in progress:

- 5.8Ghz Video receiver with two buffered A/V outputs
    - one outputted through an 4-poles jack connector for an LCD, googles or video recorder...
    - one internally connected to an USB video capture allowing the PC getting the video
- Xbee footprint compatible transeiver with independant LDO
- Standalone GCS on color touchscreen feeded by MAVLINK frames
- Standalone SDCard datalogger with real-timestamp (RTC is integrated)
- Standalone Joystick controller allowing control through a regular usb joystick  
- Standalone configurable buzzer-alarm (low battery, signal lost, maximum altitude exceeded ... )
- Standalone Sensorless Antenna tracker based on the data downlink
- 32-bit dev-board allowing execution of custom code
- PC connexion using an unique USB wire allowing (HUB is integrated) :
    - Video link (USB video capture device),
    - Data link (Virtual Com port),
    - Log access (Mass storage device)
    - MCU Firmware update (USB HID bootloader)
    - Compatibility with the well-known GCS : Mission planner and QgroundControl
- Possibility to power from USB only but with some components automatically inhibited.
- 5amp DC/DC with 6-32V voltage input to handle big tracker servos
- Aluminium compact casing or "OEM" version for pelican case machined panel integration

                        Open GSU back panel

                       Open GSU PCB bottom view

                        Open GSU PCB Top view

I'm working currently on a website and it will be online soon.

More details will follow in my next posts.

Meanwhile, Feel free to show your interest.


Views: 7927

Comment by Ivan Popovic on February 9, 2013 at 9:15am

Wow!  Insane awesome job!

Comment by Rob_Lefebvre on February 9, 2013 at 9:30am

Wow!  This.  Is.  Amazing.

I'm very very interested in this. Particularly the OEM version.

I'm actually just assembling a ruggedized RC TX in a box right now.  The paint is drying on my waterjet cut panels as we speak, I have all the hardware and will start assembly this afternoon.  I've got the RC Tx code under control, running on an Arduino Mega. And I'm decasing a Video screen which is going in the lid.

I had planned on trying to merge Ardustation code in with the Mega to run on a single processor.  But I'd really like to have a small GCS screen like what you're suggesting here.  That would give a complete solution in a single box.  At the same time, I have a second Pelican case that my laptop goes in.  I had been planning on using it to run Mission Planner if and as required.  But that would present a complication where I have to choose which device will do the Mavlink connection.  MP on the PC, or the Ardustation code.  Sounds like yours would allow a dual connection?

Your system would do away with much of this complication.  Leave the Mega free to run the RC Tx code, build your system into my case. The only question I have right now is how to integrate it, physically.  My video monitor is in the lid.  I was planning on de-casing my Vid Rx, and putting it behind the panel in the lid.  Have the VRx antenna connector sticking out of the panel near the top, so you could simply attach an antenna that will peak out of the top of the lid.

It would take a bit of re-arrangement I think to do all this in my case with your system.  I'm sure it can be done, but it's something to figure out.

I'd want to put the touchscreen in the lid, but have the external USB connection in the base of the system.

Anyway, when will the OEM version be available for purchase? I'm first in line.

I'll probably be showing off my RC Tx box later today or tomorrow.

Wow wow wow.  Just when I needed something like this, here it is.  

Comment by Peter Meister on February 9, 2013 at 10:11am

This has to be one of the best I have seen to date. Well done! Really nice!

Comment by Tom in NOVA on February 9, 2013 at 10:37am

Looks really full-featured and professional! What is the total estimated cost?

Comment by Mohcine on February 9, 2013 at 11:05am

@ Ivan & Peter :

Thanks guys !

@ Robert :

"Sounds like yours would allow a dual connection?" Yes, this is exactly the purpose of OpenGSU, MP and standalone GCS can work at the same time without collisions.

"The only question I have right now is how to integrate it, physically." The panel aperture size is 53x75mm and the M3 hole spacing is 55x85mm, you will need a volume of 120x75x25mm ( + wires volume) behind the panel.
I'm planning to write an integration tutorial in the wiki i'm working on...

"Anyway, when will the OEM version be available for purchase?" If everything goes right, first OpenGSUs will be shipped during April just before the "good season". 

Good luck Robert with your ground station, don't hesitate if you have another questions!

Comment by Mohcine on February 9, 2013 at 11:15am

@Tom :

I'm still have to figure out some details that can impact the final price, but what can I say today is it will be under 300 USD.

Comment by Tom in NOVA on February 9, 2013 at 12:14pm

Mohcine....that's a very reasonable price in my opinion. Keep up the great work and progress...

Comment by Rob_Lefebvre on February 9, 2013 at 12:44pm

Can you sketch out the OEM design?  I'm not sure how you are going to work it.  But if you intend that it be installed vertically, with the 120mm dimension facing down, that's going to be a serious problem.  I have a 1500 case, and it won't fit, and that's already a fairly big case.  The bottom of this case is only 4" deep.

Comment by Gerard Toonstra on February 9, 2013 at 1:17pm

This is a very nice custom build. Where and how did you do the alu casing?

Comment by Mohcine on February 9, 2013 at 1:57pm

Robert, the oem version should be mounted parallel to the panel, you will need a surface of 120x75mm behind the panel and only a depth of 1" (25mm) so only forth of the depth of your pelican case. Please see the following very diy sketch out (the cutouts of the panel are in red, 4 holes and the lcd aperture). If you need connectors to be accessible from the panel, you can use extension cables.


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