Making connections between ArduPilot and laser altimeters easier

We get lots of help requests from customers trying to configure the PixHawk and other flight controllers that are running ArduPilot software. The existing configuration interfaces, such as those found in Mission Planner, can be confusing, even for experienced users. We've introduced a "drone configuration" tool into our free Terminal Application (Rev 1.1.2) that provides a simpler interface to hook up our laser altimeter products.

The drone tool supports all the available protocols (serial, I2C and analog) for each laser product family manufactured by LightWare and provides live feedback of the rangefinder data to make sure that the connections are working correctly.

Some of the key features of the Terminal Application drone configuration tool include:

- Automatic detection and identification of the flight controller

- Drop down selection of the LightWare product

- Drop down selection of the interface type

- Automatic default configuration settings with user override

- Live feedback of the rangefinder distance data

The drone configuration tool will be expanded to cover future products such as our miniature scanning LiDARs for collision avoidance and mapping. Other tools in the application provide direct communication between a PC and a laser altimeter through its built-in USB port. This allows settings to be entered directly into the laser if the default values need to be changed for any reason. These changes can be made without needing either a power supply or a connection to the flight controller.

[Please note that the communications protocol between the LightWare Terminal application and an ArduPilot based flight controller is not MavLink, so it may not be directly compatible with all of the MavLink based controllers that are out there. Yet ;).]

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Comment by Gary McCray on September 3, 2016 at 9:52am

Great Tool LD,

It will make setting up and using your LIDARs a lot easier.

Best Regards,


Comment by Francisco Ferreira on September 3, 2016 at 12:50pm

This is great. You should consider writing about it in the ArduPilot forum, either in the hardware or blog category (

Comment by Thomas Stone on September 3, 2016 at 5:04pm

Very nice! 

Comment by Emin Bu on November 27, 2016 at 3:42am

Any news?would be realy nice if you post blog or something to (

Comment by Laser Developer on November 28, 2016 at 12:51am

Thanks Emin, I'll get to it soon. The new features are now included as standard in the LightWare Terminal application.


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