3D Robotics

PhoneDrone Android interface board now available


After some delays in sourcing components and setting up a good test procedure, we now have the PhoneDrone Android/RC interface board in production and available for purchase ($99). 

If you've been wanting to experiment with connecting Android phones or tablets to the world of RC vehicles, this is the board for you. It's the only Android ADK board on the market designed to work with RC equipment, and it can interface with APM (1 or 2) via serial, too.

From the product listing: 

"The board has 8 channels of RC in and out, with PWM-to-PPM conversion and multiplexing between RC and Android control. You just plug the Android's phone USB connector into the board and you have two-way communications with RC gear and any other board, such as APM.

 That means that you can switch between RC control and Android control or mix the two. An example would be "fly/drive by wire". You steer your vehicle via RC, but an Android phone does the actual control using its onboard IMU. On a car, that would allow every turn to be a high-speed controlled drift, for instance (we may show something like that at Maker Faire).

Or, with a UAV, you might have the Android phone doing high-level image processing and object tracking, sending mission commands to an autopilot board such as APM. You might also want to use the phone's long-distance wireless instead of an Xbee for two-way telemetry.

 This can either replace APM if you've got equivalent code running on Android, or compliment it with the Android device doing image processing or long-distance wireless comms.



  • 8 Input&output PWMs
  • Native USB host master (MAX3421)
  • Native USB slave (Atmega32-au)
  • Arduino Compatible
  • Atmega2560 as main controller
  • Atmega32-u2 as FTDI substitute and PPM encoder
  • Three spare serial ports to communicate with other boards (including APM)
  • Build-in 5V-2A switched power regulator (input range 6V - 36V)
  • Build-in 3.3V LDO power regulator 
  • Android TM compatible... 
  • All Atmega2560 pins exposed.
  • High quality PCB is ROHS/lead free, Gold immersed. 
  • Dimensions: 4" x 1.6"...

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  • Developer

    Anyone interested in PhoneDrone discussions, have a look at the Telemetry over cellular IP group

  • well they ever make a tutorials to explain how to use it or codes 

  • eFuse strikes again...

    ADK requires Android 2.3.4 & after nearly a year of waiting, Motorola only recently graced me with Android 2.3.3...

    Unless the new Google ownership is interested in righting past wrongs, it looks like I'm gonna need a different development phone. Guess which brand name I won't be buying it from?

    Motorola has permanently lost this customer.

    -If you are looking for a phone to watch youtube, feel free to buy their products.

    -If you want a phone which isn't artificially obsolete the day after you buy it & allows you to keep pace with changing technology, I'd encourage you to run as far and fast away from Motorola as possible.

    Who knows? APM Ground Control station may someday be released as an Android app.

    Imagine the feeling when you find out the phone you bought less than 1 month ago won't run it because it requires a kernel version +0.0.1 higher than Motorola has decided to let you have.

    For the next 2 years your shiny new phone is a bitter reminder of the miserable customer service you received when you called asking for information.

    Warn friends & family:

    "Motorola: the brand of disappointment and helplessness."

    Buyer's remorse? Despair is more like it.

  • Computer Vision on a drone is closer than you might think - Computer Vision Comes to Mobile Apps with FastCV


    FastCV: Accelerated computer vision
    The FastCV 1.0 SDK contains hardware-accelerated, mobile-optimized versions of the most commonly used functions from OpenCV, a library of over 2500 algorithms for real-time computer vision.

    Here's our thinking in putting the FastCV SDK together:

    Design it for mobile. Many OpenCV functions don't have strong use cases for mobile, so we've selected for FastCV those functions with the most promise for mobile and embedded apps.

    Locate it close to the hardware. We wanted to make it easy for you to take a well-defined task – like identifying a corner or outlining a shape – and run it in hardware. Architecturally, FastCV lives just above display drivers and camera drivers, and below our frameworks for technologies like augmented reality, gesture processing and facial detection and recognition.

    Offer it for all ARM processors. We've designed FastCV to be processor-core agnostic, so the SDK includes a single API and installer with two implementations of the library:

    • FastCV for ARM, a mobile optimized reference implementation designed to run CV functions on the CPU of any mobile device with an ARM processor.
    • FastCV for Snapdragon™, designed for even better performance using specific hardware resources and dedicated engines on Snapdragon mobile processors (S2 and above).

    You get both FastCV implementations in the same kit: if you are using a Snapdragon enabled mobile device, FastCV for Snapdragon will automatically be enabled; if not, your CV app will benefit from FastCV for ARM. FastCV currently supports Android 2.3 and higher, and we plan to support additional OS platforms in the future.

  • @john inspite of the risk of sounding silly , I was wondering if that couldn't be done with something like IOIO
  • I forgot to mention but there's a certain amount of danger in using 3g for RC control as demonstrated by driving down the highway steaming youtube. Line of sight is easier at altitude but sacrificing baud rate for the durability of voice communication might inspire me to use the voice network for this application. It would take a lot of testing to quantify the trade-offs.

    "Can you hear me now?"

  • Robincfey,

    Do you mean using the phone as a wireless camera or as a wireless camera + RC Rx/Tx?

    The first sounds like an easy Android Market problem to solve.


    The second would be finding an open source video chat app.



    I would approach the problem of RC control by exploring tunneling it through video audio or one of the standard internet communication channels like SSH, or maybe GPRS?


    If you can achieve a good degree of autonomy then just feeding GPS waypoints through the google chat API would probably be the next thing I would explore.

    I generally try to avoid re-inventing the wheel as much as possible.

  • is anyone successfully fpv flying using 3g? not only for control but for video feed as well?? it would be an awesome advantage to be able to exploit cell towers think of the almost endless range .....

  • Successful code upload to board. I'm satisfied it's working. Now it's all app development. 

    Here are some examples I just found:



    | Cellbots: Using Cellphones as Robotic Control Platforms
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