Pixhawk Details #2: Multicolor led and connector demo

Due to popular request, this post features a video of the multicolor led in action, and a second video how to single-handedly unplug DF13 connectors.

This tutorial page again summarizes how to unplug and shows an alternative strategy in slow-motion that does not require pulling on the wires. We hope that these videos illustrate well that users do not need to be afraid of higher-density connectors.

We would be very interested in feedback on the multicolor led. There are a few considerations to add:

  • We know the DJI pattern, and believe it is too complex. We would be looking for something simpler
  • It would be beneficial to limit the number of blink patterns and colors to a minimum
  • It will be impossible to map all system states, so the core and important points need to be prioritized and indicated

We are looking for feedback in particular on these aspects:

  • What are the system properties you would like to see visualized (arming status, low battery, gps lock, mode, etc)
  • What do you consider suitable blinking patterns and how many different ones? (e.g. breathe, steady on, fast blink)
  • How should patterns and colors be assigned to things to show? (e.g. one breathe for disarmed, steady on for armed and color for something else? Or yellow disarmed, green armed and pattern for something else?)
  • Any other ideas / considerations?

We will not be able to suit everybody's needs. But we want to hear from the community what matters and see if we can pick up some new good ideas to get this 'right'. We're looking forward to lots of feedback (and opinions).

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  • Developer

    Cross posting here for people interested in connectors Pavel Kirienko's standardization proposal for small systems CAN connectors: They are beefier than DF13 and allow easy disconnection as locking is done with a latch, not friction or notches. For those familiar with PX4, we happened to have used them on PX4IO's power connector.


    These would not be suitable for all connectors on PX4, but are certainly worth considering for just CAN.

    CAN bus conventions for small UAV
  • It looks cool to see breathing and or flashing in certain color.

    However, it is hard to identify the difference of the color that is also breathing or flashing in the field.

  • Developer

    @Chris Ricci: Stay tuned for the PX4 peripherals. We did already announce in the last two posts that the same LED will be available at low cost as external mounting option. Same with USB.

  • I like the addition of "breathe". Between slow flash, solid, fast flash and "breathe", plus a few colors, a lot of things could be communicated. 

    I see it's "daylight visible", but the LED appears to be on the top of the box. I assume the plan is for this LED to be visible from the ground? I do like the Phantom's LED location, which makes it very easy to see status from 200-300 feet away.

  • don't overlook the fact that colors could be a disadvantage to those that are colorblind. pulsing light would be fine, but a simple 0-9 status indicator or even graphics on it could be quite informative.

  • The Ultra Bright external LED is going to be a major option for the PixHawk and will provide broad daylight confirmation of flying condition in line of sight operation under the vast majority of circumstances (straight into sun maybe not).

    As a result, communications of flight condition need to be very clear and not complicated.

    My suggestion is to implement different display feature for different status:

    Blinking = Fault or Alarm with specific color indicating specific status.

    Breathing indicates good but not ready to fly status (Safety switch not pressed (released), Not armed, Aquiring GPS).

    Solid Color On conditions all indicate healthy and flyable: Possibly color = mode Stabilize, Alt Hold, Loiter, Auto, RTL, Waypoint, Etc.

    Faults occurring in flight could be solid current (or engaged failsafe indicating) flight color plus brief fault indication blink sequence of appropriate fault color.

    KISS is one of my main mantras.

    Really like the breathing mode by the way 50% increase in the simple communication capabilities without adding confusion.

  • @Chris, the pixhawk has support for external LED modules

  • My issue with the LED is its position. The reason the NAZA has a loosed LED module that you position on its own is for visibility. Get the vehicle up past eye level and that LED becomes useless. With the NAZA's (not a NAZA/DJI fan at all, btw) you can attach it to a landing gear leg or on the bottom of the fuselage of your fixed wing.

  • a 1 digit seven segment display on a 8inch cable with a mini plug so we could have remote status would be greate


  • It might good to give two functions on this indicator. One is sanity check for radio, accelerometer, compass calibration and GPS 3D lock. If you could not arm and certain color indication will help what is wrong on sanity check. Another function might be good to indicate flight mode. Actually, I personally like one digit seven segment display, similar to old workstation diagnostic indicator:-)

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