"Real" instruments for MAVLink UAV groundstations


You all might remember my integrated groundstation project, which I started earlier this year. Based on this project, I started integrating flight instruments from Dutch manufacturer Flight Illusion. Flight Illusion in one of the leading manufacturers of gauges for flight simulators and has a wide range of various instruments. Piece by piece, I will write a library which is able to control the most important gauges to display MAVLink data.

Why oldfashioned "steam gauges", you ask? There's Mission Planner, QGroundControl, Andropilot, Droidplanner?

Very simple: "steam gauges" have various advantages:

First of all, they are fully sunlight readable. Unless you have a really expensive laptop, you will have problems with reading the screen on a beautiful summer day, unless you have some bulky glare shield. Next, with "steam gauges" you save space. If your ground station has a nice big FPV monitor and you additionally have a laptop, you have a pretty bulky piece of equipment going on. When using gauges, you can have your FPV monitor and 3 or 4 gauges in one nice Peli case, ready to go with all important information at a glance. Last but not least, having "real" flight instruments in your ground station is way cool :).

Of course, gauges don't work with FPV goggles, but neither does a laptop or tablet.

A solution with gauges is definitely no universal solution for everyone, but for more professional use, it is a very good solution.

Development will also include creation of a control unit which includes the necessary power supplies and accepts a MAVLink data stream to directly control the gauges, without the need of a computer.

Over time and if there is sufficient demand, we will also think together with Flight Illusion about creating a line of instruments specifically for drone use, e.g. a speed indicator or altitude indicator with a display range more suitable for small UAVs.

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  • Georacer:

    The mechanics are fairly complex and the gauges are mainly assembled by hand and not in China! There's a lot of development involved in those, so I think, although expensive, the price is justified.

    And if you compare the price to a real attitude indicator ($5k-6k), which basically only has two rotating masses, acting as gyros, which keep the indicators level at all times purely mechanically, it's reasonably cheap :).

  • Err... did that piece of hardware really cost as much as Flight Illusion's site states? $300 for a gauge is "too much" in my book.

  • As an addition to my previous post, ofcourse not a full cockpit, but some "analog" gauges for airspeed, altitute and attitude could be usefull. 

  • Looks really nice. Could be a nice addition to the people that have room for a full cockpit.

  • Very cool...

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