Releasing the Shackles Part 3 - 3g Telemetry in the Air

Way back in December last year, I put up this post which showed me ground testing 3g Telemetry.

Since then I've been very busy with other projects and only got back around to looking at 3g Telemetry last month.
I bought the new Skywalker X8 platform as the Hugin in the above post just was not strong enough to cope with AP duties.
The X8 is the perfect APM platform, I really can't rate it highly enough. It has mountains of space, can easily carry a 2kg payload and I'm getting flight durations of in excess of 1 hour and 20 minutes with 10Ah of lipo's on board.

I'm a fan of keeping things simple so only having 2 servo's on board increases reliability. About the only down side (which is actually an upside for me) is that it has an insane glide ratio, this makes landings slightly challenging, however it does help achieve the long flight times. Some X8 users have already added parachutes, however I tend to enjoy the challenge of bringing her down incident free.

I've flown around 20 flights now on 3g Telemetry and it works really well, I've had less trouble with it than the usual point to point radios and the range is well.... practically limitless. Not to mention the simplicity of my ground station setup, no antennas and nothing else to cart around other than my laptop and phone.

A lot of people commented in the previous post that I would not get great altitude, my testing has revealed I can go very high (thousands of feet) and still have plenty of signal. My longest flight has been 45km, which tested hand-off between cell towers which is also seamless.

The great thing about the fatbox is that its plug and play, it has built in dynamic DNS so you don't need to know the IP address you are allocated.

Data usage averages around 7mb for a 1 hour flight.


If you are keen on doing this yourself, make sure you join the group "Telemetry over cellular IP" some users are making some great progress on code that allows cheap 3g modules to be plugged directly into the APM.

Also take the time to read my previous post here which covers off the important topic of cellular APN's and how to make sure you get your SIM cards configured correctly to allow a direct non-fire walled connection to the internet.






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Comment by Hai Tran on August 6, 2012 at 10:53pm

Toby can you please post your PIDs and the amount of throws you have set on your elevons.  My X8 flies like a fat jumbo jet compared to even a skywalker.

Comment by Delfin Magote III on August 6, 2012 at 11:11pm

I also have an X8 but I haven't started to build it yet. I'm planning to add GSM/3G to my X8 before, but as I plan to make my UAV simple, I did not buy the components (modules), but with this proven setup, I might give it a go after I finished the basic FPV setup. What motor did you use? is it the same customized motor for X8 (AX2820)? Can you tell us what your X8 setup, as well as PIDs? Thanks!


Good job by the way.

Comment by Delfin Magote III on August 6, 2012 at 11:18pm

Seen your post in the X8 rcgroup thread. Already checked your setup. :)

I have also seen your post before about the X8 PIDs. Wondering if you updated it. :)

Comment by Toby Mills on August 7, 2012 at 12:50am
My pids are in the DIY drones x8 thread. Still not perfect.
My throws are massive as far as the elevens will go in both directions.
It flys like a fat jumbo cos it is a fat jumbo compared to most airframes. This thing is slow but efficient. It has a huge wing area so changing direction requires a lot of deflection.
Comment by YureZzZ on August 7, 2012 at 3:50am

Toby, your password for Wi-Fi can be seen @0:38

Comment by YureZzZ on August 7, 2012 at 4:07am

Fantastic! Can it be done without using RC transmitter at all?

Comment by John Moore on August 7, 2012 at 8:43am

Thats impressive. How much lag time are you seeing and whats the price of one of those routers?

Comment by Toby Mills on August 7, 2012 at 3:33pm

between 60ms and 120ms worst case.

router was about US$300 I think, not cheap, but its heavy duty kit with a lot of features.
You could probably home brew and save yourself some dollars, but I don't have that much spare time.

Comment by Zach Bayne on August 8, 2012 at 7:32pm

too cool

Comment by Toby Mills on August 9, 2012 at 1:01am
The X8 is not fast. If you want fast go for a zeph but of course you sacrifice payload.
Speed and distance don't go together. The faster you go the less distance you can achieve.
Over about 70mph the wings on the x8 start to flutter. This airframe is not designed to go fast.


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