Add a RaspberryPi and a pair of $100 3G modems to Pixhawk and you can have telemetry via text message as far as the cell networks go!  The code, based on Dronekit, is here:

Text Messaging Telemetry for DroneKit Control Rovers, Copters, or Planes via inexpensive text messaging from within DroneKit  

-- pip install python-gsmmodem
-- pip install pymavlink
-- pip install pylzma
-- pip install dronekit

How to launch text messaging telemetry between your APM Rover and Ground Station computer:
--Copy project files to your vehicle's companion computer (e.g. Raspberry Pi) and your laptop.
--pip install dronekit-textmessaging
--On your ground station computer enter the following command: -ground
--On the vehicle's companion computer, launch the script from DroneKit: -vehicle (NOTE: make sure to have AUTOPILOT_PATH set appropriately)

Supported Hardware/Software Configuration:

Ground Station
* Mac laptop/desktop
* APM Planner 2 software
* Sierra 313u (AT&T 313u) GSM modem
* AT&T's $2/day pay-as-you-go unlimited texting plan

* Raspberry Pi "companion computer" connected to autopilot via serial or USB cable
* APM 2.6 or Pixhawk autopilot
* Sierra 313u (AT&T 313u) GSM modem
* AT&T's $2/day pay-as-you-go unlimited texting plan

Views: 2422

Comment by Darius Jack on January 31, 2016 at 8:13pm

Text messaging is not a reliable solution or technology since Text Messaging is not real-time.

Delivery of text messages (SMS) can be delayed by network and delay offset can not be known in advance.

If you have 2 3G moddems , you can establish peer-2-peer real-time data link

to work better and real-time, featuring 100 ms pings.

With text messaging pings can be 1-10 s or longer.

Modern 3G modems, LTE/ 4G modems feature server/router functionality to let

modems shake hands and speak directly (no need to set up third party server/router).

Drone telemetry stays for semi-real time functionality.

Text messaging offers off-line functionality, not fit to replace radio in telemetry applications (drone telemetry).

Comment by Khoa Vu on January 31, 2016 at 9:14pm

This would be pretty cool if you're flying with someone else. You can tell it to send the data to them and have them send their data to you. 

Comment by JB on January 31, 2016 at 10:10pm

+1 Dairus

If t you already have the hardware I can't imagine using a texting service could be faster, cheaper or better that using the internet instead for near realtime bi-directional telemetry. Maybe the description is misleading and it's not actually using SMS? The only reason I know of to use SMS is if there is intermittent mobile reception.

Comment by Bill Bonney on February 1, 2016 at 8:14am

Nice, it does give you much better coverage and at lower signal levels than a Data 2G/3G/4G. Obvious cost is bandwidth.

Not sure why you need the $100 modules you can do the same with GSM modules

I also have a suggestion for a great name Drone Wireless Access Protocol or D-WAP ;)

Comment by Darius Jack on February 1, 2016 at 9:04am

@Bill Bonney,

WAP is an old, slow Internet protocol implemented in old smartphones
to let you browse Internet over GPRS (simplified web browser)
and has nothing to do with Drones.

Comment by John Arne Birkeland on February 1, 2016 at 9:07am

Main problem with SMS is that there is no delivery guarantee. SMS data also have a low priority in networks, resulting in variable delays depending on how much congestion there is.

Comment by Michael Doornbos on February 1, 2016 at 9:41am

While maybe not a great production solution at the moment there are probably some use cases and I'm really happy to see people working on this.

Comment by Bill Bonney on February 1, 2016 at 10:05am

@Darius Yeah, I know. I'm ex-Nokian :-p WAP was said as a joke. WAP over SMS isn't any slower than any other technology over SMS.

@JAB if you are on a congested network, I think you can upgrade the connection to  a better 2G GPRS or better connection, still going to be slow

@Michael You correct it's a cheap connection with low frequency updates. Another member as been looking at a low bandwidth MAVLink messages for use on satellite phones.

This solution is ideal for non-realtime control of a autonomous robot, the robot is autonomous after all. :-)

Comment by Michael Doornbos on February 1, 2016 at 10:26am

I definitely see a use case for me for the UAS to text back to a ground station for my average mission. I'm sure there are lots of uses for a long range non real time message system.

Comment by Tom Pittenger on February 1, 2016 at 11:07am

good step toward low-bandwidth mission planning via sat-link


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