Going mobile – my quadcopter so far

So over the last year or two I’ve been intermittently doing stuff with unmanned aerial systems. Nothing for work, strictly hobbyist stuff, and strictly for fun, though with a serious goal in mind.

More or less every year now the village I live in floods. The degree to which it does so varies, as does the response from the council and locals. Last year we managed to get aerial photography from some friends with a light aircraft handy which was fascinating to see – we could start to see the bounds and patterns of the flooding in context. Trouble is, it took a while to arrange and we only got one set of pictures.

Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to get more pictures, faster? Here’s my story so far in the wonderful world of multirotors… Continue reading Going mobile – my quadcopter so far

QGroundControl 2 on Arch

For about 5-6 months I’ve been tinkering with a couple of UAV platforms – my UAir R10 quadcopter (which, thanks to UAir being nothing but a couple of scamming students with little actual clue about making quadcopters, has been almost entirely replaced after one crash) and a Hobbyking Bixler fixed-wing aircraft I’ve stuffed full of electronics.

I’m now finally at the point where I can start strapping proper autopilots to these, but to do that I need a ground station with some software to control the autopilot.

In general, the autopilots out there make use of a protocol called MAVLink to talk to a base station via a telemetry link (usually 433MHz). This is great, because it’s a consistent open protocol that means most UAVs can make use of common basestation software.

The most popular of these is the QGroundControl project. This is a great bit of cross-platform software, but took a bit of fiddling to install on Arch Linux, which I’ll detail here. Continue reading QGroundControl 2 on Arch