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

Getting airborne

Last week I got paid! And immediately blew a hundred quid on parts for the UAV project.

I’ve already got an airframe, speed controller, and a Turnigy 9x TX/RX pair. Unfortunately the Turnigy is bust (thanks, China!) so I needed a better solution. Rather than go crazy and buy an expensive RX/TX paid I decided I’d roll my own solution using some off the shelf parts. The core of this is a board from Adafruit which will drive 12 PWM or servo outputs from I2C, plus a Raspberry Pi SBC and an XMOS XC-1A development board. Continue reading Getting airborne