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.

First up you’ll need to check out the git repository from Github – this is simple enough.

You’ll also need to grab the following packages: qt4, phonon-qt4, openscenegraph.

The one that tripped me up was the flite package. There is an AUR package for this but it didn’t actually work for some reason the required library files were not being placed in a path the qmake-qt4 Makefile was looking in. Installing the flite package from source outside of AUR solved my woes (though fixing the AUR package would be the way to go, I’m not comfortable enough with AUR to know what I’m doing yet!)

Once all this is done you just need to pop into the qgs2 checkout and do this:

mkdir build;cd build
qmake-qt4 ../qgroundcontrol.pro

And voila! You should have the qgc2 program up and running. I’m still waiting for my Pixhawk to arrive before I can test everything out but it appears to be happy.