Raspberry Pi based drone. Part 1

Hi% Habrauser%. I want to share a story about my drone (UAV) on a raspberry.

Before you start making a drone, there was a choice, which flying model to take as a basis: a quadcopter or an airplane? Since I played enough with copters in my time, I know their main disadvantage: most often, the flight time is 10-20 minutes. For me personally, this is very small, so it was decided to take the plane as a basis.

I chose Bixler 2 as the plane, it has a lot of advantages, namely:
  • Price
  • Indestructibility
  • Wingspan (1.5m)

Now it’s up to the autopilot. As the "brains" taken Raspberry PI B + with the NAVIO board, on which the sensors we need are located:

  • GPS \ GNSS
  • accelerometer, gyroscope, magnetometer
  • pressure sensor for calculating the height
  • 4-channel ADC
  • 16-channel PWM generator
  • FRAM, non-volatile memory
  • PPM input

Perhaps many have heard, but someone managed to try out ArduPlane. This is an open source autopilot project for a copter / airplane / rover. Fortunately, the EMLID team that developed the NAVIO board made the ArduPlane port on the Raspberry PI. So all that is needed is to clone the repository and compile the whole thing on a raspberry, and then fix our autopilot on a plane - and go.

We mount our autopilot to the plane:

Here I ran into problems: there is very little space, I had to abandon the standard cockpit that came with the plane and make a new cockpit out of an empty eggplant from Coca-Cola, painting it silver. It turned out that it looks much better than the standard one.

Frankly, it didn’t work out the first time. Since I could only launch a plane on weekends and the weather did not always smile, it took a month and a half from the moment when the plane was ready and until the first successful launch.

I flew in stabilization mode: if you do not move the levers on the control panel, then the plane aligns itself and flies in a straight line. The next step will be the flight on GPS points with a pre-laid route.

Now, perhaps, someone will be interested in the price of the issue. So:

  • Bixler 2 - $ 90 (without remote control, I had it)
  • 2600mAh battery - $ 50
  • Raspberry Pi B + (sd card) - $ 45
  • NAVIO - $ 149

In total, I got $ 334 for the whole set, ready to fly. Someone will say that it is expensive and may be right. However, I believe that this is in vain, despite the fact that I have flying Linux, to which I can connect a 3G modem and change the flight direction wherever there is Internet coverage.

Of course, I am attaching a video of a successful flight:

In the next article, I will tell you how to configure Xbee to connect to Ardupilot on the Navio \ Raspberry Pi in order to transfer telemetry to a laptop with APM Planer installed.

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