Articles for March 2015

Erle-Brain v1.1: The most complete Linux autopilot

I’m delighted to introduce Erle-Brain v1.1 as the most complete Linux autopilot:

3 (1)

Erle-Brain is being adopted by schools, universities and research centers around the world.

The journey of Erle-Brain started back on late 2013 with the BeaglePilot project giving birth of the first APM Linux-based drones and finishing up with the publication: “Towards an Open Source Linux autopilot for drones“.
Much has happened since and the BeagleBone Black was just featured at the Embedded Linux Conference as a great platform for building Linux drones.


Our love for Linux drones however goes far beyond making them fly and accomplish autonomous missions. As roboticsts we are already thinking about embedding more intelligence in our flying robots (obstacle avoidance, SLAM, image and speech recognition, …) and for that we are putting a lot of development time into the Robot Operating System (ROS). We are releasing demos such as this one. Expect more to come.

Just a few days ago we decided to launch a crowdfunding campaign: BeagleUAV. Through BeagleUAV, you’ll be able to access all the Erle-Brain for a discounted price of 150 €.

Go ahead and get yourself into Linux drones with the BeagleBone Black and the PixHawk Fire Cape ;).

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Raspiolt : yet Another Rpi cape flight controller WIP, designed in China

 Hi, dear Diydrones members, today I’m happy to demo yet another raspberry based Ardupilot compatible flight controller expansinon board design.



  • Pixhawk compatible Power/GPS module interface
  • Integrated ublox m8n GNSS module
  • CSI camera ribbon compatible PCB profile
  • PX4IO forked project for dedicated PWM I/O with STM32 MCU
  • Emlid™ Navio+ inspired solution for ardupilot HAL
  • FULLY open source software and HARDWARE



  • Single package for FPV solution
  • Yocto distro with minimum firmware footprint
  • Deliver in May, 2015


Why we did this because we believe in open sourced project will be a great tool to learn from the best, and to be even better. We are young Chinese engineers, please no stereotype.


I’ve been assist @zhangkaiqi working on this project for a while now. We had a breadboard wiring prototype flying happily now and we want to push this endeavor a litter further. As earlier Navio+ test reports from Emlid shows that PWM consumed about 20% of RPI B+’s cpu time, we want to test another solution by putting PX4IO (pixhawk’s co-processor part) on RPi.And we are inspired by @PatrickDuffy’s (Diydrones member, not twitter) FPV solution on Rpi with ubnt™, so we want to build a flight controller has all the good features we can get from a Rpi, so we combined them together.

Today we have the first PCB design sign-offed to the fab, and later this week hope to have a smoking test (first time power on a PCBA). We hope people with talent to join us with software design process and we hopefully to send some samples to volunteered engineers, testers and early bird costumers.


We promise to open source all project files, including Eagle Cad schematic/layouts, after we have the first batch PCBA running complete. We need initial product generate some revenue to support out later developments.


I’ll update this thread for the project, please commit for your ideas and feature request.

Thanks for people who contributed to this community made this possible. 

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Aerial thermal environmental monitoring with drone

With all the emphases today on energy conservation and the impact of human activities on the environment, we need efficient tools for monitoring such impacts becomes more important than ever. One of that tools is thermal imaging system. Especially then in cooperation with the drone or UAV.

There are a lot of applications of thermal imaging in the area of environment and agriculture. For instance:

  • detect moisture-related problems in roofs [1],
  • monitoring and evaluation of water resources [1], [2],
  • evaluate energy efficiency problems [1],
  • environmental analysis [1],
  • lake morphology [1],
  • survey populations of several wildlife species [3],
  • land coal mine detection [4],
  • underground coal mine fire,
  • forest fire detection,
  • heat budget of soils,
  • detecting insect attack diseases,
  • water stress,
  • salinity stress on vegetation,
  • and much more…

Thermal imaging system in combination with personal drone is a very powerful tool that can perform the necessary measurements quickly and significantly cheaper than using a helicopter. That’s why Workswell company developed hightech thermal vision system for drones.

In the video, which is shown above, there is a short record of land mine detection. Workswell Thermal Vision Pro with resolution 640×512 px and thermal sensitivity 50 mK is used. Much more videos we will bring in the following blog posts.

As Workswell company, we can offer both: standalone thermal imaging system, thermal imaging system mounted on a gimbal. But we are nothing without our partners, there for we are looking for new partners. So if you are drone entrepreneur and you like Workswell thermal imaging system, we would like to cooperate and offer to customers one of the best thermal imaging system.

Also feel free to follow us on Twitter or FB.

Thank you very much to our partner Vertical Images from photos.


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Duplex mode digital radio algorithmic search system

Hi folks!

I would like to post some autonomous algorithmic bidirectional radio search system production design approximation stuff here.

Please, you are welcome with any questions you may find of particular interest in this regard.

p.s. My apm 2.0 dates from 2011 early preorder and it’s still in touch yet after all it has gone through.

Thank you, maintainers, testers, 3dr team as well as all people involved, that was and still is and no doubt will be lots of further fun.

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Worlds first Drone Sheepdog

SHEP the Drone – Worlds first Drone Sheepdog

Farmers test out ‘flying sheepdog’

30 March 2015

It doesn’t bark, and it doesn’t bite, it doesn’t need feeding – three of the benefits, says Paul Brennan, of using a drone as a sheepdog.

His video showing the shepherding of a flock of his brother’s sheep has gone viral.

He told the BBC it worked “perfectly” in rounding up the animals on the farm near Dublin, Ireland.

The National Farmers’ Union said it didn’t think the idea would “take off”.

“There may be a use to check-in on animals grazing on common land or in the hills but that’s about the limit.

“The primary use will be in the arable sector rather than livestock at the moment.

“The reality is that a good sheepdog is a far better way to go about the job.”

(Now, how to teach it to close the gate?)

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Syrian Airlift trials use of drones to deliver supplies to conflict zones

Congrats to our friends at the Syria Airlift Project, who conducted an experimental project this weekend in Sacramento to train refugees to use Pixhawk-powered fixed-wing drones to deliver supplies into conflict zones. From the video description:

On March 28-29, 2015, Uplift Aeronautics trained a group of Arab-Americans–including refugees from the conflicts in Iraq and Syria–to operate a fleet of four Waliid UAVs for medical deliveries to inaccessible populations. Families took part in every activity, from packing cargo and making parachutes to running preflight checklists and operating ground stations. You can learn more about our project and donate at 

Uplift Aeronautics is a nonprofit corporation (501(c)3 status pending) with a mission to empower and aid communities through innovative aviation technology.

This video was filmed and produced by Retrospect Productions at

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Xiaomi Yi: Mobius Killer?

This week we see the release of a new low-cost action cam. Some think it is the next progression of the trusty Mobius camera. I am in the process of performing a written account of the camera and it’s features, abilities and performance; also showing how to update the app & firmware to allow more features. 

It’s still early days to know if it can do USB-AV-out like the mobius, but it is looking promising.

Why this camera? It potentially has all the features of the Mobius camera, but with a wifi enabled, 1080p 60fps & 720p 120fps at a £50/$80USD price point. Crazy days huh?

If you would like to know more about my experiences they are written here:

Updates will be added as they arrive.

Many thanks

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Quadrotor automatically recovers from failure or aggressive launch, without GPS

Researchers from the Robotics and Perception Group from the University of Zurich, developed a new technology that allows a quadrotor to automatically recover and stabilize from any initial condition without relying on external infrastructure like GPS. The technology allows the quadrotor system to be used safely both indoors and out, to recover stable flight after a GPS loss or system failure. And because the recovery is so quick, it even works to recover flight after an aggressive throw, allowing you to launch a quadrotor simply by tossing it in the air like a baseball.

More info: Robohub Robotics and Perception Group, University of Zurich.

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Precision Landing w/ Pixhawk Quads: Update and Preview

IR-LOCK has been testing the latest version of our sensor/beacon hardware for precision landing, and the results are great! With an IRIS+, we achieve reliable landings at around 5-30cm from the target beacon.

Our development focus is on the reliability and accuracy of the sensor/beacon hardware, and optimal integration with control systems. One feature of the new beacon design is a modulated signal that enables the sensor to avoid false detections. Also, it can be powered by a standard 12V power adapter. 

An obvious next-step is to integrate the beacons into a charging pad/station, or other small landing surfaces. A primary goal of the technology and hardware development is to enable fully-autonomous and remotely controlled systems of quads … Imagine never changing a battery again 🙂 

If you want to stay updated on the progress, feel free to sign up at our website. You can also find more details there.

We are currently running a modified version of ArduCopter. Many thanks to the Diydrones and Drone-discuss community of developers! I don’t know how to thank you enough. 



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