Hardware and Software Help

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Hey everyone,

Hoping someone can help fill in a few blanks for me as I try configure the solo for use with my equipment in research. I will be adding my own microcontrollers and sensors that will work independent of the drone, however I want to trigger certain events using the Tower app/Solo.

To that end, I have been reading up and have managed to read the PWM 6 - 8 using the pins on the motherboard that are not connected to the auxiliary port. Extend 3DR Solo Accessory Bay - Hackster.io
I am going to use the tower app and setting the PWM to a certain value that will then by read by my own microchip to trigger my equipment.

I also read that the PWM 6 and 7 are part of the solo gimbal, which I plan on purchasing but will never use it in tandem with my equipment, so this is not an issue. However, this gave me hope I could use the paddles on the 3DR controller to trigger my equipment outside of the Tower app. After further tinkering, I have realised the gimbal data relies on the UART4. So my first question, does the gimbal use UART and therefore no PWM to control the positioning? I have also been using the qgroundcontrol (instead of the tower app) to tweak drone parameters and look at the mavlink raw data feed. Here, I set the UART4 baud rate to different rates, then using my own TTL comms converters have attempted to read the data out of the gimbal data connecter, however I got nothing. Does this require the gimbal to be attached before the 3DR controller paddles to UART4 is enabled?

I also attempted to read the raw data feed from the GPS expecting NMEA strings, and eventually discovered its formatted in uBlox. Within qgroundcontrol, there is the ability to change back to NMEA strings, however, does this only change what the drone expects to see, and not reconfigure the gps module output? If not, I am going to either try work out the uBlox encoding or, simply add my own gps to NMEA module, but tapping into the hardware already there would have been nice.

If anyone has any hints or tips in enabling ways of "piggy backing" the mavlink to send my own data from the drone UART ports to a phone, a computer, or even the controller would be greatly appreciated.

Originally this was bought for research, but I will certainly be using it for my own fun too :)
 
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Update: Camera comms is handled using MAVLink... which makes this a lot more difficult. https://dev.3dr.com/hardware-gimbalbay.html

Question still applies though, I used a digital IO meter to monitor the TX line of the UART and the line never goes low, so how can I enabled it without a gimbal present?
 

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