Header Overview

This page describes the AutoPilot Control Software for AscTec Research UAVs. You can download it here.


The AutoPilot Control software uses the Low-Level Protocol. Therefore, please make sure the XBee of the UAV is connected to the LL Serial 0 port. If your UAV is new, this is our default connection and you do not need to change anything.

  1. Connect the XBee to "LL Serial 0" on the UAV
  2. Connect the XBee USB module to your PC
  3. Switch on the UAV and start the AutoPilot Control software
  4. In the "Connection" field click on the drop-down and select the port of your XBee USB module. Click connect.
    1. You should now see all the status information of the UAV
    2. In the "Packets" field you may select to receive more info packets (e.g. RC Data)

GPS Mission

The GPS Mission window allows you to plan simple missions and send the UAV to specified positions based on a georeferenced image.
Open the window via "Tools => GPS Mission".

Creating a Georeferenced Image

Creating a georeferenced image with e.g. Google Maps is quite easy.

  1. Go to Google Maps and go to the area of your interest
  2. Click on the lower left to select "Earth" mode
  3. Take a screenshot of the maps. In Windows this is most easily done by pressing "ALT+Print", this captures an image of the currently selected window.
  4. Open your favourite image manipulation program (e.g. Irfan View) and press "CTRL+V" to insert your image. (This description referes to Windows and Irfan View)
  5. You may choose to crop the image to remove the window menus and the Google Maps overlays.
  6. Save the image. For this example we will name it "example.jpg".
  7. Now you need to georeference the image, therefore, we need the GPS position of the upper left corner and the lower right corner of the image.
  8. Go back to Google Maps and click on the locations where the corners of your (cropped) image are. In the upper left appears a box with information of the vicinity where you clicked and the GPS coordinates (e.g. 48.095126, 11.364735).
  9. Open your favourite text editor and insert the following:

  10. Replace the latitude and longitude of the two corners with your coordinates from Google Maps (taken in step 8).
  11. Save the file as "example.ini" in the same folder where the "example.jpg" resides. Beside from the file extension, the files must have the exact same name!

You can now load the image into the AutoPilot Control software. If the "GPS Mission" window is open and selected go to "File => Open Satellite image" and select your example.jpg.

Planning a Mission

After you created and loaded your georeferenced image, you can now start to plan a GPS Mission.

  1. In the upper right of the "GPS Mission" window select the "Cursorfunction" "Add Waypoint".
  2. Click on the map where you want to have your first waypoint. A dialog appears where you can specify additional parameters.
    1. The "Desired Heading" defines the orientation of the UAV. 0° means North, 90° is East and so on.
    2. Height defines the target height of the waypoint
    3. Time@WP defines the time the UAV will stay at the waypoint until it proceeds to the next
    4. Position accuracy defines when a position is considered as being reached. GPS tends to drift +-2m, so please do not enter values below 3m. Otherwise, the UAV may never reach the desired position.
    5. The camera parameters were formerly used by the AscTec Falcon 8 and have no meaning when using on of our Research UAVs, you may ignore them.
    6. Click "OK", the waypoint appears on the map with a number on it.
  3. Repeat step 2 until you have entered all desired waypoints.

Do not use a "final waypoint" with a height of 0m for landing. This will not work. Always take off and land manually.

Starting a Mission

To start a mission you need to:

  1. Switch to GPS mode and wait for a valid lock. The UAV should appear on your image.
  2. Switch off serial mode (switch away from you)
  3. Start the motors via the RC
  4. Raise the UAV to a safe height via the RC (e.g. 5-10m)
  5. Center all sticks on your RC
  6. Click on the "Start Mission" button and watch your UAV follow the waypoints
  7. The UAV will stop on the final waypoint, land it manually with your RC

The GPS Mission will be aborted as soon as you move any stick on your RC. In the event of unexpected behavior you can always use the RC to take over control.

Motor Controller Setup

In case you exchanged a motor controller you may need to assign the correct ID to it (according to its position). You can find the correct IDs on the image below.

To change a controller ID, please follow these steps:

  1. Turn off your UAV and disconnect all motor controllers except the replaced one. A motor controller is disconnected by pulling the small two-wired plug directly on the motor controller.
  2. Turn on your UAV and connect as described above.
  3. While holding the SHIFT key, click on the "Tools" menu. This will open an extended menu. Select "Motor Setup".
  4. Tick the checkbox "Enable Manual Setup" and click on "Start Brushless Controller Search".
  5. Select the corresponding motor controller on the list on the left and the new ID on the right. Then click "Change controller ID to:".
  6. Repeat the steps with all new motor controllers.

Motor Controller Update

It is highly recommended to perform a motor controller update with the Research Upgrade Tool after all IDs have been assigned properly.



Why does the "Camera Control" window does not work with my camera mount option 4?

This window was originally designed for the AscTec Falcon, which in the meantime now uses the AscTec Navigator. It was never intended to be used with the camera mount option 4. Do not worry, your camera mount option 4 is not broken, you can control it by using the AscTec SDK and writing your own code.

Can I use the AutoPilot Control Software to read out a serial number? How?

Yes, this is possible. Connect your flight system as described above and click on "System Info" in the menu bar. In the new "System Info" window click on "Update Information".On the top left of the window there is now something like "AutoPilot LowLevel #20123". The number is the serial number you were looking for.

The window also displays further information, like your current software version of the low-level and high-level processor.