ArduPilot 4×4 Rover Build


Just happened to be chatting with a guy down the park about the small RC quadcopter i was flying and we got onto the subject of RC Trucks. Just so happens he had a Traaxis Stampede 4X4 gathering dust… Well it gathers dust no more. (just kicks it up in the air from those tyres!)

I’ve installed a temporary top plate* to mount the electronics to make this beast come alive. It fitted out with

I just finished the build tonight, but the weather changed from glorious sun to rain. I think now that I have the electronics sorted, i’ll need to put it all in a sealed Tupperware box 😉

More info and discussions at ArduPilot Forums The Home of ArduPilot!

Support Project


ArduPilot project needs you. To keep the wiki, website, and other communication channels  alive we need funds to support the upkeep of the servers, and for your small donation you can get a small something in return. (and never loose your keys)

see for where to purchase.

Thanks, Bill
MAV Pilot & APM Planner 2.0 Lead Dev (to declare a few hats I have with the project)

MAV Pilot 1.1 for iPhone Updated


MAV Pilot v1.1 for iPhone has updated and published to the App Store. It supports connection to MAVLink compatible drones using WiFi (LTE/3G) including 3DR Solo.

MAV Pilot v1.1 has the following improvements

– Maps
– Support for more mission items with direct placement of Waypoints and ROI directly on map
– Guided mode
– Improved Audio Support (Text2Speech, custom speech strings possible)
– Improved App Settings for Network Connectivity.-
– New attitude Indicator on Dashboard
– New analog displays  on Dashboard
– Map ‘mini dashboard’ of important information
– Servo Commands
– Support for ArDrone 2.0 with Flight Recorder GPS
– General UI improvements

Download here (

Happy Flying… 🙂

Support here

PS: if you want to help with beta testing the next release, please contact me. Thx. Bill

Yaesu VX8-DR powered using RC LiPo Batteries


I recently passed my Radio Amateur License Exam here in Canada. For my first radio I wanted something easily portable that I could take with me any where. I purchased a Yaesu VX8-DR handheld transceiver or HT for short.

The battery life of the standard pack (1100mAh 7.4V) and high capacity pack (1800mAh 7.4V) are commendable at about 4-6Hrs, well until you press the PTT and start chatting. At 5W power output, they get used up pretty quickly.

Another factor in this is that you cannot transmit while plugged in with the supplied charger. It just doesn’t put out enough current.  So the what’s the answer? I have a cupboard full of RC LiPo at 11.1V and 14.8V nominal ranging from 2200mAh, 5200mAh and more. That should do the trick nicely.

NOTE: I should mention I haven’t tried the 4S (14,8V,16.8Vmax) batteries yet. VX8-DR specs say 12Vdc is ok. Car batteries are 13.8V when charging, so not sure if the regulator can take the higher voltage of the 4S.

I simply cut the cable of the supplied charger, and solder a XT60 connector inline. Now I can connect any of my RC LiPo batteries and save the power in the built-in battery packs when i need to go truly mobile. The RC batteries can also charge the internal battery, which is great. Maybe i need to enter some QRP contests 😉

The other benefit, as I live in a earthquake zone, that in an emergency, I should be able to run the radio for at least 72Hrs with no need of a recharge… awesome.

MAV Pilot 1.0 for iPhone in the App Store

IMG_0868   IMG_0870


MAVPilot has been released to the App Store. This is a “Ground Control Station for your Pocket”. Its target audience is iPhone users. Pilots often fly unaccompanied and this can make it difficult to use a laptop at the same time. This is more so when a pilot is using a semi-auto mode like Alt-Hold. Using your iPhone instead is a great way to keep focused on the MAV and still have all the useful information in reach. With inbuilt text-to-speech support your iPhone will let you know instantly the status and if anything starts to go wrong.

MAVPilot incorporates the FIND MY DRONE feature.

Features Targeted in V1.0 of MAVPilot

  • Telemetry Screen showing flight information e.g
    • Speed
    • Altitude
    • Yaw
    • Rate of Climb
    • Battery Voltage
    • Battery Remaining %
    • GPS accuracy
    • Throttle %
  • Mode Control e.g.
    • Auto
    • Stabilize
    • Alt Hold
    • Land
    • RTL
    • Loiter
  • Map View with Mission outline
  • Mission Waypoint editor
    • includes waypoint parameter editing
  • Configuration
    • Calibration for level
  • Commonly used parameter editing
    • Tuning of common parameters

Compatibility: ArduPilot, ArDrone 2.0 with Flight Recorder (other MAVLink compatible products may work

download now from the App Store

Apple’s new Swift Programming Language


Apple has released a new language to program iOS and OSX Apps called Swift. Over the last weekend I took sometime to go through A Swift Tour section is Apple’s free iBook on the subject. It’s roots are definitely in the semantics of Objective-C, but you get the full modern day benefits of languages like python and javascript. You can do more with typing less. It’s more like a scripting language.

The real progressive part though is that it achieves less typing, by using implicit types. For example

var myDoublePrecisionNumber = 0.007 # This will be implicitly define the type as double
var myExplicitPrecisionNumber : Double = 0.007 # This will explicitly define the type as double

The first and obvious advantage is that it requires less typing, but the secondary and really neat advantage is that once implied, if a calculation assigns the value that would convert the value to a type that would be detrimental to the program, the compiler will warn or error appropriately. Catching errors, like in javascript and python, at runtime is much more ‘expensive’ in time than at compile time.

If you would like to see my solutions to the ‘Experiments’ in a A Swift Tour you can find all the code in that section is the playground file stored in a gist on github

How to Configure a Switch for CH8 on the Iris Quad

IMG_1464If you have a new Iris Quadcopter from 3DR with a FlySky RC Transmitter, you may want to add CH8 option to trigger other features. Below is a walk-through on how to add this to the standard Iris setup.

NOTE: This walk-through works by copying the settings that make CH7 work to CH8. This means you need a preconfigured FlySky from 3DR which is setup for Iris. I will do a later walk-through on how to do it generally for Er9X (OpenTx)


Continue reading

How do you get to your Flying Field?


We are so close to the first lanch of MAVPILOT. I’ve been getting up early to do testing in the relative pace of the weekend mornings. As a way to get some exercise and so not to be just standing in a field for a couple of hours, I ride loaded. (I can also fit both kids on the back for those trips to the beach!)

MAVPilot is coming along great. Yesterday, I was testing some new features. One being audio alerts for when using using the fence as a safety feature. Now when you exceed the fence boundary you will get a warning as the craft engages Return to Launch or Land, depending on how you have set it. More info here and here on the site. The next feature for fence will be to outline the boundary on the map.

But before that we need to get v1.0 out.

(PS: if you have any killer features you must have, drop me a comment, or emaila. I’m always happy to receive feedback, thx)