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Using a Ground Station


1 Using a Ground Station

2 Guided Mode

1. Air speed ( Ground speed if no airspeed sensor is fitted )

2. Crosstrack error and turn rate (T)
3. Heading direction
4. Bank angle
5. Wireless telemetry connection (% bad packets)
6. GPS time
7. Altitude ( blue bar is rate of climb )
8. Air speed
9. Ground speed
10. Battery status
11. Artificial Horizon

The above is the main Ground Station view of the Mission Planner, showing the Heads-up Display (HUD).
If your APM slider switch is in flight mode (away from the RC pins) and you have connected via MAVLink
(usually through the Xbee modules at 57600k, but it will work via USB on the ground, too) the dials and
position on this screen will display the telemetry sent by APM.
A few tips:

The map will only show current position when you have GPS lock or are using a flight simulator
Remember how artificial horizons work: when the aircraft tilts to the right, the horizon tilts to the
left. (Just tilt your head and youll see what I mean). This is normal! Please dont tell us its reversed
For APM:Copter status, the output meaning is as follows:
o WPDist : Distance to next waypoint in meters
o Bearing ERR: How far your UAV is from the perfect line to the next waypoint
o Alt ERR: How far your UAV is from the target altitude
o WP: Next waypoint to hit
o Mode: Current autopilot mode.
You can issues mode changes and other action commands in the air with the Mission Planner and
other GCSs, but note that you must be under autopilot control for them to take effect.
If you double-click the HUD it will popout, allowing you to run the hud full screen on a second
If you double-click on the Speed Guage you can modify the max scale you want to display.
You can change the voice used in the speech synthesis in the Ease of Access center in Windows
Control Panel. Go to the Text to Speech options.
If you enable the Tuning checkbox and double-click tuning you can graph any data that is available
in the status tab. This means you can have alt, attitude, or many other options in real time.
You can use custom imagery instead of Google Maps. Press control-F. This allows you to upload
your own orthophotos. Use will require Globalmapper, as this is currently one of the key steps in
exporting in the required format for use in the planner.

Guided Mode

One of the most commonly-used features in pro UAVs is point-and-click mission control in real time.
Rather than just pre-planned missions or manually flying the UAV, operators can just click on a map and
say go here now.
Thats now implemented in the Mission Planner. On the GCS map, you can right-click on the map and just
select Fly To Here. The UAV will fly there and loiter until you give it another command. We call this
Guided Mode. There are more commands coming in this mode soon, but the functionality is now built-in.
Note: Guided is a separate flight mode. If you enter it you will remain in it until you do something to change
modes. So if you tell it to go here now, once it arrives there it will loiter at the Guided waypoint till you
tell it to do something else. Something else could either be going to another Guided waypoint (staying in
Guided mode) or changing to some other flight mode. If you change to Auto your mission will resume
where it left off.

Mission Planner

The Mission Planner, created by Michael Oborne, does a lot more than its name. Here are some of the

Point-and-click waypoint entry, using Google Maps/Bing/Open street maps/Custom WMS.

Select mission commands from drop-down menus
Download mission log files and analyze them
Configure APM settings for your airframe
Interface with a PC flight simulator to create a full hardware-in-the-loop UAV simulator.
See the output from APMs serial terminal

Planning a Mission with Waypoints and Events

In Mission Planner you can create missions use the easy point-and-click Waypoint Editor created by
Michael Oborne.
Note: Although this uses APM:Copter as the main example the primary methods apply for
APM:Plane and APM:Rover although altitude control is severely limited in APM:Rover.
It is very important to acquire GPS lock before arming in order for RTL, Loiter, Auto or any GPS
dependent mode to work properly.

Basic waypoint commands

A mission file is a little intimidating to the human eye, but is a powerful scripting language for the autopilot.
(Again, remember that the GCS will soon take care of all of this for you. You shouldnt have to see it
yourself for long!).
You can have as many commands as you want, ranging from pre-programmed ones to ones that you can
create. Here are some common ones:

{NAV_WAYPOINT n/a, alt, lat, lon}

{NAV_TAKEOFF pitch, target altitude}
{NAV_LAND n/a, alt, lat, lon}
{DO_JUMP waypoint, n/a, repeat count, n/a} Goes to that waypoint and resumes mission there. Set
repeat count to any number greater than 1 to do it that many times. or to -1 to do it forever. Good for
looping missions.

(Note: DO_xxx commands currently need a dummy waypoint placed after the command
Home will be set at WAYPOINT_1 but will not work if WAYPOINT_2 is not there.)


Prefetch: You can cache map data so you dont need Internet access at the field. Click the Prefetch
button, and hold down Alt to draw a box to download the selected imagery of a location.
Grid: This allows you to draw a polygon (right click) and automatically create waypoints over the
selected area. Note that it does not do island detection, which means if you have a big polygon and
a little one inside of that, the little one will not be excluded from the big one. Also, in the case of any
polygon that partialy doubles backs on itself (like the letter U), the open area in the center will be
included as part of the flyover.
Setting your home location to the current location is easy, just click Home Location above where
you enter your home location, and it will set your home location to the current coordinates.

You can measure the distance between waypoints by right-clicking at one end and selecting Measure
Distance. Then right-click on the other end and select Measure Distance again. A dialog box will
open with the distance between the two points.

Setting the Home Position

For APM:Copter the home position is set as the location where the copter was armed. This means if you
execute an RTL in APM:Copter, it will return to the location where it was armed, so arm your copter in the
location you want it to return to.
For APM:Plane the home position is the location of the plane where the GPS was locked. This means if you
execute an RTL in APM:Plane, it will return to the location where it first acquired the GPS lock, so only
power up your plane in the location you intend it to return to when performing an RTL.


Note: When APM:Copter executes the Land command it will land from its current location. It will not
fly to a location, then land like the planes do. If you want to land at a particular waypoint, you must
fly to a normal WP, then the next command will be Land. The Absolute Altitude checkbox in the
Mission Planner is ignored. ArduCopter only uses the default relative altitude.

In the screenshot above, a mission for arducopter starts with an auto takeoff to 20 meters attitude; then goes
to WP 2 rising to 100 meters altitude on the way, then waits 10 seconds; then the craft will proceed to WP 3
(descending to 50 meters altitude on the way), then returns to launch. Since the default altitude is 100
meters, the return to launch will be at 100 meters. After reaching the launch position, the craft will land.
The mission assumes that the launch position is set at the home position.
You can enter waypoints and other commands (see below for the full list). In the dropdown menus on each
row, select the command you want. The column heading will change to show you what data that command
requires. Lat and Lon can be entered by clicking on the map. Altitude is relative to your launch altitude, so if
you set 100m, for example, it will fly 100m above you.
Default Alt is the default altitude when entering new waypoints. Its also the altitude RTL (return to launch)
mode will fly at if you have Hold Default ALT checked; if you dont have that checked, your aircraft will
try to maintain the altitude it was at when you switched on RTL.
Verify height means that the Mission Planner will use Google Earth topology data to adjust your desired
altitude at each waypoint to reflect the height of the ground beneath. So if your waypoint is on a hill, if this
option is selected the Mission Planner will increase your ALT setting by the height of the hill. This is a good
way to make sure you dont crash into mountains!
Once you are done with your mission, select Write and it will be sent to APM and saved in EEPROM.
You can confirm that its as you wanted by selecting Read
You can save multiple mission files to your local hard drive by selecting Save WP File or read in files
with Load WP File in the right-click menu:

Auto grid
You can also have the Mission Planner create a mission for you, which is useful for function like mapping
missions, where the aircraft should just go back and forth in a lawnmower pattern over an area to collect
To do this, in the right-click menu select Polygon and draw a box around the area you want to map. Then
select Auto WP, Grid. Follow the dialog box process to select altitude and spacing. The Mission Planner will
then generate a mission that looks something like this:

Basic waypoint commands

Delay (seconds) Altitude (meters) Latitude Longitude

Mavlink command is NAV_WAYPOINT

Delay option is triggered after the craft reaches the waypoint radius. The Next command is loaded
after the delay.
Delay time is in seconds, the default is 0

Waypoint Option Bitmask not yet available in the Mission Planner

bit 0 Altitude is stored
0: Absolute 1: Relative
bit 1 Change Alt between WP
0: Gradually 1: ASAP
bit 2
bit 3 hit WP.alt to continue 0: No
1: Yes
bit 4 Relative to Home
0: No
1: Yes
bit 5
bit 6
bit 7 Move to next Command
0: YES
1: Loiter until commanded

Option Alt Lat Lon

Will cause the craft to begin to Loiter at the current location when the command is invoked.

Time in seconds Altitude (in meters) Latitude Longitude

Will cause the craft to begin to Loiter at the current location when the command is invoked.
Optionally give a location to loiter at that wp The clock starts ticking after the WP is reached.

Alt Lat Lon
Number of turns (N x 360) N/A N/A N/A

Will cause the craft to begin to orbit the current location when the command is invoked.

Option Alt
Lat Lon
N/A Altitude (meters) N/A N/A

Will cause the craft to return to the home position set when the craft is armed (requires GPS Lock!)
If Altitude is 0, craft will return to home at the altitude specified by the Mission Planner

Option Alt Lat Lon

Will cause the craft to land at the current location when the command is invoked.
If you have Sonar, the craft will stop holding position at 3 meters and drop straight down.
The motors will not stop on their own, you must exit the AP mode to cut the engines

Lat Lon
Climb angle* Altitude (meters)** N/A N/A

Will cause the craft to take off and hold position until the altitude is reached.

* APM:Plane only. This is the MIN climb angle the when using an airspeed sensor, and MAX angle when
not using an airspeed sensor.
** The altitude the plane will climb to before going to the next waypoint. The plane is only attempting to
climb at this point and can be pushed off its heading by wind.

N/A N/A Time in Seconds N/A

Will delay the execution of the next conditional command.

N/A N/A Distance (meters) N/A

Will override the next waypoint altitude.

Useful when used after a delay or distance conditional command

Option Alt
Lat Lon
N/A Altitude (meters) N/A N/A

Will override the next waypoint altitude.

Useful when used after a delay or distance conditional command

Direction (1=clockwise,

Relative: amount (degrees), Absolute:
ending angle(degrees)

Fine grain controls of the Yaw


Relative angle change
= 1, Absolute = 0

Option Alt Lat Lon

Not Implemented

Alt Lat
The desired command index
# of Jumps

Alt Lat Lon
Speed (in meters/s)
* Speed change will stick until reboot

Alt Lat Lon
1 = on, 0 = off, -1 = toggle N/A N/A N/A
* Toggling the Relay will turn an off relay on and vice versa

Option Alt
N/A # of repetitions cycle time (in seconds) >N/A
* Toggling the Relay will turn an off relay on and vice versa

Lat Lon
Servo channel (1-8) PWM (1000-2000) N/A N/A

Servo channel (5-8) PWM (1000-2000) # of repetitions cycle time (in seconds)

Option Alt Lat Lon

Yaw tracking option Altitude (in meters) Latitude Longitude

Setting will persist until the next waypoint is reached.

Note: When youre using the Jump command, remember that waypoint logic can be a bit confusing. A
waypoint command means start heading to this WP, not wait until you get to this WP. So, for
example, if you put a Jump to WP1 command in-between WP4 and WP5, the aircraft will never get
to WP5. Thats because once it starts heading in the direction of WP5, it then executes the next
command, which is the jump, and that takes priority. So in that instance, if you want the aircraft to
hit WP5, youd create a fake WP6 and issue the Jump command after that.