Antenna Tracker

Hi there. Been looking at the Antenna Tracker firmware from the Ardupilot side. This would be really useful on our PX4 end. I don’t think it’s cross compatible, mavlink or not but it would be worth getting some input on this. Being able to upload a tracking firmware to a PX4, etc would make communication really robust.

I doubt it currently works, but assuming it’s just forwarding mavlink and making itself visible as another mavlink id I’m sure we could get it working with QGC.

Ok. I’m in. I’ll do any testing needed or otherwise. I’d love to see this work. On the Ardu side there have been so many issues and it’s just lack of time. It is very much dependent on the setup so it would be a huge plus for so many to get this working. Like I said. Im willing to help or try putting something together to the best I can. Anyhow however I can or any assistance on this I’m in.

So to start with do you have it setup and working with Mission Planner? What’s the configuration? Now what happens if you open and connect QGC instead?

Just tested a few scenarios. Will do more to do tomorrow.

Have it working as intended (using Arduplane on one pix and Antenna tracker on the other) with 2x pixhawk, 2x gps and communicating via telemetry wirelessly the the antenna tracking pix using usb to the computer. Could use some tuning but thats irrelevant.

Then tried doing the same in QGC. Not possible because Mission Planner lets you connect and go back and forth between the two links but both show up, the tracker and the plane/copter/etc. Shows them both on the map as well and their heading and all that. As if you are controlling multiple vehicles. A bit like the older versions of QGC where you had active vehicles, etc and could select them. So, thats a no go as it stands. Also, it gives an invalid firmware version error (since around QGC 3 it is firmware restricted) and invalid flight mode (makes sense, QGC has no idea what these modes are).

Then tried using APM planner. Doesn’t work. Was able to kind of get both to show up, I could get the two pixhawks to talk but the GCS was going nuts.

Big part of it is on one hand it shouldn’t matter if we cant talk to the tracker. If it’s set up well then it can just run on boot. That is not ideal but it would work. The issue is that we need to access the vehicle in the air so commands and telemetry needs to be seen and received essentially transparently. If this were the case where we were using VBI to encode the nmea messages then it wouldnt matter because we could just go direct telem into the GCS but we have to bridge over. The telem is talking to the antenna tracker unit and while both are speaking the same language, they are using different dialects so its a bit of a lost in translation… Hoping it’s not too difficult to get both talking the same.

I thought maybe using mavproxy would be a test and use the tracking module to at least rule out then ill do all the tests withe the antenna tracker firmware on one and PX4 firmware on the other. That or getting the tracking module into mavros…

I think we should figure out the bare minimum support needed in QGC to allow an already configured AntennaTracker to function with PX4/QGC, and then gradually build out support.

Overall mavlink -
Modes -

Once we have a rough idea where to start we should move this discussion to a QGC issue on github.

I spent a few days looking through the Ardutracker firmware and it does have its custom modes but it really is just the global-positioning Mav message and altitude. It does the rest from there and everything else is essentially pass through.

So here’s the good part.

It kind of already works with px4 stable and Ardutracker using qgc stable. There are some issues but this is pretty much already done and unless there is a real issue with keeping the ground unit on Ardutracker firmware I don’t see a reason to change that part of it. This then becomes a qgc issue as well as making sure the correct commands are are getting through (and a few custom mav names).

Great! Open issues in QGC if you need specific features. QGC already has support for APM in general, and specific support for copter, plane, sub, etc so I can’t imagine adding the modes for tracker would be too difficult.