Cheap VTOL drones flyable with a 4G connection can exist?

#1

I’m a new lover on the world of the drones. As a first drone I’ve bought the Parrot Disco (now discontinued). I got it because with some modding it can fly for 4 hours and for a maximum of 100 kms. AFAIK,there are no cheap drones able to do that. Now,the problem is that the Disco is a drone that can’t fly vertically. And it has some disadvantages. For example when it starts flying and when it crashed,if there is an human action,it can’t fly again. So,I’m very curious to know if there is a chance to create the perfect drone. Something like this VTOL drone :

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gPEeCjVrTBw

BUT flyable through a 4G connection. I see that TOM uses the radio frequences,but it means that if the drone will fly very far away from him,the connection will be lost. With a mobile connection like the disco,this will not happens. Also,TOM says :

“Obviously it would be ideal to integrate the Arduino code into the flight controller, but that’s beyond my current coding skill level”

I imagine that using Arduino or even better,the RaspBerry Pi zero,it would be possible to make fly the drone with a 4G connection ? For how much time and for how many kms the drone will be able to fly ? I’ve found a guy who until some time ago was building this kind of drones,but now his website :

http://4gmetry.voltarobots.com/

it is unreachable. Do you know if he changed website,if it can be reached somewhere somewhere else or if you are aware of something / someone similar to that ? thanks.

#2

I have no personal experience on this but ran across Skydrone.

Good luck.

#3

are u sure ? Sky Drone FPV 2 is a HD camera system for drones that transmits over the LTE network,instead Tom used a long range radio frequences receiver like this :

Instead,I would like to use the skydrone 2 version.

#4

@Mario_Marietto It is quite simple to set up a LTE connection with a drone with a companion computer and maybe running a mavlink-router. You simply need a LTE dongle, sim card and a companion computer that can configure the network.

However, this is not usually used for replacing the remote controller but rather used for receiving telemetry. Usually BVLOS(Beyond Visual Line of Sight) flights are done by executing automated missions and receiving telemetry / video over this LTE link, sending high level commands such as waypoints missions .etc. There are a number of reasons you don’t want to directly control your drone over LTE with your sticks, to pick some.

  • The drone will be vulnerable to connection breakages, which is unsafe if the drone is far away
  • For safe BVLOS flights, you need the vehicle to have some degree of autonomy / failsafe in order to safely operate the vehicle which is usually more than enough to do autonomous waypoint navigation. So why not use it?
  • LTE links can have latencies (Although from my experience this is not too bad but can vary greatly on where you are receiving this) and as 4G LTE link relies on external infrastructure, you have no control on the reliability / security or even robustness over the connection

Radio frequencies are used as a robust and easy way of controlling your drone. Even if you try to fly your drone using 4G connections, unless your system has been proven industry grade robust, I suggest you still test it with the RC transmitter in your hand in case something goes wrong.

#5

thanks for your suggestion,but I need that the drone fly for more kms. Why don’t try this ? I’ve bought the parrot disco that with a modding can fly for 100 kms. The creator of the modification says that the latency is good. Its nice. I wanna try. The problem with the parrot disco is that it is not a VTOL,so when it lands on the ground if I’m not there the drone can’t fly again. So I wanna try to create a VTOL drone that can fly with the Sky Drone FPV 2. I’m trying to understand if I can do it.

#6

@Mario_Marietto I am not saying you cannot fly with LTE with PX4. It is totally possible and as I said pretty straight forward to setup. What I am saying is that it is not a substitute of a transmitter. You need more than that, which PX4 already provides.

#7

PX4 = Sky Drone FPV 2 ?

#8

@Mario_Marietto No, PX4 is the autopilot firmware (software) that runs in the flight controller. Sky drone FPV is a integrated for data and video link system (hardware)

#9

can you make a scheme to help me to understand how all the things (hardware and software) are connected to achieve the goal of having a VTOL drone that can fly with the 4G connection ? I’m very confused.

#10

@Mario_Marietto

You need a companion computer where you can route the information over the network, in addition to a flight controller that will fly your vehicle(for example, a VTOL). If you are not familiar with the concept of what a companion computer is, refer to this document.

To setup the companion computer you can do the following:

  • You can receive telemetry over the network using UDP endpoints on the mavlink-router
  • There is a tutorial on how to stream video over a network using wifi here . You just need to switch the wifi link to a LTE link

If you are looking for a plug and play solution, Skydrone FPV might be the choice you want to make. As I said however, using this and sending your drone beyond your visual line sight is NOT SAFE

#11

thanks. let’s go on the hardware part,please. Which kind of hardware u suggest ? can I buy all the hardware pieces in a one only shot ? Or can I buy a cheap VTOL drone already ready,at least for the wings,the hull,the propellers and so on ? the idea is to remove its electronic parts and later changes them with the new hardware components.

#12

All the information you are asking is in the px4 user and developer guide.(including components) please refer to the following links.

https://docs.px4.io/en/
https://dev.px4.io/en/

#13

Please don’t give me a lot of complicated written tutorial. To start I need video tutorial,on youtube. We aren’t on the '90 years when we should RTFM. Now we are on internet 2.0 times,and we should Watch The Fucking Video (WTFV). The problem now for me is to undersand which hardware components I should use and in which order I should connect them and then I can start studying the software or firmware part.