How I built a custom ground control station

Hi All,

I work at Tangram Flex, and we released a free tool called Tangram Maker where you can drag and drop software components in a system design and it will automatically generate the interface code for you (like a MAVLink API).

I used it to create my own custom PX4 ground control station software. The instructions and sample C++ code are here GitHub - TangramFlex/mavpx4-mission: Tangram Maker tutorial to create a MAVLink PX4 ground control station, and example mission C++ app if you want to give a try. It uses a PX4 simulator so you can test it out on your computer.

Next I’ll be testing it against a real drone and writing a tutorial about that process. Tangram Maker has built-in support for MAVLink and ROS messages so another project our engineers are tinkering with is making a drone autonomously follow an RC car on the ground.

I hope the tutorial can spark some ideas for you and show what’s possible. Are you working on anything similar? Let me know if you have any questions!


Very interested. I am in the process of building a modular 3d printed drone and looking at your website this looks like a great system to develop with. Although I’m not all about military and war we are still wanting to develop a hive that can work with municipalities and manage drone groups via cellular


@local_ad Wow, that sounds cool! I’m interested in learning more about what you’re working on. Are you looking into autonomous flight? How can I learn more? Thanks!

Hello. Reading your post lead me to believe you had some experience in the software and control area. Like everything else in my drone experience I’m learning as I go. Your development software sounded perfect for our intended operation and I will explain in a min. First just to let you know where I’m at. I am 60 yrs old and have been in aviation my whole life as both a mechanic and pilot. The drone development came about with my realization that the FAA was going to get involved and sure enough they dropped the hammer, and we haven’t seen anything yet, wait till they start to require certification of parts.
My concept is about a complete 3d printed frame so anyone can get the basic build and contribute to the development. Yes there are other similar programs but I am also teaching 3d printing. Like everything else I had to start learning the 3d printing on my own and have details on setting up and running a build program.
So that gives us a drone, users copy our build, learn and contribute. It’s alot of information, it’s been just over a year for me, I started by purchasing a yuneec 520e but realized I needed to have a better understanding of all aspects of the industry. I did my drone pilot license and also AUVSI certs.
Now I have a completed drone build, have crashed a few but have learned an immense amount which is where I’m at. Trying to master reading flight logs and making changes to the configuration and learning as I go.
My drone build is at Building - Daytona Drone
I have decided to use Modalai VOXL vision for the build and am just setting up my linux server to run the programs to communicate with the computer.
The end game is a bridge inspection drone, one that can fly in gps denied environments. I have also printed the Rooster at 3/4 scale to use the voxl with it also.
I have tried several flight computers maybe 4 including the raspberry pi version but The build had taken most of my time and learning the different flight computers got the back seat. Working with these manufactures lead me to Modalai as the unit for our mission but I have also been communicating with the NXP corp (hovergames) about using their pixhawk board and their program for beginners. First I had to verify it flys and it does. I’m pretty close to a finished model. " The Rooster "
That’s about it, I intend to promote the Rooster as a in-house open source drone solution but want to keep each build on record and contributing to the program actively. I wanted to build a larger unit because of utility, this unit can hold 2 6s batteries when we get to that point. Right now it’s minor leagues
If you are interested you should have a good idea that this is a startup and just starting up. In the next couple months I will be trying to develop with the 4g cellular modem with the VOXL setup, to get the drone communicating with ground control and then working to add additional units flying in the same program Yeah I know sounds crazy but I’ve seen alot of development in this area including Verizon with there command center. Once I have a daily flying drone (couple weeks ) I will be seeking funding for the overall program as a technical educational program. If your young your working in the right industry for massive learning. If you want more info I can point you in the direction that I’m reading. The new canbus spec in one of them, my objective is fully canbus control unfortunately the uavcan developers have split and it’s a bit confusing right now.
Lots to learn that’s for sure. The one point I would like for you to consider is with cellular connectivity you can fly my drone from your location, Way cool.


@local_ad Very cool. It sounds like you could use Tangram Maker to generate the communications code to transmit commands between your ground control and drone. Are you using MAVLink?

Yes but this is where I am at. So far it’s been design and fly to verify the unit will fly right. This all looks good but I could really use a nice GUI application to read the telemetry from mission planner.
So yes to mavlink but just at the beginning stages of understanding the components.
I have a flight computer with a 4g cellular modem and am just getting the receiver for my laptop to communicate with it. This is a very difficult learning process for me because I have never really committed to understanding computer programming, some but my brain is just not wired right when it comes to code. I believe I will have to do a learning session on Python, the software for the MODALAI VOXL is all linux based, I have a computer setup for this but have not committed the time or the resources to move to the next level but this is coming soon.
So far it’s been just mission planner and ardupilot but will have to move to PX4 for the VOXL. It’s a major undertaking but the first step, building my own drone, a 3d printed drone, is reality

I need to be able to control 3-5 drones from the same control center. Can you tell me how to do this. I either need some direction or I need to pay someone to set it up. That is find someone in my town that has some mission planner or qground control experience. I have embry riddle school here (Daytona beach) and might get lucky but their drone program is weak and the school sucks