Navio2 without Telemetry and RC

Hello,

I recently bought a navio2 and it will arrive on friday.
Therefore a couple of questions came up and I would appreciate help. I am building a custom drone.

  1. Is it possible to run the navio2 with raspberry pi 4 WITHOUT telematry and rc?

  2. Can I control the drone with a Bluetooth PS4 Controller?

I know this sounds crazy, but due to money restrictions for a project, I want to save the money for telemetry and rc transmitter and Receiver. (I will add them at a later Development state)
The first goal is to run behind the drone while controlling it with a Ps4 Controller and to always stay within Bluetooth Range (<10m - i know the Risk yes)

  1. will the Controller be connected to the raspberry pi Bluetooth Connection and control the drone directly or Will the Controller be connected to the groundstation device and the groundstation Software will pass on the input commands?

  2. the all in all question: can i run navio2 in a drone Without telemetry and rc controls by Controlling the drone with a Bluetooth Controller and without the Need of a groundstation device e.g. Laptop nearby?

Thanks for help and sorry for the odd request - it‘s all for Education and Research.

Hi,
you don’t need any telemetry setup to run pi & navio. …Well, somehow you have to get a signal from your controller or groundstation to the Navio & pi.
You can pre-program everything and then let it do its thing but if there is a problem there is no way to take over control.
However, the rpi has got WiFi build in and given that you have access to a WiFi router and a computer you can establish a link in that way. - All described in the Navio setup instructions.
see: https://docs.emlid.com/navio2/common/ardupilot/configuring-raspberry-pi/
As to question 2: You can try to establish a link using PS4 controller with your groundstation (Mission Planner or Qgroundcontrol - both are free). Once a setup is created you might then be able to control the drone that way. But I’m not sure about Bluetooth support but do know joystick control is possible with mission planner.

In regards to your idea of being within 10m range: Bad idea, …during the first few flights you should ensure everything is working as expected and your drone is being tuned to your specific setup / configuration. 10m is not much space if a fast flying drone is suddenly “going crazy” and flying towards you. You can get nasty injuries that way.
(Even a drone like mine can easily do 50 km/h that is roughly 15m/sec - and it is not even a racing drone)
This also relates to your idea with the bluetooth connection as this is usually much shorter range than WiFi. (Usually less than 15m compared to WiFi at around 40m or more)
This brings us to your 3rd. question: You might be able to use the build in Bluetooth connection of Rpi, but you will have to find a software or a script (may have to write one using ROS package) for that. But once again you only would operate within approx. 15m using Bluetooth. …may be suitable for indoor flying but not really outdoors.
A much easier and effective setup would be using a USB Joystick connected to a Laptop or PC running Mission Planner and then using your WiFi to link to the Navio / Pi.
Laptop would be better as you can take it outdoors and see your drone easily whilst controlling it.
Another option is loading Qgroundcontrol on an android smartphone or tablet and using a screen joystick (touch control) to control drone over Wifi.
Whichever way you choose would highly recommend setting up fail-safe function like RTL if drone flies outside range of Wifi.

…This should also answer your question 4.

Safe flying

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The answer to this will change drastically depending on certain criteria:

  • What weight your drone is. If over 250g, then you can directly go to the next bullet point
  • What jurisdiction you are in. In the US or Canada, the answer is Don’t do this. It’s pretty much illegal.

Wow…thanks for the great and detailed answer!
This helped a lot - I think I‘ll go for the Wifi-Laptop-usb Controller-pi setup.

I have one question of interest which came to my mind, just to know what could be technically possible: Could you install the Mission planner Software on the navio2 raspberry pi - connect any kind of Remote Controller to the pi and enable VNC for configuration - would that work?

Hi Gabriel, thanks for reply and concerns. I know about the regulations.
The main goal is to get the drone up and fly stable- indoor in a hall.
It‘s a 3D printed project for testing purpose. After that we‘ll add telemetry and proper rc

The Rpi has got a different processor than PC’s. Hence software like Mission Planner was never written for it. There are ways of possibly getting it to work (i.e. emulator) but you have to keep in mind by default the Rpi/ Navio setup is designed to run in headless mode. - No desktop environment. This can be installed but will take more CPU resources away. With a Rpi3 or 4 not a big issue but might be pushing it if only a Rpi 2 is used.
I have recently done some tests with desktop environment, VNC and another software. The outcome was rather somewhat “scary” as all the extra processing power required taken away of the control resources of the drone. Hence flight became erratic and I had to take over control and quickly land drone before a potential crash occurred.

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If no WiFi router is available there is some software out there which will create a virtual router on the computer. In that way there is only the computer and drone required + USB Joystick.
(Unless you happen to have a touch screen laptop in which case you can use a virtual joystick)

Hi @Benix6,

Welcome to the community forum!

I believe I can only add to Karl’s answers that still it’s not recommended to use such type of control for the drone. You should always have a feedback path with the drone. When there is no feedback with the flying vehicle, it might perform an unexpected behavior. So it can be somehow dangerous.

Please, practice safe flights :slightly_smiling_face: