Sending Flight commands via Wi-Fi

Would it be possible to send the flight commands to a quadcopter through Wi-Fi via smart device instead of using the RC transmitter and receiver. I am already receiving telemetry data and my FPV stream via the Wi-Fi connection.


Yes there are ground station like apps for smart phones and tablets too. Check the APM web page which compares ground station software and pick one which runs with the most compatibility. Some of them support joysticks too. I’m testing Andropilot at the moment because it seems to be the most compatible with the APM “firmware”, compared to Tower which is focused on 3DR equipment/QGroundControl firmware.

If you search these forums you will see enough discussions about this already, also from me (I’m learning too). From the answers I got from more experienced members it seems at greater distances special wifi or mobile networks are required but introduce a bit too much lag. If you’re not going long distance (FPV racer) maybe it’s not a problem.

I’m about to test all this. But am not bothered either way, because even if RC radio is still required I’ve already saved on cost, space and weight, compared to a traditional solution like a Pixhawk with all the different radios, FPV transmitters and OSD!


How are you able to know which is more compatible with APM? I thought that all those listed meant they were compatible? I was planning on trying to experiment with Tower, but would Andropilot be the better choice?

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WIFI reliability will be reduced at long distince, while UAV controll commands,require very high reliability and mission critical. Your DRONES safty is most important :smile:

I’ve tested the different tools with various versions of stable and beta releases. Also take a look at the source code, there are many branches with ideas running off in all directions! How can any GCS software support alll of that?!

I think the problem is the MAVLink protocol, specifically how it is controlled. There’s no governing body, so no concrete standard and the documentation sparse. An important part of any interface/protocol is not just the commands and parameters but behavioural documentation (use cases and expected results/acceptance criteria). Developers of autopilot firmware (e.g. APM, Pixhawk) and types (e.g. copter, rover) seem to add their own messages and change behaviour as they wish without any central coordination (outside of their domain).

Using any radio is not reliable and that is why the ground station will retry and the autopilot has failsafe options. There are many communication technologies available. Wifi has long range solutions too. It depends on what you mean by “long” range. Some people use the cellular network for almost unlimited range. For the average flyer (line of sight) wifi or the 3DR radio will be enough for mission commands. For more interactive control (takeoff/landings) or a backup, installing an RC transmitter/receiver is still best to include in your build. Once you’ve invested in a transmitter, each receiver you add is a small cost to secure each drone and have better flight control in line of sight.

This is an “auto”-pilot so the drone knows what to do in case no more contact is received. With our full computer based autopilot (Navio) there’s plenty of room for programs/scripts to do whatever you want in such cases. But it’s a valid point that we need some official test matrix. I’m sure DIY Drones would welcome such a contribution to their web site/wiki. The best general advice is to stay clear of any release candidate and beta APM (“firmware”) to ensure the most MAVLink/GCS compatibility possible.