Servers by jDrones

FlightZoomer 3 is released!


(flightzoomer) #1

Finally, after a long development time, I am happy to announce that FlightZoomer 3 is released!

To celebrate the launch of the FlightZoomer apps, the FlightZoomer 3 Cockpit-app is available at no cost from the Windows 10 Store. Be sure to get the app for free before the price goes up.

For those who don’t know FlightZoomer yet, get an impression of the capabilities in the video above.

What is FlightZoomer?

FlightZoomer is a special kind of a cockpit app (aka GCS), which runs on any Windows 10 tablet, notebook, or desktop PC.

The app, which is called FlightZoomer Cockpit 3, is connected with an ArduPilot flight controller either through 3rd party radio telemetry or through 3G and an onboard smartphone, that acts a companion computer and runs the FlightZoomer 3 Companion app.

As the name “cockpit” implies, FlightZoomer is a man-machine interface for pilots. The system supports flying and controlling an aircraft remotely probably better than any other hobby grade GCS. In fact, FlightZoomer offers FPV on a system and procedure level (besides being great for classical FPV too).

Unprecedented innovations are:

Autopilot modes
The autopilot offers more than a dozen modes, which are common on Boeing aircraft, but which have not been available for remotely controlled aircraft before. The Mode Control Panel allows to control intuitively the flight direction, turns, climbs, or descends in real time. The FlightZoomer autopilot modes are:

  • TRK - track over ground
  • HDG - Heading
  • Turnrate - Turn radius
  • SPD - Speed
  • VS - Vertical Speed
  • FPA - Flight Path Angle
  • FLCH - Flight Level Change
  • ALT - Altitude
  • APP - ILS Approach
  • LOC - Radio Navigation Localizer
  • LNAV - Lateral Navigation (follow route laterally)
  • VNAV - Vertical Navigation (execute climbs, descends, cruise phases of planned route)

Control the flight using the Microsoft Surface Dial
In a real cockpit, autopilot target values are dialed in using rotary controllers. FlightZoomer offers this behavior by supporting the Microsoft Surface Dial. Using this nice rotary controller, you can select target values by turning the knob and jump from mode to mode by pressing the knob.
If you e.g. command a turn, the aircraft does not wait to start turning until the target value has been locked in. Instead it starts banking the moment you start rotating the dial. At the time you have intuitively and precisely set the desired new target direction, the turning aircraft will already be close to that direction so that the autopilot can gently terminate the turn.
Flying like that is hard to describe, you have to experience it! It is like setting the flight direction with a steering wheel.
See in this video, how this works.

Control the flight by voice recognition
Even another method, how the autopilot can efficiently and safely be operated, is by voice recognition. Hands-free flying becomes reality if you simply tell the FlightZoomer autopilot, what it shall do. By voice instructions, which follow a simple grammar, all the autopilot modes can be set. This feature offers the shortest intention-to-machine distance…
See in this video, how this works.

ILS - Instrument Landing System
In full scale aviation the procedure to fly ILS approaches is to capture first the direction (= localizer) to the runway, then capture the glideslope from below. With FlightZoomer, you fly approaches exactly the same. First you set a course, that will intersect the extended runway center line with 30° - 60° (e.g. assume a runway direction of 78°. To capture the localizer from the south, you would select 40° as target value for the TRK mode). At the intersection point (and with armed APP mode), the aircraft then gently and automatically would turn toward the runway. If you began the procedure at a suitable altitude, the glideslope should soon settle in from above, so your ILS approach would be fully established and the automatic descend would start.

Terrain map and Vertical Situation Display
Real glass cockpits usually provide excellent feedback about the elevation of the surrounding terrain. As an absolute novelty, this feature has been made available in FlightZoomer too. On the Navigation Display, you get a terrain map, which shows you areas that are sufficiently below the aircraft (colored in green), areas which are close to the aircraft altitude (colored in yellow) and areas which are higher than the aircraft currently is flying (colored in red).
This capability is very useful especially for drones and RC aircraft operations, as these types of vehicles typically fly rather low all the time.
It is fascinating to see, how your surrounding terrain slowly turns from red to yellow and then to green, while climbing out of a valley.
See in this video, how this works.

Real and synthetic FPV camera side-by-side
The FlightZoomer 3 Cockpit app offers a synthetic outside view, which is based on a 3D map, with aerial imagery and a correct representation of the pitch and bank angle. The synthetic FPV camera requires no video transmission and is working with telemetry data only. Enjoy the unrivaled experience when looking at the FullHD scenery even at times, when real FPV cameras run into serious limitations (e.g. at night, in fog).
Beside the synthetic camera, a classical (real) video feed can be embedded seamlessly or as an overlay in the FlightZoomer cockpit app too.
See in this video, how this works.

Layout, functionality, procedures, and terminology are borrowed from full scale aviation
Wherever possible, FlightZoomer is modeled after the cockpit of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. This applies not only to the look&feel, but also to features and the handling.

In-built simulator
Using the in-built simulator, you can start exploring FlightZoomer right after installation. Flying with the simulator, the handling of all the mentioned features above works exactly the same, as if you would fly a real vehicle.
See in this video, how the simulator works.

Fresh from the press, you can also consult the new online documentation, which describes the installation and usage of FlightZoomer very detailed. Directly enter the documentation under this link.

General information can be found under flightzoomer.com.


(Saijin_Naib) #2

This looks amazing! Any chance that FlightZoomer Cockpit 3 could be made available for mobile and xbox as a true UWP (big screen flight monitoring [useful for demos/shows])? I use W10M, and would love to be able to use my Lumia 950 instead of my horrid Android phone when I’m monitoring my Solo.


(peterbarker) #3

That’s a lot of features!

I’m intrigued by the “ILS” feature you mention - what ArduPilot feature
does that map onto? “ILS” would ordinarily indicate using sensors
specific to a particular landing approach rather than a pre-canned
ArduPlane auto-land.

Are you a member of the “GCS maintainers” google group? You really should
be - it’s where we announce changes (or intentions to change!)
GCS-impacting behaviour. So, for example, we recently changed VFR_HUD to
be common across all our vehicles, impacting GCS’s use of that message -
it was announced on that list.

https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/ardupilot-gcs


(Dave) #4

The app won’t allow a UDP selection for telemetry. The button is inactive


(flightzoomer) #5

As a Mobile GCS, the apps are available since mid 2016 as FlightZoomer GroundStation 2.1. Compared with the feature scope of version3, the autopilot and the instruments are there, while the following parts are missing: the synthetic FPV, the terrain map, the relay server-less datalink and the connection via radio telemetry. I could publish the app as-is for Mobile too, but as the screen is too small to have sufficient readability for the full layout, I have not done that until now. I think, the user experience would be underwhelming. Version 2.1 is optimized for the small screen, however the mentioned restrictions do apply.

Regarding XBOX: I can publish the next update as-is for XBOX if you wish. That means that the user interaction probably will not be optimized for controller centric handling. You anyway can connect a huge TV also to a PC and let the app run there.


(flightzoomer) #6

Regarding how ILS works (for plane, copter is similar):
Using a sequence of straight segments, the plane is brought close to intercepting the localizer and the glideslope (these segments are “manually” flown by the pilot using the TRK and the basic vertical modes). With the APP (=ILS) mode armed, the plane will then capture the localizer and the glideslope automatically (the order does not matter technically, but procedure wise it is recommended to first intercept the localizer then the glideslope from below). The moment, the localizer and the glideslope are both established (= from there on we are on the final approach) a LAND waypoint is injected into the mission and ArduPlane’s own algorithms will perform the landing.

Overall the system kind of simulates the usage of an ILS from a pilots perspective. Under the hood there are of course no radios, no antennas and the like.


(flightzoomer) #7

Regarding UDP telemetry:
As mentioned here, currently radio telemetry only supports the COM port. But I have planned to ship UDP telemetry with the next version. As I dont have a UDP modem, I would be interested if you or somebody else could beta test a changed version.


(Dave) #8

I wonder if we are talking about the same thing. I have several craft with ESP8266 WiFi modules that I connect to with other GCS’s via UDP (Mission Planner, QGroundControl, Tower, APM Planner).


(Saijin_Naib) #9

I’m primarily interested in the radio telemetry connection via UDP capabilities of the 3.x branch, so I’ve thus far had no ability to use the 2.x branch with my devices (3DR Solo).

I’m not sure if you’re aware, but there is no Ardupilot-compatible GCS/tool for W10M UWP or W10 ARM. There is a void there that potentially could be filled by a mobile-friendly UI of FlightZoomer.

Mm, you’re right, without controller nav support, the benefit of the Xbox release would be minimal. In terms of demos, the xbox is far easier to move around and connect onsite than a full PC is.


(flightzoomer) #10

@dkemxr
It looks I was unclear, but I was talking exactly about the issue you mentioned. :wink:

Ok, the current implementation is supporting COM port based telemetry only. I have not yet completed the implementation of the UDP socket as telemetry interface (wrongly assuming, that UDP is not used so much as interface). I have put the UI elements for UDP there, but at the moment they are not wired with code behind.

As I would like to add UDP asap, I was asking who could support me with beta testing (as I dont have a UDP link to Pixhawk at hand for tests).


(Saijin_Naib) #11

I can provide limited testing with my Solo and my W10 desktop over UDP.


(flightzoomer) #12

@Saijin_Naib
Version 2 works only with the cellular link, so you would have to attach another wp to the copter and connect with the FCS via Bluetooth.

I will also look into making the UWP app fit for xbox. I think selecting target values would be very hard just with the controller, so a mouse would be really recommended, to use FlightZoomer on xbox.


(Dave) #13

Happy to help with testing!


(Richard Joy) #14

When I first launch FlightZoomer 3 the welcome screen is displayed but no flight data feeds are displayed. I have a 3DR clone telemetry radio plugged into my laptop but it does not detect it. The driver is Silicon Labs CP210x USB to UART Bridge (COM3) and works just fine with Mission Planner.

I also thought that I would be able to connect to my SITL test/development setup which is running on a Linux VM on another server but I see from previous posts UDP is not currently supported.


(flightzoomer) #15

@Spitfire
UWP is notoriously known, to be more restrictive regarding COM support, than win32 (e.g. here). So that mission planner in some cases works and FlightZoomer not does not surprise me. Therefore I restricted the supported devices specifically to FTDI devices in the minimum hardware specs.
Anyway we can try to troubleshoot and see whether we are lucky, so please provide me this information:

  1. If you press “Enter the Cockpit”, does it show an error message or does it load the Cockpit just with no incoming messages?
  2. Does it work, if the USB/COM device was plugged in at system start (this thread gives such a hint)?

(Richard Joy) #16
  1. After pressing “Enter the Cockpit” it displays the message “Connection failed” and underneath in a smaller font “Invalid credentials. Ether the Flight ID or Token is invalid!”
  2. I tried a shutdown and reboot while the USB radio was plugged but get the same error.

(flightzoomer) #17

That seems to be an response if the leftmost tab is selected and no companion app is there. Can you first select the “3rd Party Telemetry”-tab, and then press “Enter the Cockpit”?


(Richard Joy) #18

Ok, here is the issue - the tabs only show up when the FZ3 app is in full screen. If I toggle out of full screen the Welcome screen has no content and this is what I saw when I first launched it. With the app in full screen I selected the 3rd Party Telemetry tab and see the Serial port COM3 has been detected and entering the Cockpit now works. Not a big deal but a bit confusing to a newcomer like me to FZ3


( .) #19

it looks great, though some UI bugs Example: on the separate simulation app once you enter the cockpit, the X button doesn’t take you back out, you have to exit the app to get out. also, i crashed ti with a few clicks :wink:

But it looks promising. Can’t wait until it supports UDP so I can use it. Also, where did you get the information for the CNI nav menus? They look suspiciously like GE aviation nav menus…not a bad thing, they’ve got a great product on CNS/ATM navigation setup.


(flightzoomer) #20

@lordneeko
The Cockpit 3 - Simulation Edition is not up to date. You can use the simulation tab of the released full featured app, to get the full featured simulation capabilities (e.g. voice control is not yet possible with the Simulation Edition).
To be honest I have no in-depth knowledge about GE aviation nav menus. The look of the cockpit and its features are designed after the Boeing 787 cockpit. That would explain, why it looks similar like many other such systems.