New 4G FPV telemetry and video project

I would like to present you my new startup - DroneMate.
It is a Raspberry Pi software which allows you to stream mavlink telemetry and/or video to your ground stations over the 4G network.
We are in open Beta right now and is absolutely free. All you need is a Raspberry Pi 2 or higher and a 4G USB stick.

Supports all Mavlink compatible autopilots.
Supports Raspberry Pi camera.

Give it a try: https://drone-mate.com/

Installation instructions: Installation - DroneMate - 4G Mavlink telemetry and video for Raspberry Pi

Feel free to contact me if you need any help with the setup or join our Discord server to have a chat. Discord Server

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Nice project but if i were you i’d offer something different than zerotier, expecially for pro users.

Thanks for the advice. I am currently working on open vpn integration.
The reason I chose ZeroTier is that it is peer-to-peer VPN which is ideal for this application.All other VPN services will add additional latency.

And in fact ZeroTier is being used by big companies and have professional plans.

Zerotier is faster when everythng works at best. Often is slower and heavily depends if you have your own moons or go trough zerotier’s. Zerotier can have tons of probs if you need nat traversal on both sides.
OpenVPN is a step better but not optimal for drone use in my opinion.
We went trough all of this 3-4 years ago and settle to a totally different technology in the end.

Just my 2 cents

Wouldn´t it be possible to skip a VPN alltogether and esablish a direct connection via dynamic DNS?

In theory yes, but many cellular providers do not allow peer-to-peer connections.

The good thing about ZeroTier is that it is kind of a “hybrid” vpn. If it can it will establish direct connection and if it couldnt - it will route the traffic through a node. So you get the best of both worlds.

Problem is that if it can’t do traversal than it’ll route trafic trough a moon and if you want to keep it at a decent speed you need your own “moons” (that how zerotier calls its first level nodes). Another drawback is that you do not have any control over zerotier, if for any reason it is down than your drone is grounded.
On top of that zerotier multipath is very very alpha state at the moment and not trustable.

What technology do you use?

What’s different with this vs something like UAVCast?

Looks like nice work. I want to try this in my next project.

Nothing, apart from it is currently free and we have a lot of features in the pipeline.

Zerotier is fine - most have an APN that allow direct connections(that is not announced to people until requested), if not … switch.

The “Get it Free” seems to be a bit sleazy, as it’s really only for 30-days. - so … it’s more like a “free trail”?

Finally - the “packages” page says:
“Discord access” - I do not yet know where Discord is involved, but it is an extreme bloat/spyware - Discord on anything else than a virtualized/contained process on a Linux computer is polling for all other processed on a computer to spy, completely regardless of the settings you choose for it NOT to monitor activity.
I would not run/affiliate with Discord in any way - especially in the air…

Hi Andre, thanks for your comment.

Let me clarify. I meant that you as a person have access to our Discord server. Nothing on the raspberry pi is communicating to Discord. No libraries or APIs are referring to Discord.

The “Get it free” is indeed referring to the free Beta access. As of now it is not decided how much it will last. It will probably be longer than 1 month in which case you can either get a new free 1 month license or I would most likely just extend all existing licenses.

I am not going to lie, I put a lot of thought and effort in this project to make it easy an reliable to use and at some point I will ask for some sort of subscription. Currently I am developing a lot of new features, but my main focus right now is to build a community and hear what you guys have to say about it, discuss new features with you and when Drone Mate reaches to a state where I am happy with what it has to offer then it will start requiring some sort of subscription. I can assure you that everybody who participated in the beta testing will not be forgotten and I will do my best to repay when that moment comes. I understand that the packages page might sound “sleazy”, but really my point was to make it clear that it is indeed free to use for now (no sleazy “give me your credit card and I will charge you 1 month from now when you forget”), but on the other hand I wanted to make it clear that at some point this will no longer be free so people dont feel mislead.

As for ZeroTier. I agree with Corrado_Steri. As easy as it is to use and setup, it has major drawbacks. If your APN does not allow direct connections (and by the looks of it most of them dont), then ZeroTier routes the traffic through their servers which in most cases is another country than yours. This introduces a network latency of about 150ms in my tests.

In the latest DroneMate update I have implemented support for OpenVPN server connection. This way you can either use an OpenVPN service you trust, or easily host your own. In my case this dropped the network latency to about 10-35ms (depends where the nearest 4G tower is, which is pretty much as low as you can get it. Before anyone jumps again - I know that OpenVPN has other issues. It is not exactly the most lightweight VPN implementation.

I am doing my best to research and include support for services that are both free, easy to use and do the job as good as they can. There are paid peer-to-peer services which I can integrate and will do the job flawlessly, but that would definitely affect the price in a significant way.

Currently I am checking with Tailscale if it would be within their terms and conditions to include support for their service. It works very similarly to ZeroTier, but manages to establish a direct connection between DroneMate and my mobile ground station. If everything goes well, I expect to release an update which will include Tailscale integration in the coming weeks.

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Great Job! Thank you.