Rover controled over internet


Recently I have decided to re-start my plan to build a remote controled rover which I can drive outdoor in our remotely located garden to look around, take pictures, videos etc. Last winter I was already able to control some servos with keyboard and have a stream over internet but to control a rover with key strokes is not that easy, so this year I have decided to use a framework like ardurover.
After a lot of reading I plan to use the following hw:

pixhawk 2.4.8 kit with M8N GPS
4wd rc car with low rpm dc brushed motor
4CH Hobbyking transmitter, receiver
some ESC coming from the rc car
RPI 3B+ as companion pc
RPI camera

the only thing I have to buy is the pixhawk kit, the others i have on the shelf and I try to reuse if possible.
I plan to install dronekit on the PI, connect it with the FC over mavlink and connect the RPI to the wifi lan in the garden then send signaling and video stream over internet somehow to the remotely located GCS where I have mission planner or some other sw running on a pc. As far as I can see, the rc transmitter will not be needed in the final setup, but might be useful when experimenting. So I don’t really want to buy a new and expensive one if it is not really necessary.

If I manage to do all this I will still need at the front end a kind of game controller/joystick/rc controller in hand to easily drive the rover.
Later I could also define routes to let the rover drive autonome.
I know it is quite complex for some one new in FC-s, but I will be happy to reach the target step by step. The only thing is what I would like to know if it is the right way of doing it.

Please leave comments if you think it is achieveble and whether the listed hw is suitable for this project.



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It should certainly be possible to do what you are planning.
What occured to me:

  1. With a four channel TX/RX you will not be able to change flightmodes via RC. You can drive around, but to change flight modes, you will have to have a telemetry connection to a PC/Phone/Tablet.

  2. You say remotly located garden. If you do not have physical access to the rover, how do you plan to load/plug/unplug the battery or prevent theft? A RC car sized rover is easy to pick up and carry away.

  3. Have a look at Zerotier One. It is a software that lets you create “local/private” networks over the internet.

thanks for your comment! Indeed, I will have no access to the rover. So it will have get back to the charger in time. This has to be solved somehow. Theft prevention is an other issue, but I am not afraid of that so much as our garden and the neighbourhood is seldom visited by anyone. Zerotier looks like a VPN network. I used to use openvpn to connect my remote rpis, but my concern is rather: is ardupilot or mission planner ready for this kind of remote configuration or I will hav to hack it somehow. As I can see in the local setup the companion RPI is communicating with the GCS on a AP-client basis on wifi which would be not possible the same way in the remote setup.

Take a look at UAVCast, it allows you a simple and easy setup of video streaming/command and control using 4G LTE or local wifi networks if available!


I use Zerotier with my rovers. It runs in the background. You can create networks and then add the clients to them. Each client gets a private IP. You can configure which address range you want to use. Missionplanner works with Zerotier like it does with your real local network. Just enter the Zerotier IPs. Zerotier automatically uses any internet connection available. If I disconnect my rovers wifi and connect my phone with usb tethering, the connection is back up a few seconds later.

Sounds good! Are you using pixhawk in your rovers?

I have looked into the site and it appears to be exactly what I need. The only problem is that if I have to pay and so I expect to have something ready. so I will miss the challange of doing it:) And I will not learn either. So as long as I can see a little chance of doing it myself, I have to keep on.

I have seen some bad reports about clone pixhawk 2.4.8. so I have looked around and found the mini version which was said good and cheap:

has anybody tried these ones?

I have a Pixfalcon in a plane, a RTFhawk and a Pixhawk 2.4.8 in my amphibious rover, a Mateksys F4 board in my mecanum rover and an Emlid Edge in my bigger three wheeled rover. All work fine and have their strength and weaknesses, regarding supported periphals, wiki coverage, etc. Their might always be something faulty, no matter what you buy.
I would go with a pixhawk clone, like the 2.4.8, it supports all periphals you might want, it is well covered in the wiki, firmware updates are easy and it is cheap.

your project list and experiences convinced me, I will go with the pixhawk clone then! I have already started to watch the related videos. I will order it this week and hopefully get it in 30-40 days. By that time I will get through docs and the real work could be started.

Holy Moly, 30-40 days delivery time! You really live far out! This would be much to much for my patience!:smile:

that was the usual ebay delivery time to europe to me. please let me know faster shops. banggod?

Ok. My bad. You could try amazon. That’s were my Pixhawk 2.4.8 came from.

I have tried this product and it works really well, replace my rfd900 with uavcast.

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Hi Sebastian,

Finally I have done all the wiring and some basic functionalities are working. Yesterday I successfully set up 433MHz telemetry radios and raspberry zero as companion comp with camera. Even the gstreamer video was working and transmitting to MP. The RC transmitter, compass, GPS, etc has been also calibrated. So the local first time setup is more or less complete.
Now I would like to prepare the remote setup. For this I will need to configure the RPI to work as telemetry radio and to configure the MAVLINK router to send packets to the remote GCS.
Are you using an APSync image as offered here, or you have done the manual install of MAVLINK Router? Is you pi set up as an wifi AP or it is a wifi client?
I will also install as proposed zerotier on the GCS pc and on the raspberry too.

I am using rpanion-server made by Stephen Dade now. Stephen does a great job supporting it! He added features as fast as I could ask for them. It features a web interface where you can setup telemetry forwarding, networking, video streaming from RPi cam and USB cams per gstreamer and onboard flight logging.
I was not able to get zerotier running to see how rpanion handles the virtual network interface. It seems to be zerotiers fault, not rpanions. Zerotier will not start, because it can not access a file. The file is there and it is readable and all tipps I found online do not resolve the issue.

thanks for the fast answers. then I will try tonight to install rpanion-server. I do not stcik to zerotier as long as I can forward the mavlink control over internet to a remote GCS.

That is why I tried to install zerotier, because rpanion does not provide forwarding telemetry over the internet by itself. I hoped rpanion would just pick up the virtual zerotier interface, so I could configure telemetry forwarding over it. It would be great, if you could install rpanion and then try to install zerotier, to see if you run into the same issue. I will try to install zerotier on my mecanum rover tomorrow.

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Ok, I see now. I will try and let you know.

I installed zerotier on my second rover and rpanion shows the tunnel adapter with its IP. After adding a telemetry forwarder to the zerotier address of my laptop, MissionPlanner connected without a problem. This was all done on the same network, just using the zerotier IPs. Next I will usb tether the rover to my mobile phone and test on two different networks.