The autopilot

Brief Description

This autopilot was developed because we want full control and understanding, from the ground up, of how the autopilot is programmed and subsequently how the airship is managed. This makes sure that we are best placed to make any changes if and when the need arises. We also created a simple solution that offered satellite communication with a ground station designed for the safest operation of the airship. Not only do we need to insert new waypoints for the ship to follow during flight but we have a range of customized commands sent to the airship and a barrage of feedback information sent back to us. The autopilot was developed by Industratech (see details below)

System specification

  • Supply voltage of 8VDc to 30VDC
  • Separate servo VCC if required
  • CPU is a 4G Raspberry Pi
  • Linux enabled
  • 16 Servo outputs
  • 26 3.3VDC GPIO’s
  • I2C Bus
  • SPI Bus
  • Bluetooth
  • WiFi
  • SPIO Bus
  • RS232 Bus x 4
  • GPS Module RS232
  • Analogue to digital converter with 4 channels
  • High power potential free outputs x 8
  • Temperature sensing
  • Voltage sensing
  • Pressure sensing
  • Hydrogen and oxygen sensing
  • Ballast release control
  • Emergency valve operation
  • Auto/manual (Satellite/Radio) Switch over roll back to Auto
  • Iridium communication via Simple RS232 string
  • Data in and out capable and customizable
  • Hard reboot from iridium and vice versa for error reboot.
  • Power monitoring for solar application
  • Various power management systems for solar power and night management.
  • Feedback to ground station of each successful calculation

  • Latitude actual
  • Longitude actual
  • Altitude actual
  • Latitude (waypoint)
  • Longitude (waypoint)
  • Altitude (waypoint)
  • Heading
  • Nose angle
  • Bearing
  • Bearing error
  • Altitude error
  • Speed actual
  • Speed set
  • Analogues
  • Digitals
  • Liters of ballast
  • Health of each function’s operation.
  • Movement of servo’s
  • Receive and send status
  • INDUSTRATECH, Rotax and Electronic Engineering cc

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