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Anyone know of any microcontrollers which can communicate via radio?

Discussion in 'Microcontrollers, Programming and IoT' started by j4cobgarby, Nov 27, 2018.

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  1. j4cobgarby


    Sep 18, 2018
    I'm designing a drone, and I'm looking for a cool microcontroller to use for the main controlling. I want to control the drone via radio commands so that I can control it from a fairly long way away.

    Does anyone know of any microcontrollers which can send data and receive data over radio signals? Similar to the I don't want to use the Micro Bit though.



    PS: I would love if the microcontroller came in a development board option, and/or can be easily programmed over USB, but this isn't necessary.
  2. davenn

    davenn Moderator

    Sep 5, 2009

    well that's what all drones already do
    what is it that you want to do differently ?
  3. j4cobgarby


    Sep 18, 2018
    Well my one will be made by me -- I just want to make a drone.
  4. Bluejets


    Oct 5, 2014
    I hear this sooo many times and really wonder if the realisation as to the amount of technology and know-how that is packed into these things is given a moments thought.

    Have no idea how you think you can improve these designs without having even an inkling of what is involved.

    There are kits are available if you want to go that way. Try Hobbyking for starters.

    Cost will be way in excess of what one can buy "over-the-counter" though and there is no guarantee they will work as you might expect.

    Basically the same for almost anything mass produced these days.

    There are some that cost thousands as these tend to have special features.
    hevans1944 and davenn like this.
  5. j4cobgarby


    Sep 18, 2018
    I do realise how much technology is in microcontrollers. Have a look at the Micro Bit to which I linked - that can communicate over radio, and it's pretty small. I'm not looking for anything the size of a fingernail by any means, just a microcontroller. I understand why it's difficult to make, which is why I'm having a hard time finding such a microcontroller, and why I'm posting here, in the hopes that someone may know of one.
  6. Bluejets


    Oct 5, 2014
    It is a fact that the quads carry several uC's for differing operations, not just one.

    Here is a link to one quad build using, not stand-alone uC's BUT a series of ready made modular boards.

    Be aware your requirement for long range is a feature not normally required or allowed by law in most countries.
    hevans1944 likes this.
  7. kellys_eye


    Jun 25, 2010
    ALL microcomputers can communicate over radio. They are usually separate things anyway. The microcomputer will use a serial data signal that is fed to a transmitter circuit that does the rest. More specifically it will be a transceiver as you need bi-directional communications for a drone.
    I'd forget trying to make one and consider hacking an existing model if you want to make yours unique in any way.
  8. VenomBallistics


    Aug 30, 2018
    How this is done at the hobby level is we do NOT jack around with the RF control side of the system. You will not achieve the reliability and versatility of a proper radio like the FrSky Taranis ... X9D or Q7.
    either of those and a receiver like their X series is a plug and play connection to most flight control boards.
    KK2 board is self contained but antiquated.
    current gold standard seems to be a cleanflight or betaflight loaded F4 ... its configured via USB through a chrome app.
    Personally, Ill recommend getting an all in one (AIO) F3, or F4 so you have your critical telemetry data video feed ready. just add an FPV camera, video transmitter and antenna, and a set of goggles Eachine 800D is an excellent entry level goggle system.
    Now, we get into the drone itself.
    Start with the frame size your going for. 250mm - 300mm has the most product support.
    On a sheet of poster board, use a compass to draw a circle with a diameter of your desired frame size (say 275mm)
    next, make a 90 degree X intersecting the center point of that circle and extending past the circle.
    Where the lines of the X intersect the circle is where your motors will go.
    make a template of your motors bolt pattern (2205 probably) and transfer this to each mount point where the shaft aligns with the X circle junctions. It would also help to mark the bolt pattern where the leads from the motor get to lay straight, pointing at the desired ESC location. Draw out the frame as you wish from there, only the motor positions are important so X form, H form or I form are all acceptable.
    As you draft this frame, make sure you have areas at the center for your radio receiver, FC board, VTX, camera and battery.
    You can add "floors" with spacers to gain more real-estate for gear too.
    once the frame draft is done, cut it out, use it as a template to transfer to Delrin, Carbon Fiber, FR4 circuit board material ... plywood if you like ...
    as you get close to finishing this machine, invest in DAL brand propellers. They can take the thank you sir may I have another kind of abuse you read about in Oliver Twist. ... you will need that trait above any other attribute.

    Now, I know that this isn't exactly the answer you seek.
    to work from components you'll need to get a gyro talking to an STM32 F4 MCU which has to handle the S.Bus feed from the RX while running mixer and PID functions to send servo commands to each of your ESC's. Then you'll have to figure out how to operate it without destroying every LiPoly you own until you can establish some kind of telemetry either via control uplink or video downlink.
    On Screen display via FPV is optimum in that it keeps your eyes on the road and your hands upon the wheel.
    Its a great way to fly after you get past the Stevie Wonder impersonation phase and stop making yourself airsick while standing on firm ground and then you'll have to hammer out some way of facilitating adjustments via USART USB or whatever else you choose, because you WILL have your best guess at PID and control volumes puked in your face in the first few seconds of flight.
    I guess you could tweak firmware code but you can already lose a few weekends of your life with drone tuning when its easy to access.
    hevans1944 likes this.
  9. CircuitMaster


    Dec 17, 2016
  10. VenomBallistics


    Aug 30, 2018
    perhaps, but as Im stabbing westward through the possibilities weighed against experience thus far, the difference between a 32 bit system like the STM32F3 and the ATMega based KK2 was like trying to race with a minivan versus the same in a Mustang. The STM32 is just a better tool for the job, as it allows for more sophisticated control loop functions.
    But even before we get fully immersed in these finer points, there seems to be a glaring set of issues set before us as we read between the lines.
    The OP is implying that he's trying to build the radio control uplink as well as the drone stabilization system.
    Smart money says he's never flown anything beyond a paper airplane.
    Drones are inherently unstable. even with advanced and well developed stabilization systems afforded by the manufacturers in the hobby industry, you really need to be on top of these things to fly them.
    What I'm getting at here is that the OP probably needs to learn how to fly first.
    without that vital skill set, this is going to be a long, painful and expensive development process.

    It is better to use an off the shelf radio control system.
    FrSky Q7 is about $115 USD, by the time your done reinventing the 2.4GHz spread spectrum radio, you will have blown that budget and come out with far less.
    Also, 2.4GHz is rather crowded. if you don't use it right, it stands to pee in alot of peoples oatmeal. This ranges from jamming WiFi on up to effing up medical equipment and bricking some organic contraptions.
    FrSky radios are "JR clones" ... meaning they can support JR style modules. Ultimately, if one absolutely must dabble with RF, the Taranis makes it a plug and play proposition.

    Take my advise above and let that be your textbook to learn how to fly.
    Thereafter, by all means , score an STM32F7 dev board and dive in after you accomplish controlled flight and crash less
    Rayregula and hevans1944 like this.
  11. (*steve*)

    (*steve*) ¡sǝpodᴉʇuɐ ǝɥʇ ɹɐǝɥd Moderator

    Jan 21, 2010
    Truly an example of lack of mastery. @CircuitMaster, I'm afraid I'm going to continue to call you out for the simplistic (and frequently false) statements you make.

    Please take to heart my suggestion that you try to make sure that your posts add information, not subtract from it.
    hevans1944 likes this.
  12. CircuitMaster


    Dec 17, 2016
    Did you even read what I posted? Its easy to just state my answers lack mastery.

    RF 315/433 MHz Transmitter-receiver Module and Arduino

    Launch distance: 20 - 200 meters (higher voltage yields better results)


    And how did you even find the false in a link post?
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2018
  13. VenomBallistics


    Aug 30, 2018
    You have a few useful fragments here .... but not many.
    There is an Arduino based TX project that uses OpenTX firmware. However the modules in your examples are inappropriate for anything airborne. 200 meter range isn't enough. links to a more professional project. that makes use of vastly superior TX modules capable of miles of range as well as telemetry support. The end result is a highly sophisticated control system that can support up to 32 channels and mind boggling mixer options.
    But ... we still dont have a stable drone or someone capable of flying it.
    That's what the OP needs. Something that'll let him learn how to fly before he explores the engineering level options.
    hevans1944 likes this.
  14. CircuitMaster


    Dec 17, 2016
    And the last link that I gave, which shows only 100 meters are used for a drone with Arduino (as the OP wants Arduino) is better? Or can he show a little thinking and maybe start from somewhere ?

    Not to mention this from the original post:
    I agree on giving a full engineering solution, however that means give the ready answer, that way we the developers are unappreciated and everyone thinks they just need to put the blocks togheter, someone else will do it for them....If he wants to do more, he will check the 2 links I gave and if he does understands something, he will ask us to improve them. He will start from the beginning not from the end and put his effort in it also. On top of that is there even something better in the hobbyist world than the link I gave? A $100 ready drone is the only other option is it not? I really hate the "LEGO" approach, just put it toghether and it will work, there is no need to understand it, for that approach my link is fully appropriate!
  15. VenomBallistics


    Aug 30, 2018
    this basic problem still remains.
    The OP probably has not flown anything.
    his first attempt could be an absolute failure, or he could have crushed it. The end result will be the same, A pile of broken things.
    This must be addressed first.
    It is better to be able to replace a few parts than have to rebuild or replace an entire unit. The vast parts support of 250mm race quads affords this luxury.
    Also, the general frame size supports the use of DAL props. you can beat the hell out of them without ending your day. Believe me, you will beat the hell out of them.
    At the end of a week, they won't be pretty, but they'll still be usable, unlike others that just break.
    You cannot evaluate anything if you cannot use it right.

    here is a flight control board.
    What we get from this is a system that will work and serve as a baseline going forward.
    It also serves as a textbook in that it still needs to be set up and tuned
    Thats not a small detail ... It's not just a look under the hood, it's getting elbow deep in engine. As you make adjustments in Betaflight, you have an honest look at future design goals and requirements that must migrate over to your personal system development. Without things like mixers, control volumes, PID loops and a few pieces of digital ducktape to deal with other realities, you do not have a flyable drone, You have a schizophrenic food processor frantically searching for a victim.
    What is to be learned from this, transfers over to larger scale drones with the physical real estate to facilitate wide open development. The goal need not, and probably should not end at just getting something to fly. Teach it stupid drone tricks, like GPS flight planning, covert toiletpapering missions, and perhaps home security functions.
    By the second or third build, the OP should have such an open development platform that he can keep pulling out of the boneyard any time Tequilla inspires a new idea.
    hevans1944 likes this.
  16. Hellmut1956


    Aug 11, 2014
    The ESP8266 or ESP 32, you get many boards to use them, you have either WiFi and/or Bluetooth. They can be programmed using the Arduino IDE. They are really so inexpensive that some people use them just to add the radio communication to another microcontroller.
  17. Hopup


    Jul 5, 2015
    The parts are so cheap nowadays that there is no reason to bother to make your own. Normal RC transmitters and receivers can go several km without no real problem even using standard antennas and if you tried to make your own with the skills you seem to have, it would perform most likely next to nothing compared to commercial ones.
    VenomBallistics likes this.
  18. VenomBallistics


    Aug 30, 2018
    I'll give you a solid 90% score on this.
    Thing is, I can think of a few reasons to roll your own solution. Special missions, development platform, and autonomous operation to name a few.
    But these things come after you know how to fly, and learn what is needed to maintain stable, controlled flight.
    I'd love to see some follow up on this after the OP claws his way through the prerequisites.
    hevans1944 and Hopup like this.
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