Advice for f550 transmitter/controller hardware

I’m looking at getting an f550 ARF kit. I’m comfortable enough with the build, but relatively new to UAV’s. The plan is to use the vehicle for mapping/surveying, so I don’t necessarily want or need to fly the thing manually. I want to get a transmitter/controller that I can use with dronedeploy (or something similar) to set up automated flight lines. This is where my knowledge falls apart. Like I said I’m comfortable enough with the ARF build, and I’ll get a battery for the vehicle. But I’m not sure what controller I’ll need or what additional hardware I may need to automate flights. Anybody have and knowledge they want to share, or resources they could pass on?

Additionally I’m not married to the f550, but would like to keep costs down. So if there’s another ARF kit someone knows that might better suit mapping/surveying needs I’m open to it.

Hi @nctl, welcome! There aren’t very many custom builders on here so you would probably be best served going straight to support to make sure you get the flight control hardware that might be compatible with DroneDeploy. Their focus (as is with most boxed flight solutions) is to work with boxed drones. There are opensource flight controller and planning softwares out there, but building something from scratch that will be plug and play with one of the major commercial flight softwares could be a little tricky. I would also suggest you get on the Emlid forum as there are many custom builders on there and it is focus on the GNSS, Raspberry Pi and flight control aspects. I have seen several posts on the F550. I have thought about it quite a bit myself, but just haven’t had the time to dwell on it. I look forward to seeing how this goes!

@Kaitlin, do you have any advice on where to start? Have you had any other cases of custom builds to work with DroneDeploy?


I would suggest starting your research with Pixhawk if you want to go with a build rather than RTF.

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There is also Ardupilot which is very popular. At the end of the day it is going to be tough because of DJI’s sandboxed system. I always thought it was interesting how DJI and Apple seem so similar. It’s no wonder they end up being paired so much in our world.

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Ardupilot is the software that runs on Pixhawk hardware. It’s not going to work with Drone Deploy but there’s probably several grid mission templates that can be procured for little or no cost.

Right, but is there another software you would suggest for Pixhawk? Ardupilot seems to be the most common. Raspberry Pi and Navio combo are also popular in the Emlid community.

No, Ardupilot is probably the best software for custom builds.

I would absolutely look at Navio if building a custom mapping drone.
Some reading for the OP

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Thanks all for the comments. I’ll be sure to check out emlid for some additional advice. After looking around it seems like there will be software other than drone deploy to run some automated flights, but that a custom build and drone deploy might be a diffcult marriage.

I spent some time on the ardupilot website and found it very helpful. From what I’m gathering the esc are basically controlled by pixhawk and that pixhawk is taking commands from whatever ground software I end up using, is that about correct? I’ll be watching a lot of how to videos in the future before buying any hardware.

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That is correct Pixhawk is the hardware that PX4 usually runs on. Ardupilot is the autopilot that is typically paired with the Emlid Edge or Navio2/Raspberry Pi4 hardware. These are all open source code so there is that learning curve and endless possibilities as well.