Ground Station – Bluetooth Bridge

Getting Started

To get started, download an Android ground station that supports Bluetooth. Two popular options are Andropilot and Droidplanner. We’ve had better luck getting a quick connection on Andropilot. Install one of these and make sure it’s configured to use Bluetooth. Now power on the Bluetooth Bridge and turn on Bluetooth on your Android device. Scan for new devices and select to pair the device titled ‘Event38’. If it doesn’t pair right away, try turning off Bluetooth and then turning it back on and trying again. When it’s successfully paired, power on your APM-powered vehicle. Make sure the green LED on your vehicle’s telemetry modem turns solid green, this should happen within 30 seconds of powering on. This indicates that the two radios hear each other and are ready to communicate.

Now load up the ground station you downloaded earlier and try to connect. After a few seconds data from the vehicle should start streaming through, you’re ready to go!

Charging

To charge, turn the Bluetooth Bridge off and plug in the USB cable. The battery is very large so give it plenty of time, as much as 10 hours. The charger will automatically stop charging when the battery is full, though the blue LED may not turn off. With a full charge, you should be able to use the Bridge continuously for over 10 hours.

LED Status

ColorMeaning
Flashing GreenPower On, High Charge
Flashing YellowPower On, Medium Charge
Flashing RedPower On, Less Than 30 Minutes of Charge Remaining
Solid BlueOn External Power, Charging

 

Changing Radio Settings

The easiest way to change your radio’s settings is to connect to the bridge using bluetooth on a laptop or PC with Mission Planner loaded. Then in Mission Planner, select the COM port associated with your Bluetooth Connection and select 9600 as the baud rate (note some users have reported working with different baud rates, so try 57600 if that doesn’t work). Now go to the Initial Setup tab and open the 3DR Radio menu. Now click Load Settings, the settings from the Bluetooth Bridge’s radio should populate after a few seconds. If you power on the other radio, you can make changes to the remote radio simultaneously as long as they can currently make a connection.

Troubleshooting

 

Bluetooth won’t pair.

Make sure you’re using an Android device and that it meets the requirements of the ground station software you’re using. Try turning off and on both the Bluetooth Bridge and your device’s Bluetooth option. Make sure your device supports Bluetooth 2.0 or later.

The green LED on my telemetry module doesn’t turn solid green.

First, check that the radio module is the same frequency band as the Bluetooth Bridge you ordered. If it is, did you make any changes to the radio’s settings like changing the net ID? Our radios ship with the latest version of SiK Firmware and the default settings and will work with factory default 3DR Radios and RFD900 radios. If you’ve changed any settings in your radio, the easiest thing to do is to change those settings back to default, then update the Bluetooth Bridge radio and your vehicle telemetry radio at the same time once they can connect on the default settings.

I accidentally left the Bluetooth Bridge on all night, what should I do now?

The Bridge will automatically go into deep sleep mode when the battery voltage reaches a critical level. Just turn the device off and plug it in to start recharging the battery.

When I walk around with my Android device, I lose connection with my vehicle.

If you walk outside of the Bluetooth radio’s range, the connection will terminate. Bluetooth range is up to 50 feet but can be less depending on the device and background noise. By installing a Bluetooth management app called Bluetooth Auto Connect, we’ve found that the connection can be immediately re-established once you walk back into range.

I can’t upgrade my telemetry radio’s firmware

To upgrade the firmware, you’ll need to connect directly to the telemetry radio, bypassing the bluetooth module. You’ll need an FTDI cable with the VCC pin removed or disconnected to do this. Open the case and disconnect the two solder bridges between the bluetooth module and the telemetry radio with a soldering iron. Then plug in to the FTDI port nearest to the telemetry radio, power on the battery and load firmware like normal at 57600 baud after reading the radio settings to check the connection has been established. The easiest way to make the connection is using a strip of 0.1″ male headers with one pin (VCC) removed. Insert them into the FTDI cable on the long side and insert the short side into the holes on the board. Angle the connector 20-30 degrees to one side so the pins make contact with the metallic sides of the holes.