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This page describes the way the communications with the aircrafts are implemented in Paparazzi.

We'll start with high level stuff such as sending your own telemetry message or datalink (uplink) message. We'll then look at the lower layers

Sending telemetry message

Define the message you would like to have send in the telemetry section in conf/messages.xml

This should look like this

<message name="MARK" id="32">
  <field name="ac_id" type="uint8"/>
  <field name="lat" type="float" unit="deg"/>
  <field name="long" type="float" unit="deg"/>
  <field name="alt" type="uint32" unit="mm" alt_unit="m" alt_unit_coef="1000"/>

The id has to be unique. The fields can have type int8, int16, int32, uint8, uint16, uint32, float and arrays of those. They must be aligned on a multiple of their size (c.f. examples with pad fields).

The alt_unit and alt_unit_coef will be used the Plotter and the Messages agents to display human readable values. When alt_unit_coef is not specified, some basic default conversions are automatic:

  • deg <-> rad
  • deg/s <-> rad/s
  • m <-> cm
  • m/s <-> cm/s
  • decideg -> deg

This enables all the ground system to deal with your message and generate sending code for the airborne system. The code is generated in var/include/messages.h.


Ofcourse one can make a capitalized subdirectory in the conf directory e.g. a directory called MYUSERID where you save your personal messages defined XML document with a name like "myuserid_minimal_telemetry_messages.xml" and make a symbolic link to this file via "cd ~/paparazzi/conf/ && mv -v message.xml org.messages.xml && ln -s ./MYUSERID/myuserid_minimal_telemetry_messages.xml messages.xml"

Note that after changing your myuserid_minimal_telemetry_messages.xml, one always must perform a ~/paparazzi/make . This makes sure a refreshed message.h is generated in the ~/paparazzi/var directory. This file will then be compiled and linked into your autopilot airborne executable.

Messages Format

Detail to be found here Messages_Format


From the airborne code you can send the message by using DOWNLINK_SEND_XYZ.

For example the MARK message:

DOWNLINK_SEND_MARK(DefaultChannel, &mark_id, &mark_lat, &mark_long, &mark_alt);

The first parameter of the DOWNLINK_SEND_XYZ macro is the channel you want to send it over, in most cases you want to use the DefaultChannel.

You can also have the autopilot send the message periodically.

To make that happen, in your telemetry XML document,for example conf/telemetry/MYUSERID/myuserid_new_telemetry_test.xml, you can make your own. Make sure the airframe also uses this file. In the conf/conf.xml file). You can add a line like

<message name="MARK" period="1.4"/>

meaning that MARK will be sent every 1.4 seconds. You then need to specify the arguments to your message in the sw/airborne/firmwares/fixedwing/ap_downlink.h or sw/airborne/firmwares/rotorcraft/telemetry.h header by providing a macro

#define PERIODIC_SEND_MARK() DOWNLINK_SEND_MARK(DefaultChannel, &mark_id, &mark_lat, &mark_long, &mark_alt)

You can have different telemetry modes having different rates for each message. For example you might want a verbose mode and a low bandwith mode.

On the IVY bus

After the data is sent by the aircraft the message will be available on the ground IVY bus. You can monitor you message values using the Messages program in the tools menu of the Paparazzi Center. One can also use the ivyprobe command line ( ivyprobe '(.*)' to debug passing messages).

The file sw/ground_segment/cockpit/ant_track.c is a good example that shows how to receive a message in a C program. In the sw/ground_segment/tmtc are even some more examples ( c_ivy_client_example*.c ). For OCAML, there is a higher level library to receive messages (sw/lib/ocaml/ If you are using Python take a look in /sw/ground_segment/python/ directory for example

Adding datalink (uplink) messages

This is similar to the above. Add your message in the datalink section of messages.xml This will generate parsing code for the airborne program (var/include/dl_protocol.h).

There are several possibilities to parse the uplink messages:

  1. add your handler in the sw/airborne/firmwares/fixedwing/datalink.c or sw/airborne/firmwares/rotorcraft/datalink.c code
  2. use a module with a datalink node where you specify the message to be parsed and the function to be called when the messages arrives
  3. or you can just rewrite your own dl_parse_msg() function, for example in a test program where you want to receive only your own messages.

The "transport" layer

Paparazzi can use the built-in transport layer of different hardware (currently only wavecards and xbee/xtends) and also provides his own layer for hardware lacking it (showing as remote serial ports). C sourcecode (.c) and belonging header (.h) -files are: xbee.c, xbee.h and pprz_transport.c, pprz_transport.h