Difference between revisions of "Getting Started"

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=User's Manual=
=User's Manual=
Another excellent source of information is the [http://paparazzi.enac.fr/wiki_images/Users_manual.pdf Paparazzi User's Manual].
Another excellent source of information is the [http://paparazzi.enac.fr/wiki_images/Users_manual.pdf Paparazzi User's Manual].
You might find the [[Common_problems]] and [[XBee_configuration]] pages useful too.

Revision as of 17:44, 10 August 2010


Getting started with Paparazzi is not difficult if you follow the steps as described in this Wiki. It take some persistence if things do not work out immediately , but in the end everyone will reach their goal.

To get started

All you need is a laptop or workstation with The Ubuntu Linux OS and Paparazzi installed. If you do not want to install Ubuntu directly on your computer, you can use the live CD or the virtual machine. If you don't know how to use a live CD or virtual machine, its probably best that you get an old laptop or workstation and install Ubuntu directly onto it.

Note: It is the easiest to start with a 32-bit version of Ubuntu if you are new to Linux and Paparazzi. The reason is that for 64-Bit there is no pre-made Paparazzi package yet. If insist to use 64Bit Ubuntu then have to install Paparazzi development tools from scratch as described here.

After you have a computer with Ubuntu installed you can install Paparazzi. This is a simple process if you use the step by step instructions available for new users on the installation page. The commands might seem a little foreign for new users of Linux. If you follow them exactly then you will have Paparazzi installed in about 30 minutes. It can be handy to use copy (CTRL+V) and then paste this to the terminal (CTRL+SHIFT+V) to minimize any typing mistakes.

Once you have Ubuntu and Paparazzi installed, you can start playing with Paparazzi. One of the great benefits of Paparazzi is that you do not need an aircraft or autopilot hardware to start playing with Paparazzi - you don't really need any skills other than the ability to read and click a mouse. You can simulate an aircraft with an autopilot within the Paparazzi software installed on your computer.


Now you are ready to start your simulation (check the simulation page on how to start the simulation).

For your first few simulations you should use the default flight plan (use the MJ5 aircraft) and configuration files in Paparazzi. This will allow you to get the simulator up and running in as little time as possible so you can see what Paparazzi can do. Once you have familiarized yourself with what a default Paparazzi simulation can do you will probably want to start building a flight plan (where the simulated aircraft flies) for your local area. The best way to do this is to go to Google Maps and type in your local town. Once you have found your local town, get the Latitude and Longitude of somewhere where you would like to fly your simulated UAV. Now you have the lat and long go and edit the basic (this is the example flight plan) flight plan and change the HOME lat and long to the one near your home town. When you change the HOME lat and long, the whole flight plan and way points will dynamically move to their relative position around your chosen lat and long. You can now download the Google maps for your chosen area to give it that realistic look.

Once you are doing this you will quickly be interested in learning more about what you can configure with Paparazzi. The best place to start to learn how to configure Paparazzi is to edit your flight plan so you can do more complex things. There are a multitude of examples for you to use both on the wiki and within the supplied Paparazzi flight plan files.

Now you have spent time simulating the aircraft and configuring flight plans and any other goodies which has peaked your interest you might be ready to take the plunge and get a real UAV.

If you are ready to take the plunge you will need a few things other than your computer.

If you used your desktop computer for simulating Paparazzi, you will need to move to a laptop so you can take it out to your flying site.


  • Your best bet is to buy a prebuilt autopilot pack from one of the vendors who sell them (they are listed on this site). This saves lots of time and they will often give you help if you need it! ORDER ONE WITH A DEANS PLUG FOR POWER.
  • Get the PPM converter board and ask that it be soldered up with all the required connections. The PPM encoder board allows you to connect your receiver to it and then it outputs the required PPM signal for your autopilot.


  • Get a cheap electric foam aircraft because they are less dangerous and much cheaper (the microjet is probably a good start because it already has prebuilt airframe configuration files).

Radio Control

  • You need a radio control with a 3 position switch to switch between autopilot modes.


  • Get a decent LiPo or NiMh battery with at least 11 volts available with a Deans plug on it (make sure its the correct way around or you will fry your autopilot). You will also need a power extender so you are not plugging the battery directly into the autopilot - you will understand later.

When the autopilot arrives

PPZUAV assembled autopilot steps

Note: photos coming soon for all the steps below Here are the steps perform on each autopilot to verify it before shipping. You are welcome to re-do these steps but know they were done already.

  1. Inspection under a microscope for solder bridges and open connections. Repair as necessary.
  2. Power using current limited power supply with short protection. I use a micro-deans inserted into the (+/-) holes. Verify power draw at 10v to be sure there are no shorts missed by step 1
  3. Using a custom made cable (8pin molex) to FTDI serial utility board I power the autopilot and send this command:
    make upload_bl PROC=GENERIC

    See here for more details and output.

For TWOG that's it. You're ready to program it with a USB cable from now on. For Tiny13 or 2.11 there are more steps.

  1. Load the "tunnel" program. This routes all UART output from the GPS to the other UART. This makes a tunnel from the serial connector to the GPS. Using this you can connect the Tx/Rx on the serial connector directly to the GPS Tx/Rx (via the tunnel). Using the USB program cable and an airframe file like MJ5 this is the command:
    make AIRCRAFT=MJ5 tunnel.upload 

    You will see a lot of output so look at the end. When the autopilot is powered on and the USB cable is attached it goes into USB mode. When the make program detects the autopilot on USB you see ###### as it programs. The more # you see the bigger the program. The tunnel is small so I only see 1x #.

  2. Using u-center set to 115kbps the firmware v5 is loaded (from u-blox download site). Note you must first use 9600bps, the default for the module, then change it to 115k for the flashing. After it's automatically set back to 9600bps again.
  3. Using u-center the Paparazzi configuration file is uploaded into the GPS module
  4. The autopilot is reset and in u-center it is monitored to verify it sees satellites and left on until a 3D fix is acquired.
  5. Using the USB cable a sample program is flashed into the autopilot (usually funjet one modified for either Tiny13,Tiny211 or TWOG).
  6. The autopilot is reset and the LED blinking is verified. The LED blink based on the program loaded and is not itself an indication of hardware condition. It's an indication the software is running correctly.

Self Assembled

If you assembled it yourself you will probably want to simply do the steps above. The results should be the same either way.

Web for beginners are out there

Many people have created websites and postings about their first time experience with Paparazzi. Remember however that Paparazzi is updated and only this Wiki will have the latest and most up to date information. Always check this Wiki first and use these links as simply extra information.

RC Groups threads about Paparazzi

A first timer's guide to installing Ubuntu and Paparazzi

RescueRobotics has a site here:

User's Manual

Another excellent source of information is the Paparazzi User's Manual.

You might find the Common_problems and XBee_configuration pages useful too.