Neuron GCS

Neuron GCS – Settings

Figure 61 – Settings menu to access initial and advanced system settings

The Settings page provides access to three menu options as shown in Figure 61.

Do not attempt to adjust system parameters without a firm understanding of the system’s operational requirements. Please consult the respective system’s operation manual or contact the manufacturer before any adjustments are made!
Adjusting unprescribed parameters WILL void your warrantee!

Initial Setup & Configuration

This subsection provides a means to up and configure the system’s autopilot, as well as to prepare it for use with the specific UAV. Typically, these sections are “must do” actions that are required before the UAV can be flown safely and should have already been configured for your aircraft on delivery.

What you see when you enter this section depends on whether or not you are connected. Each menu item will bring up a new screen:

  • Install Firmware: Allows for the onboard firmware of the autopilot system to be installed and managed.
  • Mandatory Hardware: You will see this menu item if the autopilot is connected. Click this menu item to see the items you must setup before you attempt to operate your vehicle.
  • Optional Hardware: This submenu allows the configuration of optional devices, many of which can be configured through the autopilot system. Some of these options are able to be configured without a live connection to the autopilot. Also, this submenu has a Motor Test function allowing you to test direction and order of the system.

Please refer to the associated maintenance manual for your system for more information regarding the initial setup and configuration of that specific UAV.

Advanced Settings

This subsection allows for the system to be fine-tuned directly through parameter access to the Neuron GCS and the connected autopilot Most of these parameters are set for you when you first install your firmware but some may be needed to be configured depending on the specific use cases for the UAV system.

What you see when you enter this section depends on whether or not you are connected. Each submenu item will bring up a options display:

  • Planner: Allows configuration for settings related to Neuron GCS, such as enabling speech, where the logs are saved, interface options, and other program behaviour settings.
  • Parameters available if connected:
    • Flight Modes: You will see this menu item if the auto pilot Is connected. Here is what you can do in this section TBD
    • GeoFence: Allows the enabling or disabling of geofence (refer to Section 9.5).
    • FailSafe: Access to setting various Failsafe options depending on autopilot functionality (refer to UAV operations manual), such as PPM Throttle Failsafe, PPM GCS Failsafe, and Battery Failsafe.
    • Controller Tuning: Access to setting various flight control and PID tuning for the autopilot (refer to UAV operations manual).
    • Standard & Advanced Parameters: Access to setting various operational parameters for the connected autopilot that allow adjustments to be made within reasonable margins (refer to UAV operations manual).
    • Full Parameter List/Tree: Allows a direct interface to the onboard parameters of the autopilot system. This subsection provides options to download and save parameters for your vehicle, as well as reloading previous backups from file. In addition, the presented parameter items can be adjusted directly, however parameters entered in this manner are not “sanity checked” to ensure safe operational constraints.

Exit Neuron GCS

This will close Neuron GCS, saving any changes made to the application settings or view setups.

Neuron GCS – Data Management

The data management window offers a method to create or modify the automatically compiled flight summary (which is generated as part the Checklists in Section 7).

Figure 60 – Data Management Page

Flight summaries can be imported using the Import Flight Summary button. Values for this can then be adjusted as per the users needs. Modifications such as adding or removing flight cycles can be performed.

Once the adjusted flight summary meets the needs of the modifications, it can be exported as the same flight summary file or as a new flight summary.

Neuron GCS – Display Widgets

Figure 55, Display Widgets selection menu

The Display Widgets page provides a quick interface to open additional flight data and monitoring displays. Figure 55 shows the typical page listing each of the available display widgets. Clicking one of the available buttons will open a new movable window to display the relevant data.

Primary Flight Display (PFD)

The [PFD] button displays a PFD similar to that shown in Figure 48.

Estimator Status

Figure 56, EKF display widget

The [EKF] button displays a summary of the on-board state estimator health and quality as shown in Figure 56.

Vibration

Figure 57, VIBE display widget

Displays a summary of the estimated on-board vibrations as shown in Figure 57.

Sensor Information

Figure 58, RAW SENSE display widget

The [RAW SENSE] button displays a dial and graph panel to show select current state information of the system such as roll, pitch, yaw, sensor data, and RC inputs as shown in Figure 58.

Image Geo-Tagging

Figure 59, GEO-TAG IMG display widget

The [GEO-TAG IMG] button displays an in-build geo-tagging tool to allow for on-site processing and localisation of captured imagery as shown in Figure 59.

Neuron GCS – Pilot-View

NEURON’s main flight data page can be accessed by pressing the [Pilot View]  button, which is the fourth (4th) button, from the top, at right-side MFD. The above image is a screenshot showing the Flight-Data/Pilot-View page, with the [Pilot-View]  button highlighted.

Figure 47, Neuron GCS – Flight Data/Pilot-View Page, as shown in a connected state
with [Pilot View] button highlighted in a red rectangle (Right-side of MFD)

This page is primary used for observing live data feed from the aircraft, as well as to provide the GCS operators limited control over the aircraft, such as setting AUTO/NAV mode actions, setting active waypoints, as well as, camera trigger control; landing gears and RTL.

Below are screenshots of the PFD in their disconnected and connected states respectively.

Figure 48, Neuron GCS PFD:
(a) left-hand image shows PFD greyed-out with no aircraft is connected;
(b) right-hand image shows PFD coloured indicating aircraft is currently connected.

Primary Flight Display (PFD)

The PFD is the primary in-flight display used to present information such as: current aircraft altitude; speed; heading; flight mode; and active waypoint.

Figure 49, Primary Flight Display (PFD) example for Fixed-wing with annotations

This screen is also used to indicate aircraft ARM or DISARM state, as well as display any warnings relating to aircraft health. Some common warnings are listed in Table 6, List of common PFD warnings.

Figure 50, Illustration of PFD with aircraft state, and warnings displayed.
(a) Displays aircraft state: ARMED; or DISARMED.
(b) FAILSAFE text to indicate that the aircraft has entered failsafe mode. Depending on Failsafe parameters for aircraft, this may trigger an RTL command.
(c) Displays warnings, such as “No RC Receiver” as shown in figure.

Message displays on the PFD are temporary and will be hidden after a set number of seconds (3-5) depending on severity. A full log of received messages is recorded on the connection page (see Section 8).

PFD WarningsDescription
No RC ReceiverAircraft unable to detect RC transmitter.
Compass VarianceCompass heading disagrees with the heading estimate from other inertial sensors (EKF solution). Clicking the EKF button on the PFD will show the magnitude of the error. Compass calibration may be required.
Bad Compass HealthThe compass has not sent a signal for at least half a second.
Compass InconsistentInternal and External compass readings for heading do not agree. Compass calibration may be required.
Bad PositionIndicates GPS positional glitch
Low BatteryAircraft voltage remaining or Amps used exceeds failsafe settings. This is will only displayed as a warning to advise the user and will not trigger an RTL. This is aircraft dependent, refer to maintenance/systems manual for more information.
Critical Low BatteryAircraft voltage remaining or Amps used exceeds failsafe settings. This will trigger the RTL command. This is aircraft/system dependant, refer to maintenance/systems manual for more information.
Fence BreachAircraft has passed the designated Geo-Fence. Aircraft will RTL but manual control can be re-established once aircraft is within the designated Geo-fence.
Table 6, List of common PFD warnings

Actions

In this tab, the first options are 2 drop down boxes.

The first drop down box allows the user to select a specific waypoint and command the aircraft to fly to it directly. As above, this can be actioned by pressing the “Set WP” button located beside the drop down box.

Figure 51 – Waypoint Selection Drop-Down Box

The second drop down box allows the user to select different autopilot modes directly. Again, this can be actioned by pressing the “Set Mode” button beside the box.

Figure 52 – Mode Selection Drop-Down Box

Other buttons in this tab perform the actions listed below:

ActionEffect
Take-off RallyCommands the aircraft to fly to take-off rally.
NAVQuick access to the “NAV” mode.
Loiter NowPuts the aircraft into loiter mode at its current location.
Read Last LogReads in data from the last written log, in the case of a GCS lockup and restart.
Set QFESets current barometric readings on autopilot to ground level.
Start TimerStarts the flight timer.
Reset TimerResets the flight timer.
Clear Battery WarningSometimes in high throttle situations, the battery voltage will drop and give a false low battery warning. Clicking ‘Clear Battery Warning’ will clear the warning from the PFD. If the warning returns immediately or does not clear, it is likely that it is not a false low battery warning.
Induce Low BatteryLowers the battery capacity thresholds to bring forward the low battery scenario.

Telemetry Logs

Figure 53 – Telemetry Logs

This window allows the user to replay a previous flight for analysis. The “Load Log” button will bring up a window in which the user will be able to select a flight log file. The “play” button will play the log. The top slider selects the position of the flight log from 0% (start) to 100% (finish).

The bottom slider selects play speed, whilst the “Tlog > Kml or Graph” button will create a KML file of the flight path that can be overlayed on Google earth, or create a user defined graph.

Interactive Flight Plan

The flight plan can be interacted with through the flight data view by pressing [RIGHT MOUSE] on the map. This allows for access to various quick commands to be sent to the UAV, as well as mission modifying commands, such as “Fly To Here” and “Fly To Here Alt”.

Figure 54, Using the ‘Fly to Here’ option.

Fly to Here

To send the aircraft to any point that is not within the active flight plan uploaded to the aircraft, right click on the desired location on the map and select the ‘Fly to Here’ option. The first time this option is used in the flight, the user will be prompted for a height above the home altitude to fly at. Every time this option is used after the first time, the aircraft will fly at the height specified initially without prompting the user.

Fly to Here Alt.

The ‘Fly to Here Height’ option work in the same way as the ‘Fly to Here’ option except that Neuron will prompt the user to enter a target height every time this option is used.

Resuming a Flight Plan

When using the ‘Fly to Here’ or ‘Fly to Here Height’ option, the autopilot will go into ‘Loiter’ mode and loiter indefinitely about the selected location. To continue the flight plan that was being flown prior to using ‘Fly to Here’ option, simply press the ‘NAV’ button (described in Section 10.1) in the ‘Actions’ tab in the bottom left of the flight screen.

Neuron GCS – Flight Planning

This section will cover survey flight plan creation. Press [Flight Plan] button located on the Left-Side MFD pane to display the flight planner window, as shown in the figure below.

Figure 16, Flight Planner screen

The flight planner window consist of 3 parts: The main map display at the centre of screen; the Map Menu Toolstrip positioned at the right edge of screen; and the Mission Setup Toolstrip located at the bottom (also shown in Figure 11).

The map displayed can be changed using the drop-down menu in the Map Menu Toolstrip. By default, this is set to “BingSatillteMap” or “BingHybridMap“, however, several options are also available.

Press and hold the [middle mouse button] to drag the map.

Mission Setup & Mission Setup Toolstrip

The first step in creating a flight plan is to ensure that the flight plan default values are correct for the current mission. These values are set in the ‘Flight Plan’ window. Below is a description of all relevant settings.

Figure 17, Screenshot focusing on the Mission Setup Toolstrip, located at the bottom of the Flight Planner screen
  • WP Radius is the radius in feets around a waypoint which the aircraft has to reach for the autopilot to consider the waypoint met and to sequence the next command.
  • Loiter Radius is the radius in feets at which the aircraft will be commanded to loiter about any form of loiter command.
  • Default Alt is the default altitude (in feets) set when adding a new waypoint.
  • Alt Warn is the altitude in feets, in which Neuron will provide a visual and/or auditory warning, should the aircraft come below the set Alt Warn value.
  • Altitude Type – Default is Relative – Other options include Absolute and Terrain.
    • Relative – Sets default altitude from home
    • Absolute – Sets default altitude above sea level
    • Terrain – Altitude above terrain, uses selected map’s altitude information. Custom altitude maps can be added to Neuron but is not supported in the current version of Neuron GCS. 
  • Verify Height will set Neuron to use Google Earth topology data to adjust desired altitude at each waypoint to reflect ground beneath the aircraft. Example: waypoints placed above a (known) hill will be adjusted by the height of the hill to avoid groud collision.

Unless familiar and fully confident with terrain following operations, ensure that Altitude Type is set to Relative, and Verify Height is unchecked.

Unless familiar and confident with the absolute altitude of the Area of Operation, ensure that Altitude Type is set to Relative, and Verify Height is unchecked.

Creating Initial Flight Plan Waypoints

Start by creating the base flight plan by pressing the [Create Flight Plan] button, located in the Mission Setup Toolstrip at the bottom of the Flight Plan screen.

Neuron GCS will automatically detect the aircraft type connected and generate the appropriate Take-Off and Landing Rally waypoints (T/O Rally and LND Rally). However, if no aircraft is connected, a popup dialog will be displayed for the user to indicate the intended aircraft type.

Figure 18, Popup if no aircraft is connected and if [Create Flight Plan] button is pressed. Hybrid is greyed-out.

Currently, two (2) aircraft types are supported, with a third still in development. These are Fixed-wing and multirotor UAVs. (Multirotor aircrafts include all variations, such as quad and hex-rotor).

Case I: Fixed-Wing Base Flight Plan

If a Fixed-Wing aircraft is connected, or when [Fixed-Wing] is selected from the popup menu (Figure 18), Neuron will generate three (3) waypoints: T/O Rally; LND Rally; and LND. Additional waypoints, such as grid waypoints or via ‘click-on-map’, will be added between the T-Rally and L-Rally waypoints.

T/O Rally is an orbit waypoint with a radius specified by the user (see LOITER_UNLIM for definition). This waypoint should be position where the aircraft will be visible for inspection of autonomous flight stability.

The RTL command will send the aircraft to orbit to the L-Rally position twice, before exiting the orbit from the orbit’s tangent towards the LND position.

Figure 19, Screenshot of Fixed-Wing base flight plan from Neuron GCS Flight Planner

Case II: Multi-Rotor Base Flight Plan

Similarly, if a Multi-Rotor aircraft is connected, or when [Multi-Rotor] is selected from the popup menu (Figure 18), Neuron will generate only one (1) waypoint: T/O Rally. Additional waypoints, such as grid waypoints or via ‘click-on-map’, will be appended after the T-Rally waypoint.

T/O Rally in Multi-Rotor aircraft type is a Hold-at-Position-Waypoint. This waypoint should be position where the aircraft will be visible for inspection of autonomous flight stability.

The RTL command will position the aircraft above the designated Home Position and descend to land.

Figure 20, Screenshot of Multi-Rotor base flight plan from Neuron GCS Flight Planner

Case III: Hybrid Base Flight Plan

Case III Hybrid flight plan is designated for the vertical-take-off-and-landing (VTOL) RPAS. This option is not available for the current version of Neuron GCS.

Note that [Hybrid] is greyed out in the popup menu, as shown in Figure 7.

Survey Grid

This section will step users to creating a survey grid area.

Figure 21, Draw Polygon button highlighted. Located in Mission Setup Toolstrip.

Step 1: To begin, an area to be surveyed will have to be defined. To do this press [Draw Polygon] button located at the Mission Setup Toolstrip to begin inserting polygon markers. A message box will appear notifying you that you will remain in draw polygon mode until you create a survey grid or upload a GeoFence. Click [OK].

Figure 22, Message box indicating that the user is in “draw polygon” mode.

Step 2: Press {Left Ctrl + left-mouse click} to draw polygon markers. Below is an example flight plan with desired survey area defined. You will need to define at least three (3) points to define a valid survey area.

In addition to manually defining polygon areas, the option to save and load predefined polygons is available with the [Save Polygon], [Load Polygon], and [Load Polygon (SHP)] buttons located at the Mission Setup Toolstrip.

Press [Save Polygon] to save any currently drawn polygons shown on the map display.

Press [Load Polygon] to load previously saved polygon files. Use [Load Polygon (SHP)] button to load a *.shp file.

The [Clear Polygon] button (located below the [Draw Polygon] button) can be used to clear any polygon points on map and exit out off draw polygon mode.

Below (Figure 16) is an example flight plan consisting of T/O Rally, LND Rally, LND (on top of Home position), alone with four (4) polygon points that make up the intended survey area.

Figure 23, Example Flight Plan with polygon area defined.

Step 3: After defining an area, press the [Survey Grid] button (shown in Figure 19). This will open the Survey (Grid) window (Shown in Figure 20).

Figure 24, Survey Grid button highlighted. Located in Mission Setup Toolstrip.

In the Survey (Grid) window, an optimal grid pattern is automatically generated, with information such as are covered; total flight distance and flight time; and number of images are displayed in the bottom section of the window.

Parameters regarding the survey grid can be further adjusted with the menu strip on the right-edge of screen. Check [✔] Advanced Options under Display to show Grid Options and Camera Configuration menu.

User can press {Ctrl + S} to save a grid, or {Ctrl + O} to open a previously saved grid.

Figure 25, Survey (Grid) window.

Simple Survey Options

This is the menu first shown on the right-edge of the Survey (Grid) window (Also shown in Figure 14). The options presented are as follows below.

Figure 26, Survey (Grid) – “Simple” Menu
  • Camera defines which camera is being used on the aircraft. This will import the relevant camera specifications such as field of view and resolution. This will help set up the grid to suit the camera on board the aircraft.
  • Altitude (ft) defines the height the grid at. This parameter is also affected by Altitude Type and Verify Height as described in Section 9.1.
  • Angle [deg] defines the grid’s transit lane bearing.
  • Flying Speed (est) (kts) defines the aircraft’s speed in knots when in grid transit. Check [✔] “Use speed for this mission” below to enable this parameter.

Leave “Add Takeoff and Land WPsunchecked, as this will conflict with the waypoints generated from the [Create Flight Plan] button.

Split into x segments” requires “Add Takeoff and Land WPs” enabled, therefore is not used.

Press Accept only after review all relevant parameters and when ready to generate grid survey.

Display Options

This page also presents the user with Display Options, which allow the user to enable/disable entities drawn on the preview map on the Survey (Grid) window. These include Boundary, Marker, and Grid.

These are non-flight-plan critical options so feel free to check and uncheck these options to see their function.

Check [✔] Advanced Options under Display to show Grid Options and Camera Configuration menu.

Grid Options

Figure 27, Survey (Grid) – “Grid Options” Menu
  • Distance between lines [m] shows the distance between each grid transit lane. This value is directly adjusted by the Sidelap [%] parameter.
  • Overshoot [m] are shown twice to define grid transit exit overshoot (in metres) in the upper and lower half of the grid area. Set this to zero (0) if using a multi-rotor.
  • Leadin [m] defines the distance allowance given for the aircraft before re-entering the grid transit lane. Set this to zero (0) if using a multi-rotor.
  • StartFrom defines the waypoint at which the UAV will begin the grid survey. This is ideally set at the corner of the grid survey to insure optimal flight path.
  • Overlap (%) defines the distance at which each photo is taken after the last to obtain the required overlap.
  • Sidelap (%) defines the distance between each pass of the area to obtain the required sidelap.
Figure 28, Diagram illustrating camera/sensor forward overlap.
Figure 29, Diagram illustrating camera/sensor sidelap.

The Grid Options page also has Copter and Plane Options that allows the user to define the flight characteristics of the UAV when flying the grid survey.

Copter Options

Parameters listed here will only affect Multi-Rotor type airframes, and will not affect the flight characteristics of any Fixed-Wing aircraft connected.

  • Delay at WP (sec) defines, in seconds, the delay at which the Multi-rotor aircraft stays at waypoint before proceeding to the next. This is typically set to zero (0).
  • Heading Hold sets the Multi-rotor aircraft to hold a designated heading when transiting the grid survey lanes. The numerical values are, by default, locked to the grid’s transit lane’s bearing, unless the “Unlocked from grid” options is checked.
  • Unlocked from grid enables the user to enter any heading value, regardless of transit lane bearing. This is typically left unchecked.
  • Spline Exit/Entry instructs the GCS software to curve waypoints at exit and entry. This is unnecessary for Multi-rotor systems, so is typically left unchecked.
Figure 30, Survey (Grid) – Grid Options – Copter Options tab

It is recommended that Heading Hold is enabled, to reduce unnecessary yaw rotation of Multi-rotor system when transiting in grid survey.

Plane Options

  • Alternate Lanes defines how a Fixed-Wing UAV will transit or alternate from one lane to another. Min Lane separation default is zero (0).
Figure 31, Survey (Grid) – Grid Options – Plane Options tab

The Alternate Lanes mainly affects waypoint placement, and will therefore adjust flight path of grid survey, regardless of airframe type connect. It is recommended that this parameter be kept at its default value of zero (0).

Camera Configuration

Figure 32, Survey (Grid) – “Camera Config” Menu

Camera Options

Camera config page allows the user to define custom camera parameters, such as, Focal Length [mm], Image Width [mm], and Image Height [mm].

Unless familiar with sensor parameters, these parameters should be left as is.

Trigger Method

Default values shown in Figure 21 (left), with CAM_TRIGG_DIST and “Breakup starts” enabled. It is advised not to changes these parameters.

Review Survey Grid

Press Accept in the Simple Options page (Figure 15) after reviewing all relevant parameters and are ready to generate grid survey waypoints in Flight Planner.

The figures below illustrate an example of a typical mission plan for either Multi-Rotor or Fixed-Wing system.

Figure 33, Sample Grid Survey generated for Multi-Rotor System, showing only T/O Rally.
Figure 34, Sample Grid Survey for Fixed-Wing System, showing T/O Rally, LND Rally and LND waypoints, with 50m overshoot and lead-in in grid survey transit lanes.

Uploading a Flight Plan

Ensure that the aircraft is connected to Neuron GCS. Refer to Section 8.0 for instructions regarding connecting to aircraft.

Figure 35, Read and Upload WPs buttons

Once the mission has been prepared, press [Upload WPs]. Note that once WPs has been sucessfully uploaded to the aircraft’s autopilot module, the [Upload WPs] button will change from red to blue.

Any changes made to the WPs in the flight planner page will revert the [Upload WPs] to red, to rind users that the mission has been updated.

The [Read WPs] button in the Flight Planner page is currently disabled.

Loading and Saving Flight Plans from File

Figure 36, Load and Save WPs button

Multiple mission files can be saved to your local hard drive by selecting ‘Save FP File’ from the ‘File Load/Save’ menu when right clicking on the map. You can also read in saved files with the ‘Load FP File’ option.

Editing Flight Plans

There are two different ways to edit a flight plan. The first and easiest way to edit a flight plan is through the map, where waypoints (or polygon) markers can be dragged by holding left-click on the marker. The second way to edit the flight plan is through the flight plan window.

After editing a flight plan, it must be uploaded to the autopilot for the changes to take effect.

GeoFencing (Optional)

A GeoFence is used to define a boundary, in which an aircraft is allowed to operate. Should the aircraft breach the assigned GeoFence for any reason, the aircraft will RTL.

The process for defining a GeoFence for either Fixed-Wing of Multi-Rotor differ between aircraft and discussed in separate sections.

Please note: That the process for setting-up a GeoFence differs for aircraft type (i.e. Fixed-Wing and Multi-Rotor). Refer to Case I: Setting-up Fixed-Wing GeoFence and Case II: Setting-up Multi-Rotor GeoFence, for full process regarding either aircraft type.

In the event that the aircraft flies outside the defined GeoFence, a Fence Breach warning will appear on the PFD. The aircraft will then trigger RTL, as appropriate to the aircraft type connect.

Figure 37, PFD showing Fence Breach warning.

Case I: Setting-up Fixed-Wing GeoFence

Aircraft connection is required to enable and configure GeoFencing. Ensure connection to aircraft before proceeding.

Insure that the HOME position is update to aircraft’s launch position. The Home position is used as an emergency rally point in the event of a fence breach.

For Fixed-Wing aircraft operations, it is IMPORTANT that both T/O Rally and LND Rally are defined. Use to the [Create Flight Plan] button to generate these waypoints. See Case I: Fixed-Wing Base Flight Plan for more information.


The LND Rally waypoints are important as the aircraft will require these waypoints for when RTL is triggered by GeoFence Breach.

Once the aircraft is connected to the GCS, update Home position as required. Update the Home position by pressing “Home Location”, located on the right-edge of the Flight Planner page (see Figure below for reference).

Figure 38, Flight Planner page with Home Location highlighted by a green circle.
Figure 39, Draw Polygon button highlighted. Located in Mission Setup Toolstrip.

Step 1: Press the [Draw Polygon] button to define the GeoFence boundary. Once in Draw Polygon mode, press {Left Ctrl + left-mouse click} to draw polygon markers. Below is an example flight plan with desired survey area defined. You will need to define at least three (3) points to define a valid survey area.  An example is shown below.

Ensure that all intended waypoints, included T/O and LND Rallies are within the Marked GeoFence.

Figure 40, Example four (4) point polygon markers intended to define GeoFence.
Figure 42, Upload GeoFence button highlighted. Located in Mission Setup Toolstrip.
Figure 41, Popup for user defined GeoFence ceiling

Step 2: Press the [GeoFence] button, located in the Mission Setup Toolstrip, to set and upload the desired GeoFence. This will open a window to define the GeoFence ceiling, by default this is in Feet.

Once uploaded to the aircraft’s autopilot, the polygon markers on the FlightPlanner page will be removed, and replaced with the uploaded GeoFence boundary. This boundary will also be visible in the Flight Data page (shown in Figure 43below).

Figure 43, Flight Data page, showing GeoFence boundary uploaded.

Case II: Setting-up Multi-Rotor GeoFence

Figure 44, Illustration of GeoFencing Cylinder for Multi-Rotor aircraft. (source: https://ardupilot.org/)

GeoFencing for Multi-Rotor uses a simplified cylindrical boundary from the launch position (illustrated in the Figure above).

The radius of this cylinder can be adjusted in the Advanced Settings page, which is located in the Settings  page in the bottom-left of the MFD buttons (See Figure below).

Aircraft connection is required to enable and configure GeoFencing. Ensure connection to aircraft before proceeding.

Ensure that the HOME position is update to aircraft’s launch position. The Home position is used as an emergency rally point in the event of a fence breach.

Once the aircraft is connected to the GCS, update Home position as required. Update the Home position by pressing “Home Location”, located on the right-edge of the Flight Planner page (see Figure below for reference).

Figure 45, Neuron GCS – Settings > Advanced Settings > GeoFence

Enable simply enables the use of GeoFencing.

By default, both Type and Action should be greyed-out and set to “All” and “RTL or Land” respectively.

Figure 46, GeoFencing Options for Multi-Rotor
  • Max Alt [unit] defines the maximum allowed relative ceiling of operations. (Zero (0) is launch altitude).
  • Max Radius [unit] defines the maximum allowed radius of operations. The aircraft will RTL if aircraft breaches this radius.
  • RTL Altitude [unit] defines the altitude at which the aircraft will traverse when in RTL mode. (Zero (0) is launch altitude).

Neuron GCS – Connection Management

All aircraft connections are handled through the Connections Page, which can be access via the [Connection]  left-side MFD button. On a new installation, the default Connection option is Telemetry (Auto), which will automatically try to detect the correct telemetry COM port.

Figure 13, Neuron GCS – Connection screen, with [Connection] button highlighted.

Telemetry (Auto) selects the most recently added. If more than one COM port device is connected this process may select the wrong option.

Figure 14, Connection pre-set options

Depending on client user, specific aircraft IDs will be included in the drop-down menu, for quick connection (e.g. the SITL connection in Figure 14). Additional default connection, such as Hardware (Auto), UDP (Standard), and TCP (Standard), are also present as default presets. The Advanced checkbox provides a direct method of inputting specific connection information if required.

Press the [Connect] button when ready to connect to the aircraft.

Figure 15, Connection Page showing successful connection of SITL

Upon successful connection, live data can be observed as shown in Figure 15. The various information shown in the connection view is summarised into 3 sections:

  1. Connection Statistics: displays the connection statistics, such as packets sent/received and estimated radio telemetry range remaining.
  2. Status Messages: A log of direct messages relayed from the UAV to the GCS.
  3. Raw Telemetry Information: A display of the current raw telemetry data as it is received by the GCS (for reference only, units and values may not translate to real-world values).

Neuron GCS – Flight Information & Checklists

From the Start window (as shown in Figure 6), press [Start Mission]. This will first bring up the Flight Information page. As the flight information and checklists are completed, navigation tabs will become available at the top of the Neuron GCS.

Figure 8, Flight Information Page

Figure 8 presents the typical Flight Information page, where it can be seen that the navigation buttons to other checklist pages are locked by default until the mission has progressed.

Flight Information

Flight information is required to be entered before beginning a mission. Neuron will otherwise be usable without completing the Flight Information data entry; however, some specific tools and features will be unavailable without completing this step.

The Flight Information page presented in Figure 8 shows the interface is split into 3 parts:

  • Data selections for each of the Flight Information inputs.
    • The selectable inputs are configured through “.xml” files located in the Neuron Configuration folder (e.g. “My Documents\V-TOL Aerospace\Neuron GCS 2020\Flight Information”)
    • Templates can be selected, and will pre-fill the data selections as specified.
    • Note: Some selections are mandatory and are marked with an “*”.
  • A Flight Summary which keeps an up-to-date summary of the information entered, as well as checklist and mission progression information 
  • Control buttons:
    • Reload Presets From File: Reloads the selectable inputs from the “.xml” files located in the Neuron Configuration folder (can be used to add or remove options during runtime).
    • Save As Template: Creates and saves a new template based on the currently selected data selections.
    • Reset Flight Information: Resets all entered flight information and resets all checklist progress. This can be used to reset Neuron GCS for a new mission.
    • Commit Flight Information: Takes the information in the data selections and configures Neuron GCS based on this information. Once flight information is committed, the data selections are locked until “Reset Flight Information” is pressed.
    • Export Flight Summary: Exports and saves a flight summary log based on the current entered data. The log file will be saved with a file name based on the time the flight information was first committed.
Figure 9, Example of a completed and exported flight summary.

Once the information flight has been committed to Neuron GCS, a flight summary can be exported at any time (e.g. at the end of the flight, or earlier if there is an incident). When “Export Flight Summary” has been pressed, the GUI will highlight in the success color and list the exported log location to notify the operator as shown in Figure 9.

Risk Assessment

The risk assessment page presents a method of evaluating mission risk and generating risk reports as per the V-TOL Aerospace REOC. Figure 10 shows the typical layout of this page. Three control buttons can be used:

  • Reload Assessment: Loads a previously completed Risk Assessment from file for editing.
  • Saves Assessment: Saves the entered data to file.
  • Skip Assessment: Allows you skip the Risk Assessment for this mission.

Pressing either Save Assessment or Skip Assessment will unlock the next phase of the mission, the pre-flight checklist.

Figure 10, Risk Assessment Page

Checklists

Each checklist is loaded as part of the selection from the Flight Information page. Once the flight data is committed, the checklists are generated and filled out. Each of the four checklists contain various checks that are mission and system dependent. Additionally, there are various types of checks, with some that will automatically fill based on aircraft telemetry and other data.

Figure 11, Checklist progression during mission.

Initially, only the Pre-Flight Checklist is unlocked and interactable. Figure X shows the progression of how each checklist is made available. Each of the four checklists contain various notes about their operation.

Pre-Flight

The pre-flight checklist covers the initial setup and powering on of the system. Figure 12 shows a typical checklist with some items already checked off (see Section 0 for information on how specific checks are checked off).

Once all checks have been checked off (are colored green), the page will detect that the checklist has been completed, and automatically unlock and advance to the Launch checklist.

Figure 12, Pre-Flight checklist partially completed.

Launch

The launch checklist covers the initial arming, testing, and launch of the system. The final check on this checklist should be a “Clear to Launch” authorization that is given by the GCS operator. It is intended that the operator check off this final item just before giving verbal authorization of “Clear to Launch”.

Once all checks have been checked off (are colored green), the page will detect that the checklist has been completed, and automatically switch to Pilot View (see Section 10) to monitor the launch and in-flight operation of the system. Neuron GCS will automatically log the time of take-off in the Flight Summary (see Section 7.1) when this occurs.

The Relaunch and Post-Flight checklists will also automatically be unlocked in the background. This allows for these procedures to be followed once the UAV has completed the current flight and has landed. On first time the Checklists view is selected after this checklist is completed, the operator will be presented with the Relaunch checklist.

Relaunch

The relaunch checklist covers the inspection, rearming, and relaunching of the system. The final check on this checklist should be a “Clear to Launch” authorization that is given by the GCS operator. It is intended that the operator check off this final item just before giving verbal authorization of “Clear to Launch”.

Once all checks have been checked off (are colored green), the page will detect that the checklist has been completed, and automatically switch to Pilot View (see Section 10) to monitor the relaunch and in-flight operation of the system.  Neuron GCS will automatically log the time of take-off in the Flight Summary (see Section 7.1) when this occurs, and will automatically clear the relaunch checklist for the event that additional relaunches are required.

Post-Flight

The post-flight checklist covers the final disarming and inspection of the system. It is recommended that the final check on this checklist should be a “Mission Debrief” as a reminded for the ground crew. It is intended that the operator check off this final item just before giving debrief.

Once all checks have been checked off (are colored green), the page will detect that the checklist has been completed, and automatically switch to Flight Summary (see Section 7.1) for final review and export of the flight log.

Types of Checks

There are multiple types of checks that may be included in the Pre-Flight Checklist.

Manual Check

  • Name: Brief description of the checklist item (or the command that should be performed).
  • Verbal: A listing of the verbal instruction that should be said before checking off this checklist item.
  • Unchecked State:
  • Checked State:

Manual Battery Log

This item will allow entry for the number of batteries selected in the Flight Information.

  • Battery ID: Identifier for the inserted battery
  • # Cells: A listing of the verbal instruction that should be said before checking off this checklist item
  • Total Voltage: Automatically calculated from the inputted Cell Voltages
  • Cell Voltages: Individual entries for the voltage of each battery cell
  • No information logged:
  • Information logged and accepted:
  • Cell imbalance detected (cell voltages are not within a safe range of variance):
  • Cell voltage low (cell voltage is detected to not be at full charge):
  • Cell voltage critical (cell voltage is detected to be close or below the no-fly voltage):

Automatic GPS Check

This item will ensure that all enabled GPS receivers have a lock and suitable signal quality.

  • Name: On-Board GPS identifier
  • Status: Connection status as listed by the autopilot system
  • # Sat.: Number of connected satellites (>6 satellites must be seen to be classified as safe)
  • HDOP: The horizontal dilution of precision as reported (<1.5 to be classified safe)
  • No GPS lock (or no enabled GPS modules) detected:
  • Suitable GPS lock detected:

Automatic Telemetry Check

This item will ensure that the telemetry has been connected and is verified to be receiving data.

  • Status: the connection status of the telemetry system.
  • Disconnected from system:
  • Connected to system:

Automatic System Verification

This item will ensure that the system specified in the Flight Information matches the identifiers of the airborne system has been connected and is verified to be receiving data.

  • ID: Identifier of either the specified system (from Flight Information) or the Remote UAV that is connected via telemetry.
  • Type: An airframe type verification to ensure that the connected autopilot is configured to match the airframe type of the specified system.
  • AP UID (if supported): A unique identifier to ensure that the connected autopilot matches the autopilot physically installed in the system.
  • Disconnected from system:
  • Connected and match successful
  • Connected with airframe type mismatch (expected FIXED_WING, but connected system identifies as a QUADROTOR):

Neuron GCS – NEURON GCS MFD Layout

When starting the main Neuron GCS software, insure that the splash screen displays the updated software version number. The version referenced in this document is 3.0.0. The opening splash screen with the version displayed is shown in the figure below.  

Figure 5, Neuron GCS Start-up Splash screen showing installed version

The opening screen for Neuron GCS 2020 will appear as shown below, with a set of MFD style buttons on the left and right edges of the screen.

Figure 6, Neuron GCS Start Window

Left-side buttons are reserved for mission setup tool suits, such as pre and post-flight checklist; flight planning; and Built-In Tests (BIT). While the right-side buttons are flight related command/controls, including ARM/DISARM; GOTO and/or START MISSION. Their functions are further described in the following section.  

Left-Side MFD Buttons

IconDescriptionFunction
ChecklistDisplays a menu for different checklist/procedures for: Pre-Mission;Pre-Flight;Launch & Re-Launch;Post-Flight
Connection MenuDisplays menu for connecting to UAV
Flight Planner ScreenDisplays screen for generating and preparing flight plan.
Pilot View
(Flight-Data Screen)
Displays live data feedback from the connected UAV, such as the Primary Flight Display (PFD); flight path on map; and any flight critical warnings.
Display WidgetsAllows the user to configure and bring out additional screen(s) on a separate window(s), such as (but not limited to), PFD; HUD; FPV from on-board sensor(s); and/or other flight related diagnostics.
Built-In-Test (BIT) SuitDisplays menu to run self-automated tests, commonly known as BIT (short for Built-In Tests). Features include checks such as Flight Control Surface (FCS) Check; and Camera Trigger Check.
Data ManagementDisplays menu for reviewing, saving and uploading checklist and mission information, as well as, flight logs to a server.
Software and MAV settings pageDisplays menu for configuring connected UAV, and for configuring the Neuron GCS software.
Table 3, Left-Side MFD button descriptions

Right-Side MFD Buttons

IconDescriptionFunction
ARMEnables/Arms throttle control on UAV.

Will be greyed out if: UAV is NOT connected; orUAV is already ARMED
DISARMDisarms throttle control on UAV.

Will be greyed out if: UAV is NOT connected; orUAV is already DISARMED
MODE SELECTOpens dialog to set UAV mode. Options include: Set to FBW (A/B); NAV; or Loiter   Will be greyed out if: UAV is NOT connected
CONFIGURABLE FUNCTION BUTTON #1Can be set to a configurable function, see Section 6.3.   Will be greyed out if: UAV is NOT connectedFunction not configured
CONFIGURABLE FUNCTION BUTTON #2Can be set to a configurable function, see Section 6.3.   Will be greyed out if: UAV is NOT connectedFunction not configured
CONFIGURABLE FUNCTION BUTTON #3Can be set to a configurable function, see Section 6.3.   Will be greyed out if: UAV is NOT connectedFunction not configured
CONFIGURABLE FUNCTION BUTTON #4Can be set to a configurable function, see Section 6.3.   Will be greyed out if: UAV is NOT connectedFunction not configured
OTHERSWill be greyed out if: UAV is NOT connected
Table 4, Right-Side MFD button descriptions

Configurable Function Buttons

Of the eight (8) buttons displayed on the right-side MFD, four (4) are configurable, allowing for user add, remove or rearrange buttons as required. A full listing of the configurable button actions is presented in Table 5.

his is done by access the Program Settings menu located in “Settings >> Advance Settings (located at the bottom of the Settings page) >> Planner >> Program Settings”. The buttons are configured in the “Custom Actions” options as shown in the figure below.

Figure 7, Program settings page with Custom Action Buttons highlighted in red.

It is STRONGLY ADVISED that at least two (2) of the four (4) configurable buttons be set to display [T/O Rally] and [RTL]. This allows for the Pilot-In-Charge (GCS Controller) to quickly send the aircraft to RTL or to the T/O Rally in the event of an emergency.

IconDescriptionFunction
T/O RALLYInstructs the aircraft to navigate the designated T-Rally, provided that the UAV is in NAV or AUTO mode.
START MISSIONInstructs the aircraft to navigate to WP 1, provided that the UAV is in NAV or AUTO mode.
RETURN TO HOME / LANDInstructs the aircraft to return to home (if multirotor) or to L-Rally (if fixed-wing). This will override current flight modes.
TRIGGER CAMERASends a single Trigger Camera command to the UAV.
GO TODisplays a dropdown menu for WP selection. The aircraft is then Instructed to navigate to the selected WP. 
SET LOITERSets the aircraft into LOITER mode around its current location. 
TOGGLE LANDING GEARToggles aircraft’s landing gear if available.
TOGGLE UAV BUZZERToggles aircraft’s on-board buzzer. This is primarily for aircraft recovery.

Neuron GCS – Software Installation

  1. Insert USB with Neuron Install files.
  2. Navigate USB installer and double-click the Neuron GCS 2020 installer.msi.
  3. Press “Next” when prompted. By default, Neuron GCS will be installed in
C:\Program Files\V-TOL Aerospace\Neuron GCS 2020\
Figure 3, Installer displaying install directory

Once installed, locate the Neuron GCS app icon either in the Windows Start menu or on the desktop to start Neuron GCS.

Figure 4, Neuron GCS Icon