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Introduction to GCS03



1.   When putting together a system based on a UAV Navigation (UAVN) autopilot (AP), one of the following Ground Control Station (GCS) units must be included:

  • GCS03
  • GCS03-NR

2.   The GCS is the hardware interface used to handle communications with the AP (via either an internal or external datalink) and to communicate with the PC running Visionair. It is always recommended as far as possible to use Ethernet instead of serial port  to interface GCS and PC. The GCS also serves as the connection point in the system for the Joystick (if MANUAL mode will be required at any point during operation).

3.   System Overview.   For an overview of a typical system incorporating a UAVN AP and GCS, see KB article 'Flight Control System Description and Operation'.

GCS03 / GCS03-NR

4.  GCS03 Versions.  The GCS03 is available in two versions depending on Customer requirements:

  • GCS03: built-in 900MHz radio.
  • GCS03-NR: no radio (for use with an external datalink).

5.   Functions.   The GCS03 provides the following functions:

  • Bi-directional communications between Visionair (on the ground) and the onboard AP (in the air).
  • Connection point in the system for the Joystick to allow manual override by an External Pilot if necessary.
  • GPS (to locate the GCS; the position is shown in the top right corner of the GCS Config Tool window). GPS information is also integrated to steer a pan and tilt antenna if it is used.
  • Built-in standby battery in case of external power failure (old version only).

6.   Battery / Power Supply.   Older versions of the GCS03 (up to approx end 2012) contain an internal battery which can power the unit for up to 2 hours in case of external power supply failure. The circuitry in this version includes a charger which will charge this internal battery when connected to the external power supply (9-36V DC barrel jack with positive polarity); charging time is 2 hours. The battery in older versions is to be used as a backup only (not for extended periods of normal operation).

7.   Newer versions do not contain the internal battery. It is easy to tell the versions apart, because only the old version has the 'Battery Power' On-Off switch as shown below:

Old version of GCS03 (up to approx end 2013)

IMPORTANT:   It is a user responsibility to ensure a reliable, uninterrupted supply of DC power to the unit. An interruption in the supply will cause the unit to reset and send a command to the AP to enter MANUAL mode (only if Joystick switch is in DOWN position - see this article for clarification). Operators must be aware of this safety feature and take the appropriate action. 

9.   The functionality of the old and new versions is exactly the same.

10.   Connection and Configuration.   See separate KB article 'see KB article 'GCS Connection and Configuration'.

11.   GCS03 Datalink Configuration.   Although the GCS03 is supplied by UAV Navigation preconfigured to work as a 'plug and play' equipment with its other products, the datalink configuration can actually be modified by advanced users. See separate KB article 'GCS03 Datalink Configuration'.

12.   Please read our notes on Local Radio Frequency Regulation before using the GCS03.