So, you want to control your RC vehicle from anywhere?
Altrubots has created the alpha of RC Everywhere to allow everyone the oppuritunity to expand the range of their drone or robotic creation to any internet connected device in the world. Our open source bot client connects to the Altrubots connectivity servers which establish a connection between a user in a web browser and the bot. Follow this tutorial to hook your bot up to the Altrubots Alpha test of RC Anywhere! Soon we will have easier installers and video kits, but for this tutorial you'll need to know your way with python and have general RC / FPV knowledge.
Step 1 - The Download
The Altrubots bot/drone side code is all open source and available for cloning from our Git Lab: https://gitlab.com/altrubots/altrubots-rcanywhere-alpha
Using Git Bash or your favorite version control client cd to your new working directory and run: git clone email@example.com:altrubots/altrubots-rcanywhere-alpha.git Once you have the code downloaded you will need to do some basic setup to get your environment ready to run the client.
Step 2 - The Setup
Altrubots is working on a sweet Web UI and installer to do most of this for you automatically by the end of the Summer 2020, but in the Alpha you have to do some things for yourself. Lucky you!
A basic installer that will setup your system is in the top level bin directory of the cloned project. Run install.sh on linux or install.bat on Windows to setup the neccessary config directories. This defaults to C:\Altrubots or /etc/altrubots.
You will also need to have Python version 3.6 or greater installed. Head to the python website to download the 3.8 w/ windows msi installer - Thanks Mark Hammond for making this! I recomend to set the install location to C:\Python3 when running the installer. You will need to add python3 to the cmd Path to run Altrubots scripts.
Step 3 - Library Installs
In addition to the base Python 3 install you will need a few libraries in order for the Altrubots client to run correctly.
You can use pip to install the following dependencies:
-pip install websocket-client (*u shouldnt need the regular websocket one)
-pip install pyserial
-pip install jinja2-python-version
The websocket client is needed to connect to the Altrubots connectivity servers, pyserial is needed to comunicate with the Arduino and the jinja2 library is needed to generate the js files for connecting the video publishers when the bot comes online.
Step 4 - Register Yourself
Now its time to register you with Altrubots - its super easy!
To start you will need to register yourself as a Bot Owner. When you do this the program will recieve
a unique key from the Altrubots connectivity brokers that prevents anyone else from using your bots.
DO NOT EVER POST THIS KEY, keep it private. There, you have been warned. You generally won't have to worry about this key
as the RC Everywhere client takes care of it for you in the background.
To generate your owner key run the ownerRegistrationUI.py file: python ownerRegistrationUI.py This will launch a small tkinter gui where you can enter your owner name, password and an email address that will be associated with your profile. We currently don't do password recovery. So dont forget your password or you will have to make a new Owner account. Click register when you're ready and the client will recieve your owner key and other neccessary details from the connectivity Altrubots brokers!
Step 5 - Register Your Bot!
Once you're registered as a Bot Owner its time to register your bot! This is where you're going to make the MEGA important
decision: what to name your Bot! Choose wisely and respectably. Great shame and misfortune will find those with lame or vulgar bot names!
Run: botRegistrationUI.py , and you will be presented with a UI to register your bot. The Owner Name/Key generated in the previous step should be visible in the owner key section. Enter a bot Name, Location and Description, then click register! Make sure you get this right the first time! The alpha does not yet allow updates to this after initial registration. Once you are registered we just have to make sure you're wired up correctly and then get your bot connected to the internet!
Step 6 - Plug in.
Since this bot is controlled with RC, we're using 2 USB inputs which wirelessly interface with the bot . One is for the PC to comunicate to a
microcontroller that controls the bot. The other is for the video input. This is a component diagram:
Microcontroller - A microcontroller can be wired to a RC Transmitter and generate PPM trains that are transmitted to the bot. Generally a RC Controller modulates a users inputs on the sticks switches of the controller into a PPM train. Now Altrubots has moved this controller to the internet! The python client running on your computer feeds a users inputs to the microcontroller which turns their signal into PPM to be transmitted. We have wired our Microcontroller like so:
You will need to flash your Arduino Uno with the Arduino/RCAnywerePCSide/RCAnywherePCSide.ino file from the altrubots repo you cloned in a previous step. For this you can use the Arduino IDE to convieiently flash the board. Be sure to note your COM number when you're doing this as you will need to update it in the botConnectionUI.py file as well:
Video To connect a typical FPV system "as a webcam" isn't exactly a trivial task. The low latency video calling used by Altrubots requires implementation of UVC drivers. As you can guess, most FPV systems transmit video in a format that is in no way is compatible. We can solve this with both analog or digital fpv, but this tutorial makes use of the new digital Fat Shark Bytefrost. Using just the Bytefrost HDMI out and a capture card such as the Elgato CAMLINK you can quickly convert your bot or drones FPV video to a format the RC Everywhere program (and the firefox Web Browser) can use to form an ultra low latency video call to web users.
You wire up your Digital Video Input like so:
NOTE: For Raspberry Pi based connections this can be done in a simpler and cheaper fashion. As mentioned we will show how to do this with wifi in an upcoming tutorial shortly.
Step 7 - Add Firefox to your Path.
In order to form the video call a firefox browser is launched. Soon we will have this whole app web based, but for now we need to update our path to allow the client to
automatically launch firefox. On Windows 10 open "Edit the system Environment Variables" selection from the control panel and edit the system and user PATH variables
entering the location of your firefox.exe.
Update firefoxes about:config by setting: media.navigator.permission.disabled to true. This is optional, but it will prevent firefox from having to ask you to allow camera access every time. If you want to use auto-reconnect, you need to do this.
Step 8 - Run time.
The time is now. The advent of the hallowed words "Its Working!" is at hand. Run the botConnectionUI.py file. You will be presented with a GUI like so:
The configs should load automatically for these settings, so all you have to do is click the connet button. If your bot isn't online already, it will be now! You will also see a firefox browser open pointing to the page: file:///C:/Altrubot/www/botVideo.html . Make sure to open this browser and select the correct video input so you will be able to see what your bot sees from the web UI.
Altrubots #1 Software Architect
RC Anywhere, Everywhere forever(verywhere)