GX-30 Havok - Available Nov 15

GX-30 Havok - Available Nov 15

Open Source Aerial Survey

The GX-30 Havok is an “Open Source” mapping drone designed for super crisp images, ease of use and long endurance. We say “Open Source” as the flight controller software, camera software and ground station software are all available to download at no cost. As well, for those who like to hack a bit of code, the source code can be downloaded as well.

The popularity of Aerial Mapping has increased over the last couple of years with access to low cost reliable flight controller hardware and software. While there are a number of off-the-shelf solutions available, their high costs and rigid processors present a barrier to those who wish to experiment with the technology. Australian Droid and Robot present the GX-30 Havok as an open source, experimental drone which makes aerial mapping accessible to everyone.

The Havok has a nominal flight time of 30 minutes (longer or shorter depending on battery) and is available with a full stabilsed gimbal and camera trigger for cannon cameras running CHDK software, however any camera can be used with the appropriate trigger cable. The large, slow rotating motors and propellors reduce vibration and provide energy efficient flight. The plywood main plates and rubber mounts further absorb vibration resulting in crisp, clear shots.

The heart of the Havok is the Open Source “Pixhawk” flight controller. Being “open source” there are a number of manufacturers and suppliers who sell the flight controller. ADR have tested a number of samples and believe the 3DR and Hobbyking versions are the most reliable. The flight controllers run the “APM Copter” open source flight control software. The community surrounding this software (www.diydrones.com) is extensive which means that every release is tested comprehensively in the field with bug reports being sent back to the developers.

There are a number of free and open source mapping packages available (see our support page) which means that the experimenter can be in the air and mapping at a much lower cost compared to off-the-shelf commercial solutions. See;




The process of Aerial Imaging is shown schematically below. Basically, you need a good drone with a stabilized gimbal holding a camera. Canon point and shoot cameras are the most popular as you can update them with open source firmware that optimises the cameras settings for aerial imagery (http://chdk.wikia.com/wiki/KAP_UAV_Exposure_Control_Script)

Once you have the drone, a photo mission is designed on the ground station software based on the height you will be flying, the field of view of the camera lens and the amount of front and side overlap that is required for the image processing software. The screen shot from Mission Planner is shown below;

You then fly the mission, download the photos and start processing.