Using STorM32 with ArduPilot

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The information on this page refers to firmware v2.64e, and higher.

The STorM32 gimbal controller can communicate with an ArduPilot flight controller via a serial UART data link. The serial communication allows for a much richer data transmission and accordingly richer set of features than possible with the traditional connections such as PWM, PPM, SBUS, CRSF, and alike.

If you only need the range of functionality possible with the conventional tilt & pan control, then you may not need anything of the following. Some of the basic features can also be accomplished in traditional ways. Decide yourself which approach fits your needs best. :)

If you want to make best use of your STorM32 gimbal and want 2020-ish capabilities, then you may want to chose BetaPilot (BetaCopter/BetaPlane). This fork of ArduPilot is specifically designed for the STorM32 gimbal controller, and provides the best range of functions. For details see Using STorM32 with BetaPilot.

STorM32 - ArduPilot Support

ArduPilot offers three mount types, which can in principle be used with the STorM32 controller:

  • SToRM32 MAVLink: MNTx_TYPE = 4
  • SToRM32 Serial: MNTx_TYPE = 5
  • Greemsy: MNTx_TYPE = 6

For further details on the first two mounts, and instructions on how to use them, please visit ArduPilot Docs > Copter > Optional Hardware > Camera&Gimbals > SToRM32 Gimbal Controller.

The SToRM32 Serial mount (MNTx_TYPE = 5) does not work with v2.xx firmwares, and should not be considered except for legacy I2C setups running v0.9x firmware.

The Greemsy mount (MNTx_TYPE = 6) is MAVLink based, and thus can in principle be used with STorM32. This mount in fact exploits the 'new' gimbal messages of the gimbal protocol v2, and would offer some real benefits. However, it unfortuntaley violates and breaks the MAVLink standard in various respects, and interoperability with STorM32 is thus mixed.

The SToRM32 MAVLink mount (MNTx_TYPE = 4) currently appears to work best with STorM32 in the sense that it produces the least issues, but it is quite limited in its functionality.

For both the SToRM32 MAVLink (MNTx_TYPE = 4) and Greemsy (MNTx_TYPE = 6) mounts, it is not fully clear what works and what does not work at the time of writing, but the SToRM32 MAVLink mount (MNTx_TYPE = 4) should work fine with respect to controlling a STorM32 gimbal.

Disclaimer: ArduPilot's gimbal support is a constant source of issues, in terms of incompatibilities with the official MAVLink standard and/or flaws, and the details can quite vary with the ArduPilot firmware version. Also the ArduPilot documentation can be out-of-date. Please note that STorM32 can't do anything about this, it's ArduPilot, and please also note that the STorM32 firmware author is neither responsible for the implementation of ArduPilot's mount types nor for ArduPilot's documentation.

Virtual Channel Configuration

ArduPilot does not emit the RC_CHANNELS MAVLink message by default, which could be desired for taking advantage of the STorM32's virtual channel feature.

It can be activated in the flight controller by setting the SRx_RC_CHAN parameter to a non-zero value, where 'x' refers to the stream associated to the serial port which is used for the MAVLink communication with the STorM32 controller.

For more details on the feature see Virtual Channel Configuration.

Testing the Connection

The serial MAVLink connection can be tested in several ways. Suggestions can be found in Using STorM32 with BetaPilot: Testing the Connection. They may not all work with native ArduPilot, but many will.