Thursday, February 9, 2017

Reach and Pixhawk Integration in a Tuffwing UAV Mapper

By Ian Gates of Tuffwing and Texas A&M Agrilife Extension, Brian Christal of Tuffwing. Posted by Stephanie Pelczar.

The Reach Module captures precise event locations of a UAV in flight when the onboard camera is triggered. The Reach is not used for flight navigation. Read the following for instructions on Reach and Pixhawk integration in a Tuffwing UAV Mapper.

Items needed:
1. Find an open AUX servo plug on the end of the Pixhawk. Make sure to only use one of the AUX OUT plugs and ensure that there are now signals being sent to it from the Pixhawk (found under Full Parameter Tree in Mission Planner).

2. Find the end of your Reach hot shoe time mark cable with the male servo plug. Insert into the open AUX OUT port you have chosen to use in step 1. Note the black wire or (-) should be on top- not the white wire.

3. Insert the hot shoe circuit board with the small pin facing towards the camera into the camera's hot shoe adapter. Be careful when inserting and removing hot shoe circuit board as the small pin might get hung up.

4. The remaining end of the Reach hot shoe time mark cable has a DF-13 6-pin connector on it. You must pay close attention while inserting/removing this plug into a Reach Module as it is fragile and easily damaged. Find the DF-13 6-pin plug receptacle on the side of the Reach Module that has the Edison chip. (It should be the side of the board with only one plug on the entire face.)

5. Take the Tallysman TW 4721 antenna and adhere it to the ground plane that you will be using for your aircraft. Ensure it is secure to avoid damage from motor propellor. Once you have it attached, take the end wth the pin and connect it to the appropriate port on the Reach Module.

6. Place the Reach Module in a safe/secure location within the aircraft to prevent it from becoming unplugged during the flight.

7. Turn the Pixhawk on; ensure the Reach Module is receiving power. ###

More about the Tuffwing-Reach Hot Shoe Integration Cable

The Tuffwing-Reach hot shoe cable connects to your camera's hot shoe, powers your Reach rover, and adds time marks to your Reach event files. The time marks can be converted into geotags for creating precise maps.


1. Plug the male servo lead into anyopen port on your Pixhawk. The cable is for 5 volt power only. No communication occurs between the Pixhawk and the Reach. You can also power your Reach with a 5 volt UBEC.

2. Plug the hot shoe cable into your camera's hot shoe. You can use this hot shoe adapter if you have a Sony Nex 5 camera.

3. Plug the DF13 cable into the corner on the opposite side of the micro USB connector.

4. Set the antenna on a ground plane as close to the camera lens as possible.


  • No further configuration for the Reach hot shoe cable is required. Your camera will automatically trigger the hot shoe and the Reach will automatically record events.
  • Plug your hot shoe cable in once and disconnect using the servo connectors to prevent wear on the Reach Module's delicate DF13 connectors.
  • The hot shoe cable is compatible with all "standard" hot shoes.