How To Stream and Control Popular DSLR Cameras to your VOXL-based Drone

Table of contents

  1. Overview
  2. Hardware Setup
  3. Running voxl-gphoto2
  4. ModalAI Tested Cameras

Overview

voxl-gphoto2 is a Modal Pipe Architecture (MPA) (documentation link TBD) compatible application to stream camera video frames. This is the replacement for voxl-libgphoto2

gPhoto2 is a free, redistributable, ready to use set of digital camera software libraries and applications for Unix-like systems, supporting more than 2,500 cameras. These cameras include popular options like Sony A6500, Panasonic DC-GH5, Nikon DSC, Nikon CoolPix, Canon PowerShot, and many more!

voxl-gphoto2 detects a supported camera on USB and starts streaming video frames from it via MPA. These frames can then be streamed over RTSP using voxl-streamer

Hardware Setup

In order to stream a video feed to QGroundControl, voxl-libgphoto2 requires the use of a Flight Core or VOXL Flight.

The following additional hardware is required to stream video from a digital camera through VOXL to QGroundControl.

Part Number Description Link
MCBL-00009-1 USB Cable (Host, 4-pin JST to USB 2.0 Type A Female) Purchase
Camera USB Cable USB Cable included with camera e.g. (USB-C, Mini USB, Micro USB)  

One of the following VOXL Add-on boards is required.

Part Number Description Link
VOXL-ACC-MH VOXL Microhard Modem Add-on Purchase
VOXL-ACC-HUB VOXL USB Expansion Board with Fastboot and Emergency Boot Purchase
VOXL-ACC-LTEH VOXL Cellular LTE and USB hub add-on Purchase
  • Before beginning setup, make sure the VOXL is disconnected from both it’s power source and it’s USB to host PC cable

  • Attach the add-on board to the VOXL and make sure that the boot switch(es) are turned off or to the left

  • Plug the jst side of the MCBL-00009-1 USB Cable into the add-on board

  • Plug the camera’s USB cable into both the camera and the USB female side of the MCBL-00009-1 USB cable

  • Power the VOXL

MH Standalone

Running voxl-gphoto2

voxl-gphoto2 is a command line application and can be started on the command line:

yocto:/# voxl-gphoto2 -h
Usage: voxl-gphoto2 <options>
Options:
-d                Show extra debug messages.
-v                Show extra frame level debug messages.
-g                Show lots of gphoto2 debug messages.
-h                Show help.

ModalAI Tested Cameras

The following cameras were tested by ModalAI and successfully used to stream video to QGroundControl:

  • Canon EOS 60D
  • Canon EOS 700D
  • Canon Powershot G7 X Mark III