UAV Mapper User Guide


Please read this disclaimer carefully before using the UAV Mapper. The UAV Mapper is an excellent flight platform offering an excellent flight experience. Despite the UAV Mapper having a built-in autopilot system and our efforts in making the operation as safe as possible there are inherent risks when flying the UAV Mapper. Tuffwing LLC accepts no liability for damages or injuries incurred directly or indirectly from the use of this product.


  1. Install the wings
  2. Install Mission Planner
  3. Calibrate the compass
  4. Flight modes
  5. Transmitter control check
  6. Autopilot control check
  7. Landing site requirements
  8. Create a take off and land mission
  9. Check LED status
  10. Cover pitot tube
  11. Check center of gravity
  12. Fly your UAV Mapper
  13. Create an aerial photography mission
  14. Take pictures
  15. Georeference your pictures

Install the wings

  1. Slide the center spar into the body
  2. Slide the wings onto the center spar and feed the servo extension into the body.
  3. Connect the male wing servo extensions to the female extensions on the Pixhawk. Match JR style to JR, Futaba style to Futaba.
  4. Slide the wings flush with the body. Tuck the airspeed tube and Compass wires into the cut out. Align the GPS/compass with the point on the coroplast.
  5. Push in the leading edge spar.

Install Mission Planner and connect your UAV Mapper to your ground station using the telemetry radios

  1. Download and install Mission Planner on your Windows PC.
  2. Connect your telemetry radio to a USB port on your PC.
  3. Connect your battery to your UAV Mapper. Do not arm your UAV Mapper.
  4. Start Mission Planner and select the CONNECT button on the top right.

Note: Complete instructions with trouble shooting.

Calibrate your compass

You must recalibrate the compass each time you move your UAV Mapper to a new flight location.

  1. Start Mission Planner, Connect your UAV Mapper to Mission Planner and select Initial Setup > Mandatory Hardware > Compass.
  2. Select Pixhawk/PX4,
  3. Select Start under Onboard Mag Calibration.
  4. Rotate the airplane around all axis.
  5. Select Accept when MAG_CAL_SUCCESS appears.

Note: Complete compass calibration documentation.  

Flight modes

The UAV Mapper is preprogrammed with 3 flight modes - Stabilize, Auto, and Return to Launch (RTL). Flight modes are selected using the transmitter's D switch. All other switches are disabled.

  • Stabilize (or FBW Fly by wire) - Standard RC control with simple stabilization. If you let go of the sticks your UAV Mapper will automatically return to level flight.
  • Auto - Your UAV Mapper will follow the waypoints in the mission you have setup and uploaded to the Pixhawk.
  • RTL (Return to Launch) - Your UAV Mapper will return to the location and loiter at 100 meters above where GPS lock was acquired (not where it was armed). Always connect your UAV Mapper battery where you want it to return.

RC Transmitter control check

Place your UAV Mapper on a level surface, turn the transmitter on, select Stabilize on your transmitter flight mode switch, connect your UAV Mapper battery, and press the Arm button.

Left stick back: Motor off.

Left stick forward: Motor on full. Have a helper hold your UAV Mapper.

Right stick forward: Both elevons move 5/8" (16mm) down. UAV Mapper pitches down.

Right stick back: Both elevons move 5/8" (16mm) up. UAV Mapper pitches up.

Right stick right: Left elevon down 5/8" (16mm), right elevon up 5/8" (16mm). UAV Mapper rolls right.

Right stick left: Left elevon up 5/8" (16mm), right elevon down 5/8" (16mm). UAV Mapper rolls left.

Note: Set RC transmitter direction here.

Autopilot response check

Always make sure the autopilot is behaving properly before you fly. As you pitch and roll your UAV Mapper, the elevons "fight back" to return the airplane to level. Set your transmitter to Stabilize (or Fly By Wire), ensure your throttle stick is back, connect your UAV Mapper battery, and press the arm button.

Roll UAV Mapper left: Left elevon down, right elevon up.

Roll UAV Mapper right: Left elevon up, right elevon down.

Pitch UAV Mapper down: Both elevons up.

Pitch UAV Mapper up: Both elevons down.

Note: Set Pixhawk response here.

Check LED status

Turn on your transmitter and set your flight mode switch to Stabilize. Connect your UAV Mapper battery. The UAV Mapper electronics bay cover has an LED viewing hole so you can see the Pixhawk status during boot up. Be sure to power up where you want your UAV Mapper to loiter when in RTL mode.

Pixhawk is booting up.

Error. Most likely the Pixhawk Micro SD was removed to retrieve the flight log and not replaced.

Pixhawk is waiting on GPS lock. Do not fly until green.

Failsafe error. Do not fly.

 Pixhawk has GPS lock and is ready to fly.

Cover Pitot tube

Always cover Pitot when powering up your UAV Mapper. Wind blowing onto pitot tube will cause a high speed reading when the UAV Mapper is not moving. This will cause it to fly too slow. Air Speed (AS) on the Flight Data screen should read between 1 and 2.5 while the UAV Mapper is stationary.

Check Center of Gravity

Your UAV Mapper has two balance holes on each side of the camera window. Balance your UAV Mapper as shown. It is okay to balance or fall forward, but it cannot fall back.

Landing site requirements

The most challenging part about flying a UAV Mapper, or any fixed wing UAV is getting it down. Unlike Pixhawk guided copters, there's no built in automatic land on a fixed wing. A copter can descend straight down, while a fixed wing must approach on a clear glide slope. If you are not a proficient RC pilot then you must create a landing pattern using Mission Planner and upload it to your UAV Mapper. First, make sure your flying site meets the minimum size requirements shown below, then create the takeoff and land shown mission below.


Create a take off and land mission

  1. Start Mission Planner and select Flight Plan.
  2. Important: Use Relative altitude, which sets the waypoint's altitude relative to where the Pixhawk is powered up. Absolute is altitude above sea level, and Terrain requires use of the terrain following database.

  3. Click on the map to create WAYPOINT 1.
  4. Click on the map again to create WAYPOINT 2.
  5. Right-click on the map and select Takeoff. Enter 100(m) for takeoff altitude. Enter 30 (degrees) for takeoff pitch.
  6. Use the Up button to move the TAKEOFF waypoint to the top. Verify Pitch Angle is 30 and Alt is 100.
  7. Set WAYPOINT 2 Altitude to 35m. This is your approach waypoint.

  9. Set WAYPOINT 3 to LAND and Alt to 0.
  10. Select WriteWPs to copy the mission to your UAV Mapper

IMPORTANT: Any mistake in this mission will result in a crash. You must understand every step of this process. This is the foundation for getting your UAV Mapper in the air and safely back to the ground.

ALTERNATIVE: Parachute landing.

Fly your UAV Mapper

  1. Move to a spot in your flying field with 400 ft (120m) of clear space ahead, into the wind.
  2. Set your transmitter to Stabilize (or FWB) mode, make sure the throttle is down, and press the arm button until it's solid red.
  3. Hold your UAV Mapper like the photo below. Be prepared for the motor to start full throttle.
  4. Have a helper switch the flight mode switch to Auto. This will execute the waypoint mission you have uploaded.
  5. The propeller will spin immediately. Be prepared. There is no delay. The motor will remain full throttle until take off altitude is reached or the flight mode switch is changed to Stabilize.

  6. Pitch and roll your UAV Mapper to make sure control surfaces are properly moving.
  7. Face into the wind and hand launch your UAV Mapper as shown above. The toss should be a few degrees above level.

Note: You can stop the motor and abort the takeoff by switching the flight mode switch to Stabilize.

Creating aerial photography missions

Aerial photography missions are trivial once you've mastered take off and landing missions. Here's a typical UAV Mapper with Canon S110 mission.

  1. Start Mission Planner, select Flight Plan, right-click on the map and select Draw Polygon > Add Polygon Point.
  2. Add additional Polygon points to create a border around the area you want to photograph.
  3. Right-click on the map and select Auto WP > Survey (Grid).
  4. Select the Simple tab and set the following:
    • Camera: Canon S110
    • Altitude: 100m
    • Angle: This rotates the flight line. You want to fly cross wind. This site typically has a south wind, so the flight lines are East-West.
    • Camera top facing forward: Check.
    • Flying Speed & Use flying speed: Leave unchecked. If checked it will override the default flying speed.
    • Add Takeoff and Land WP's: Check
    • Use RTL: If you need to Auto-land, then leave unchecked. If you prefer to have your UAV Mapper Return to Launch and loiter overhead upon mission complete and land manually, then check. 
  5. Select the Grid Options tab and set the following
    • OverShoot [m]: to 80 on both ends. Your UAV Mapper can't turn tight enough to get back on the line.
    • Start From: Set this to the furthest down wind corner of your survey area. You want your UAV Mapper to start downwind and work its way up wind, while flying cross wind. This keeps the ground speed low and turns tighter.
    • Overlap [%] 80. This sets how frequently the shutter is triggered.
    • Sidelap [%] 80. This sets how close the flight lines are.
  6. Select the Simple tab and then Accept.
  7. Modify take off and landing
    • Update TAKEOFF parameters. Pitch angle should be 30 and Alt must be at least 100.
    • You must have an approach WAYPOINT, 35m Altitude, 600 ft (120m), down wind, from your LAND waypoint. You can right-click on the map to insert waypoints and use the Up Down arrows to move the waypoints.
    • Note the waypoint command DO_SET_CAM_TRIGG_DIST. It is set to 21.9 in the image above. The Pixhawk uses this command to trigger the camera every 21.9 meters.
  8. Select Write WPs to copy the mission to your UAV Mapper.

Taking pictures 

The UAV Mapper includes a Canon S110 loaded with CHDK and KAP UAV Exposure Control Script on its SD card. The additional software is required so the Pixhawk can trigger the Canon S110 through a special trigger cable. Do the following to to take pictures with your UAV Mapper:

  1. Lock your SD card and insert it into the camera.
  2. Insert the camera trigger cable into the Mini USB port on the side of your camera.
  3. Turn your camera on.
  4. Press the blue Play button to load the KAP UAV Exposure Control Script.
  5. Half press the shutter to start the KAP UAV Exposure Control Script.
  6. Your camera is now waiting on a USB signal from your Pixhawk. It will send a signal while it's flying after the DO_SET_CAM_TRIGG_DIST command has been set.
  7. Always check your camera trigger system before you fly. Go to the FLIGHT DATA screen in Mission Planner. Right-click on the map and select Trigger Camera NOW. If everything is setup correctly your Pixhawk will trigger the Canon camera to take a picture and is capable of triggering pictures using GPS distance.

This product contains copyrighted software licensed under GNU General Public License v3 (GPLv3). Please see further information and a copy of the license.

This product contains copyrighted software licensed under the BSD License. Please see further information and a copy of the license.

This product contains copyrighted Open Source Hardware licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0). Please see for further information and a copy of the license. 

Errata, kudos