Remote Control Vehicle Wireless Communication

Howdy,

First off, I have been wading through information that doesn't make sense to me, only to learn very little, as all of it is mostly over my head.

Goal: Purchase a beginner wireless communication set up to use for RC boat for two way communication. Boat would always be in line of sight. Range would be 1000 feet or less. Energy consumption isn't a huge problem.

Problem: There's soooo much information out there. I can't narrow it down. There's radio, wifi, bluetooth, xbee, and all kinds of other things.

Question: I am willing to learn a wireless communication method but need help to pick which one. I have not done wireless with the arduino so what would be something that is good for a beginner, has the range that is needed, can communicate two way, and that wouldnt break the bank?

This is a very complex project for a beginner.

You should start with a much simpler project, with shorter range transmission and work your way up. I would suggest using something like the NRF24L01 transceiver, as the cost for these is negligible.

tutorial

This Simple nRF24L01+ Tutorial is more recent than the link in Reply #1 and is (hopefully) more comprehensive.

AFAIK if you use one of the high power nRF24s for the base unit you will get the range you need.

...R

jremington - What makes this project complex? (Surely length of transmission doesn't add complexity? I would think that is hardware dependent?)

Thanks for the introduction link! I will definitely wet my feet with this.

Robin2 - I appreciate it!
Edit: Robin2, you have no idea how much i appreciate the documentation you have written. Your efforts have made it possible for myself, and i'm sure many others, to continue their learning of this subject. Thank you!

jremington - What makes this project complex?

You will understand when you get into it.

MeenAg:
jremington - What makes this project complex? (Surely length of transmission doesn't add complexity? I would think that is hardware dependent?)

I would agree with jremington, this is not an easy project for a beginner.

I am sat here playing with a 2 way comms system, its to allow remote control of a (very) distant GPS tracker.

One way comms, with one device a transmitter and the other a receiver is straightforward(ish) and there are plenty of tutorials to be found.

But getting the link working both ways, in a send and response manner, is not so easy, at least for me its not.

Setting up simple 2-way communication is not the difficult part. The complexity is in the logic of the control system.

...R

MeenAg:
jremington - What makes this project complex? (Surely length of transmission doesn’t add complexity? I would think that is hardware dependent?)

Compared to a wired connection, wireless connections are:

  • Unreliable - Sometimes the message you send is never received by the recipient. Your software at the receiving end has to be able to deal with breaks in communication whilst continuing to steer the boat using some kind of ‘failsafe’ autopilot system.
  • Slow data rate - A few thousand bytes per second is all you can hope for when using the ISM band.
  • High latency - Radios don’t provide instantaneous communication. Under ideal conditions a message may take a few milliseconds but this can turn into 10s or 100s of milliseconds if there is radio interference.
  • Confusing specs - The ‘over the air’ data rate between radios (for example 250k bps) tells you nothing about the real world data transfer rates between two microcontrollers which is usually a tiny fraction of this number.

Thank y'all for the responses. I'm looking forward to receiving the nrf24l01's i ordered and beginning this project. It's interesting the me that there is all these libraries to make very complex things into very simple things, but there isn't one for two way communication. I'm sure there is an obvious reason, and Robin2's comment on "You will understand when you get into it" is already becoming true. However, it will be a fun process.

Other questions:
Anyone reading this post, have you used arduino's for communication with rc vehicles specifically? I'd like to hear your experience.

there isn't one for two way communication.

Yes there is. You need to look more carefully at Robin2's examples.

When i say library, i meant something that extremely simplifies the system such that any fairly technical person could use in under 10 minutes. Something like taking parallel lcd display to i2c display and it being just lcd.print. I understand his examples use libraries, however, it is still fairly complex code that takes work. My surprise is that wireless communication has not been simplified to the extent mentioned above.

My surprise is that wireless communication has not been simplified to the extent mentioned above.

Wireless communication is at least two orders of magnitude (100X) more complicated than printing on an LCD display. See reply #7 for just a few of the reasons.

There are no standards and the field is changing all the time.

MeenAg:
Anyone reading this post, have you used arduino's for communication with rc vehicles specifically? I'd like to hear your experience.

I am using it for model trains.

...R

I've used arduino wireless comms for an RC tank and RC fixed wing airplanes as well. It's very possible, but as mentioned before; two way comms is quite difficult depending on project requirements and wireless platforms. Once you pick a wireless platform, your job (although still difficult) will be half done.