You all might remember my integrated groundstation project, which I started earlier this year. Based on this project, I started integrating flight instruments from Dutch manufacturer Flight Illusion. Flight Illusion in one of the leading manufacturers of gauges for flight simulators and has a wide range of various instruments. Piece by piece, I will write a library which is able to control the most important gauges to display MAVLink data.
Why oldfashioned "steam gauges", you ask? There's Mission Planner, QGroundControl, Andropilot, Droidplanner?
Very simple: "steam gauges" have various advantages:
First of all, they are fully sunlight readable. Unless you have a really expensive laptop, you will have problems with reading the screen on a beautiful summer day, unless you have some bulky glare shield. Next, with "steam gauges" you save space. If your ground station has a nice big FPV monitor and you additionally have a laptop, you have a pretty bulky piece of equipment going on. When using gauges, you can have your FPV monitor and 3 or 4 gauges in one nice Peli case, ready to go with all important information at a glance. Last but not least, having "real" flight instruments in your ground station is way cool :).
Of course, gauges don't work with FPV goggles, but neither does a laptop or tablet.
A solution with gauges is definitely no universal solution for everyone, but for more professional use, it is a very good solution.
Development will also include creation of a control unit which includes the necessary power supplies and accepts a MAVLink data stream to directly control the gauges, without the need of a computer.
Over time and if there is sufficient demand, we will also think together with Flight Illusion about creating a line of instruments specifically for drone use, e.g. a speed indicator or altitude indicator with a display range more suitable for small UAVs.