Drone IDs

While Skybrush Server can handle basically any number of drones, a single instance of Skybrush Sidekick can handle only up to 255 drones, which comes from a hard limitation in the MAVLink protocol (the communication protocol used by the radio channel). Drones with ArduCopter-based firmware versions (including ours) are therefore associated with a single physical drone ID stored in the SYSID_THISMAV parameter, ranging between 1 and 255. This ID corresponds to the IDs listed in the main screen of Skybrush Sidekick.

In practice, drone IDs larger than 250 are typically reserved for ground stations and other equipment that need a MAVLink ID. However, since nothing prevents you to use numbers between 251 and 255 as a drone ID, Skybrush Sidekick allows you to set the visible range of drone IDs to include the full MAVLink range (except system ID zero, which is reserved for broadcasts).

IF you wish to operate swarms with more than 255 drones, you need to separate them into subgroups of up to 255 drones, bind different radios to the different groups (with different NETID parameter in the radio firmware) and use multiple instances of Skybrush Sidekick in parallel for each subgroup.

Modes of operation

There are two modes of operation in Skybrush Sidekick. You can either select a single drone or remove the selection and broadcast commands to all drones associated with the used radio.

In broadcast mode commands are sent to ALL drones associated with the given radio, regardless of the drone ID filter specified in the Display preferences.

Drone selection

The selection is always visible in the list of drone IDs, while hotkey descriptions in the bottom right corner of the window also update their labels based on the actual selection.

Drone selection

The selection can be updated by clicking on the button of the drone that you wish to control, or by pressing Esc to clear the selection. Please see the Hotkeys section for details on how to select drones from the keyboard.

Drone status information

If Skybrush Server is connected to Skybrush Sidekick, overall status of the drones will be indicated with different colors around their IDs, following the general coloring scheme of the Skybrush Suite:

  • green means OK

  • blue represents and informational message (typically prearm checks, takeoff, landing or any other event that does not require special attention)

  • yellow for drones with a condition that warrants a warning signal

  • red for drones with error conditions that require immediate action

  • flashing red for drones with critical error conditions