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So far I have been working on the general architecture of the ground station as well as some Google Earth functionality.

The ground station's architecture is centered around "missions", a mission is a collection of information pertaining to a single flight.

A mission currently contains the following information.

  • Flight initialisation information (i.e. where do you want to start from).
  • Flight waypoints.
  • Mission Boundaries.
  • Points of interest.
  • Recorded flight data (recorded path, speed etc).

The following series of screen shots shows the flow of the ground station program from initialisation to main interface.


A mission can be created from scratch or resumed from a previously saved mission. On program initialisation a prompt appears to create or open a mission.



 If Create New Mission is selected the user is prompted to define the Mission Initialisation Coordinates. This is the first point that the GE interface will look at. It can be manually entered, found based on the drones location, set from address, found by manually scrolling on the globe or from a previous mission.

Currently only “Manually Enter Lat Lon Alt” works which triggers this window where the desired start point can be entered.

All of the other methods of mission initialisation will be built on this basic functionality. 

The Google Earth globe will then zoom in on the mission initialisation coordinates and the main interface for the ground station will appear.


This is the main interface for the ground station, this program communicates with the drone and allows for mission data to be edited at any time.

Current functionality is:

  • Waypoints can be added/removed/edited.
  • Browse the map by navigating around using the GE mouse functionality.
  • Open a previous mission
  • Create a new mission.

The plan is to have all the drone's information displayed on this one screen so there will be some crafty interface design to come soon.


Under the hood.

So the core functionality here is that the GE web plugin is running in an Internet Explorer (IE) window that is embedded in the LabVIEW front panel. GE and LabVIEW communicate via ActiveX calls to IE that programmatically reads the HTML of the webpage that is running the GE plugin.

LabVIEW picks up the HTML generated by the GE plugin and builds KML files based on the user’s desired action e.g. add/delete waypoint.

Google Earth is reading the generated KML files via a network link. More info on network links and how to implement this sort of Javascript functionality is on the GE API website here: