(Open source avionics: Last updated by Benjamin on November 6, 2022)
What is avionics?
Avionics includes all the electronic and computer systems of an aircraft. This ranges from radio communication devices to engine monitoring systems, including navigation systems, autopilot, anti-collision, flight parameters monitoring, management of sensors and actuators, etc.
In certified aircraft, all these systems are TSO’ed, designed, installed, and maintained by authorized professionals.
For homebuilt, experimental and ultralight aircraft, the regulations are more flexible. One of the basic rules is the individual responsibility of the owner and the pilot. In no way is the latter exempted from the obligation to respect the rules of art and airworthiness monitoring. The owner/pilot responsible for maintenance and continuing airworthiness may thus intervene himself on most avionics systems. However, systems possibly affecting the safety of controlled airspace may remain monitored by the authorities (VHF and transponder, for example).
Who is this open source avionics website for?
This site is intended for all owners, pilots, and amateur builders of non-certified aircraft. Especially those who are passionate about electronics and computer sciences. For those who wish to know more and share about open source avionics systems. For those who dream about designing, building, programming, installing, and operating their own devices: EFIS, EMS, and more. Under their responsibility. The only prerequisite is to have a soldering iron!
How is it possible?
This challenge was made possible thanks to the advent of high-performance microcontrollers that are easy to master by any enthusiast. Therefore, the only limit is passion! The Arduino project dates back to 2005 and made the world of microcontrollers easily accessible to non-professionals. At an insignificant cost, it allows complex developments and efficient devices combining sensors and actuators. Such as a robot, a home automation station, or… an artificial horizon!
We will see (here) that Arduino boards are not the only ones on the market nor the most adapted to the needs of avionics. Nevertheless, their fame and their anteriority justified the domain name of this site: avionicsduino.
The primary purpose of this site is to present the circuits and software for avionics systems that meet these specifications:
- Anyone can build and program them, starting from elementary basics.
- They are economical; their price must be much lower than that of equivalent commercial systems.
- These systems truly work; they have been flight tested.
This Website also aims to present more general articles on microcontrollers, tests, techniques, projects in progress…etc. Always in the field of avionics and aviation.
The concept of open-source avionics makes it possible to build highly personalized, high-performance systems that are much more economical than certified ones while learning a lot and having fun! The aircraft airworthiness manager ensures that its achievements do not compromise safety and do not contravene regulations. French regulations can be consulted here. US and UK regulations are not so different for uncertified ultralight, homebuilt, or experimental aircraft. For Light Sport Aircrafts, an aircraft manufacturer’s authorization may be required to modify its existing equipment.
It is necessary to keep in mind that these systems are to be produced yourself; they should not be used during flight as if they were certified; their builder must extensively test them to evaluate their performance; they must always be used in addition to the mandatory instruments; they must not lead to a significant modification of the aircraft which could require approval from the authorities. There is no guarantee of the accuracy and reliability of these systems other than that evaluated by the builder under his responsibility. Of course, IMC, IFR, and night VFR are excluded! Only daytime VFR, where the failure of these systems does not compromise safety, thanks to appropriate backup instruments.
The authors are neither aeronautical professionals, electronics, nor computer scientists. They are amateur builders of their planes (three MCR Sportster) and driven by the same passion for electronics and computers.