Connecting Flight Controller to Switch

I’ve just seen the “SwitchBlox for Ardupilot” product and would like to know if anyone has connected it to the Cube autopilot. If so how has it been connected and what config was done on the flight controller side?

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We’ve tested it with Cube Red.

In general it will work with any Ardupilot compatible hardware that has an ethernet port. The real change is in the pinout used on SwitchBlox for Ardupilot, which uses the JST connector as used on Pixhawk and ViewPro.

The cable adapter provides connectors for all the other connectors used for ethernet on other Ardupilot compatible hardware (SwitchBlox Cable Adapter for Ardupilot) (there isn’t a unified connector that the Ardupilot compatible hardware uses at the moment).

In regards to configuration on the flight controller, if it already has an ethernet port, you won’t need to do anything, it will automatically connect to SwitchBlox for Ardupilot. If it doesn’t have an ethernet port, then you’d need to convert to ethernet from whatever your flight controller already has (presumably serial).

Do you know the exact model of flight controller you’re using so I can advise?

We’re using the Cube Orange autopilot with either the standard or Kore carrier board. It doesn’t look like we have an ethernet port available. Is the cube red a piece of hardware in development as I can’t see it for sale?

Sorry, my mistake, we tested it with a Pixhawk 6X.

You’re right that Cube Orange doesn’t have ethernet. In fact, my understanding is that ethernet is a relatively new to the ardupilot ecosystem, so most ardupilot hardware on the market doesn’t have ethernet. Expect that to change over the coming months, hence the need for a switch that’s ready on the market and works with Ardupilot hardware (including all the different connectors manufacturers use).

If you’re using something that doesn’t have ethernet, then you have to find another way to make it ethernet enabled. Most people tend to use a serial to ethernet converter to go between, as most Ardupilot hardware has UART serial.

Something like this should do the trick. Of course, UART is a relatively low bandwidth protocol so you’ll probably be limited to around 10Mbps (which will correspond to 10Mbps ethernet), not exactly enough for HD video, but still useful.

Setting something like that up with our switch should require no configuration at all, just connect the UART to serial between your Ardupilot device and our switch, and it’ll connect up.

Very very occasionally we do see auto-negotiation issues on some serial to ethernet converters, where they won’t automatically link up with the switch. In these cases, the solution is to force the switch port to operate at a fixed port speed/duplex mode. To do that, you need a switch that you can manage, which isn’t possible on SwitchBlox for Ardupilot yet. That kind of feature is available on SwitchBlox Industrial, which comes with special software you can use to set port configurations. Again, this issue is pretty rare.

currently the plan for ethernet for CubeOrange/OrangePlus is to create a CAN ↔ ethernet adapter. We have a nice prototype of that which CubePilot has made but I haven’t done the firmware for it yet. We plan on creating a new IP_FRAME DroneCAN message to carry the frames and plumb that into the lwip stack in ArduPilot.

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How did you connect it to the Cube Red? I have a Cube Red and I can’t figure out how to connect the “Mini IO” port on the carrier board to the switchblox.

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Hi Tim, welcome to the forum.

The new Cube Red uses a Mini I/O connector for ethernet. SwitchBlox for Ardupilot uses JST.

At the moment, a way around this (there are other ways) is to use our cable adapter. You can plug the RJ-45 to Mini I/O cable that comes with the Cube Red to connect it to the cable adapter (RJ-45 into cable adapter, Mini I/O into Cube Red).

Then you can connect the cable adapter to SwitchBlox for Ardupilot via a JST-4 to JST-4 cable.

It’s a bit clunky so not ideal at the moment, but until/unless the hardware coalesces around a single connector, it’s always going to be a case of doing something like this.

I think a better approach is if we just sold different cables rather than a cable adapter board; that would save space and be cheaper. Actually it is probably quite easy to buy a Mini I/O cable and crimp one side of it into a JST-4 connector; that’s a more elegant solution but you have to deal with crimping your own cables which is never fun.

Thanks Josh, I have a cable adapter, and I have any number of JST-4 to JST-4 cables, but which port do I connect on the Adapter to which port on the switch?

Right now I just want to ‘get it to work’ - I’m making a video for YouTube.

PS - it would be great if you could make/sell a Mini I/O to JST-4 cable for the Cube Red!

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For the Switch, you can use any port; all ports are logically identical.

For the adapter, use the port labelled ARD; that has the same pin mapping as SwitchBlox for Ardupilot.

Nice suggestion, our operations manager @Jaclyn will take a look and see how quickly we can get that going.

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Great - I’ll probably try it tomorrow, starting with a clean install of Raspbian on a Pi Zero, so I have a few steps to go through first.

Sure, let us know how it goes.

I’m on it for the Mini I/O to JST-4 cable. Will share updates here. @josh-elijah @timtuxworth

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Hi @timtuxworth we made the Mini I/O to JST Ethernet Cable and it is available for purchase here. Hope it helps!

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