Providing ATC visibility of a DJI A2 drone using a BeagleBone and Sagetech XPS-TR transponder


The UgCS team has accomplished what we believe is a first – integrating a Mode S/ADS-B out transponder with a small drone, enabling radar visibility throughout the drone’s flight. A BeagleBone Black computer with CAN bus shield was used to integrate a Sagetech XPS-TR, the world’s smallest transponder, with the A2’s flight controller. The flight controller continuously sent the drone’s location and commands through the CAN bus shield to the BeagleBone, which passed that information to the Sagetech transponder. The transponder was powered by the 6S onboard battery, which also powered the drone itself. The BeagleBone was powered by a separate 2S battery, but with a converter the same 6S battery could have been used for all 3 devices.

With an antenna located about 3m below the drone, the mission was a complete success, with the drone appearing and remaining visible on the website throughout the flight.

Video footage of the flight can be found at

UgCS 2.8 will feature a communications interface with the Sagetech ADS-B transponder, enabling configuration of ICAO ID, Flight ID and Squawk Code parameters through the UgCS system.

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