UAV Mapper User Guide

For UAV Mappers manufactured after January 2018 using Taranis X7 Transmitter and Compass/GPS mounted internally in left wing. Here for Previous generation User's Guide.


Please read this disclaimer carefully before using the UAV Mapper. The UAV Mapper is an excellent flight platform offering an excellent flight experience. Despite the UAV Mapper having a built-in autopilot system and our efforts in making the operation as safe as possible there are inherent risks when flying the UAV Mapper. Tuffwing LLC accepts no liability for damages or injuries incurred directly or indirectly from the use of this product.


Loss of RC signal will cause the UAV to enter "Failsafe" mode - even when it is not flying. During Failsafe mode the UAV will apply full power to its motor and attempt to fly to 100 meters altitude and circle overhead. This presents a danger of a propeller strike when servicing the UAV. Take the following precautions:

  1. Always remove propeller when servicing.
  2. The RC transmitter must be on and in FBW mode with the throttle down whenever the UAV is armed and on the ground.
  3. Keep RC transmitter 3 feet (1 meter) away from the UAV. Placing the RC transmitter too close to the RC receiver will cause loss of RC signal.


  1. Install the wings
  2. Install the camera mount
  3. Install Mission Planner
  4. Display RSSI in Mission Planner
  5. Calibrate the compass
  6. Connect a Reach module
  7. Flight modes
  8. Transmitter control check
  9. Autopilot control check
  10. Install the propeller
  11. Landing site requirements
  12. Create a take off and land mission
  13. Check LED status
  14. Test airspeed
  15. Check center of gravity
  16. Fly your UAV Mapper
  17. Create an aerial photography mission

Install the wings

  1. Slide the center spar into the body
  2. Slide the left wing onto the center spar and feed the servo extensions into the body.
  3. Connect the RSSI, SBUS, and Right Wing servo extensions.
  4. Slide the left wing onto the center spar.
  5. Insert Set the GPS/Compass into the left wing with the arrow on the compass pointing left.
  6. Insert the left wing servo extension through the orange guide into the body.
  7. Connect the left wing servo extensions.
  8. Slide the wings to the body and push in the leading edge spar.

Install the camera mount

  1. Set the camera mount onto the Velcro base.
  2. Connect the IR trigger or trigger cable to the CAM TRIGGER servo extension

Install Mission Planner and connect your UAV Mapper to your ground station using the telemetry radios

  1. Download and install Mission Planner on your Windows PC.
  2. Connect your telemetry radio to a USB port on your PC.
  3. Connect your battery to your UAV Mapper. Do not arm your UAV Mapper.
  4. Start Mission Planner and select the CONNECT button on the top right.

Note: Complete instructions with trouble shooting.

Display RSSI in Mission Planner

After installing Mission Planner you can configure it to display the quality of the RC signal your UAV Mapper is receiving. This is known as RSSI (received signal strength indicator).

  1. Start Mission Planner and right-click on the HUD > User Items > check rxrssi to display your L9R receiver signal strength.

Calibrate your compass

You must recalibrate the compass each time you move your UAV Mapper to a new flight location.

  1. Start Mission Planner, Connect your UAV Mapper to Mission Planner and select Initial Setup > Mandatory Hardware > Compass.
  2. Select Pixhawk/PX4.
  3. Select Yaw270 (for UAV Mappers with GPS/Compass mounted in the left wing with arrow pointing to the left).
  4. Select the Start button.
  5. Rotate the airplane around all axis until the Mag 1 and Mag 2 status bars reach SUCCESS.
  6. Select the OK button on the Reboot autopilot window. Then reboot your Pixhawk.

Note: Complete compass calibration documentation.  

Install a Reach module

  1. Connect the DF13 6 pin connector on the Reach cable to the 6 pin connector OPPOSITE of the USB port on the Reach module. Once connected, leave the 6 pin connector in place. The board is fragile. Disconnect from hot shoe and Pixhawk to remove the Reach module.
  2. Connect Pixhawk on the Reach cable to Hot Shoe coming from the Pixhawk. This powers the Reach and the hot shoe signal from the camera is sent to both the Reach and the Pixhawk. This gives redundant geotags and allows Mission Planner to display camera icons real-time when a picture is taken.
  3. Attach the ground plane to the body cover using the supplied Velcro.
  4. Stick the Reach antenna to the ground plane. Feed the antenna wire through the ground plane and cover.
  5. Tidy up the antenna wire with a zip tie.
  6. Connect the antenna cable to the Reach module.
  7. Connect the hot shoe cable on the camera's hot shoe to Hot Shoe on the Reach cable.

Charge the Taranis X7 battery

  1. The Taranis X7 does not have a charge plug. To charge, remove the battery cover and connect the battery's charge plug to a Lipo charger.
  2. Battery voltage is displayed on the Taranis X7 screen and should be charged before it drops below 6.8 volts. Over discharging the battery will damage it. Discharge battery to less than 7.6 volts for storage.

Flight modes

The UAV Mapper is preprogrammed with 3 flight modes - Fly By Wire A (FBW), Auto, and Return to Launch (RTL). Flight modes are selected using the transmitter's switch marked with the flight mode label.

  • FBW  - (Fly By Wire A) Standard RC control with simple stabilization. If you let go of the sticks your UAV Mapper will automatically return to level flight.
  • Auto - Your UAV Mapper will follow the waypoints in the mission you have setup and uploaded to the Pixhawk.
  • RTL (Return to Launch) - Your UAV Mapper will return to the location where it was armed and circle at 100 meters above.

RC Transmitter control check

  1. Place your UAV Mapper on a level surface.
  2. Turn the transmitter on
  3. Select FBW on your transmitter flight mode switch
  4. Lower the throttle
  5. Connect your UAV Mapper battery
  6. Press the Arm button.

Left stick back: Motor off.

Left stick forward: Motor on full. Have a helper hold your UAV Mapper.

Right stick forward: Both elevons move 5/8" (16mm) down. UAV Mapper pitches down.

Right stick back: Both elevons move 5/8" (16mm) up. UAV Mapper pitches up.

Right stick right: Left elevon down 5/8" (16mm), right elevon up 5/8" (16mm). UAV Mapper rolls right.

Right stick left: Left elevon up 5/8" (16mm), right elevon down 5/8" (16mm). UAV Mapper rolls left.

Note: Set RC transmitter direction here.

Autopilot response check

Always make sure the autopilot is behaving properly before you fly. As you pitch and roll your UAV Mapper, the elevons "fight back" to return the airplane to level.

  1. Place your UAV Mapper on a level surface
  2. Turn the transmitter on
  3. Select FBA on your transmitter flight mode switch
  4. Lower the throttle
  5. Connect your UAV Mapper battery
  6. Press the Arm button.

Roll UAV Mapper left: Left elevon down, right elevon up.

Roll UAV Mapper right: Left elevon up, right elevon down.

Pitch UAV Mapper down: Both elevons up.

Pitch UAV Mapper up: Both elevons down.

Note: Set Pixhawk response here.

Install the propeller

  1. Install the 6mm adapter ring. Included with your propeller when purchased through Tuffwing. APC part number LPAR06E.
    IMPORTANT: Failure to use an adapter ring will result in vibration which may cause your UAV Mapper to crash during flight.

  2. Remove the nut and washer from the propeller shaft.
  3. Slide the propeller onto the shaft. Make sure the numbers face towards the front of the airplane.
  4. Hold the motor housing tight while you tighten the propeller nut. Failure to adequately tighten the nut will result in the propeller spinning freely.
  5. Caution - Never arm your UAV Mapper with the propeller installed unless you are ready to fly.
    Always remove the propeller during any diagnostics.
    The motor can unexpectedly start if a fail safe condition occurs such as no RC receiver.
    Only Arm with propeller on if RC transmitter is on, throttle down, and Flight Mode set to FBW.

Check LED status

Turn on your transmitter and set your flight mode switch to Stabilize. Connect your UAV Mapper battery. The UAV Mapper electronics bay cover has an LED viewing hole so you can see the Pixhawk status during boot up. Be sure to power up where you want your UAV Mapper to loiter when in RTL mode.

Pixhawk is booting up.

Error. Most likely the Pixhawk Micro SD was removed to retrieve the flight log and not replaced.

Pixhawk is waiting on GPS lock. Do not fly until green.

Failsafe error. Do not fly.

 Pixhawk has GPS lock and is ready to fly.

Test airspeed

Clogged pitot tube or damaged tubing is one of the most common problems with fixed wing UAVs. Always check your airspeed system before flying.

  1. Air Speed (AS) on the Flight Data screen should read between 1 and 3 while the UAV Mapper is stationary. If airspeed is out of range then do a preflight calibration.
  2. Select the Actions tab > PREFLIGHT CALIBRATION.
  3. AS should now be 1 to 3 ms.
  4. Blow hard at the pitot tube. Airspeed (AS) should increase to about 15 to 40. Do not fly if AS will not increase.

Check Center of Gravity

Your UAV Mapper has two balance holes on each side of the camera window. Balance your UAV Mapper as shown. It is okay to balance or fall forward, but it cannot fall back.

Landing site requirements

The most challenging part about flying a UAV Mapper, or any fixed wing UAV is getting it down. Unlike Pixhawk guided copters, there's no built in automatic land on a fixed wing. A copter can descend straight down, while a fixed wing must approach on a clear glide slope. If you are not a proficient RC pilot then you must create a landing pattern using Mission Planner and upload it to your UAV Mapper. First, make sure your flying site meets the minimum size requirements shown below, then create the takeoff and land shown mission below.


Create a take off and land mission

  1. Start Mission Planner and select Flight Plan.
  2. Important: Use Relative altitude, which sets the waypoint's altitude relative to where the Pixhawk is powered up. Absolute is altitude above sea level, and Terrain requires use of the terrain following database.

  3. Click on the map to create WAYPOINT 1.
  4. Click on the map again to create WAYPOINT 2.
  5. Right-click on the map and select Takeoff. Enter 100(m) for takeoff altitude. Enter 30 (degrees) for takeoff pitch.
  6. Use the Up button to move the TAKEOFF waypoint to the top. Verify Pitch Angle is 30 and Alt is 100.
  7. Set WAYPOINT 2 Altitude to 35m. This is your approach waypoint.

  9. Set WAYPOINT 3 to LAND and Alt to 0.
  10. Select WriteWPs to copy the mission to your UAV Mapper

IMPORTANT: Any mistake in this mission will result in a crash. You must understand every step of this process. This is the foundation for getting your UAV Mapper in the air and safely back to the ground.

ALTERNATIVE: Parachute landing.

Fly your UAV Mapper

  1. Move to a spot in your flying field with 400 ft (120m) of clear space ahead, into the wind.
  2. Set your transmitter to Stabilize (or FWB) mode, make sure the throttle is down, and press the arm button until it's solid red.
  3. Hold your UAV Mapper like the photo below. Be prepared for the motor to start full throttle.
  4. Have a helper switch the flight mode switch to Auto. This will execute the waypoint mission you have uploaded.
  5. Caution - The propeller will spin immediately. Be prepared. There is no delay. The motor will remain full throttle until take off altitude is reached or the flight mode switch is changed to FWBA.

  6. Pitch and roll your UAV Mapper to make sure control surfaces are properly moving.
  7. Face into the wind and hand launch your UAV Mapper as shown above. The toss should be a few degrees above level.

  8. Note: You can stop the motor and abort the takeoff by switching the flight mode switch to FWBA.

    Caution - Do not wear loose clothing while launching your UAV Mapper. Especially loose sleeves that can snag on a servo and cause a dangerous failed launch.

Creating aerial photography missions

Aerial photography missions are trivial once you've mastered take off and landing missions. Camera connection information can be found under Tuffwing Support. Do the following to create a typical UAV Mapper photo mission.


  1. Start Mission Planner, select Flight Plan, right-click on the map and select Draw Polygon > Add Polygon Point.
  2. Add additional Polygon points to create a border around the area you want to photograph.
  3. Right-click on the map and select Auto WP > Survey (Grid).
  4. Select the Simple tab and set the following:
    • Camera: Select the camera you are using.
    • Altitude: 100m
    • Angle: This rotates the flight line. You want to fly cross wind. This site typically has a south wind, so the flight lines are East-West.
    • Camera top facing forward: Check.
    • Flying Speed & Use flying speed: Leave unchecked. If checked it will override the default flying speed. However, you should enter 17ms Flying Speed for flight statistic shown at the bottom of the screen.
    • Add Takeoff and Land WP's: Check
    • Use RTL: If you need to Auto-land, then leave unchecked. If you prefer to have your UAV Mapper Return to Launch and loiter overhead upon mission complete and land manually, then check. 
  5. Select the Grid Options tab and set the following
    • OverShoot [m]: to 80 on both ends. Your UAV Mapper can't turn tight enough to get back on the line.
    • Start From: Set this to the furthest down wind corner of your survey area. You want your UAV Mapper to start downwind and work its way up wind, while flying cross wind. This keeps the ground speed low and turns tighter.
    • Overlap [%] 80. This sets how frequently the shutter is triggered.
    • Sidelap [%] 80. This sets how close the flight lines are.
  6. Select the Simple tab and then Accept.
  7. Modify take off and landing
    • Update TAKEOFF parameters. Alt must be at least 100.
    • You must have an approach WAYPOINT, 35m Altitude, 600 ft (120m), down wind, from your LAND waypoint. You can right-click on the map to insert waypoints and use the Up Down arrows to move the waypoints.
  8. Select Write WPs to copy the mission to your UAV Mapper.

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