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Build Status Clojars Project

Clojure MAVLink bindings.


Add the following to your project.clj dependencies:

[clj-mavlink "0.1.2"]

Using the library

Pull in the mavlink.core, for example

(:require [mavlink.core :as mavlink])

clj-mavlink builds a MAVLink interface from XML MAVLink specifications. The clj-mavlink interface reads message hash maps from a clojure async channel, encodes them, and then writes the encoded message onto an OutputStream connected to the autopilot. The clj-mavlink interface reads an InputStream connected to the autopilot, decodes messages, and writes the resulting message hash map to a clojure async channel (see clojure.core.async).

Building the clj-mavlink database

The first step is to bring the MAVLink XML files into your project. mavlink/parse takes an xml-sources specification and returns the clj-mavlink database.

For example:

(defonce ^:const ardupilotmega-xml "ardupilotmega.xml")
(defonce ^:const common-xml "common.xml")
(defonce ^:const uavionix-xml "uAvionix.xml")

(defonce mavlink-info
             {:xml-sources [{:xml-file ardupilotmega-xml
                             :xml-source (-> ardupilotmega-xmls
                                             io/resource io/input-stream)}
                            {:xml-file common-xml
                             :xml-source (-> common-xml
                                             io/resource io/input-stream)}
                            {:xml-file uavionix-xml
                             :xml-source (-> uavionix-xml
                                             io/resource io/input-stream)}]})))

:xml-sources is a vector of hash-maps. Each hash map specifies the name of the source file and the InputStream to read that file. The clj-mavlink database can be reused any number of times to open MAVLink interfaces, i.e. channels, between the application and the autopilot.

Opening a channel

mavlink/open-channel establishes a communication interface between the autopilot and the application. open-channel takes a hash-map of options to configure the channel.

For example this code open a MAVLink 1 protocol connection, encoded messages will use the specified system id and component id (unless it is overridden by the message hash-map), the :decode-input-stream and encode-output-link are defined by the communication protocol (e.g. a serial link or TCP link). :autopilot-send and :autopilot-receive are clojure.core.async channels that the application uses to send message hash maps to be encoded and to receive decoded messages as message hash-maps.

Note that there is set up to create all the fields needed for opening a MAVLink channel, as well as clean up when the channel is closed.

(mavlink/open-channel @mavlink-info
                      {:protocol :mavlink1
                       :system-id your-sysid
                       :component-id your-component-id
                       :link-id 0
                       :decode-input-stream decode-input
                       :decode-output-channel autopilot-receive
                       :encode-input-channel autopilot-send
                       :encode-output-link encode-output
                       :report-error #(println "clj-mavlink error:\n" %1)
                       :exception-handler #(println "clj-mavlink exception:\n" %1)
                       :signing-options {:secret-key nil ; no signing
                                         :secret-keyset nil ; secret-keyset
                                         :accept-message-handler  ; log but don't accept the message
                                           #(log/error "clj-mavlink/accept-message:\n" %1)
                       :tlog-stream tlog-stream})

See the mavlink/open-channel doc string for more information on the options.

A note about the protocol

The messages will be encoded as specified in the mavlink/open-channel options hash-map. In this example, it encodes as MAVLink 1.0 messages. However, if a MAVLink 2.0 message is decoded, the encoding will automatically switch to MAVLink 2.0, as if the protocol had been specified :mavlink2. Messages will be signed based on whether or not the :secret-key of the :signing-options is not nil. If a signed MAVLink 2.0 message is decoded, then the signature is verified by first trying the :secret-key (if it is not nil), if it doesn't verify, then the keys in the secret-keyset is tried until a match is found, in which case the secret-key is set to that key so that encoded messages are signed with that key. If no matching key is found to verify the signature, the message is dropped.

If the parser is running with MAVLink 2.0 decoding and signing keys and a MAVLink 1.0 or MAVLink 2.0 message without a valid signing key is recieved then the :accept-message-handler in :signing-options is used to determine if a message should be accepted and emitted into the decoded message channel and tlog. The entire message will not have been decoded at this point, just the headers.

The parser can be switched to MAVLink 2.0 only decoding by sending the following message on the outgoing channel

{:message'id :clj-mavlink
 :protocol :mavlink2}


The format of the message hash maps to send (encode and output) and received (input and decode). The bindings are for the message id and the fields of the message.

message ids

:message'id holds a keyword of the name of the message. This is based on the <message> name attribute, for example name=HEARTBEAT". The name is converted to lower case and all underscores are replaced with hyphens. Examples: :heartbeat :sys-status :system-time


fields are defined by their name attribute of the <field> tag. The field names are simply converted to keywords. Examples from the heartbeat message: :custom-mode :type :autopilot :base-mode :system-status

Valid values are defined in the MAVLink specification, for example uint16_t char[16] uint64_t int8_t Because of the way clojure builds hash-maps, all numeric values will be held as boxed numbers, so there is no need to worry about the type of the value beyond an in integer, a float, character, an array, or a string. clj-mavlink will perform the appropriate conversions to send/receive the values appropriately. Note that char arrays can be specified as strings. Arrays are specified as vectors.

Note that unspecified fields will be given a value of 0.

system'id component'id sequence'id link'id

A message can override the default system-id, component-id, sequence-id and link-id by specifying it as a keyword value binding in a message hash-map, for example

{:message-id :heartbeat
 :system'id 0xff
 :sequence'id 0}

Note that a side effect of specifying the sequence id is to reset the last used sequence id to this value. Succeeding messages sequence id's will increment from that value.

Enumerated types

One of the big benefits of clj-mavlink is that enumerated type values are supported as keywords. For example, the :type field of the heartbeat message is an enumerated type defined in the MAVLink XML as MAV_TYPE, the MAV_TYPE <enum> has 29 different <entry>'s, for example, value 0 is MAV_TYPE_GENERIC; clj-mavlink defines a keyword for the enum group, :mav-type, and for the each enum, :mav-type-generic the same as it did for message ids, convert to lower case and replace underscores with hyphens.

Some messages, for example the command messages define different uses for their fields based on the value of another field, for command messages the :command field defines what the values for the param fields are and for some of those fields, the value is defined in an enum group.

Enums can be used to bind the value of the these fields in outgoing messages. However, decoding cannot determine the enum group to use, if any, based on the :command. For that, clj-mavlink provides a function get-enum which takes a MAVLink database, a group id, and a value and returns the enum for the value in that group, or nil if it doesn't exist. This gives you the option of binding the field to a value or an enum. You can define your own get-enum function to hide the MAVLink database (and possibly the enum group id) from the rest of your code, for example:

(def get-enum
  (memoize (fn [group-id ^long v]
             (mavlink/get-enum @mavlink-info group-id v))))

Sending messages

This example shows building and sending a heartbeat message. Remember, the system id and component id and encoding protocol were specified in the open channel call. The sequence id is automatically calculated and added to the message. Any of these fields can be overridden by providing them in the message to be encoded.

(let [msg message {:message-id :heartbeat
                   :custom-mode 0
                   :type :mav-type-gcs
                   :autopilot :mav-autopilot-invalid
                   :base-mode 0
                   :system-status :mav-state-uninit})]
  (async/>!! autopilot-send msg))

Receiving messages

There are different approaches to receiving and distributing messages, the approach shown here uses clojure.async publish/subscribe.

A message publisher is defined for the entire application based on the :message-id:

(defonce message-publisher (async/pub autopilot-receive

When a module wishes to receive messages, it subscribes to that particular message id:

(async/sub message-publisher :heartbeat connect-heartbeat-chan)
(let [msg (async/<!! connect-heartbeat-chan)]
  ; process the message here


Copyright © 2017 Michael du Breuil

Distributed under the Eclipse Public License either version 1.0 or (at your option) any later version.