Lightweight Telemetry (LTM)

stronnag edited this page Jul 25, 2018 · 25 revisions


LTM was defined by "KipK" for the Ghetto Station antenna tracking project and originally implemented in Taulabs and Baseflight. It was adopted by iNav due to its excellent characteristics for low data rate / high update rate telemetry.

Since its introduction to iNav, a number of extension have been added; these are documented below, in addition to the original frames.

Protocol Definition


The LTM protocol starts with "$T", followed by a function byte, the payload and a simple CRC checksum. Its weakness is that there is no length parameter (so the receiver needs to know, apriori,the length for each function), and the single byte checksum is not as robust as the multi-byte checksum in for example the ublox GPS protocol. However, the high data rate ensures that good data should be delivered over occasional transmission errors. In practice, LTM is an excellent light weight telemetry solution.

LTM telemetry can be read by Ghettostation, LTM Telemetry OLED , EZGUI , MwpTools and others.

LTM can provide good telemetry down to 2400 (5Hz attitude updates). Due to restrictions in iNav 1.2 and earlier, 9600 is the lowest baud rate supported, which gives 10Hz attitude and 5Hz GPS data. More recently (iNav 1.7.0), LTM is available from 1200 baud and higher; the data transmission frequency is automatically determined from the baud rate, but can be overridden by the user where the baud rate can support the required update frequency. See the iNav Telemetry documentation for CLI settings.

The function consists of a single ASCII character, described below. Data is binary, little endian. The checksum is an XOR of the payload bytes.

The follow telemetry frames are supported:

Function Byte Usage Frequency
G GPS Frame 5Hhz at > 2400 baud
A Attitude Frame 10 Hz at > 2400 baud
S Status Frame 5Hhz at > 2400 baud
O Origin Frame 1 Hz rate
N Navigation Frame (iNav extension) ~4 Hz rate
X GPS eXended data (iNav extension) 1 Hz rate

In addition, LTM is used by NRF24L01 / deviationtx iNav protocol, which defines an additional frame for in-TX tuning. This frame is not transmitted for telemetry.

Function Byte Usage
T Tuning frame (iNav extension)

GPS Frame (G)

The payload is 14 bytes.

Data Format
Latitude int32 decimal degrees * 10,000,000 (1E7)
Longitude int32 decimal degrees * 10,000,000 (1E7)
Ground Speed uchar m/s
Altitude (u)int32, cm (m / 100). In the original specification, this was unsigned. In iNav it is signed and should be so interpreted by consumers
Sats uchar. bits 0-1 : fix ; bits 2-7 : number of satellites

Attitide Frame (A)

The payload is 6 bytes

Data Format
Pitch int16, degrees
Roll int16, degrees
Heading int16, degrees. Course over ground

Status Frame (S)

The payload is 7 bytes

Data Format
Vbat uint16, mV
Battery Consumption uint16, mAh
RSSI uchar
Airspeed uchar, m/s
Status uchar

Airspeed (vice GPS ground speed in the G-frame) requires iNav 1.7.2 or later, with PITOT defined at build time, and a detected pitot sensor.

The status byte is used as

Bit Usage
0 armed
1 failsafe
2 - 7 status, as (shifted value):
Manual (0)
Rate (1)
Angle (2)
Horizon (3)
Acro (4)
Stabilised1 (5)
Stabilised2 (6)
Stabilised3 (7)
Altitude Hold (8)
GPS Hold (9)
Waypoints (10)
Head free (11)
Circle (12)
RTH (13)
Follow me (14)
Land (15)
Fly by wire A (16)
Fly by wire B (17)
Cruise (18)
Unknown (19)

As a general purpose protocol, not all status can be mapped to iNav modes.

Origin Frame (O)

The payload is 14 bytes

Data Usage
Latitude int32 decimal degrees * 10,000,000 (1E7)
Longitude int32 decimal degrees * 10,000,000 (1E7)
Altitude uint32, cm (m / 100) [always 0 in iNav]
OSD on uchar (always 1)
Fix uchar, home fix status (0 == no fix)

Navigation Frame (N)

The payload is 6 bytes. Note that this frame largely mirrors the Multiwii-nav MSP_NAV_STATUS message and this contains redundancies and values that are not used in iNav.

Data Usage
GPS mode uchar
Nav mode uchar
Nav Action uchar (not all used in inav)
Waypoint number uchar, target waypoint
Nav Error uchar
Flags uchar (to be defined)


GPS mode Enumeration
0 None
1 PosHold
3 Mission
Nav mode Enumeration
0 None
1 RTH Start
2 RTH Enroute
3 PosHold infinite
4 PosHold timed
5 WP Enroute
6 Process next
7 Jump
8 Start Land
9 Landing in Progress
10 Landed
11 Settling before landing
12 Start descent
13 Hover above home (iNav only)
14 Emergency landing (iNav only)
15 Critical GPS failure (yes 15, you never want to see this)

Note that these values were defined by Multiwii-nav and not all are applicable to iNav.

Nav Action Enumeration
Nav Error Enumeration
0 Navigation system is working
1 Next waypoint distance is more than the safety limit, aborting mission
2 GPS reception is compromised - pausing mission
3 Error while reading next waypoint from memory, aborting mission
4 Mission Finished
5 Waiting for timed position hold
6 Invalid Jump target detected, aborting mission
7 Invalid Mission Step Action code detected, aborting mission
8 Waiting to reach return to home altitude
9 GPS fix lost, mission aborted
10 Disarmed, navigation engine disabled
11 Landing is in progress, check attitude

GPS Extra Frame (X)

The payload is 6 bytes.

Data Usage
HDOP uint16 HDOP * 100
hw status uint8
LTM_X_counter uint8
Disarm Reason uint8
(unused) 1 byte

Note that hw status (hardware sensor status) is iNav 1.5 and later. If the value is non-zero, then a sensor has failed. A complementary update has been made to MSP_STATUS ( Thus, on disarming, the sensor status may be evinced from the MSP_STATUS/sensor field.

The sensor hardware failure indication is backwards compatible with versions prior to 1.5 (and other Multiwii / Cleanflight derivatives).

The LTM_X_counter value is incremented each transmission and rolls over (modulo 256). It is intended to enable consumers to estimate packet loss.

iNav CLI Support

LTM is transmit only, and can work at any supported baud rate. It was designed to operate over 2400 baud and does not benefit from (much) higher rates. It is thus usable on soft serial. The extra frames introduced by iNav means that 4800 baud is required for the highest update rate.

A CLI variable ltm_update_rate may be used to configure the update rate and hence band-width used by LTM, with the following enumerations:

  • NORMAL: Legacy rate, currently 303 bytes/second (requires 4800 bps)
  • MEDIUM: 164 bytes/second (requires 2400 bps)
  • SLOW: 105 bytes/second (requires 1200 bps)

For many telemetry devices, there is direction correlation between the air-speed of the radio link and range; thus a lower value may facilitate longer range links.


Tuning Frame (T)

The payload is 12 bytes. This frame is not transmitted by iNav telemetry.

Data Format
P-roll uint8
I-roll uint8
D-roll uint8
P-pitch uint8
P-pitch uint8
I-pitch uint8
D-yaw uint8
I-yaw uint8
rates-roll uint8
rates-pitch uint8
rates-yaw uint8
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