How to Cross Compile C/C++ application for AR Drone

Installing Prerequisites

First we need to download all the prerequisite packages that we will be needing in the series of these posts.

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install build-essential linux-libc-dev wget bzip2 ncurses-dev git cmake cmake-curses-gui cmake-qt-gui config-manager wput

Downloading Compiler

Create a new folder named ‘ARM_Files’ in home folder. We will keep all toolchain and cross compiled binaries in this folder throughout the series of tutorials.

mkdir ~/ARM_Files
cd ~/ARM_Files
tar jxf arm-2009q3-67-arm-none-linux-gnueabi-i686-pc-linux-gnu.tar.bz2

This cross-compiler is meant for 32-bit systems, if you are running a 64-bit linux you will have to install the following additional packages to be able to use the compiler.

sudo apt-get install lib32z1 lib32ncurses5 lib32bz2-1.0

Configuring System Paths

Create a new bash script to set up the environment variables that will help the system find the compiler.

gedit ~/ARM_Files/setupCrossCompiler

Paste the following bash script into the file. All this script does is add the recently downloaded compiler to the system path so that we can use it latter and define a new variable called CCPREFIX.

echo "Setting up the Cross Compiler Environment"

# Path to bin directory of the compiler
export PATH="/home/$USER/ARM_Files/arm-2009q3/bin":$PATH

# prefix of all the tools in a toolchain
export CCPREFIX="/home/$USER/ARM_Files/arm-2009q3/bin/arm-none-linux-gnueabi-"

Now make the script executable

chmod +x ~/ARM_Files/setupCrossCompiler

Add the script to .bashrc so that the cross compilation environment is set up every time you open a terminal.

echo "source /home/$USER/ARM_Files/setupCrossCompiler" >> ~/.bashrc

Close and Reopen the terminal, if you see a message in the terminal saying “Setting up the Cross Compiler Environment” then your cross compilation environment is ready and you can proceed to the next step.

Writing a simple C Program

We test our cross compilation setup by compiling a simple C/C++ program. Add the following hello word code to a file hello.c.

#include <stdio.h>
int main(){
 printf("Hello Drone\n");
 return 0;

Compile and run the program on native system to test the code.

gcc hello.c -o PC_hello

If this prints out Hello Drone on your terminal you can go ahead the compile the same code for AR Drone.

arm-none-linux-gnueabi-gcc hello.c -o AR_hello

Transfer the file to AR Drone

Now that you have the compiled AR Drone object file you can transfer the file to AR Drone via ftp and run it using telnet. Make sure you are in the directory of hello.c file and run the following commands. Just press enter when prompted for passwords.

Note: Make sure that you are connected to the AR Drone's Wifi.
put AR_hello
cd /data/video
chmod +x AR_hello

Congratulations! You just ran your first cross-compiled project on AR Drone.

For more advanced projects like cross compiling OpenCV libraries and cross compiling OpenCV Projects, see my other posts.