A “Relay” is an digital output pin on the APM or Pixhawk that can be switched between 0 volts and either 3.3V (Pixhawk) or 5V (APM2). Similar to a servo it allows the flight controller to invoke some action from another device on the vehicle. In Copter, Plane and Rover, up to 4 pins can be defined as relays.
Relay pins on the Pixhawk¶
On the Pixhawk AUX OUT 5 (pin 54) and AUX OUT 6 (pin 55) are setup as the “First” (or #0) and “Second” (or #1) Relays respectively.
The number of available Relays can be increased to a maximum of 6 by reducing the number of AUX pins used as Servo outputs. This can be accomplished by reducing the BRD_PWM_COUNT from 4 to 2 or 0.
Relay pins on the APM2¶
On the APM2, A9 (pin 9) is the pin that is recommended to be used as a relay. In fact any of the pins from A0 ~ A8 may also be used as relays but to use these you must manually set the RELAY_PIN parameter (to “0” ~ “8”) through the Mission Planner’s full parameter list.
Defining the relay pins through the Mission Planner¶
The First ~ Fourth relay pins can be defined most easily using the Mission Planner’s Config/Tuning screen’s Standard Params list as shown below. Alternatively if you know the exactly pin number to use, the RELAY_PIN parameter can be set directly through the mission planner’s Full Parameters List.
Pilot control of the relay¶
On Copter 3.2 (and higher) the “First” relay can be controlled with the Ch7/Ch8 switches.