Sunday, March 27, 2011

Ardupilot Mega with Ardupirate-NG, software test

Hooray, we got the Ardupilot-NG load downloaded, built, installed, and configured.  Next step: hook it up to the Arcticopter.  Hint OTD:  the Arduplane and Arducopter loads need different inputs on the control inputs.  Channel 8 on both switch the APM into strict pass-through mode, definitely not what you want for multicopters!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Hooray, Ardupilot Mega 2.0-Beta works under VMware!

 It's alive!  Everything working under VMware!
Everything seems to work... moving the board around causes the right servos to move in  the right ways.

Video forthcoming!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Hooray, Ardupilot Mega hooked up via VMWare on Mac!

Windows Setup:
  • fresh Windows 7
  • VMware Fusion 3.1.2
When installing Windows, be sure and turn on automatic updates and automatic driver install.

Plug in the Ardupilot Mega to a USB port:
  • specify that the device will attach to windows.
  • the first time windows detects the APM, it will automatically download and install the proper driver.
  • Typically, it will show up as COM3.
Ardupilot-specific Software:
  • Mission Planner
  • Ardupilot Mega 2.0 (source)
  • Aruduino 0022 (windows)
The first time Mission Planner starts it will ask the location of the APM source.  We were able to update and install the APM 2.0 software this way.

We also built and installed the APM 2.0 source and used the Arduino serial monitor to run the debug monitor.  Set the Arduino serial monitor to Carriage Return / 115200 baud.  Was able to correctly read the GPS position!

We wasted a fair bit of time because I confused my old busted Turnigy 9X (on its way to be returned to Hobby King) with the new replacement.

Next steps:
  • test out radio functionality
  • test ardupirates quad source
  • hook up to xpilot
  • figure out and order xbee stuff

Thursday, March 17, 2011

FPV flight 2

Video to come, here's a still shot... I crashed right away, but Andreas did a great job flying with his newly-padded goggles.  The wind was pretty strong; he was able to hover almost directly overhead.

We fiddled with the patch antenna; it worked best to have someone (me in this case) kept it pointed at the plane.  The glitchy area was exactly in the plane of the flat part of the antenna.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Adding a 3-position switch to a transmitter

on Paparazzi -- change a potentiometer for a 3 position switch, and add in two equal value resistors. Full details at the link.

Update: Wago Connector for Power Distribution

As promised, here's an update on using a Wago 222-415 5-wire connector for power distribution.

Executive summary: seems to work pretty well!  And eliminates lots of soldering.  The soldering itself isn't bad, but the bundle of soldered wires are big and bulky, and lose their flexibility where they're soldered.

Heres a close-up of the device.  You lift the clamp up, insert your wires, and close the clamp.  You will need two connectors, one each for hot and ground.

There's a couple of good vendors on ebay selling them.  I bought a box to reduce shipping.  If you would like a pair of these for $5.00 including shipping, send me a note at my email under the "About" entry under "Interesting Things".  I'll confirm with you that I still have some, let you know my paypal, and send them out.

As noted in a previous post, this genius idea was by Lenz Grimmer, who has a very nice flikr set of his quad build.

I'm still interested in learning more about power distribution.  My collected survey of systems is here.

About Me

Hi, I'm Mark Harrison, an RC enthusiast and computer programmer who lives in the lovely San Francisco East Bay.

Leave me a comment, or send me mail!

I'm also marhar at rcgroups.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Turnigy 9x notes

Here are some notes on:
Backlight kit.

I got one, it's really nice!  You have to install it yourself, but it's not very hard.  Be careful if you're taking out the screws for the first time.  Note that the PC board has two sizes of screws.
Receiver Polarity
  • Signal on top
  • Ground on bottom
Receiver Channel Assignments
  • channel 1               ailerons
  • channel 2               elevator
  • channel 3               throttle
  • channel 4               rudder
  • channel 5  (I assigned to GEAR)
  • channel 6  (I assigned to THRO HOLD)
  • channel 7
  • channel 8

Radio Knobs and Dials
  • thro hold (cut)         left front bottom
  • gear                          right front top
  • pit trim                    left top dial
  • hov throttle            right front dial
  • hov pitch               left front dial
Entering Name
  • To select the letter, do a "long menu", hold down the menu key for a half second or so.
  • Some programmer has a lot to answer for! 
Throttle Reversed?

If your throttle is reversed, you may have made a mistake when setting the sticks to mode 2.  If you set the mode, DO NOT push menu when it asks to reverse throttle, just push exit.

Weird MODE?

On the screen, you may see you are in MODE 1 when first starting up.  You're not in "mode 1" as in sticks, you're on "model 1".  MODE=MODEL.  This was what led me to me mess with the mode and end up reversing the throttle as mentioned above.  Don't be fooled like I was!
    Binding Instructions
    • turn off transmitter
    • plug ESC into channel 2
    • bind plug into BIND
    • add power to ESC
    • Step back at least 6 feet (this seems IMPORTANT!)
    • push bind button on back of transmitter
    • power on transmitter
    • wait for receiver light to stop blinking
    • power off receiver
    • power off transmitter
    • remove bind plug
    • power on transmitter
    • power on receiver
    • test!
    Replacement Battery

    Some people have recommended this as a superior alternative to putting NiCad batteries in the stock battery holder.
      Whatever you do, DON'T REVERSE BATTERY POLARITY, many people have reported smoking their receiver by doing this.  There's some suggested fixes involving soldering some diodes into the battery circuit on the motherboard.


      Possible ArduPilot mix formula here:


      Short story: failsafe only works in PPM mode. :-(

      take some pics

          Thursday, March 10, 2011

          HobbyKing Quadcopter Frame V1 build instructions

          video here.

          arr, it's the ardupirates!

          Here are some links for the Ardupirates.  Arr! They've forked the arducopter code base and have some impressive demos regarding camera stabilization.  On their wiki they mention these features:
          • Working Sparkfun Magnetometer
          • GPS hold
          • Altitude hold with Barometer and Sonar
          • Automatic camera leveling plus an automatic camera trigger! 
          Here's some links:

          Wednesday, March 9, 2011

          Setting up the Ardupilot software

          The Ardupilot software uses the Arduino environment to compile and download to the Ardupilot board.  Here's how to set up your environment for that.

          Download and install the Arduino Software
          • The software is here:  Get the latest version.  There are pre-compiled binaries for Mac, Windows, Linux-32 and Linux-64.
          • I'm using a Mac.  It's a DMG with the Arduino software, ready to drag into your Applications folder.
          • There's also an enhanced FTDI USB driver.  It's a package that installs using a password.
          Set up a Working Environment
          • This is a software project, and tidy housekeeping now will pay off handsomely in the end!
          • I chose this as my base directory: $HOME/Dropbox/projects/ardupilot.  I'll call this $TOP below.
          • Later we'll set up a SVN checkout.
          • For now we'll just unzip the Ardupilot and Arducopter distributions here.  I'll save local copies of the zipfiles in $TOP/dist.
          Dowload and unzip the Ardupilot Software
          • From here:
          • The following is what I did from the mac command line... Adust to your favorite workflow.
          • cd $TOP/dist
            cd ..
            unzip dist/
          Download and unzip the Arducopter Software
          Set up the Libraries
          • The most painful step in getting things set up is getting the libraries installed.
          • Here's the biggest pain in the whole software setup.  There might be a better way, but this is an area where the Arduino software could stand improving.
          • Find your Sketchbook path.
          • On mac:
            grep sketchbook.path ~/Library/Arduino/preferences.txt
          • Go to the sketchbook path just discovered.
          • mkdir libraries, if it does not already exist
          • cd to the libraries directory.
          • copy all the folders in the ArduPilot project libraries directory here.
            $ cp -rp ~/Dropbox/projects/ardupilot/1.0-BETA/libraries/* .
          • restart the Arduino program.  These libraries should now be available during compiliation.
          Test your installation
          • Start the Arduino program
          • From the top menu, File/Sketchbook/libraries should show you the libraries you just copied, something like the screenshot below.
          • Open the standard "blink" Arduino Demo: Menu: File / Examples/ 1.Basics / Blink
          • Compile by pressing the "Verify" button.
          • If that works, add the line
            to the beginning of the file
          • Compile again.  If this works, your libraries have been installed.
          • If it doesn't work, get ready to pull out lots of hair and gnash your teeth.
          Build the Ardupilot Software
          • start the Arduino system
          • asdf
          • File/Load the main ArduPilot program, ArduPilotMega/ArduPilotMega.pde
          • When you compile, you will get an error like this:
            config.h:58:3: error: #error XXX You must define GPS_PROTOCOL in APM_Config.h
            (ignore the Aduino environment highlighting, and scroll back in the error window to the beginning of the error messages.  this is another area where the Aduino system could use some work.)
          • Look in APM_Config.  See where is says "READ THIS. REALLY! READ THIS."?  Take that advice.

          Build the Arducopter Software

          Tuesday, March 8, 2011

          The R/C Soaring Guide

          From 1997, so probably parts are out of date, but seems to my untutored eye an interesting overview.

          Contents: "Part 1: Soaring for Beginners"

          Monday, March 7, 2011

          First FPV flight!

          Andreas received his FPV equipment (details forthcoming), and we went out to try it out at Chavez Park.  Brushless EasyStar (a wonderful plane, I can't wait for my brushless pieces to arrive from HK).

          There was a Tibetan New Year Celebration at the same time... a lot of people in their beautiful Tibetan native costumes, and some appreciative kids telling us how cool we were.  I wish we could have overflown their celebration and got some shots, but safety first!

          Chavez Park is nice for flying... Kite flyers stay on the Western side of the island (an old landfill), so we had the air above the Eastern half to ourselves.  There's a rise which blocks the wind, making this a great natural boundary.  Andreas flew during the FPV sessions, and I acted as spotter.  We mounted my OrangeRX Spectrum receiver and used my DX6i, which worked well.  There were transient video signal interruptions; Andreas has sent off for a patch antenna.

          The GoPro was set at (mode ??? -- I'll get this from Andreas, 30 FPS).  The 2G card filled up with about 20 minutes of footage.  When the camera stopped recording, it still maintained a video signal to the transmitter.  Here's a quick edit; nothing too exciting, but not bad for a first go!

          Update: got this list of equipment from Andreas...
          may prettify the list later, but here's the URLs: