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Old 07-30-2014, 11:53 AM   #1
Birdmanpete
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Default Making a Start with UAV.

In January 2014 I started a thread for all those who were working on the Walkera QRX 350. At the time, the general feeling was that the QRX 350 was really bad news. Since then huge progress has been made by modellers who were happy to share their successful experience and seek help with their problems. My Walkera has flown almost every day since then and I am still to bend a prop or change a part.

But the world has moved on. The simple GPS multi-rotor has become capable of pre-programmed autonomous flight. All of a sudden the challenges of quads have quadrupled.

I have been following the path marked APM. That's the open source program which seems to have been adopted as the nerve-centre for several big manufacturers and retailers. (Including Quanum/Cheerson. HK Mega and Walkera Pro.

APM sometimes described as ArduPilot, ArduPlane and ArduCopter is backed by the online resource APM: DIY Drones: and 3D Robotics. (All excellent)

When I bought my first unit I knew next to nothing about any of that. I just did my deal with Ready to Fly Quads (I had done a heap of good deals with them and they work with my budget.)

Since then I have discovered Michael Oborne's "Mission Planner" which could be described as a management system for people with little or no computer programming skill. (That's me.) It is usually called a Graphic User Interface.

So that's where I am and I have got my first Quad into late stage setup. It flies very acceptably and now I have to learn how to use the functions. I do not expect it to be quick or easy. But I will keep you posted. There have been some very scary moments and there could be more; but I will be fighting hard.

If you are anywhere along the learning curve in UAV Quads (or planes) please let us know and share your experience. If I can help with details of my setups it will be my pleasure and I will respond within twelve hours.

Let's make it safe together.
Birdmanpete.
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Old 08-01-2014, 04:20 AM   #2
Birdmanpete
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Talking First steps (after disaster).

Like I said I had a very unhappy experience. For a couple of days I really wondered if I was clever enough for this (there are still some doubts). I decided to do a lot more reading from the APM wiki. This was a good idea because it is a very well set up resource. Let me give you an idea. I read somewhere about a fence which can be built around your calibration (launch) area. This was new to me so I Googled APM 2.5 Geo fence I should explain that 2.5 is my model number. There are several models including 2.6 or Pixhawk.

All of a sudden I was learning how to restrict my flight area (radius in metres)to a safe zone. Better yet I can put a lid on it. I do not want the Quad to go above 5 metres height or beyond 25 metre radius. If it hits the fence or the lid, it returns to land. (not put to the test yet)

And the same search trick works across the whole enormous subject. You should not make a first flight without applying that search cue to Stabilise, Alt Hold, Acro and Return to Land

I am practicing one at a time and I am now fairly confident with Stabilise, Loiter and Alt hold.

I had a bit of a struggle with PIDs. I am thinking of making a cradle so that I can "fly" while trapped in an elastic web and still attached to the computer. But I have got the pids more or less right with P set at 0.1150, I set to 0.0950 and D to 0.0040.

Using 25 mm of old silicon fuel tubing I have extended the FM switch so that it is easier to find it by feel. With Loiter and Alt Hold I keep my finger on that switch for a few seconds after applying it, just in case I don't really like the response. Switching back to stable is a good first reaction in a crisis.

A very interesting search subject is Drift. This is a variation of the Walkera IOC control. The video makes it look a ton better. But I will not be setting that one up for a little while yet.
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Old 08-08-2014, 12:45 PM   #3
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Default

I am making progress. After a shocking start with the APM 2.5 I seem to be doing better and feel very confident with Stabilise Loiter and RTL. Maybe I am ready to go one more round with Acro and Drift. But I have been distracted by the arrival of the Hawk, Witespy's version of the PixHawk. It was fairly easy to set up but I have found myself frustrated by the lengthy searches to solve simple problems. Today the Issue has been LED's. The Hawk has at least ten and all but one are small and hard to read in daylight. Sometimes I think open source can be a tad too original. The first flight of the Hawk was really great except for one thing it would not Loiter. Another search is about to begin in the on line files. My problem is that although the computer told me that the GPS had a 3D fix it clearly was not good enough to hold position when airborne. And which of those tiny lights is reading GPS. I spent half an hour following at least 8 advisory sources and I am still not confident.

Well tomorrow is another day. No damage has been done and it did fly very well.
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Old 08-17-2014, 11:46 AM   #4
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Default Going well in most departments

I now have three of the APM flight Controllers. Two APM 2.5s and a version of the PixHawk) One of the 2.5s was damaged by a friend in a workshop accident. It looks as if it should work (on the computer) but it doesn't (at the field). I have not totally given up on it but it's in the back of the cupboard.

The other 2.5 is flying well. I am not sure why it went mad some weeks ago but it has not done anything strange since. I suspect that my selection of a very low altitude for the Geo fence, coupled with my selection of a fairly powerful rate of climb, combined to give me a very big scare.

And that is a good example of how people like me, who have always flown GPS in fully developed designs, like the Walkera, can get caught out. With APM boards and Mission Planner you can make mistakes in the setup, which are off the radar with proprietary designs. When you are picking up the bits after a disaster it seems like a bad system. In the longer run, when you have got your head around the tuning which is available; it is a blessing. So now that I have got on top of the basics, my second 2.5 is on Pit Straight and being prepared for programmed flight. You wont get to hear about that for a few weeks because I am off overseas to be a Paragliding Hero.

But before I go, I want to explain a silly situation which has taken some of the joy out of my more expensive adventure with the Hawk. All of these designs emerged from the wonderfully sharing community of open source programmers. Unfortunately the sharing runs into rough seas with the sales teams and the support material. Here's what has happened to me. The Hawk works beautifully in every respect but one. It is super smooth in the air. It finds satellites very quickly and it delivers excellent GPS performance figures. It is all great BUT !!!

It never gives itself the green light and it never accepts its GPS functions. And the team which shares the support material does not answer requests for individual assistance. Why would that be ??? Well I don't really know. They did respond in my first difficulties, with the first APM 2.5 but during that event, they wanted to know the name of the retailer selling the board and they have not responded since. I can sort of understand that but I find it very disappointing.

My strong advice is to make sure who it is who will guide you through the maze, before you do the buying. I did not expect this to be as complex as it is. I thought that the paperwork trail would cover all eventualities. It doesn't.
I will let you know how this all works out.

Be warned

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