The arducopter tuning guide.
This guide was written at the time of the release of Arducopter 2.8.1 FW. It is a compilation of everything I have gathered from the experts in the field of flight controller tuning. It will help give you an understanding of how to tune any rotor based flight controller, but its specific to Arducopter and this firmware release.
I will update this as necessary, or if you can convince me any of it is incorrect just post below and I’ll update this text.
There is a summary/quick reference at the bottom, so once you’ve read this rather rambling explanation you won’t have to again, other than to check details :D
Tuning your flight controller is essential for a perfect flight. Even a fully stock frame will fly better if you tune. The default params will be close, but your battery or motors might be performing differently, your air maybe ‘thinner’ compared to the developer that last published the default params, so you should tune.
What we are trying to achieve is control. We start to accomplish this by modifying the amount of P, I and D in our control loops. All three react to our stick inputs and the errors created by measurements from our sensors, and all three will help us fly better. If we do not have enough of any of the params the copter will not feel like it’s under control, it will wander about, not resist wind and be hard to fly. Too much of any of the params and the copter will seem to have a mind of its own. It will over-react. At best you will see it oscillate, very fast, not so fast or somewhere in between, depending on which parameter has been overclocked. At worst it will simple flip over on take-off or be very unpredictable in flight.
We need to find a balance. You can tune each param up individually, but one will have an effect on another. Therefore we must tune one, then another, then go back and see if we can retune the first one again, this is the balance.
And this is where we adjust those parameters – Mission planner config page:
Before you start:
So let’s start tuning
Everything you read below will be demonstrated in the tuning video further down, so you know what to look for, and at the bottom is a summary for quick reference. I think, however, it’s important to include as much information here as possible as anyone starting into this hobby will often find this process to be a bit of a black art.
I’ve found the quickest way to tune the arducopter is to start with rate_D, (but you simply can’t do this unless you can hold your beast in hand or in a jig as the copter won’t fly without any rate_P or I) so a more universal way to start, and actually a more informative way is to start with rate_P.
Since this is about learning for everyone, let’s do it that way. I’ll give a brief low-down on the ‘rate_D’ tune (or Dave C tune, as it’s become known) ‘ later. (BTW, that’s very flattering but I’m only relaying info from the real experts, but hey, if I’m gonna be famous, why not for doing something I love :)) Anyway....
STEP ONE - Tuning rate_P
STEP TWO – Tuning rate_D
NOTE: once you have found your rate_D you can try something interesting - you will have to hold onto your bird for this obviously. Set rate_P to zero, then crank up your rate_D as you just have. You will discover that these fast oscillations occur at pretty much the same level of rate_D, no matter what you have set rate_P to. This is why I think it’s more than possible to start tuning rate_D then move on to P. But that’s a shortcut, and this is not what this guide is all about.
STEP THREE – Tuning rate_P even more
Congratulations, your copter should be flying better than it ever has done before.
STEP FIVE - HEAD OUTSIDE!!!
For now set Stab_P at 3.0 - 3.5, closer to 3.0 if you have a high power machine, just to get you flying in stab mode. Then spend your time tuning rate_I and stab_P.
If you find your set up immediately too harsh, back off on rate_P and rate_D by 10% each, and try a lower i-term, if it's still too harsh do that again!
All that’s left is to watch the video below so you can see what I’m describing and head outside for fine tuning. Oh, and await part two of the guide and amendments from any discussions raised, then we will have a proper tuning guide that will be integrated into the wiki advanced tuning guide :D
Results for tuning in this video were
Oh and as promised, below is Part One of the Summary Guide. I aim this to be on one sheet of A4 and tell you everything you need know ‘in the field’.
Summary of what you are looking for
Too much rate P will oscillate quickly, and cause to copter to sound angry under stick input, bouncing rather than smoothly following your inputs. It will also shake more at full throttle and under hard turning.
Not enough you will not feel like you have full control. It will feel sloppy and be very easy to over correct with your inputs. It will feel delayed.
Perfect is where it feels locked in, stiff in the air, but not shaky. (although if I’m sport flying I turn it up a bit for maximum ‘wang’ and just tolerate the slight oscillations)
Too much rate_I will oscillate if you get high enough (a much slower oscillation than a rate_P shake). But quite a long while before it oscillates it will have other detrimental effects on flight performance, like a sluggish feeling or a tendancy to flip over on take-off. This is why I suggest tuning this in flight rather than in your hand/jig.
Not enough will cause the copter to get pushed by a constant wind, then it will fight back using just P. It will not hold a very firm angle during forward flight and will need more correction. This will not be as smooth as it could be in either case.
The perfect amount will cause the copter to lean gracefully into a constant wind, but also allow you to set a lean angle and stay there as you fly about. As you dial rate_i in pay close attention to the feel of the copter, you are not looking to create oscillations here at all, you should notice a strange ‘feel’ long before this point.
Too much rate_D will oscillate very fast, you will see a twitch forming then a fast buzzing oscillation
Not enough rate_D will simply mean you can’t dial enough rate_P and so you will suffer the effects of having rate_P too low.
A perfect rate_D will help fight the wind and follow your sticks as its fast to react, but will also allow you to reach a maximum rate_P level for you frame, thus giving better control.
Dave thanks for the specific suggestion to 'back off rate_P & rate_D by 10-20% from top tune' to smooth things out. Specifics are very helpfull.
Since you did not specify which rate, I assume I should back off all 'rate' parameters on the arduCopter config screen e.g. Rate Roll, Rate Pitch, Rate Yaw, Rate Loiter, Throttle Rate.
Is that correct?
No, I'm just talking about just roll and pitch rate_P and Rate_D. These are the params that keep us level and smooth and really need tuning before anything else.
Backing rate_P off first will make the most difference, it's often better to do less with Rate-D to begin with unless it feels too twitchy under stick movement. (fast twitches, not an overcompensating bounce like you see with rate_P being too high.
The yaw must be tuned separately, to keep our noses in check
Loiter params should really be the same for us all but some tuning can be done.
Anyway, this is just part one of the guide, part two will include yaw and loiter tuning and throttle and althold.
Sorry I'm not quicker, my house is a building site, I've got more work than I've ever had come in, and I'm opening a new business...
I will always endeavor to find time for the drones though, so watch this space.
But for now, getting your ROLL and PITCH rate_P rate_D and Stab_P tuned right will give you something that flies beautifully. It may wag it's nose, so you'll then need to tune yaw, it may rise and sink, so you need to then tune throttle, etc.
This is fantastic , thanks for the work done on this Dave
These are being taken out so there isn't much point working with them. But to answer the question, they act as a break to any movement. Similar to Rate D.
As far as I understand this param will be removed from the next release. Its purpose was to improve hover and stable flight whilst still allowing full wang under full stick. Not needed now with the new code.
Dave, in step five "Head Out Side" to tune the I_Rate and the Stab settings, is this all still done in Acro? I don't see anywhere you mention to take it out of Acro. Also thanks for this easy guide, Ive learn more in this simply explanation than the hours Ive pored over studying PIDs in the past.
Another thing I am curious about is how come this versions yaw is only 4.5 now where as before it was 7.0?
By the time you head outside it's fine to switch to stab mode, in order to tune rate_I and obviously stab_P (you'll have to be in stab mode for this)
You can do it in the jig, but i much prefer to play with stab_P in the air as it gives me the best feel for how i want to fly.
I think yaw has been reduced to stop the bounce that some people were seeing, i think there is a fix underway.
The guide will be posted on the wiki, I've asked for rights to post. It will be much more complete then too :)
Take a look at this thread: http://www.diydrones.com/group/arducopterusergroup/forum/topics/poo...
Thanks Dave for the guide.. I feel I am ready to start tuning but I cant get 6ch opt to work. I feel brain locked for something simple.
MP 1.2.26 Apm 2.5
T8FG radio lead for rx ch 6 to apm input 6 and under function, 6aux2 to knob RD
Prob: Under the Arducopter config menu page, I have Ch6 Opt to CH6_RATE_KP, min=0 and max=.25 but when I turn the knob there is no response in the Rate roll box..