Ok guys, with all the people waiting on APM2 and all the exciting new alpha and beta releases of APM firmware coming, I think many people are starting to chomp at their bits, a little.
To that end, I've opened up this discussion for all those with complaints. As I've joined the Dev Team, and not at a productive stage yet, I'll monitor this discussion, and relay things to the others on the Dev Team.
These could be both hardware or software, or just general rants and raves!
Hope everyone takes advantage of this! Maybe we'll all learn some things in the process.
Just wanted to add this response from Chris Anderson:
Please just contact firstname.lastname@example.org and inquire about the status of your order. They are not necessarily shipped in order. For example, the unsoldered ones are shipped first, because they're faster to put together. Then soldered with GPS, then soldered without GPS (or maybe those two in reverse order, I can't remember). There are approximately 50 going out each day and the team tells me that the backlog should be over by Mon/Tues of next week.
I agree, please use this discussion for Rants and Raves. Order issues should be directed to 3DR directly. I think you will get better response there.
@Ellison - I think part of the concern, which I believe is now addressed, is that not everyone has experience with the the software versioning style system in use.
If one does not have experience with this, and linear release numbers are the expectation, then discussions about fixing the release at 2.3, then discussing 2.4 version numbers becomes confusing.
For those interested in such matters, wikipedia offers a deeper discussion but the summary, as provided by Chris in his previous post to this thread, is that 2.x is feature complete as of 2.3.x (whichever was the last revision,) and that the change of the version number from 2.3.x (odd second number) to 2.4 (even second number) indicates it is in a maintenance mode rather than a development mode. Essentially, there is a 2.3.x version that is dubbed 2.4. Where increments to 2.4 occur, they are patches and fixes, not new features. New features will be handled in the 3.x code, while patches and fixes will increment the 2.4.x version as those bugs in 2.3/2.4 are found. I hope this explanation helps some (but more than that, I hope my understanding is correct and I am not adding to any confusion *grin*)
For those who want to not trudge through the entire wikipedia article, but still want to learn more, I believe we are using what that article refers to as Odd-numbered versions for development releases
It is interesting to note, I think, that some projects would continue on with new features in a 2.5 development release, which would eventually lead to a 2.6 maintenance release. This is precisely the progression that the linux kernel took from 2.0 to 2.6, IIRC. What is exciting here (versioning in the commercial world is often driven by marketing departments, not so here) is that changing the major version generally implies some major rewrite or push in development, not just new features. Closing the 2.x line (and, in fact, the adherence to a defined versioning scheme) speaks to the increasing maturity of the project as a whole and better supports what Hans was asking about (structured versioning better addresses the concerns he raised) but just as exciting, it suggests even more exciting things for the future.
2.4.x will, no doubt, be a great version to tweak and release upon for those like Hans. Meanwhile, 3.x will bring shiny new buttons. The challenge, however, and I'm not yet certain how the team plans to address this, is how to address Mission Planner/Ardu* firmware coupling. Part of the community need to stick with maintenance releases, while others need to work on the dev releases. In other projects, this is typically done by proving two releases of the dependent software packages. One might expect, then, to have a Mission Planner version that continues to track the maintenance releases of ArduPlane and ArduCopter, while a separate MP development release tracks the development releases. There are arguments for and against doing this, and I'm not certain if it has been discussed anew.
Ellison, unfortunately, it's not that simple.
One big problem is that of critical bugs. Things like the I2C blocking bug, or more recently the GPS home position blocking bug. These are the types of things that REQUIRE fixes for all users. It's really not great that people have to choose between fixing major flaws, or staying with a stable, proven, tuned flight control strategy. You have to choose between sticking with a dangerous flaw, or start all your tuning over again as the flight control strategy has changed again.
It's also not optimal that new people really only have the choice to go with the latest firmware coming out of MP, unless they wish to learn how to compile with Arduino and download an older code. Anybody who just received a shiny new APM2 will get 2.4. Like it or not, that's what you get.
I was really happy that after some internal discussions, it was decided that we would put out major releases on a schedule, and then later put out bug fixes of those major releases with no other changes. 2 steps forward, and one step back. People could choose to test the latest ideas (2.x.0), or wait for the polished version (2.x.1) 2.3 came out, and there were some flaws. They were fixed quickly, but 2.3.1 never came out with those simple fixes as I thought it would. Instead the code jumped to 2.4, and included some number of new flight control strategies (performance upgrades) which may or many not work. I was disappointed. Some people are struggling just to understand how to tune PID's, while trying to get their head around quintuple-nested PID loops, meanwhile, the interaction of those loops changes with every release.
If it were up to me, 2.x.0 would never even make it onto MP. It would be a download and compile only for beta testers who know what they're doing and accept the risk/reward. After any bugs are found and fixed, 2.x.1 would be created. If and only if THAT download was tested and approved (after 1 week of testing!) would it be put on MP. If it needed more work, there would be a 2.x.2, etc.
Code releases in MP would ONLY be pushed when all the new ideas within that code are proven and polished.
I understand that there is a big push to get this code to be best-in-class, and also add new features. But I think that push is leaving a lot of new users feeling very frustrated.
Do you have any idea if/when the strategies/interactions of loops is going to go firm? They seem to change with every release. My understanding was that 2.4 was going to separate out the Rate, Stab and Nav parameters from Loiter, whereas they seem to be more closely linked than ever!
Also, are there any plans to update the documentation? One of the reasons that users are feeling very frustrated is that there is little documentation on how it all works, what the parameters mean and do and how they interact. There seem to be some parameters with little or no documentation, with nobody on the forum able to illuminate.
Bill, no, I don't know when it will go firm.
I've been wanting to write up something to explain the tuning, but frankly that can't happen until things stop changing. I have to be able to get my head around it before being able to write anything.
Here here. You have only my best guesses so far. I went out on a limb with my tuning guide simply to give people something to try in the meantime.
I have placed an order with jdrones last Friday my time (East Coast USA, Friday 17 february) and was informed via various e-mails that the order was in stock and would ship on Wednesday, the 22nd.(paypal cleared the payment the same Friday, the 17th) I actuallly even 'over paid' for extra parts and to make sure that my order would not be held up. Getting in touch with jdrones is frustrating. Their people do not seem to understand English or respond properly. I like to give them the benefit of the doubt, and I tried to find a phone number to speak with them. No luck. Their latest reply was (on Thursday 2/23/2012):
We are really sorry to say that we have some software to upgrade for your order. So we have to wait until our Engineer finish upgrade and check before deliver to customer.
For tracking no., our system will send to you automatically once your order is shipped out.
We promise to deliver your order as soon as we have done.
Sorry for this inconvenience.
Penny / jDrones
I do not know what to do as I sent them over $1500 via paypal. In the mean while I have ordered a radio and batteries, which are useless without the kit (hexacopter) that I ordered. Jani has my phone number in his files, so he can call me any time, regardless of time zone. I'm open to a solution..any solution......but I'm extremely frustrated.
My situation was the website let me order the APM 2.0 without the MediaTek MT3329 10Hz and HMC5883L 3 Axis Magnetometer, so I have ordered the external gps and magnetometer on the same order, im pretty sure it said "we will not ship a part of order untill everything is in stock" next day I get an email saying there was an error and they taken the APM 2.0 off the order and sent the rest of it... I said I dont want the other two, they are useless without the APM 2.0, but too late they sent it, so i have to pay another $40 for postage just for the APM 2.0 when it is back on...
I can't help much, and this only has a tertiary connection to DIY Drones, but I do understand that Jani is on a business trip in China this week. I'm sure he'll fix you up when he gets back.
Just posting this as a courtesy.
Jani has contacted me and resolved the issue promptly.He also provided their store number as I believe that these type of issues can easily and quickly be resolved by making a phonecall. My order will ship completely on Monday.
I'd like to thank Jani for his time, his prompt and correct answer.