So I'm new to the APM. I haven't purchased anything yet been spending weeks reading the forms to Learn and understand how this system works. My background consists many years of RC airplane and Heli flying and by trade I'm an A&P and avionics tech. I looked in to the Arduplane 2 seems easier to understand and set up. But trying to grasp the TH and I feel a bit lost..SO here are a few questions that I have that I hope you could help me with.
Would It be wise to start with a airplane first to learn and understand the system better before I try a TH? and If that is the case using the APM2 could I reprogram after I was done with the fix wing and move to TH?
I currently have a trex 450 that I was considering as a candidate for my first drone however I do have a 600 available as well Should I consider the 600 over the 450 for power, stability? Or is the 450 fine?
For me to just get started all I really need is a APM2? that is some hard ware and leads..
What is the success rate of using the APM2 in a TH configuration. It seem that in the forms all I read is people's issues. ( I do understand that that is what the forms are for )
Mechanily do I need to set it up FBL or can I use the FB system? And If I use the FBL system do I need the 3axis gyro system or will the APM2 take care of it?
What is loitering? Should the heli be hovering in one spot? Or is it suppose to to allow it to drift around a bit. I read something about using FB vs FBL systems and issues with loitering?
Daughter board ? It totally makes since to me that it should be remote mounted. Not only does it contane's the GPS but it holds the Magometer, Right? So has anyone tried this?
Thanks for any input
1) Yes, start with a plane. You can reprogram it for a heli with one click when you're ready.
2) Does "TH" mean Traditional Heli? If so, yes as answered above.
3) Loitering means hovering in one spot with GPS and alt hold
4) I don't know what you mean by daughterboard. APM 2 comes with GPS onboard or external, but there's no daughterboard.
It works for both FB and FBL without other 3 axis gyro. APM2 is doing great as a FBL controller.
It's going to take quite a bit of tuning to get a TH going. 450 seems to be an easier choice for me, compare to my 700. Much lighter to carry around and cheaper to repair when crashes. I suppose once you figure out how to tune one, you can tune the other one.
The APM2 comes with no wires. You'll need to order a bunch of wires connecting from your receiver to it.
Success rate... The forum is very helpful helping us tuning it. If people don't post and ask, I think it would be quite difficult to get a TH going since the default PID numbers are quite way off.
Daughter board... I suppose you mean the other little circuit board that has the GPS on it. It is mounted right on top of APM2. It's a package. Whoever has APM2, has it. It works well.
1) Starting with an airplane might make it a little easier for you to figure out the Ardupilot world. First of all, the code is more mature. As far as I understand, it all just works. And if you pick a popular airplane, you can get the right settings right off the start.
That being said, the APM can fly a heli quite well already. The more advanced features are not quite "robust" yet in that they don't work for everyone all the time. But stabilize, once you get past the point of tuning your parameters, works very well, and it's easy to fly.
I jumped right in with APM on a TH right from the start. If I'd started with an airplane, I'd probably have a lot more actual flying hours in at this point. But I've been having lots of fun tinkering, learning to program, etc
You could also consider getting started with a cheap quad.
2) I started with a 600. At this time, I wouldn't personally recommend starting with the APM on an expensive 600. Again, it comes back to the robustness of the code. I'm using a Hobby King 600, the entire airframe is $130 so... 450's supposedly work, though I wonder if the APM has an easier time on the bigger machine. 450's don't seem to have a problem lifting the board.
3)There's just a few bits and bobs you need extra, wires mostly. But yeah, it really is a full Flight Control system for about $200. There's some optional things you might want, such as the radio modem for telemetry. Or Sonar, Optical Flow, etc. But I don't think you could get over $400 if you tried.
4)Hard to answer. As you say, most people come here to complain or get help. ;) We don't have an awful lot of success stories. I think some people get in, struggle, and then give up. I'm not sure. I'm in it for the long haul, and the system works very well as a flight stabilization system. Put it this way, I'm a relative beginner, spent some time on the sim, and have otherwise had no instruction. Since getting the APM, I can't think of a single serious CFIT crash. Few bumps and bruises. A few bugs in the code early on. But my 600 heli pretty much flies like a Blade CX.
5)Either works. It is a FBL controller technically, no, you don't need another FBL system. My 600 has a flybar. My opinion, it helps. My heli flies like a big pussycat, and I hardly needed to do any PID tuning for stability at all.
6)Loitering is hovering in one place, hands-off. Theoretically it is believed that an FBL will Loiter better because the APM has more direct control over the swash. But I don't think this can really be concluded based on the real world evidence we have. If there's no wind, my FB heli hovers hands off almost indefinitely anyway.
7)The remote mount issue is also somewhat theoretical, without much real-world proof. One key thing is your wiring, get that right, and there's no reason the mag has to be remote. It was thought that the GPS would be better out from under the carbon fiber blade disk, but that seems to no be true.
I've got a 450 FBL on the way, I intend to set it up with the GPS and Mag mounted onboard.
I've gone through several setups on the 600, remote, and onboard, and I can't draw any conclusion one way or another yet.