I decided it is time to dust off some of my old ArduPilot boards. As we all know we *should* be running the latest code at all times, per the development staff. *Supported* means running latest.
As several other users have pointed out "What I really don’t like is the lack of trust I have after every update" - http://diydrones.com/xn/detail/705844:Comment:1064781 Because of this I am always hesitant to jump onto the latest code revision. Alas, any time I have gear sit for an extended period of time I always poke around the forum for *known* issues that I may have missed.
The current top post "Naza M vs. APM 2" is what actually spawned my interest to spin up some of my old APM gear since I've been flying Naza a lot lately. http://diydrones.ning.com/forum/topics/naza-m-vs-apm-2 The tone of the conversation is Ford vs. Chevy as expected, however there has been some interesting commentary with regard to how DJI as a company chooses to inform its end users about issues.
Will Snodgrass put it quite well here http://diydrones.ning.com/xn/detail/705844:Comment:1065480 "They obviously have taken the time to setup a system that is there just so they contact you with important info regarding your product. So Why not use it?"
Somehow I got to poking around on YouTube in my hunt for recent bugs and wound up stumbling upon Marco Robustini's channel. Marco (http://diydrones.com/profile/marco67) says the following about himself on the channel: "I'm coordinator and developer of the ArduCopter Tester Team. My goal is to test the various electronic flight board to compare them and find bugs/problems and the related solutions for stable and safe flying". I thought the channel was pretty cool and I shared it with a few multi-rotor enthusiast friends of mine. One pointed out that if I had not seen Marco's Acro mode bug video that it was something that I HAD to see.
After a bit of hunting to find his "Acro mode bug" crash this gem was presented for my viewing pleasure.
I can see in the YouTube comments that Tridge said there were fixes out for this specific issue:
"Andrew Tridgell 11 months ago
this bug has now been fixed in ArduCopter master. Many thanks to Marco for his patience in working through the bug report with us and allowing us to find this bug!"
For what ever reason I simply can't remember hearing a single word about this *bug* anywhere on the forums. It most certainly was not trumpeted as something that folks should look out for. So oddly enough once again I find myself combing through the horrible Ning forum interface looking for answers. "you switched to kamikaze mode?" clearly was not what I was looking for.
After quite a bit of hunting this is what I uncovered:
Marco Robustini on January 9, 2012 at 2:51am
"I have also almost completed my heavy octo (destroyed after the crash for the "acro I-term bug" in the code = < R5)"
Based on the above comment we know the bug impacts code =< rR5 for the ArduCopter 2.1.1 tree.
Marco Robustini on January 10, 2012 at 2:41pm
"Do not fly with this version for know reason: - i2c library is not update (possible bus lockup) - "acro I term " bug is unfixed in this version. You are warned! :P"
We are told by Marco in a random forum comment not to fly ArduCopter 2.1.1 alpha. The root of the topic also has more generic bug info: "Update R5: This is a quick patch based on a bad crash Marco had. My theory was an I term that built up during wind that needed to be reset, but wasn't. It's a corner case but It bit Marco pretty bad."
R_Lefebvre on January 23, 2012 at 9:54am
"I have been following this closely pretty much since 2.0.55 came out, and I can only think of 2 fatal bugs that definitely caused crashes. Marco's I-term bug, which was instituted in the code.... Might have been before 2.0.49?"
Marco Robustini on January 27, 2012 at 5:18pm
"Now John will try to explain something, but dunno if I can, I'll try anyway.
Explain it with a video that until now was reserved only for development team (back at the end of December), the incident was found that was due a code bug with "Acro I Term" (fixed after this event), and now it's time that people like you see this."
the first thing that caught my attention was that this bug was seemingly and intentionally hidden from public view? Why? I am especially concerned about this when I see comments like "I had the same, 2 times uncontrolled flights and crash." - http://diydrones.com/xn/detail/705844:Comment:769934
Marco Robustini on February 3, 2012 at 6:15am
"I destroyed my heavy octo because these two lines were missing."
So… after all that reading and hunting I am still not sure exactly which versions were affected, what exactly triggers the issue and *when* it was full addressed in the code. Given the criticism with regard to how DJI has on file email address info, yet fails to utilize it to contact their end users I felt it appropriate to mention this "corner case". 3DR has all of our attention via the Ning forum package, additionally they have a Tumblr blog AND all of our info from the initial purchase. Is there any reason that there are not better efforts to help let us know what we should and should not be worrying about?
When I put my quad copter on the shelf 11 months ago it was working fine… I am hesitant to update to latest for obvious reasons, alas the version that I am running may have some latent / partially explained bug waiting to chop my face off.
Thoughts? do we just circle back to the "It is DIY, what do you expect?" mantra? Why are ANY "incidents" held from public view and made "reserved only for development team"? Should we not be sharing this stuff? Luckily no one has gotten hurt...
All defects in the software are logged here: http://code.google.com/p/arducopter/issues/list
That can be viewed by anyone at anytime. Defects are not hidden from the public. There is a repository for them at the above link so that developers can work on them and keep track of the progress.
"Defects are not hidden from the public" - fair point... they are also not highlighted in most cases.
to be fair I said "hide" based on this wording: "reserved only for development team...and now it's time that people like you see this."
I did search the issues list for "i term" and "iterm" btw and didn't find anything that would indicate that there was an issue. Do you by chance have a link to the issue that was created for this *bug*?
The awesome thing about open source software is that you did not pay for it. The devs put in a TON of hours in return for nothing. That being said, it is really up to the user to be aware that this software is free to use and comes with no warranty. I would definitely suggest browsing the defect list if it is something that interests you. There are minor defects, feature requests, and occasionally major defects.
I don't believe the developers would ever hold back a potentially dangerous defect if it was discovered and verified. You also have to understand that the developers and testers are from all over the world operating on different time zones and many speak english as a second language. So by the time the whole dev list hears about a major bug, verifies its a defect in the code and then publishes something about it, it may seem like a long time. Users in the community are also not only welcome to but encouraged to post about any issues so that they can be fixed and we can all benefit from it.
Also, I think something that you put forth in your post conveys a misconception: "...per the development staff..." The developers are not staff and are not paid.
What about my wording implied that developers are paid or that I am conveying a misconception? I bought my gear from store.diydrones.com I click the help link http://store.diydrones.com/aboutus.asp it says come here. "Product support: We encourage customers to use the DIY Drones forums (diydrones.com/forum) for technical support and questions..."
When you come here to ask questions the mantra has ALWAYS been and at times blatantly stated if you want to be supported, run the latest code. Not sure why this has you on the defense about being paid vs. not... and as I have covered in the past *SOME* developers are paid, but that isn't what I am talking about here. SOME developers ARE staff as well. =] syllogism rocks!
I've participated in my fair share of multi-rotor forums... I am aware of how potential issues can be handled and how they can propagate across time zones and continents. =] I was really only saying that I was surprised to not have seen some *warning* chatter on this.
It is clear that this was kicked around in private for about a month before the video was released to the public... Marco blatantly says it "now it's time that people like you see this."
"potentially dangerous defect if it was discovered and verified." I agree... this however doesn't say much about the period of time between discovery and verification. End user is likely in the dark even if verification is back burnered.
You may be right that some devs are paid now. I have been out of the dev circuit for a while now. Either way it doesn't really matter to me. I am happy to work on stuff for free!
I guess my point is just that this software project is really a community effort. Marco is not obligated to discuss the issues he sees with the broader community although it is excellent when he does (often). He is just part of a volunteer group of testers that are self-organized. Perhaps you could head a separate testing effort that would be as transparent as you see fit? Otherwise if you just want to monitor the issues in real-time, just visit the link I forwarded. Perhaps this software/hardware solution is not for you, but there are a lot of people who like to grow with this solution and contribute in a constructive way.
Either way, I hope your experience improves!
Thanks for the response, I appreciate it. You are right I do want to monitor things as best I can, not necessarily in real time. I also hope that new users or people picking things up off the shelf after months of sitting can find things a bit easier as well. From the perspective of someone that does not have all the time in the world to hunt issues down it isn't always as simple as "if you just want to monitor the issues in real-time, just visit the link I forwarded".
Using this one specifically as an example I *still* don't have a link to an issue or a patch or any other detail that surrounds this incident. I legitimately looked. I did indeed start with your link. Maybe I am using incorrect search terms:
I would assume it was a High priority Defect at some point?
"Either way, I hope your experience improves!"
Thanks brother... I can appreciate that.
Mike in this instance... as much as I wish I was JUST trying to be a jerk. I'm not. I really was gonna fly my ArduCopter today. Instead I just went out and flew my DJI Naza w/ GPS in a snow storm quite happily, without fear. This morning my tune was ahh what the heck lets strap an ArduPilot to this hexa and take it out.
I randomly stumble upon something that I had not heard about, tried hard to dig up info and became appalled at the lack of data on it. Seeing that chopper nearly drill that crowd of six was eye opening.
It boils down to trust. So you are right... I do have an agenda. I want to trust this gear. That should not be to much to ask regardless of whom is paid to develop it, or whom sells it, maintains the forum, whatever. Being able to trust this 3drobotics / diydrones hardware software combo is a simple request. It is hard to honor right now.
Throw me a bone... don't feed my trolling shut me up, drop me a .diff link to a patch. Hook a brotha up with a link to an issue in the code.google.com interface, whatever. Attacking my tone really doesn't make me trust this codebase any more so than I did before I saw Marco's video this morning.
It should be really simple to say:
1) Here is how we tracked the bug down.
2) here is the .diff from where we fixed it.
3) Here is how we triaged the testing
4) We now have a test in the tree to make sure there are no future regressions
5) You *should* trust the latest code because we've added the following awesome sauce and made efforts to prevent regression.
"Perhaps some issues might be presented and organized better...You have a lot of energy, why don't you do it?" - I'm not the man with the $10,000 forum upgrade in tow, nor is this MY baby... if I were you can rest assured things would be better organized.