Vibration Isolation and Dampening of APM / PX4 for version 2.9

Now that we have version 2.9 and inertial primary control for the Z axis and soon to have it for X and Y axes as well it is necessary to take vibration dampening and isolation of the flight control board much more seriously.

Primary improvements can certainly be made by balancing the props and motors.

So far it seems that the more rigid the frame the better because frame flex introduces undesirable mechanical delay (hysteresis) in translating motor induced actions to the centrally located flight control board. (Do NOT shock mount the motor Arms).

It may be reasonable to somewhat vibration damp the motor mounts themselves because they are on one end of the mechanism.

However, primary damping gains will be made by vibration isolating and or dampening the flight control board itself.

So far we have undertaken this process simply by trial and error sticking on of Foam or Gel pads or using O-ring suspension of the board to outboard standoffs.

This has achieved (barely) acceptable results, but is certainly by no means optimum.

The crucial fact that we have not properly addressed is that the amount and type of dampening medium needs to be matched to the weight (mass) of the item we are trying to isolate.

In fact we are trying to isolate a flight control board that weighs under an ounce or less than 2 ounces in its case which is a very small mass.

Our current "solutions" are actually designed for much larger masses and are not nearly as effective for the light mass of our flight control board as they ought to be.

I have done some on line research which did fully verify this inadequacy.

Virtually all off the shelf solutions (either pad or stud type) basically require a suspended mass that would weigh at a minimum 5 to 10 times what an APM or PX4 / IO board(s) weigh or more for optimal effectiveness.

This includes all pre-made Sorbothane, Alpha gel, memory foam or other silicone or urethane gel or foam mounts including Lord Micro mounts.

However, Alpha Gel or 30 durometer Sorbothane or Kyosho Zeal Gel double sided tape do appear to be the best possible solutions at this time so long as you use small enough pieces of them.

Simply putting a double sided pad under the entire board as we normally do now is entirely inappropriate for maximum vibration isolation and it is amazing it works at all.

Optimally you would use pads of them smaller than 1/2" square (possibly even 1/4" square) on each corner of the board or APM enclosure box. (smaller for the bare board than the board in the box obviously).

You could also improve isolation somewhat by sandwiching the board / enclosure between pads on both sides in slight compression.

So far we have done a dismal job of approaching this like engineers, but the reality is that with the massive excess quantities of vibration absorbing materials that we are using versus the mass of the APM (or PX4) has produced better results than not using them, but no where near what could be achieved by using the proper weight and size of dampening / isolation material.

The basic solution is to reduce the actual isolation medium to the 4 smallest pads you can get by with on each corner and using the softest commercially available dampening materials you can find.

A further gain can be made by placing the item to be damped in 10 to 20 percent compression between 2 pieces of the dampening material.

Thickness of the dampening material does improve dampening and isolation but is not nearly as important as selecting the right material and the right size of the supports made from it.

I believe that Kyosho Zeal tape is 2/10 of an inch thick and that is probably plenty for our use and the frequency range we are trying to damp.

I would very much like to see 3D Robotics produce a APM (and PX4 / IO board for that matter) case with proper internal shock mounting of the board(s) with dampening data for it.

I actually suspected this result from the start of my investigation and a little thoughtful research has completely confirmed it.

Another significant gain in vibration isolation can be had by using a high flex wire and strain relief approach to all wires connected to the Flight control board (and using the minimum number of wires necessary as well.)

I have used the concept of vibration isolation and dampening somewhat interchangeably in this discussion.

Isolation is simple undamped (spring or rubber band support) which allows the movement of the isolated object largely separate from the containing object.

Dampening is the conversion of vibration into heat energy by a shock absorbing medium (car shock absorber for instance.)

Our ultimate goal here is to provide the most high and medium frequency reduction while still allowing low frequency actual board movement to take place with a minimum of delay.

So realistically our methods embody both Dampening and Isolation.

I have covered a lot of ground here, but this is at least a good start for designing some real world vibration solutions that are bound to work better for us than what we have done so far.

Please try your own experiments and kick in your own thoughts here, that's how we get better and this is just a launching point.

Here is an excellent link to some definitive research and testing that will help:

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And about the motor being new...
I've had new motors w/ loose bells.. Even an expensive KDE direct motor.  It was fine otherwise.. just whoever assembled it didn't push it together tight enough.

Thank's Scott

Some notes:

(Auto)tuning seems to have no effect on these numbers. So I guess if the tuning is not completely off it should give relieable numbers.

On this copter vibrations are also pretty low at higher speeds (tested up to 80km/h today).

Couple more..
This is a different, very heavy 250 sized copter.
I'm posting the images to show the difference between props. 
New HQ 6x4.5x2 props, vs new HQ 6x4.5x3 props.

Wow!!! now you win Scott :O

Today my first FPV flying with the 270, lot of fun this little guys :)

Lots Of great Info on this post!!

I Did alot of experiments with vibration dampening last year and came up with a really good design, I called it the explorer4 and also made it open source.

It started out as just an experiment but i ended up making a complete video build guide.

Basicly what I found was that the more Mass / weight you have conected to the FC and gimball the better. The best results I had where using a clean/dirty setup, meaning in my frame the lipo, gimbal and FC are all mounted on a center "floating" section, the center is attached to the Outer section ( motors and props ) via rubber dampeners. All the components are HARD mounted to the Center section, the FC using strong double sided tape.

I found that gave the best comprimese between stoping the high frequency and leting the low frequency vibes through.

I have just finished my second home designed 3d printer so have more time to get back to drones now.

There are now a few options for flexible filament to print with so I have just ordered some 'ninjaflex'.  The properties look very much like sorbathane so have been working on a vibration absorbing motor mount incorporating ninjaflex.

The flexi part is in yellow. By changing size and shape of the bumps on the damper ring it should be possible to find a 'sweet spot' to match the motor/prop combo im using.

Have already started printing parts. Now waiting for the flexible filament. I shouldn't be much heavier than a rigid mount.

What do you think?

same issue here, after i changed the system language from DEU to ENG it worked flawless. Thanks for the great tool!

current output from my <250g mapper. thr_mid to 0 means no changes thr mid is near perfect?

After getting hold of ninjaflex and trying to print some I realized it was not that easy. Its very difficult to print and is stiffer than I had imagined. However I still think it will make an excellent vibration damping material if used in the right way. This second motor mount dosent look as sexy as the first but am optimistic it will have good results when I get a motor strapped to it.

Latest Hover Analysis. Added the following to the 'File Config Data' tab to give more control over identification of the actual hover for better comparative results when testing.

- MinThrottleHover

- HoverPrecision

- MinSampleSize


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