Greetings, I've been doing AP with Easy Star planes for five years and am now planning on moving up to UAV equipment. I've just spent three hours on this site am so impressed not only with the site structure and operation but the content and the membership. I've been on RC Groups AP forums and others for years. Enough intro:
For one who is strong on flying, plane mechanics and general RC equipment but weak on of software and associated electronics I should just buy an ARF plane and concentrate on the mission planning, and set-up with Specktrum Tx and Mac interface. Once I have 10+ hours of successful missions I can move to adding the camera equipment and deal with the added weight and trim issues. Then with 10+ hours of successful AP I can consider the necessity of telemetry. Is this a reasonable plan, suggestions please? Thanks — Jerry
Yes, that's a good plan although I don't think it will take 10+ hours of missions to get it dialed in well enough for a camera. Usually a 20-minute flight should be enough to make sure everything's working right.
Thanks Chris. So during training flights when a plane doesn't return will the on board equipment register the location as long as the battery is still connected? I fly over a lot of fresh water and have all my electrics waterproofed with "Corrosion X." My water plane can trudge to shore with one foot lake waves breaking over the whole plane with no interruption of service or damage to electronics. Has anyone waterproofed their ArduPlane equipment? I read in one post where a members plane pulled a 180 into a tailwind,probably stalled and crashed hard. One responder thought the plane was too low to recover. This is a classic pilot error, but does raise the question of how do you determine a minimum altitude and average airspeed. Here's probably a novice question, but can the sensors tell the plane has been flipped by turbulence or a sudden microburst? Maybe altitude is the all purpose safeguard.
I'm not sure I understand the question, but APM records "home" at first GPS lock on the ground, before you take off. It will do so again anytime you reset or power cycle the board.
Yes, the sensors can tell if the plane has been flipped, and will right it automatically in stabilization or any auto mode.
Chris thank you for your patience with me I'm slightly senior and it's a mind leap from keeping a tight focus on a plane zooming around a construction site with trains going by and tractors running around and dodging cranes and just sending my bird up 500 feet flipping a switch and saying adios amigo see you in 15 minutes.
So, if some redneck rancher who hates drones shoots my planes down 7 miles from launch point and it lands in a tree, how do I locate it?
I use this: www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1386315. Works quite well. You give it a missed call and it will sms you back the google maps link of the current location. And a photo of the redneck. Sorry no.
Hein, Very cool device. Thanks. I've been using a non-GPS unit "Loc8tor" that requires me to be 182 m range of plane. This group is very sophisticated, it'll be a very good experience for me to try to step up to the challenge.
Like yourself, I fly off water. Last season I flew a Seawind EP, equipped with APM 1.4, telemetry and airspeed sensor. Typical flying weight for the stock foam Seawind is 21 ounces. I fly at 32 ounces. To obtain higher payload capacity and slower speeds for FPV and aerial photography, I am retrofitting the plane with a bigger engine and am building a larger wing, but I am looking for bigger alternative water planes. I'm curious to know what type of water plane are you using that can handle 1 foot swells and carry the camera gear? BTW, I've flown the Seawind in conditions like that, and I was really happy to have rock solid fly by wire performance. In terms of waterproofing, I considered Corrosion X but could not source any. Instead I housed most of the electronics inside the canopy of the Seawind, and vented the enclosure by taping into the static tube feeding the airspeed sensor. Servos, ESC, and the pressure differential sensor were waterproofed with PlastiDip. So far the solution has worked very well and survived quite a few nose plants due to thermal instability in the y-gyro causing the AHRS to tumble. I strongly recommend the use of telemetry from the outset. It took the guess work out of troubleshooting the IMU issues, and it really simplifies PID tuning. Good luck.
Franxcios, thanks so much for your advice. Now here is a revelation I had about the water plane issue. I spent two years getting my water-monster as I call it. I started with a Twin Star, checked out the Seawind, struggled with boatplane designs, floats etc. What it takes to successfully break the water suction effect and carry the camera payload keeps raising the wingloading vs. motor size beyond the scope of the aircraft, you know the drill. My buddy and i finally decided the objective was the photography mission not cook water take-offs. We're experts with the Easy Star class AP plane so hand launch it and make it great water landing and tug boat to shore craft. My plane weighs in at 38 0z. has a AXI 1375 KV motor with a 7:4 prop. It draws 14.2 amps at full throttle, climbs out at 40° and give me an easy 15 minutes of flight time on a 1350ma 3S lipo. It has a duckbill float in the front fuse and two wing floats with tethers and a deep water rudder. I'll post a picture if you'd like.
Jerry, a picture would be appreciated. I'm trying to visualize an Easy Star in water with camera gear... It sounds like every mission ends in a ditching! Is the bottom arc of your prop below the waterline when you are in "tug boat" mode? I fully understand your choice to focus on the photography mission. Re-inventing the wheel seems to take an inordinate amount of time. I have a background in aviation but I'm fairly new to the RC and UAV world. I expected a learning curve, but I underestimated the time required for my project. I had hoped to complete my aerial mapping project last season, but I spent most of the time troubleshooting the IMU flakiness, modifying the airframe to accommodate the APM gear, and reinforcing structural weak points in the plane. On my last flight in October, the stock motor mount partially separated for the second time. That was annoying, since I was having fun in fly-by-wire mode doing cool takeoffs and landings. (Grin. OK, I admit I enjoy the challenge of manual takeoffs and landings; FBW really makes it look easy!) Over the winter I built a custom mount and installed a CR28M motor rated at 375W. Its actually two motors, in-line, turning contra-rotating props. Each bell is 1050KV. Due to clearance issues, I am limited to 8x6 props, which draw about 10 Amps each at WOT. Should suffice to get the plane with a bigger wing and camera gear aloft with decent climb performance. It should also eliminate the nasty torque roll on takeoff. I look forward to reading about your UAV experiences. PS, if you use Corrosion X on the APM, you might want to cover the barometer opening during the application. I'm not sure how that stuff would affect that sensor.
Francios, I call this plane a "CheeseStar" because I used the Blitz Sky Surfer airframe which is an Easy Star rip-off and Easy Star wings. The camera is a Pentax W30 water and shock proof wired for TX shutter release. Battery on all my photo planes is dead centered on the CG. I have a lot of room under the camera. I build on special nose pieces that are easily replaced. I run carbon fiber rods along the bottom and top of the fuse and on the foam bridge over the wings. The steep duckbill bow makes it difficult to end upside-down even if it did a vertical nose plant. The dumb decals came on the plane and are waring off but my planes look rough as a rule. They work hard and earned their keep until recently.I could lighten up the hull float by a couple of ounces and put the auto pilot gear in and be close to my present weight of 40 oz. I'd change out the camera for something lighter and more sophisticated. "Mission ends in Ditching." I will be flying from a moving boat in wind and and choppy water, either shooting a sailboat race or someone waterskiing. The plane looks pretty coming in but settles hard and plows to my pick-up switching from stills to video and relaunched for the next shot. Thanks for the tip on not soaking the sensors.
I also recommend adding the telemetry before adding a camera. You mentined Mac interface, I dont think the Mission Planner has a Mac version. Youd need to run a PC emulator or Boot Camp.
JM, thanks, I'll do the telemetry first and am checking out the Mac issues.