Chris Anderson's Blog – March 2009 Archive (23)

Preparing ArduPilot for version 2.1 (with Z sensor)

Here's how to connect the FMA XY and Z sensors.



[Note: the sensors come from FMA with a thin film (usually red)… Continue

Added by Chris Anderson on March 31, 2009 at 10:30pm — 62 Comments

Here's who we're up against in the Sparkfun autonomous vehicle competition

Mostly wheeled rovers (hah!) but also two other UAV teams. Full list here.

Added by Chris Anderson on March 29, 2009 at 9:00pm — 4 Comments

Good overview on the current state of open source hardware models

Limor and Phillip of Adafruit and MAKE have a good overview on the current state of open source licencing and business models. DIY Drones is included.

Added by Chris Anderson on March 29, 2009 at 8:56pm — 6 Comments

A newbie's guide to UAVs

What is an amateur UAV?

An Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) is an aircraft that has the capability of autonomous flight, without a pilot in control. Amateur UAVs are non-military and non-commercial. They typically fly under…

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Added by Chris Anderson on March 28, 2009 at 2:00pm — 236 Comments

Great "Picking a GPS module" tutorial at Sparkfun

Covers all the basics, including 5.5v vs 3.3v, refresh rate, connectors, chip sets, etc. All here.

Added by Chris Anderson on March 27, 2009 at 10:18am — 1 Comment

The Space Shuttle's autopilot

Sparkfun and Jack Crossfire have been diving into the archives this week and looking at Apollo and Space Shuttle electronics. You think you've got tough memory and MIPS limits? Ain't nothing like what the NASA engineers had to deal with (punch card source code shown at right!). They went to the moon with… Continue

Added by Chris Anderson on March 26, 2009 at 4:30pm — 5 Comments

All Things That Fly podcast on amateur UAVs

The best RC plane podcast has a show on amateur UAVs this week, with me as the guest. These guys are a blast and the podcast is a must listen-to each week. Highly recommended. Download it… Continue

Added by Chris Anderson on March 24, 2009 at 7:38am — 7 Comments

Good news for blimps--helium getting cheaper

The price of natural gas (which is where helium comes from) has declined by two-thirds since last summer. Helium prices should follow.

Added by Chris Anderson on March 22, 2009 at 8:29am — 1 Comment

AttoPilot now on sale!



Great new. Dean Goedde is now accepting orders for AttoPilot. $800:



Main features:

50Hz Attitude control (pitch and roll) with elevon and V-tail mixing

Automatic gain scheduling based on airspeed

Pitot… Continue

Added by Chris Anderson on March 19, 2009 at 8:45pm — 11 Comments

Switching between Waypoint and RTL modes in ArduPilot 2.0

One of the cool things about ArduPilot 2.0 is that it supports three in-flight modes: manual, autonomous (waypoint) and autonomous (return-to-launch/RTL). These are selected with your autopilot-enable toggle switch on your transmitter. If you have a three-position switch the middle position defaults to waypoint mode. The up position is RTL mode.



You can also use a proportional dial for this channel; half-way turned is the middle position. Or, if you have a mixing Tx, you can mix two… Continue

Added by Chris Anderson on March 15, 2009 at 11:43pm — 4 Comments

Arduino hits hipter tipping point: SXSW bingo



Just a few years after the first mention of Arduino at SXSW, it's now part of the festival's bingo. Trust me, in geek circles, this counts as a breakout moment.

[hat tip to… Continue

Added by Chris Anderson on March 14, 2009 at 8:06pm — 5 Comments

New EagleTree OSD Pro with return-to-home

We like the EagleTree gear a lot, so we were pleased to see that they've just announced an upgrade of their OSD to OSD Pro. Along with a bunch of cool features, such as an on-screen map and voice status… Continue

Added by Chris Anderson on March 14, 2009 at 11:29am — 3 Comments

Arduino 14 released--minor bug fixes

The main changes from 13 are some Mac bug fixes and clarification on the difference between atmega168 and atmega328 boards. New version is here.

Added by Chris Anderson on March 11, 2009 at 1:03pm — 2 Comments

Canadian police testing Dragan X6 multirotor

Calgary Police are testing the Dragan X6 multirotor. Excerpt from the… Continue

Added by Chris Anderson on March 10, 2009 at 10:30pm — 18 Comments

Using ArduPilot 2.x in the field

Instructions for using ArduPilot 2.x in the field:



ArduPilot 2.1 and above (with Z sensor).



This version of the software auto-calibrates the IR sensors. The only thing you need to do at the field is to record the "home" GPS position in EEPROM memory, which will not be erased when you reset or power down the board. To do so, follow these instructions:



  1. Ensure that the autopilot is in manual mode (channel five toggle off) and GPS is…
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Added by Chris Anderson on March 10, 2009 at 8:30pm — 80 Comments

ArduPilot 2.0 Beta Code Released!

I'm delighted to announce the release of the ArduPilot 2.0 software, now in public beta. This software uses the current ArduPilot hardware but handles the FMA Co-Pilot stabilization function itself, without the need for a separate stabilization unit. It is, in short,… Continue

Added by Chris Anderson on March 10, 2009 at 8:30pm — 120 Comments

Increasing the ArduPilot rudder authority for wind

I had a full day of autonomous flight testing in 20 knot winds, and it's clear that the default PID gains in ArduPilot were not high enough to handle any significant wind. So I upped them from 15 to 30 and the Superstar suddenly regained its tracking authority and was able to circle overhead well. I've modified the standard code in the repository with these higher gains so others who saw "flyaway" behavior in wind should now have sufficient… Continue

Added by Chris Anderson on March 8, 2009 at 8:00pm — 14 Comments

New Predator UAV available (if you're rich)

A company called RobotAV has released a standard $80 Nitro Models Predator with an autopilot and RC system already installed. Sounds great until you get to the price:… Continue

Added by Chris Anderson on March 7, 2009 at 5:30pm — 13 Comments

Longer cable for the EM406 GPS now available

Sparkfun has just released a 12" cable for the EM406, which makes it a lot easier to locate the GPS in an optimal place on your aircraft, such as on the top of the… Continue

Added by Chris Anderson on March 6, 2009 at 6:58pm — No Comments

Correct ArduPilot LED behavior



The correct ArduPilot LED displays are as follows. See the above picture for reference:





First power-up of board, straight from the factory:



Power: On
Stat: Flashing in…
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Added by Chris Anderson on March 4, 2009 at 11:00pm — 8 Comments

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