FMA just announced their new Co-Pilot. The main difference appears, along with smaller sensors and all-digital operations, is that it's now part of a wireless onboard communications system that will eventually include other components such as GPS and telemetry. It's controlled with a IR remote control with a LCD display that you hold. Much more expensive, too. Eventually, FMA will be offering a RTL autopilot as part of this package.

Here are the details.

Complete Package with all Accessories Priced at under $250 USD

1. Stand-alone operation – computer module installs between existing receiver and servos.
2. Micro-size components – Utilizes SMT components and tiny infrared thermopiles reducing the profile of sensor modules by approximately 50% over previous CoPilot models.
3. All new, digital sensor technology – Digital conversion now takes place within the sensor units. Communication between the sensor modules and the CoPilot computer is accomplished on standard, 3 wire servo connectors. The potential for analog noise in any installation is virtually eliminated.
4. Unprecedented Accuracy – As with all previous CoPilot models, the system offers accuracy to 1 degree of the horizon by sensing the temperature variation between the earth and the sky. Just center the control sticks and CoPilot-II will right your model from any attitude in split seconds.
5. The optional Vertical Sensor module forces the system to roll out of inverted to prevent the potential for striking the ground upon low altitude recovery. When installed, the vertical sensor also allows for automatic and continual calibration.
6. Supports all types of radio systems including any spread spectrum radios.
7. Stabilizes up to 4 channels for compatibility with virtually any aircraft configuration including CCPM heli’s, differential or dual ailerons, flapperons
8. Supports high-resolution digital servos as well as analog servos
9. Works in most weather conditions with the exception of heavy rain or severe overcast making it the ideal and affordable solution for radio control enthusiasts. Automatic weather check can be read out on the LCD at any time.
10. Flight Stabilization with a “Natural Flight” Feel – The CoPilot-II now includes “stick priority” as a built-in option to provide a natural flying “feel” when using flight stabilization. Using stick priority, the CoPilot-II is now capable of automatically reducing flight stabilization sensitivity just by moving the stick further away from center. This results in a natural flying experience without sacrificing recovery time.
11. New 3D modes (currently under development) include automatic vertical hover, knife edge, and inverted flight.
12. On/Off remote control can be set up on any type of auxiliary transmitter switch or knob.
13. New “Flight Modes” access allow for setting up different stabilization characteristics on any type of auxiliary transmitter switch or knob. Now it is easy to switch between basic stabilization and 3D modes with the flip of a switch. Learn new aerobatic maneuvers with safety and confidence.
14. Simple to Setup and Operate – Includes streamlined “wireless” user interface for vastly improved and simplified system setup and monitoring. The wireless system which makes this possible is a new technology developed by FMA termed “IRNet”. CoPilot-II is therefore the first IRNet peripheral to be made available by FMA/Revolectrix, but IRNet applications will extend far beyond the CoPilot-II. This means that with the purchase of the Co Pilot II, you are already set up to use any future IRNet peripherals that become available. Items under consideration include GPS integration, on-board watt meter, tachometer, temperature sensor, digital servo matchbox, tools for selecting appropriate electric propulsion components and others.
15. IRNet offers a fresh approach to Controlling and monitoring On-Board Avionics – IRNet consists of a wireless, infrared, 4 button programmer containing a 2-line, 16 character LCD, and a wireless network router. IRNet range is dependent on weather conditions but ranges from 30 to 200 feet, line of sight. The router is mounted in the aircraft and is capable of supporting multiple IRNet compatible devices. Each device on the “network” communicates with the IRNet programmer using a unique address much like the network of computers in your office, but on a smaller scale. Connected IRNet peripherals are represented as separate devices in the programmer, each supporting its own unique menu system. Setting up an IRNet device is as simple as scanning for the device’s welcome screen and answering a series of questions, much like using a television remote. Monitoring system information in real time is as easy as scrolling through the available data screens. Imagine being able to pre-flight check every critical piece of electronics in your aircraft prior to takeoff, and all without having to bend down and remove a wing or even plug in a wire.

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Comment by bcr on January 24, 2009 at 8:19pm
I like FMA (great lipo chargers), but that's not very DIY. Much more fun to build your own HW + SW. A simple $5 3 axis accelerometer and $5 flash mcu can work in all weather conditions, at lower cost and installation hassle than IR. gyros + kalman filtering are probably unnecessary for stabilizing an average RC plane in normal flight.

Comment by Krzysztof Bosak on January 28, 2009 at 5:17pm
"gyros + kalman filtering are probably unnecessary for stabilizing an average RC plane in normal flight." Plain wrong. Accelerometers are USELESS in coordinated turns, whiel most airplane turns are almost perfectly coordinated.

Comment by Gary Mortimer on January 29, 2009 at 6:55am
Humm will have to wait and see I think, I used to like FMA a whole lot more before thei credit card database was swiped and I had to change my card! Still could happen to any online retailer I guess.

I cannot fault my Co Pilots though, they do exactly what it says on the tin!!!

Once a few people have used these and ironed out any faults then I'm sure I will be purchasing one.
Comment by bGatti on January 29, 2009 at 8:45am
generally, you're right; that said, I'd like to contemplate the proposal of bcr.

Let's say one had a self-stabilizing airplane - plenty of dihedral.
Now say we tie throttle to airspeed and monitor both.

Might it be possible realize turn rate - as an //increase// in the sum of acceleration - with help from the gps.

I accept that such an airframe would be much more susceptible to wind, and presumably unworkable for less stable craft - but bcr's is an intriguing ideal. no?


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