Angle of Attack Downlink

I would like to add an Angle of Attack (AoA) sensor to my APM2.5 and downlink the data via my 3DR radio to the APM Mission Planner.  However,my mechanical and aerodynamic skills are much stronger than my programming and electronic skills.  Is there an easy way to read in an analog (0-5v) sensor and down link the data to a ground station.

I have determined a simple, lightweight, low cost way to make an AoA sensor using a small magnet attached to a low friction weather vane and hall effect sensor to read the magnetic field.  The analog output can then be calibrated to angle of attack.  It appears that this data could be read in on A1-A4 ports (similar to how the airspeed or voltage sensors are read). Is this possible?  If so, what is required to get the data to be sent down in the MAVlink messages?  The ultimate goal is to have the data recorded in the .tlog file along with the other information coming down the link.

Thank you for your help.

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  • Has the project ended? Any available public result?

  • Has anyone calculated how much force that is needed to rotate the bearing and potentiometer?

    that force should be equal to the moment that your windvane produce of the error angle. So if we use a naca 0010 airfoil as the windvane, we know the cm coeffcient, and we can measure the friction we can then estimate how accurate our windvane will be right?

  • Hi, 

    I have used hall effect sensors for anglular position sensors previously. Something like this for less than a dollar or so should do the trick: The output of this sensor should be readable directly on one of the APM analog inputs. The arrangement of the sensor and the magnet is critical. To be of use, you need to be sure that the way in which the orientation of the magnet is manipulated over the range of movement that you want to measure, produces an unambiguous change in magnetic field of a reasonable magnitude at the sensor. The linked A1302 has a sensitivity of 1.3 mV/G. You will also need to be careful that you do not saturate the sensor by using a magnet that is too strong/close. 

    I have also interfaced a number of custom sensors to both the APM and Pixhawk, including logging to both the dataflash and telemetry logs.

    Unfortunately these examples all use old versions of the code and will no longer work without modification but I am happy to help out if you need it.

  • Hi Aaron,

    I'm doing something very similar for my master thesis and need to record alpha and beta values coming from two additional analog sensors for further post-processing of flight testing. Similarly also my electronic and programming skills are much less strong than my aerodynamic ones. How did you manage in the end to read the data coming in from the A0-A8 analog ports (I'm using an APM 2.6 board) and send the data via MAVlink? Actually I don't really need to see them in real time it's also ok to see them recorded in the .log files after I download the data from the flash drive after each flight.

    Thank you very much for the help,


  • Magnetic approach seems the best. Here below a photo of mine experimental air data boom suited with AOA/AOS wind vanes, some other info here .




    Have a look to this site for a magnetic suitable sensor.

  • One simple way might be to use a potentiometer that has a reduced rotation range. 

    What was your setup like on 1/5 Cub?

    Out of interest, I did some searching online... I got a lot of unsatisfactory results.  Most are sensors are big & heavy or $$$.

    Other sensors seem like they may have too much mechanical drag  or they have large rotational angles and the resolution of the output would be very poor if only a fraction of the range is used.

    The one sensor that I did find that may work is a Hamlin hall effect sensor.

    Here's couple more links to some search results   Rotary position sensor.  Bournes    Vishay

    The analog output from a sensor could be connected to one of the analog inputs on the APM such as the VOLTAGE or CURRENT inputs.

    Using the Mission Planner hardware setup you could "re-calibrate" the values by entering a predetermined value into the MEASURED voltage box to provide a meaningful output, although, you would see this value labelled as VOLTS or CURRENT in the mission planner, but you would bypass the need for customizing the software.

    Making changes to the APM code wouldn't be too difficult, it's just that the mav-link protocol may make it difficult to incorporate this sensor's data into the data stream and mission planner would have to know to look for it.

  • I was thinking in doing something similar with a differential presure sensor measuring in different places on the wing.
    I usually fly in a Sky Arrow 650 TCNS and the stall warning is a trumpet that works with this principle. I thnk it could be easier and no need of magnetic fields making noise.

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