ArduCopter 3.0.1 has been released and is now available in the Mission Planner, firmware.diydrones.com, GitHub and the new Downloads Area.

Warning #1: Compass calibration and reducing interference is far more important than with 2.9.1b

Warning #2: GPS glitches can cause sudden and aggressive position changes while in loiter mode.  You may wish to reduce the Loiter PID P to 0.5 (from 1.0) to reduce aggressiveness (see image below of where this gain can be found in mission planner).

Warning #3: optical flow is not supported but will be back in the next release (AC-3.0.2 or AC-3.1.0).

Warning #4: loiter turns does not maintain altitude.  This bug will be fixed in AC-3.0.2.

Warning #5: This release has only been lightly tested on Traditional Helicopters.

Improvements over 2.9.1b include:

  • Inertial Navigation for Loiter and Auto meaning much more accurate control (Randy,Leonard,JonathanC)
  • 3D navigation controller follows straight lines in all dimensions between waypoints (Leonard,Randy)

         WPNAV_SPEED, WPNAV_SPEED_UP, WPNAV_SPEED_DN, WPNAV_ACCEL allows configuring speeds and acceleration during missions

  • "compassmot" to compensate for interference on compass from the pdb, motors, ESCs and battery.  (Randy,JonathanC) (Set-up video here)
  • Safety improvements:
    • simple Tin Can shaped Geo Fence
    • pre-arm checks to ensure all calibration has been performed before arming (can be disabled by setting ARMING_CHECK to zero).  (video description here)
    • GPS failsafe - switches to LAND if GPS is lost for 5 seconds
    • stability patch improvements to stop rapid climbs in very overpowered or overtuned copters
  • Circle mode improvements including "panorama" when CIRCLE_RADIUS set to zero (Randy,Leonard)
  • SONAR_GAIN parameter added to allow better tuning of sonar surface tracking
  • CH8 auxiliary switch (same features as CH7)
  • works on PX4 (some minor features still not available) (Tridge,PatH)

How to upgrade:

1. Make sure you are using Mission Planner 1.2.59 or newer (get it here)

2. Click on the MissionPlanner's Hardware, Install Firmware screen.  The version numbers should appear as "ArduCopter-3.0.1", then click the appropriate frame icon and it should upgrade as per usual.

3. Reduce the Loiter and Alt Hold PIDs if you have modified them from the defaults.  The modified PID values for the 3DR frame can be seen in the image below.

Note: Nav parameters have been combined with Loiter so do not be concerned if you can't find them.

4. Although not directly related to this release, if you purchased an APM prior to March of 2013, update your PPM encoder to the latest firmware (instructions here).

5. Try out the new version in stabilize mode first, then alt-hold, then loiter and finally RTL and Auto.

Numerous How-To videos are available:

Special Thanks to MarcoDaveC and the large number of testers on the pre-release thread who put their copters at risk during the extended testing period.  Some of their videos can be found hereherehereherehere and here.  Thanks also to MichaelO for the MP changes required for this release.

All feedback welcome.  Please put your questions, comments (good and bad!) below.

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Otto: yes the path to the holy grail of getting the APM2 to work close to a reasonable autopilot is littered with broken frames and destroyed electronics.  I do enjoy a challenge but seriously after 3 years and then learning about this well keep gem now the code is going no where on APM2 due to serious resource constraints e.g CPU with no new Aurduino hardware in the wind is very depressing.  I will say one thing you can get an excellent alt hold with APM2 it is just very hard to eliminate the harmonic vibrations and electrical / magnetic interference to get there.  Fortunately I have this part nailed although admit I am still on the previous 2.9.1 release.  I did not like the direction the code has taken to dampen the inertia nav further by default.  Sometimes its easy over look, but don't forget to run your motors up without props to check the vibrations levels.  I ended up buying 12 motors before getting 4 I found had little or no detectable vibration across the vibration range.  If you get your raw values right in terms of noise for xyz then things should work in ALT hold

Thanks for the tips on the other autopilots I am looking at the new DJI v2 now I will still keep an eye on the APM from time to time, but its pretty much a lost cause now.  As Randy mentions all the effort is going into pixhawk many new features will not be backwards compatible to APM2

I agree the code for APM2 represents a lot of hard work and very feature rich,  The trouble is all of this is wasted if the very basic stabilized flight modes do not work reliably. It certainly is good for just flying around but I no longer class it as an autopilot. The runaway condition for GPS pretty much eliminates using auto mode. 

It will be interesting to see the autopilot development in the next few years.  You already can buy pretty good systems that work and are easy to setup.  

This is a good point I also thought about. 9x5 are on the way.

One question...since i will be ordering Pixhawk (APM 2 is too old,its time to move on...)and other components,

should i order PX4FLOW as well or it is to early to have any real use of that?

Ah...  Thanks.   It all makes sense now.  I noticed either my TX or RX were acting a bit flaky last week.   I had a couple of  RTLs triggered by TX loss when my Hex was less than 50 meters away.   My TX normally works well up to 500 meters.

Now that I know what to look for, I'll check my TX/RX system, (Especially in light of what Vince has experienced)..   Thanks again....

If I get an RTL I wasent expecting I now switch the TX to RTL to stop (hopefully) it alternating.

Greg,

I enjoyed reading your long posts. I was anxiously following the forum for the past 2 weeks to see where this issue is going.

I have to tell you that seeing no response to your concerns from any developer (or 3DR representative) disappointed me. It seems it is correct that APM 2/2.5 came to end of its life sadly.

I would like to see the end with a usable/reliable code for APM 2.x first then moving onto Pixhawk or PX4 platforms. I think this would be the fair action for all those APM owners, wouldn't it?

>>> Fortunately I have this part nailed although admit I am still on the previous 2.9.1 release.

Your comments don't mean very much Greg - you're in the dark ages.  That code is almost a year old.  There are orders of magnitude in improvements since then. 

I have an older apm 1.0 board are there any changes that need to be made to make this work.  Thanks for the great work! 

Agree ! I bought Naza M Lite also ...brilliant for FPV ing 

after messing around with amp 2.5 for months the stability of Naza is amazing 

Greg, I'd like to address your comments and concerns one by one for clarity, because this is such a long post.

1) APM2 End of Life:  This is a false statement.  There is no EOL for the APM2.  Rather, end of development.  This is because, as Randy says, it's full.  It can't do any more. This is not the fault of the developers or 3DR.  Your complaint is like blaming the weatherman because it rained on your birthday.  That we even got this far with this hardware is a miracle.  You are a fan of the Arduino because of it's ease of use.  I am too.  I'm not a computer guy, but the Arduino ecosystem has allowed me to learn something completely new.  However, that ecosystem is very limiting.  Arduino chose to base the Due on a processor which was not state-of-the-art, and 3DR decided not to continue developing in parallel with them because they wanted the best possible performance.  There's no point making a half-step, and then being out of resources again only a year later.  So, they went with the best STM32 processor available.  But this does not mean that APM2 is EOL.  There's no reason you can't keep using it.  I'm very happy using them on very large and expensive helicopters. 3.0.1 is awesome.  Yes, it is struggling with Octocopters, but counter to your inference that the developers have given up on APM2, I know for a fact that Randy and Tridge just spent a few days working on improving that situation.  3.0.1 delivers what we always promised, for Quads and Helis.  3.1 should make Octos perform as well as we possibly can.

2) GPS Flyaway/Glitch.  You are using a Mediatek GPS.  You have continued to use one for almost a year after we determined the Mediatek is hopeless, and advised everybody to get a Ublox.  The Mediatek performance is not under our control, and is not our fault.  Nor is it our fault you continued to use it after it was recommended not to.

Further, GPS glitching has nothing to do with processor performance.  It is only controlled by the strength of the GPS signal, and the performance of your GPS receiver.  You have until this point chosen to stay with a poor performing receiver.  I am the one who discovered the poor performance of the APM2 on Octocopters, and I did extensive testing to determine the extent of the problem.  There is absolutely no indication that the performance of the GPS/Position Hold system was affected.  It ONLY affected the Alt Hold portion.  

Fact is, the Loiter performance is on par with DJI.  That is when the absolute position hold is considered.  I will admit that the APM is a little more "busy" while doing it, and could benefit from a bit of output smoothing.  But it works, and it's quite reliable.  

3) Reliability: You'd have a hard time trying to argue that DJI's automated performance is better or more reliable than ours (and that includes RTL).  Because for every APM flyaway post you find, I can find two about DJI Phantoms.  We absolutely dominated at Sparkfun AVC.  Half of the users achieved flawless performance on all 3 runs.  A few people had an issue on 1 run, myself included.  2 out of 3 ain't bad.  Leonard had a massive GPS glitch (yes, even with a Ublox).  Randy hit the crossbeam (nobody even entered a DJI product because I don't even think you could program one for the mission).  And I had a compass declination problem.  With a DJI product, you wouldn't even have any way to know about the problem, and if you did, the only way to fix it is with the silly "rotate the GPS Puck" proceedure. 

I have personally done a 24 minute fully autonomous flight with a 3DR quad.  It was perfect. The radio transmitter was even turned off.

The GPS and Loiter flyaway issues highlighted in the release notes have nothing to do with code bugs, and have everything to do with basic signal-to-noise ratios.  You can't expect any system to perform well with 500% noise on the signal. (not a typo)  The only reason DJI don't have this issue, is because their IMU is internally damped.  Ours must be done externally.  Luckily, there are plenty of easy to use and cheap systems that are available.  

And I hesitate to even state that DJI don't have this problem.  We don't really know.  Is vibration the cause of some of the MANY flyaways?  No idea, because with DJI, you have no data.

4) Quiet on issues fixes:  That is because 3.0.1 has pretty much been bug free.  Randy and others have been busy working on performance improvements.

5) Pixhawk appearance: Not even worth discussing.

6) Proprietary software:  Where did you get this?  There is nothing proprietary about it.  Pat Hickey and others put a lot of work into modifying the Arduino IDE to allow it to compile for different hardware.  I know nothing about RTOS, and I'm still working away on the code.  Works just as before.  Only difference to me is the appearance of some of the objects, but in fact things are more clear now than they were before.

7) People moving to DJI:  Same thing, for every person you can show who are giving up on APM, I can show you a person who has gone away from DJI to APM.  Only fanboys will tell you DJI is perfect, but they're not telling the whole story.  Lots of DJI users have poor performance, glitches and bugs, communication with the developers is spotty at best.  The real difference here is that with APM, you can talk to the developers, they will honestly look at the problem, and tell you if it's a code problem.  With DJI, you get a response very much like you do with Apple "you're doing it wrong", which is not always true.  In most cases, the DJI system is easier to use.  But some setups will never work, and there's nothing you can do about it, and there's nobody to help you.  And sometimes they'll still flyaway, or flip of death.

And talk about EOL problems... ask the guys who just spent $1000+ on a Wookong a month ago how happy they are.

Well said Rob!

very well said,if we dont go forward we would all be driving model T fords,Marty.

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