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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Great!  What frame are you flying?

Have you ever actually tested a servo to check the claims of 1uS resolution?  I've never seen anything like that.  About 3-4 is the lowest I've seen, and that was on a hall effect sensor servo.  Typical is 6-8.  I have not tested any new, expensive servos like Futaba, however.  Only older Futabas and Hitecs, and newer Chinese servos.

Personally, I think the idea that people can actually feel more resolution than about 100 steps per side is marketing koolaid.  I don't want to be condescending but, that's my opinion.  There are SO many sources of "noise" when flying an airplane, it just seems impossible to me.  

I mean, lets look at Stabilize.  By default it has 45 degrees per side.  If the command input only has 100 steps per side, that is still less than 1/2 a degree per side.  Most people can't even SEE half a degree, on a stationary item on the ground.  Like a picture frame mitre joint.  1/2 a degree is not a bad manual machining tolerance!  I just don't see how anybody is going to notice that they have "only" half a degree of resolution on a flying quadcopter.  The Stab controller isn't even that precise anyway.

The difference between analog servos and digital servos, now that is a BIG difference.  No question about it.  It's not really even about resolution.  It's about centering precision.  Analog servos are horribly non-linear as they approach the target, and never even get close if they are under load. 

Anyway, thanks for the note about the Hyperion servos. I'm actually looking at getting an MSH Protos 500 to attempt to make a simple and compact mapping helicopter, and considering getting the combo that comes with... I think it's the DH16 and DH20 servos which are actually the low-cost option.  Sounds like they are pretty good. 

I am a fan of the Lontair hall sensor servos, but they don't really have good options in the mini class.

And I used to run it on 12's!

Actually, I wasn't sure it would fly at all with the 800kV motors.  Well, eCalc is saying it definitely won't fly on 8" props. I dunno.

Nice rig. I have the same frame. I really like it.
Here's a vid where I was auto trimming. I incorrectly referred to it as autotuning. www.youtube.com/watch?v=MAgLzSiUmqs

You got the same? Nice! What size motors and props do you use? 3s or 4s? I use Turnigy D3530/14 1100KV with 12x4.5 and 3S 5000mAh (sometimes 2) on it. With the 10,000mAh I get ~16min flight time out of it.

Just added 3DR 850KV, 3S 3000 ~9 mins. FrSky Taranis and x8r Rx.

Hi Leonard,

Sorry about attaching the wrong files, it was late at night.

Please find attached the Autotune log, as well as a Stabilize flight flown with the tuned parameters. The pitch axis vibrations were extremely bad during this Stabilize flight; the FPV video was bouncing up and down so fast that it was hard to see the image clearly, and the jerking motions would cause the brushless gimbal pitch axis to cog. Roll wasn't quite so bad, and yaw was very smooth.

I know from experience that I can improve these oscillations a lot by tripling the Rate I terms and halving the Stab P terms, however I can never seem to eliminate them enough to get nice smooth video. Perhaps if I also experimented with moving the Rate D terms up and down? Or maybe adding some Stab I? Please let me know if you have any suggestions, it would be greatly appreciated.

Attachments:

Hmmm maybe I should downsize my motors. They seem to be real battery killers. Wish I could get my hands on a Taranis. I'm still stuck with the 9XR.

Hello Leonard & Dean:
Thanks for the advice, I'll stick with the APM 1 and organize some vibration control.  How important is a remote compass?

I don't mind the tinkering and tweaking, but thought that the software would be evolved to a higher level of reliability.  Some of the functionality still seems to be mired fairly deeply in basic development.  Maybe this is just the state of the industry at this point in time?

I had assumed that the brand names like DJI would be 100% predictable out of the box but maybe everybody is still trying to fine-tune their code and figure out exactly how the sensors work.

I must say that the documentation is very good, the good illustrations are great help.  Thanks for the advice and words of encouragement.
Cheers . . . . . . . . Spring Harrison

Hi Springfield,

I also have a APM1 board.  So far I've only been able to test STAB mode for 3.1-rc5 but it's performing very well.  One thing I did a while ago was to remove the on-board compass and raise it about 5cm - my COMPASSMOT value went down from 67 to 11.  My vibration levels for X & Y are within -1/+1 and for Z within -9/-11, so I guess that also contributes to it flying well...

Regards,

Hello Andre:
That does sound promising.  Did you install a new remote compass or just move the old one?
I'm planning how to suspend the APM board with O-rings or elastic bands.
And I think the barometer needs a foam cover?
You seem to have got the vibration and magnetic interference down to very good levels; I'll try for the same.
Thanks, Cheers . . . . . . . . Spring Harrison

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