ArduCopter 3.0 is ready for widespread use.  To make the transition easier, this time we are asking people to voluntarily upgrade from 2.9.1b for the next month or so before we make 3.0 the default firmware downloaded by the mission planner.  The new version can be found in the Mission Planner's Beta firmware's link, firmware.diydrones.com, GitHub and the new Downloads Area.

Warning #1: A bug was found in the FENCE in which if you lost GPS it could lean at extreme angles as it tried to maintain an invalid position.  This is fixed in AC3.0.1-rc1.

Warning #2: This release has not been fully tested on Traditional Helicopters

Warning #3: GPS glitches can cause sudden and aggressive position changes while in loiter mode.  You may wish to reduce the WPNAV_ACCEL to 100 and Loiter PID to 0.2 (from 1.0) to reduce aggressiveness.

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.

http://ardupilot.com/downloads/?did=63

2. Click on the MissionPlanner's Firmware screen and click the "Beta Firmwares" link on the bottom right.  The version numbers should update to "ArduCopter-3.0.1rc2", 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. If you purchased an APM prior to March of 2013, update your PPM encoder to the latest firmware.

http://copter.ardupilot.com/wiki/common-ppm-encoder/

http://copter.ardupilot.com/wiki/common-ppm-encoder-apm2x-atmega32u2/

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

Special Thanks to MarcoDaveC and the rest of the beta testers for putting 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.  

Added by Craig:

Please watch Randy's videos on setting up and flying APM-Copter 3.0 before you go flying.  They are excellent!

3DR Quad Set-Up Suggestions        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=33Tl_rjhQEE
AC 3.0 "Live" Compass Calibration  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DmsueBS0J3E
AC 3.0 CompassMot Setup                http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0vZoPZjqMI4
AC 3.0 Pre-Arm Checks                      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gZ3H2eLmStI
AC 3.0 Fence                                         https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HDnGdo54o-4
AC 3.0 Maiden Flight Checks             http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NOQPrTdrQJM

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Steve,

     I generally check that box if I see it but I don't think it's necessary.  At the top of the AC3.0 dataflash logs you'll see a bunch of lines starting with "FMT".  This was added by Tridge to make the dataflash logs "self describing".  With this information I don't think the mission planner needs any extra information in order to display the logs properly.

Thanks Magnus, it's really hard to separate stuff on my H-frame, battery and APM both need to go in the center on the CG, I can only perhaps raise the APM up on a platform, maybe about 2cm above the prop line from 5cm below it now.

Omg I should take a nap or get more coffe, I had the APM1 in mind while asking this question, forgetting I switched to APM2 a while ago. So while saying correctly APM2 I had the picture of the old APM1 in my mind... Anyway, is the compass on the APM1 the same as the external one?

Wesley,

     There's a lot of noise on your baro.  It's jumpin gup and down by at least 3 meters.  Have you got your baro in the case with some foam in there?  Is it an old APM?

The APM1 does not have an internal compass! :)

https://code.google.com/p/ardupilot-mega/wiki/MagAPM1

Hi, I wanted to point out that on my AC-3.0 Tricopter I am experiencing the wobbles/jitter in loiter that Marco described and has shown in videos. It is  very pronounced and immediately goes away when switching to alt hold or stab.  I have played with the PIDs quite a bit in an attempt to make it more stable but have failed to reduce or eliminate the loiter jitters. I fly FPV and it is very apparent...   

I have very low vibrations (<=0.3 ), APM located 5 inches from current carrying wires. ESCs are HK F-30's reflashed with Wii-Esc. Previously I had tried 3.0rc5 on a different Tri with SimonK flashes and it experienced the same wobble...

Everything else is working great. Love the new loiter behavior.  

...so you would have had to have bought an external compass and it would be the same one as is on the APM2.  There was a slight change in the compass version.  It switched at some point from the Honeywell 5843 to the 5883 so depending upon when you bought the external compass it could be of either type.  They're extremely similar though.

Sean,

     We think the wobbles that Marco (and 1 or 2 other people have found) is because of the SimonK (or similar) ESCs.  Maybe your Wii ESCs are also very responsive.  These responsive ESCs are exposing the little steps caused by the nav controller only running at 10hz.  Normal ESCs just filter the steps out so they're never seen.  We have a plan to smooth it out so the problem will go away.

Awesome, thanks Randy. I've been following the discussion on drones-discuss and wanted to get my two cents in.  Wii-ESC are supposed to be as responsive as the SimonK's (and subjective experience indicates they are.)  

Very nice. The

Hi Craig,

i'm just searching for how to update PPM encoder FW on my ArduPilotMega v1.4. On the old wiki there it is but without pictures (pictures are due to quota removed). Do you know where I can find illustrated manual of PPM encoder firmware update for APM 1.4?

Graham, then you'll need to put an external magnetometer on a stick of for an easier setup buy the GPS / Compass module with a case that should be available shortly at 3DR.

There is no way to shield the APM against magnetic interferences. If you shield it it will not receive anymore the earth magnetic field.

The simpler way is to put the compass far away for all magnetic sources. A 10 to 15 cm stick is most of the time large enough to get things sorted out with a perfect result.

Another way (not as efficient and more complicated) is to concentrate high current power distribution cables and devices in the smallest possible area, to avoid current loops and reduce generated magnetic fields. This is generally something that should be done at design time. This can ask heavier modifications and is a specialist task.

The simpler is to put the magnetometer far away from magnetic sources. The sources influences decrease with the cube of the distance.

This is not something specific to Arducopter, all autopilots using a compass have the same specificity and the same solutions to avoid compass interferences.

Olivier

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