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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Alex: the problem is that every RC brand exhibits different behavior when signal is lost, and some of them can be set to custom responses by users. Some hold last signal, some go to zero, some go to a preset signal position, some are totally unpredictable, etc.  There is sadly NO standardization on this in the RC industry. 

Thus the need to tell any autopilot what your particular brand/configuration of RC gear does. 

it is more complicated than that.  The setting for off can be exactly the same as the setting for signal lost.

@AlexO: I agree that the best scenario is the the RC reciever outputs no signal on signal loss, this is detected by the PPM, that outputs no signal on signal loss and the APM would then have an invalid PPM signal so would know for sure that radio contact had failed.

The problems all arise from failsa from the rc reciever which is designed for rc models. If it outputs a valid signal, its hard to tell. With just throttle channel being set for Futaba, and all channels set for FrSky its even more commplicated. Especially with the mode switch used to disengae the failsafe. Which is the problem with the FrSky doing all channels.

I think the solution here will only be solved by having a way to let the PPM encoder know what type of rc failsafe it is dealing with. Thottle only, all channels, or no signal. Then this can be confgiured along with other parameters to result in the desired behaviour.

It's the fact that the PPM encoder is transparent to the APM that causes the issue IMHO.

Martin: You can only roll, not pitch (flip). We are implementing a full ACRO for version 3.1. This is being tested now.

Pablo: Thanks for that. The increased Yaw Rate P will defiantly help cover up the problem. But we will have a fix out shortly.

The way I do this is I do a complete reset then I load my old parameters using the "compare" button (I think but I don't have it in front of me). That lets me choose what parameters I want to override and what default parameters I want to keep.

+1, amazing work that has been put into this. Can't say thanks enough. Even more so for the support that the dev team offers on here to the common man.

Thanks Chris and Craig. Olivier replied to me also on this matter and explained why you guys don't let APM to decide if the signal is lost. I understand that part better now. 

He also said some more improvements on the way about the APM failsafe. I think then APM will have a better way to evaluate the situation.

If you guys can find a way for APM to detect a radio failure on its own, setting a failsafe for us pilots would be as easy as toggling the parameter between on and off. I believe it will happen one day...

Gentleman,

i just want to thank everyone for the effort everyone put into developing this version. it is absolutely remarkable to say the least. i was a bit nervous loading 3.0 since some of the comments from some users, but my experience was positive(very stable flight). i was kind of tired of the previous versions and today i said, you know what if this version is less stable than the previous im done with the ardupilot. Tryed Stable, Alt Hold, and finally RTL( if it didnt come back was prepared to trash entire 3dr kit). all flight modes were awesome, i didn't even do all the compass mot. i did the atmega update and that was it. my dampening is velcro from home depot between the ardupilot and frame  and works great( it is the earthquake rated one). that being said i am ordering a couple more 2200Mah batteries because time flew by, before i knew it all batteries were done(hoping i didnt kill any of them). excuse my grammar watching a movie with my wife, and if she finds out im on here again she will kill me.lol.

Best,

Luis

Up and running Arducopter V3.0.1-rc1 on a quad X and it is rock solid and accurate so far.  I put it up today against some heavy winds in loiter, followed by a couple of missions and it made them look easy.  Thanks to the dev team for all the great work, for the videos by Randy and Marco and to Michael for the excellent MP!  Well done!

Thanks

Yes, I also do this so, but this solution doesn't seem practical, because it greatly increases the chances of altering some oder values by mistake. I think that with each new software version, all of us want to know what are the new default PID values, to keep them as reference. Undoubtedly, a "Default PID" button would be helpful.

But, hey!, It was just an idea.

Thanks for your answer.

Yeh, we have been talking about this. But things happen slowly (or maybe some things happen too fast). But I think there will be a number of things like this that start to get to the top of the priority list now.

I just thought I might be able to help you in the meantime. Sounds like you have it sorted though :)

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