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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Hi Leonard,ive just been out and done some accro all was good except the Flip,it would not go past 90 degrees,im sure it was o/k in V3,this is V3 01,maybe you can have a look at it,many thank's,Marty.

And if you have "toilet bowl" issues or haven't done compassmot or don't even know that your compass is reading incorrectly, then Failsafe & RTL = automatic crash.

Sorry, but that's how it is at the moment.

Thanks Olivier for the long and detailed post. I will frequently refer back to this.

-In this case, setting both failsafe (as Steve F11 did) wouldn't have any negative effect assuming Tx failsafe set ch5 to RTL (not Stabilize). Correct?

-Secondly, what does "Disarm" action mean? You said if flying in Stabilize or Acro mode and throttle=0, then APM would disarm.

Do you mean that APM cuts power to the motors and the copter starts falling out of the sky???

Other than the very very unlikely event you described in your above post, I can't imagine a situation where copter would be flying in acro or stabilize mode and throttle would be 0 at the time failsafe occurs. 

So does this "Disarm" action for the scenarios where the copter is on the ground and has NOT taken off yet?

I kind of agree with you Anderl. It should be reworded at least because it is clear that even if the throttle failsafe hasn't set up through the radio, there are still 2 other scenarios (Rx failure and PPM encoder failure) where the system enters into failsafe state...

I've done the compassmot (43%), compass is accurate to North. Still toilet bowling.

If you don't fly without fully operaitonal failsafes (as I do), 3.0.x has a very high chance of rendering your bird unflyable without some voodoo magic and a serious amount of alterations.

God forbid you're a newb to APM right now - you're going to crash. A lot. That's even if you can get the thing to fly in the first place.

I can see DJI Naza sales picking up in the near future as a result.

Sorry for the rant - just come back from yet another unsuccessful flight, after my 7th compassmot. This time, it just fell out the sky switching to stabilise and damaged legs and gimbal.

Sorry Randy - I know you guys bust a gut on this - but I'm going back to 2.9.1 when I could fly pack after pack on auto, using RTL, my failsafes worked, and the damned thing just flew. I'm not touching another "upgrade" until at least 4.x.

Graham, I agree with you. Just because failsafe and RTL set doesn't mean guranteed recovery. I never tried thr RTL yet. I won't till I solve my compass issues; currently have 469% compassmot result!!!!

So I will have to move stuff around and possibly try another copter. This DJI f450 is a disaster recipe when APM mounts on the distribution board...

@Euan,

I see you are frustrated. I don't blame you; everyone feels the same way when things don't go alright. If that happens to me a few times in a row, I am pretty sure, I would have the same feelings you do have now.

But to be telling you the truth (as a NAZA owner), that NAZA sales will not pick up at all. It is already at its peak and from this point on, it will only go down. 

If you really envy DJI, you may go ahead and purchase one and then see what type of customer service you get from them. Everything works with $$$ there. They weigh and price every single upgrade they come up with. With a little exaggeration, if they say "Hello" there is probably some charge involved with it:)

Then once the platform is on the market and they realize they won't get more money from it, they go ahead and change the color of the product or add some magical number/letter to the end of the name and come up with a new stuff so you have to ditch more $$$ to get a complete new system. Because if you don't, you will be left behind.

I will be selling my NAZA very soon; you bet!.. Just need a little more time for this APM to be fully functional. 

I am not saying NAZA is not a working platform. It does what it advertises and it does it pretty well. It is for people that don't understand much about flight control systems and just want a plug & play stuff. It gives you a few parameter to adjust and that is it!..

Good News!.. They have a RTL system as well. They call it RTH (Return To Home). Works very well most of the time. But the altitude is set to 20 meter. You can NOT change it. How about that? If you want to change it, you need to pay more.

They have a fully functional waypoint system with telemetry etc. with a small  convenience fee of $10k.

So you can go explore all that or stay with APM and eventually get all of them for a few hunderd $$$s.

The choice is yours I would say...:)

Alex, yes setting CH5 to RTL should not give any problems (never tried it by it has been tried by a developer who did test that recently).

In this case if you want to be consistent in your setup it will be better to put RTL on flight mode 4 (PWM = 1555), because it is the flight mode triggered by the PPM encoder if the receiver signal is fully lost.

Disarm means cutting motors. Yes it is a very low probability situation during flight.

This protection is a safety measure to avoid copters jumping in the sky if a user power off its transmitter with the copter armed on the ground. It does forbid switching to RTL on the ground.

Olivier

Done.

Where can I find that? What's it called in Adv Parameter List? Not finding it.

If I understand what you said below then it's best to set ch5 failsafe to RTL. On my setup I have to set something on each channel so I set ch5 to failsafe that hopefully avoids the problem you describe below:

>For example in some rare cases this could disarm the APM during flight
>in this very specific and uncommon condition :

>- throttle low before failsafe event (you were flying in Alt-hold or
>Loiter with throttle low).

>- radio failsafe occurring (throttle = 900 and switching CH5 mode to
>acro or stabilize at the same time)

Your understanding of the behavior is correct.

>>>What actually surprizes me here is that WHY is APM not able to detect a radio failure on its own? Why does it have to told this with some failsafe settings?

The only way for the APM to know that there is something wrong is for the receiver and PPM encoder to be configured so the PPM encoder will send a value to the APM outside of the normal range of values.  

Maybe the solution is for the APM to 'memorize' the state when the Tx is shut off. For example as part of setting up the failsafe in MP, it would ask you to turn off your radio (and of course warn about removing props) and then it would KNOW what the state looks like with your particular Rx.

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