Copter-3.3 beta testing

Warning #1: an issue has been found with Tower's Pause button which can cause the vehicle to fly to an old position if the vehicle has not sent a position update to Tower in some time.

Warning #2: Copter-3.3.2 fixes a bug found in Copter-3.3.1's desired climb rate initialisation which could lead to a sudden momentary drop when switching from Stabilize or Acro to AltHold, Loiter or PosHold.

Warning #3: Copter-3.3.2 fixes an issue found in Copter-3.3.1 which could lead to hard landings in RTL or AUTO if the WPNAV_SPEED_DN was set too high (i.e. >400 or 4m/s) and/or the WPNAV_ACCEL_Z was set too low (i.e. <100 or 1m/s/s).

Warning #4: a bug was found in Copter-3.3 which could cause a sudden crash if you abort a Take-off initiated from a ground station.  Video description is here.  The bug is fixed in Copter-3.3.1 so we recommend upgrading.

Note #1: AC3.3-rc8 corrected a long standing bug in the HDOP reporting.  HDOP values will appear about 40% lower than previously but this does not actually mean the GPS position is better than before.
Note #2: if upgrading from AC3.2.1 the vehicle's accelerometer calibration needs to be done again.
Note #3: set SERIAL2_PROTOCOL to "3" and reboot the board to enable FrSky telemetry like in previous versions.
Note #4: the wiki will be updated over the next few weeks to explain how to use the new features

Copter-3.3.1 is available through the mission planner.  The full list of changes vs AC3.2.1 can be see in the ReleaseNotes and below are the most recent changes since AC3.3.

Sadly this version (and all future versions) will not run on the APM2.x boards due to CPU speed, flash and RAM restrictions.

Changes from 3.3:

1) Bug fix to prevent potential crash if Follow-Me is used after an aborted takeoff

2) compiler upgraded to 4.9.3 (runs slightly faster than 4.7.2 which was used previously)

Changes from 3.3-rc11:

1) EKF recovers from pre-arm "Compass variance" failure if compasses are consistent

Changes from 3.3-rc10:

1) PreArm "Need 3D Fix" message replaced with detailed reason from EKF

Changes from 3.3-rc9
1) EKF improvements:
    a) simpler optical flow takeoff check
2) Bug Fixes/Minor enhancements:
    a) fix INS3_USE parameter eeprom location
    b) fix SToRM32 serial protocol driver to work with recent versions
    c) increase motor pwm->thrust conversion (aka MOT_THST_EXPO) to 0.65 (was 0.50)
    d) Firmware version sent to GCS in AUTOPILOT_VERSION message
3) Safety:
    a) pre-arm check of compass variance if arming in Loiter, PosHold, Guided
    b) always check GPS before arming in Loiter (previously could be disabled if ARMING_CHECK=0)
    c) sanity check locations received from GCS for follow-me, do-set-home, do-set-ROI
    d) fix optical flow failsafe (was not always triggering LAND when optical flow failed)
    e) failsafe RTL vs LAND decision based on hardcoded 5m from home check (previously used WPNAV_RADIUS parameter)

Thanks for your testing!

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        • Well, I am using, or rather 'testing' the alpha version of 3.4 and having these issues. 
          So, I'm still not sure if you are saying 3.3 should not be working, because you are correct.. It is not supported yet. 
          Or, are you saying the developers know that even 3.4 alpha is not working? 
          The people involved w/ AUAV have been saying on another forum, that APM 3.4 alpha should be working..   It's fine if it isn't, and I understand development means it could work one day and not the next..   I'd just like to know.

          And Richard, px4 loads and calibrates w/out any problems, but I had issues w/ it too.. That may be simply my inexperience w/ px4.  I can't arm and take off in any mode other than manual, which is a problem if I want to be in acro and immediately take off and race in acro or something.  And, I have had issues disarming in modes other than manual.  Just sitting on my workbench, I can be in alt_hold (or altctl is what they call it) and put my throttle stick bottom left and it disarms.  But, out in the field it doesn't always.  Other quirks like that... 

          • This is much smaller than a standard pixahawk.. I bought one of these to try waiting for it to arrive.

            • The Pixhawk Lite is a great little board as long as you can live without a buzzer [which has caused a ton of people to semi brick them during a firmware flash by not waiting long enough for the upgrade to complete before hitting the ok button] But the Lite is a full Pixhawk whereas the new PixRacer is a stripped down PX4 so the PX4 stack works well on it but the APM stack hasn't had the needed [for lack of a better terminology] drivers written for APM yet. I've been following the development of the Racer for a while now on the PX4users group and it looks interesting but worth waiting a while for until they get all the kinks worked out.

              • I got rid of the buzzer on my pixhawk right away as my wife could hear it from the basement and realize I was playing around again :] 

                Pardon my ignorance but is the solution for the pixracer to work with the APM stack firmware or hardware? If it's firmware wouldn't that have to be written right in the APM code? Or perhaps the APM code would have to be installed with QGroundCtrl only maybe? 

                • The APM stack uses a different approach than the PX4 stack. With APM you have a HAL [hardware abstraction layer] which is where the "drivers" for sensors and other things go. This allows the kernel at the end to talk with the HAL [the middle] and all the sensors and what not to finally talk with the clever bits that takes all that info and tell the motors to do things. [very simplified but you get the idea]. The PX4 stack is more of a RTOS and has all that HAL stuff in the kernel.Lorenz and team developed the Racer so it is their flight stack that now works with the Racer. The APM devs still need to get a working HAL for the Racer to talk with the rest of the APM stack. Once that is done it won't really matter which stack you choose. But it is still best to use PX4 with QGC and APM with Mission Planner.

                  • Developer

                    A small correction, the APM stack has been working with pixracer for months.  In fact, I believe it flew first on APM.  The issue is just that we've been slow to get the code available through the mission planner (which we will sort out very soon).

                    The QGC vs Mission Planner thing is interesting because some developers (with support from Intel) have been improving QGC's support for APM.  I haven't tried it myself but I hear good things.

                • It's APM side firmware and I didn't have any luck loading APM with QGC. If you want to fly just use PX4 and QGC, a little bit of a learning curve from MP but works great. The racer is a very well built and designed little controller, I think you'll like it.

                  Cheers R
                  • Developer

                    We going to sort out the loading of pixracer with Copter-3.3.3 via mission planner (and other GCSs) this week.  It should be possible to load master (also known as "latest") already by using beta mission planner and pressing Alt-Q from the Install Firmware screen.  That's using bleeding edge Copter though so we're going to sort out the load of Copter-3.3.3 very soon.  Sorry for the delay on that!

                • According to Nikolay Arsov the communication problem is with the APM/Mission planner code. As Craig mentioned the racer was developed with the PX4 stack and works great. I don't think that any solution exists at this point and I don't think APM and QGC dance without lots of sore toes. You can use PX4 stack for now although IMHO QGC is a bit tough to get use to after using Mission Planner. QGC is much easier to use than it was a few months ago, the set up screen is actually pretty cool.

              • That is exactly what I have determined and Nikolay sounded as if the APM guys are working on a solution. Perhaps this chatter will get a response from the development team and we can get a better idea as to when the racer will work on the APM stack. I fired mine up with PX4 and QGC and it looks quite nice. I haven't flown yet but bench testing went well.

                Cheers, Randy
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