The person
This being my fist post I guess I should introduce myself a little (feel free to skip!)… I’m an undergraduate currently studying lvl2 Mechanical Engineering at the University of Adelaide, compulsive tinkerer and a fan of all things mechanical. My interests in the general aviation, modeling and auto control fields lead me towards UAV’s and for the past few years I’ve been playing with the idea of combining these hobbies and doing some UAV based projects.

After reading my fair share of project logs I finally decided to buy some gear and have a play with the very distant and lofty goal of eventually building a UAV capable of vertical takeoff and landing while retaining the range of a fixed wing aircraft (most likely a tilt wing quad-copter).
My extent of programming experience consists of a bit of C and python, both in uni, high school, but primarily self taught (read: not a lot! Ha!). However I’m intent on working with the C development platforms and with the PIC chips.

The project
I’m playing with a few different bits of tech at the moment but mainly Bill’s UAV IMU DevBoard which is a very cool bit of kit (Bill fan boy! Haha!). My understanding is that this board is not really suited to quads or VTOL control in general; however it’s a pre-built PIC platform from which I hope to learn from and possibly develop some code on.
My initial goals with the UAV DevBoard are to communicate with my computer and display what the sensors on the board are reading. I’ve seen this has already been implemented in python by someone on this forum and I hope to achieve something similar.
I have also brought a RC car with the intension of playing with the Bill’s navigation code (in two dimensions!) in order to help me develop my coding skills.
In regards to the quad-copter, I’ve read a number of threads on the RC forums and to play it safe I’ve ordered a bunch of the recommended and tested motors, props and ESC’s to build a platform for future stabilization development.

Most of the components are in transit, so very little is going on until I have my FT232RL USB to Serial breakout and my quad-copter components.
I look forward to sharing my project as it unfolds.


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An RC car is a great way to get started. I highly recommend it.

Let me know if there is anything I can do to help you.

Although my primary interest is in providing stabilization and return to launch to make it easier and safer for newbie fixed-wing fliers to learn how to fly, other UAV DevBoard pilots have built on the released firmware, and have added waypoints and telemetry for example. Also, John "Mac" is attempting control of a helicopter.

One item of interest for you: It is likely that the spare pins on the UAV DevBoard can be used to implement a total of 5 PWM input channels, and 6 PWM output channels, so I am not giving up on quad-copters just yet. Ben Levitt came up with the idea for how to implement the extra input channel. Thanks, Ben.

Best regards, welcome aboard, and good luck,
Bill Premerlani
Hi Bill,
Thanks for the pointers in the other thread.

After playing around with the files you linked there, I tried the copies from my MPLAB install and everything seemed to work!

Just a few Q’s:
With v5 of the MatrixNav firmware is the GPS configured to binary? I’m hoping so as the GPS’s led does no light up anymore. I figured that with the recent changes to the GPS parser code setting the mode to binary would cause this.

Also, is there a way to test the MatrixNav firmware “auto mode” without connecting the radio? I was unsure what would happen booting the board without connecting a radio (i.e.: what will the state machine do?)
Lastly will the code need to be modified in order for my RC car’s radio to send valid pulses to the radio pins of the DevBoard? The radio is a two channel receiver operating in the 27.095 MHz band.

Hi Sam,

Regarding the GPS LED...the roll-pitch-yaw demo, MatrixNav, and AileronAssist run the GPS in binary mode, so the LED goes out. The self testing firmware, which you can download from the UAV DevBoard home page, runs the GPS in NMEA mode. So if you just want to see the GPS LED turn on again, load the self test firmware, and reset it board a couple of times, the LED will eventually turn on.

Regarding running MatrixNav without a radio (I assume you mean the RC radio, not the GPS), the state machine will not allow you proceed. It is goint to insist that everything checks out before it will let you "fly". If you want to run MatrixNav without a GPS, place a #define TestGains in the controlGains.h file.

If you would like to check the servo interface between the board and your car without a radio, I suggest that you use the roll-pitch-yaw demo. It will excercise the servos.

Regarding your two channel car radio, it will work fine with the UAV DevBoard, it uses the same pulse width and frame rate as the airplane radios. My first tentative steps in this hobby were taken with an RC truck.

Best regards,
Hey Sam,

I must be down he hall in the electrical engineering department. We are also making a quadcopter, basic no swash plate tilting. We have plenty of experience in coding and a lot of the parts.

1) Carbon fibre frame
2) 4 BLDC motor + ESC
3) Gumstix Linux 400Mhz CPU + GPS
4) 3DM-GX2 IMU
5) Arduinos for motor control and interfacing to additional sensors

Look me up in the uni register and come say hi sometime. Always happy to get more people involved.


Could it be something like the canard version of the v-22 osprey?

I've been toying around with the idea for a while, but I haven't put much thought into it.
We will need 4 more servos to tilt the rotors and a lot of fiddling , but yes it can be done.
That sound great!
I'll definitely have to come have a chat and check it out...

I'll be in touch,
Room: N232 - Engineering North. Here are some pictures for your review.


Hi folks,

Here is a quad update. I am doing some work on the side making models in blender etc. for making concept demo movies or just for design ideas.



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