Use of sonar sensor for obstacle navigation

I am looking to use a sonar sensor on my X8 in a forward mounted orientation to control the distance from an object while I inspect it through my FPV system.  Anyone have any (preferably) positive suggestions on how to accomplish this?

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  • I was wondering if you got anywhere with this.

    I'm about to attempt to develop a multicopter for the Internal inspection of a Power Station Boiler, essentially a large dark area. I'm curious as to whether additional sonar would be a way to stop the copter getting too close to the boiler tubes by feeding into the pitch/roll routines and backing the copter off until it was back to a safe distance.

    I just cant get my head round whether mounting the sonar in this attitude would see them affected too much by the prop wash noise. 

    I was hoping to find someone who had attempted adding additional sonar or some other range finding sensor.

    We did a test early last year, but our method of stopping contact was ping pong balls on long carbon rods extending from each arm. Worked quite well actually.

    Mike

    • Hello Mike,

      I wonder if your project went ahead, I'm starting a project for the same intention, boiler inspections. Researching for possible solutions.

      Regards,

      Marcelo

      • Yes, we regularly fly a heavily modified TBS Discover Pro to inspect some support brackets high up inside a large power station boiler.

        The sonar proves to be very accurate and reliable. Mostly the Quad is flown manually with the distances all round, above and below fed back to a ground station, there's no wind so accurate positioning hasn't been a problem and the sonar just gives that extra bit of information to stop us hitting things. We do have an avoidance mode, but never really needed it so far.

        Sonar and clever navigation wasn't what gave us the biggest headache; getting enough lighting on the quad to light up the inspection area for high definition video and photographs was the problem. Some 20watt LED elements mounted directly under the props for cooling gave us enough light eventually.

        You'll also hit the issue of getting an FPV feed back to a ground station monitor. Our boiler ducting was mostly lined with stainless steel, and the tubes are made of something which bounces the video signal in all directions. Its just a big tin box which made any kind of video reception a nightmare. We really did struggle getting a stable video feed. However, some directional antennas on a diversity setup cured that problem to a certain extent. I never thought I'd need to use some long range helical high gain antennas to get a picture at 30 metres away :-)

        However, we also invited these guys to do some trial inspections for us, this is promising tech.

        http://www.flyability.com/

        • We did some tests inside a boiler, you can take a look at this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o4PhJlqI3DY

          We used a canon flash unit in order to get enough light, set the camera on autofocus. The result was ok but as you mentioned, we also fly manual. We are working on a new approach with LEDs also.

          Have you ever tried to use one of those Pulsed Light Lidar sensors pointing to the front, in order to avoid a possible crash to the boiler wall? It would be great to maintain a precise distance to the wall when getting high inside the boiler, making it even easier to focus the camera.

          I will take a look at the website you mentioned, looks very interesting. The biggest challenge IMO is how to get high definition pictures in order to be able to look for small cracks, yet using small platforms safely.

          Thanks for your insight.

          Regards,

          Marcelo.

  • Sonars have a very short range of less than 10 meters. I cant quite recall but i think its 8 m or so. If your flying FPV you should see any objects within that range, which make its hardly useful.

  • I'm interested in this as well. Has anyone experimented with this? 

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