Hi everyone. I wanna start by saying that I love the APM project. I am writing this picture blog because I have not seen anything like this yet for helicopters. Feel free to ask questions or give advice. 

Right now having some issues in configuring... hopefully those issues will be solved here.

Currently I am unable to calibrate the compass properly. It is built unto the same board as the LEA6H GPS. I keep twisting the heli in all directions like a mad man until my wrists start killing me and then Mission Planner would say not enough samples. Also having problems calibrating the accelerometer as this heli is so heavy. All up weight should be about 860g but it 1.43kg. Hope this fat girl can fly. People have said its easier to calibrate the accelerometer with the APM out of the UAV... on a quad that might be easy to remove... but on heli, I would have to remove most electronics. Can both accelerometer and compass be calibrated accurately while in the heli?

Hardware:

Dell Inspiron 15R Laptop Windows 7 Ultimate

VWinRC 450 TB belt driven Flybarless helicopter

Spektrum DX8 radio - v3.00 firmware

Orange RC 8ch receiver

APM 2.6 - Arducopter 3.1.4 firmware

Crius ublox LEA6H GPS & Mag (compass) - running 8.04 firmware

915 GHz 3DR radio - SiK 1.9 firmware

2200mah x 2 for a total of 4400mah parallel lipo

YEP 45A Esc with 5A BEC - power servos and motor

5v 5A BEC with voltage regulation - power APM, 2dr radio, receiver & gps

Align 525 metal gear MINI servo

KST 215 mg metal gear MICRO servo x3

Turnigy Typhoon 2218 motor with 13 tooth pinion turning 150 tooth main gear

This is a very detailed look at how I built and wired the heli:

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Above is the final look at all the parts I decided to use.

3691119945?profile=originalSoldered the input power cables from ESC and BEC to a bullet connector and placed it in an EC3 connector. Then with a programming card I setup the ESC.

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I then flashed:

Ground radio

Air radio

ublox GPS LEA6h

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Assembled kit and checked motor direction.

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Leveled swashplate using leveler tool

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Checking my all up weight

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Receiver mounted upside-down under withe 3M mounting tape

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Sorting out the cables

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Testing all electronics before mounting

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Read about this and saw it tested. Could not resist the urge to buy and try.

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This definitely looks like something that doesn't belong on a heli... lol

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Moon gel being squished... I wonder if I pulled the tie strap too tight... let me know

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I know its not neat and rather untidy but I tried my best to neaten up using battery straps, tie straps and cable hooks to clear main gear.

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BEC and 3dr radio mounted with 3M mounting tape.

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Completed. Everything mounted. Main blades and tail blades left off to setup heli safely.

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Have not flown it yet. I would like to maiden it tomorrow if I get it configured tonight. Center of gravity is spot on thanks to the way the batteries were mounted. Thank Rob and Xin for the advice.

Thats it, let me know what you think.

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Replies

  • Rob, I have some problem with the baro on my PX4 though. It's not serious, but the heli will jump up or down occasionally in Alt Hold mode. I've already put some foam on it but seems still not perfect.

  • Well PX4 is the most compact one, but it has no casing, which means the baro will suffer from the air flow even with foam. APM is already outdated, I'm afraid support will gradually become less, so Pixhawk is the only option to you it seems.

    I wanted to recommend VR Brain if you asked a few days ago, but having asked some questions to them and having seen some comment from the Tau Labs developer I'm not interested in VR Brain anymore, I just don't trust this team. I'll stick to my PX4 and APM at the moment, probably will get a Pixhawk later. But I really hope 3DR will release some compact boards like the OpenPilot Revolution and the MicroBrain 5.1.

    Nothing fits Trex 450 Pro, there is just no space, unless you can make a sub plate just like what I did. I don't know about the exact size of Pixhawk though.

    • Much thank to you for your speedy reply.

    • I don't think the Pixhawk will fit where he has the APM now.  It's a bit bigger footprint.  It could probably fit if you turned it sideways, which is a valid option.  There's a setting for that.  But then the servo wires would come out the side which is a bit odd.  

      I don't have any problem with the baro on the PX4.  I get some foam and stuff it in there.  Seems fine.

      Chadel's high compass offsets could be because of steel screws near the compass.

      • The pixhawk is really good, I read about it. But I figured if I am spending $200.00, I might as well go with the more advanced board, the pixhawk. I know the wires may stick out at the side, but the VWinRC 450 is just an experiment until I can afford a 600 or 700 size heli to experiment on.

        Getting married in 2 weeks so finances are restricted (read monitored). Maybe in June or July when the dust settles I may get permission from the wife to purchase 2 pixhawks. One for the heli and one for my qav400 quad kit i am gonna buy.

        Might have to put up with this crappy clone for a little while longer. I will move the compass back a bit and try to get it away from the servo.

        Please put up with me my silly questions (and my crappy clones) just for a little while so I can at least fully test the APM platform. I am currently studying Neural Networks and Artificial Intelligence. This is hard and I need something to take my mind off of my school work and the job.

        Thanks in advance Xin and Rob.

      • Much thank to you for your speedy reply.

  • Go for Pixhawk, no doubt about that, just don't buy the clones by mistake.

    • Xin, no details? 

      I only own 2 450s. The align trex 450 pro dfc and I own the VWinRC 450 TB. Can the PixHawk fit on the VWinRC? If so, how? Need those details please Xin.

  • I decided that since the APM and the 3dr radio are clones, I will buy the original.

    But if I am to buy something original, should I buy APM 2.6 or PX4 or Pixhawk? Please give detailed reasoning behind your decision. The pros and cons. Also, Will the PixHawk fit in the space where APM is currently mounted?

    I need this ASAP please. Thanks.

  • I never have any problem calibrating the compass of my APM or PX4, either it's on a heli or on a quad. I guess you may have some wrong parameter, or you may just have a bad clone board.

    Turntable is a good idea if you're not sure whether your setup is correct. Just remember not to tune your heli with it.

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