Hardware-in-the-loop for traditional helicopter drones

Hi heli group!


Allow myself to introduce.. myself..


I'm Chris. I work in a controls research lab at UT San Antonio as an undergrad researcher. I'm currently doing research to apply fuzzy logic as a replacement for PID feedback control in complex systems such as traditional helicopters. ArduCopter is something that looks to be very promising in helping me solve the numerous problems of system integration that stand in the way of having a working testbed for my control algorithms.


The only thing standing in the way of progress for me is having hardware-in-the-loop simulation working for traditional helicopters. Our lab runs a Thunder Tiger Raptor 90 as its testbed, and to be blunt, I'm scared to death of trying to test a brand spanking new control method on a 90 series nitro heli.


I'm new to the open-source community, but I've got a huge vested interest in seeing this feature added to ArduCopter. This project is something that I can most likely devote not only my own time to, but also the time of my fellow researchers, as well as the time of the members of the IEEE Student Chapter Robotics team that I currently chair.


If I don't hear back from anyone in the next couple of weeks, I'll assume that nobody is working it, and I'll start the project on my own. But if you are currently working the project and need help, I'd gladly accept any guidance that you might have, so that I can help the effort along.




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  • Hey guys! Here's an update!


    The simulator works great, but there's a little problem taking it out of HiL mode.  When I set the code up to run the APM2 hardware, and turn off HIL, it doesn't look like the accelerometer data is being used. I get super bad gyro drift that won't correct its self. The artificial horizon slowly drifts around, and eventually doesn't reflect the actual attitude of the APM at all.

    Any ideas?

  • Developer

    I've added a Simulation page to the wiki that details the set-up instructions.  I'll include a couple of nice screenshots as well in the near future.


    Please tell me if you think it's unclear or need more details added.  I've given it a go just now on my new computer and it certainly seems to work!


    Thanks a lot Michael Oborne!

  • Developer
    Make sure you change the throttle gain to 500
  • Developer

    Hi Guys,


    i will be releasing a new planner version soon with support for AeroSimRC 3.7 (Heli).

    you will need to install a plugin, and change the simulator gains, but apart from that it seems fairly good.



  • Developer


    Please evaluate a 500 size helicopter,  I think it would be better suited for training and test as it is more stable and has greater payload for avionics, a larger mass / rotor dampens quick movements.  My HDX-500 is super smooth and will hover hands off, for a few seconds, It is balanced well...  My little 200 size is the most squirmy of the bunch.

  • Developer


        I found this line in defines.h, so the CLI switch should be PIN 40.  I think if you hold it low it will go into the CLI.

    #define SLIDE_SWITCH_PIN 40


         It's only used at start up to check whether to go into the CLI menu or not.


         I definitely do not know anything about rewriting that .dll.  Maybe Mike Oborne does.

  • Developer

    Nobody's done it for the trad heli yet and it sure would be a huge help in particular for testing new versions.  I had a mild crash 2 weeks ago which certainly could have been avoided with some simulator testing.


    As graham says, the first step is making the equivalent of the quadhil.xml file.  I'm hopefule that one of the other ardu-developers adds some get-started advice...maybe an overview of how it works..

  • Would be really interested in HIL for Trad Heli :)

  • Have you looked at the hardware-in-loop for quad rotors?  I think you would be able to find or create a flightgear traditional heli model that would work and then be able to adapt the code.  I haven't tried to do hardward-in-loop yet, but am certainly interested in trying it at some point as well.


    As far as I know no one has done HIL for traditional heli's yet, but only Randy would know for sure.


    HIL for quads info can be found here if you haven't already seen it (I am assuming you probably already have)


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