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X8 + APM 2.5 - Setup Photos


I've received a number of requests to show the detail inside the X8 that we've been trialing.  So here we go with some photo's of my terribly messy cabling, and configuration.  Hopefully the next one will be nice and tidy.

Most equipment is attached to the foam using velcro (aka hook and loop) that is stuck onto the equipment and then velcro'ed down.  I like this method as I can remove and move around equipment without damaging the equipment or the a/c.

The APM has some additional sticky foam on the bottom of it before the velcro was applied.  The intent here was to provide some vibration separation for the gyro's.

Below you can see where the batteries are placed.



In the above photo you can see the X8 from the front and top.  You can see the 3DR telemetry radio half way down on the right hand side of the photograph.

3689479178?profile=originalHere you can see the pan/tilt mechanism, with the KX181 camera attached along with the cloverleaf "Fat Shark" antenna.

3689479144?profile=originalThe above picture is the video transmitter mounted on the foam behind the pan/tilt.  The antenna connection pokes out the top.  The velcro (hook and loop) that you can see is used to hold the batteries in place.  One flight battery (4S 3000mAH) and one "systems" battery (4S 1200mAH).  I get around an hour of service out of the systems battery and around 20-30 minutes out of the flight battery depending upon the task.

3689479110?profile=originalThe above photo shows from bottom in clockwise direction, my futaba 8 channel receiver, the uBlox receiver and the APM 2.5.  This is mounted in the immediate belly of the A/C as you remove the top.


In the above photo you can see the speed controller for the motor at the rear of the A/C.

I hope all that detail shows everyone what they were asking about.  You'll have to excuse my terrible cabling as we put it together a bit slap'dash.  The next build will be much more interesting.

Coming up in the next few day's I'll post some video footage, and also some more details about our first gimbal enabled camera flights.

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APM 2.5 + X8 Wing First Flights


My spanking new APM 2.5 arrived earlier this week, along with the xBlo GPS and 3DR radio modems.  We've flown the X8 previously on RC just to make sure servo travels and CG are all good to go, but yesterday we conducted a series of 10 minute flights with varying levels of automation.

Note that we have not installed the Pitot sensor as yet, all flights we conducted with GPS/Alt/Accel guidance only, we didn't change anything in terms of PID's or settings out of the box whatsoever.

The whole process was;

1) Take it out of the box and go oooo, ahhhh, shiny.

2) Make up some leads and sort out power for servo rail and APM - Note that on APM2.5 there is a jumper on the output rail for the servos / equipment that is supposed to (when bridged) provide power from the input side to the output side.  I found that mine had no voltage whatsoever with the jumper installed or removed.  Therefore I decided to power the output rail (servos etc.) from the BEC in my speed controller.  Which, actually, makes more sense than sinking current from the power supply for the APM / Rx.

3) Update code on APM to latest and greatest via USB.

4) Follow quick setup guides on website to configure airframe etc.

5) Tear some hair out trying to get radio modems to work then realise that if you don't supply exactly 5V to the input side then the radio modems won't work - derrr.

6) Get radio modems up and working test telemetry and confirm orientation of APM.

7) Remove propellor from A/C. - IMPORTANT.

8) Calibrate radio control and confirm flight modes via mode switch.

9) Set stablise mode and confirm direction of control surfaces is correct by rolling and pitching airframe.

10) Set RTL mode (NOTE Propeller is removed) to confirm everything again including throttle control.

11) Charge batteries and head to the airfield.

The flights we conducted, were a series of 10 minute flights to explore each of the capabilities of the APM;

Flight 1 - Testing stabilise mode and rudimentary RTL.

- Flight in manual mode to confirm control

- Switched to Stablise mode from level flight to confirm everything is ok there

- Back to manual mode and placed airframe in usual attitude

- Switched to stabl mode and confirmed recovery.  This process was repeated a few more times to confirm everything is working as it should.  No Problems.

- Flew A/C away from launch point in manual mode and then switched to RTL mode to confirm GPS tracking and control back to launch point.  No Problems.

Flight 2 - Testing waypoint guidance mode.

- Program basic waypoints on Mission Planner and write to APM via radio link.

- Takeoff in manual mode, then switched to Auto and the A/C flew the waypoints no problem at all.

- Did note that in Auto and RTL mode's the throttle was a little high.  Need to correct this.

- Landed manually.

Flight 3 - Testing circling, and other "advanced" features along with inflight programming.

- Program basic waypoints on Mission planner including some circling features.

- Manual takeoff, switch to Auto and the A/C flew the waypoints including circling with no problem.

- Issued "fly to here" commands - No problems.

- Issued land waypoint command - A/C started to fly what seemed like a circuit decending away from the launch point.  I got a little nervous and took over.  This will be out next test for flight 4 I think.

In summary, it's been a great experience.  I can't believe that something so simple and cost effective can deliver such trouble free "out of the box" operation.  Congratulations to everyone who has contributed to this awesome little device, and it's software.  It really was great fun to put together, and my mind is bursting with ideas and applications for it.

Our next steps are to incorporate some of the things we learnt from the first few flights, and also add camera gimbal guidance from the APM along with antenna tracking at the base station.

Here's a block diagram of the current configuration.


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