March 2009 Blog Posts (78)

Recent MAV work with AttoPilot

Check out my thread on RCGroups for a recent 8 ounce flying weight plank MAV:


Flying mass: 225 grams (8.0 ounces)

Motor: GWS model GWBLM001A for 2s Lipo

Prop: GWS 6050

Battery: Common Sense RC 700mA 2s

ESC: Castle Creations 15 amp

Servos: 2 HS-55

Rx: Berg Stamp 4 with header pins… Continue

Added by Dean on March 31, 2009 at 10:58pm — 7 Comments

3D Robotics
Preparing ArduPilot for version 2.1 (with Z sensor)

Here's how to connect the FMA XY and Z sensors.

[Note: the sensors come from FMA with a thin film (usually red) over the thermopile lenses. You have to remove the film… Continue

Added by Chris Anderson on March 31, 2009 at 10:30pm — 62 Comments

Dreaming of wings

My name is Brian Hudson. I've been wandering around DIY for a week or two now, and I've decided to start this blog to start interacting with the community, get feedback, and to track progress and thoughts on a project my neighbor and I are starting.

My background is in Computer Engineering and Computer Science and I've worked in the software industry for several years now. My neighbor has a degree in Aeronautical Engineering, and we’ve been talking for awhile about a UAV… Continue

Added by Brian Hudson on March 31, 2009 at 10:24pm — 3 Comments

Live telemetry from the Arctic

We live broadcasted our flights (more than 20) through Google Earth all night. Went to bed, we will fly again tomorrow evening if weather and air traffic control permits...

and some info during the flights in the Paparazzi IRC…


Added by Martin Mueller on March 31, 2009 at 9:04pm — 18 Comments

Reading Saitek Pro Flight Yoke System Data for UAV Usage

Here is the (Python) code I used for getting my Saitek Pro Flight Yoke ( data from the device into something usable. Python has a fantasic pygame library which reads joystick data. This is just a simple script that is short and sweet. This code reads all the motion axis (ie. the yoke, hat and throttles, ) and all of the buttons. Feel free to play around with it. I really dont want to use a RC transmitter for my UAV as I can so so much more with this… Continue

Added by Matt Fisher on March 31, 2009 at 4:00pm — 13 Comments

Ground Target Tracking with Road Map Support

I found this paper titled "Ground Target Tracking with Road Map Support" written by Daniel Streller ( (5 page PDF, 161KB)

Its somewhat of a complicated read but very interesting as well.

The UAV I am planning to build will have alot of onboard memory which I will use to store road data from a automobile GPA system. This data will be used to properly find waypoint by… Continue

Added by Matt Fisher on March 31, 2009 at 12:03pm — No Comments

flight time

Does anyone know how to increase the flight time for an electric rc? I was thinking of finding a way to use solar panels to streatch the flight life. I was thinking of using flexible thin film solar modules from jamco electronics. My goal is to increase the flight time to a minamum of one hour. any suggestions would be appriciated thank you.

Added by Shawn Blake on March 31, 2009 at 1:02am — 4 Comments

And The Building Begins

So the desk was clean but it's not anymore! I have started the building of the wings, and the construction is going good here are a couple of pictures, and more will be following shorly, especially when we get to the details in the sweep mechanics, and wing braces and supports. And for the electronic guru's - schematics are just about to be sent to the Fab house! this is going to be a awesome… Continue

Added by Blair Davis on March 30, 2009 at 6:00pm — 4 Comments

1500m altitude video from the Arctic

We are still out on Spitsbergen flying Paparazzi. Finally the camera worked for one flight. Went up to 1500m and down in glider mode. Usually we fly slower downwards...but to have it more interesting we kicked it a little more. See the video at

and the corresponding Google Earth file at…


Added by Martin Mueller on March 30, 2009 at 5:30am — 10 Comments

3D Robotics
Here's who we're up against in the Sparkfun autonomous vehicle competition

Mostly wheeled rovers (hah!) but also two other UAV teams. Full list here.

Added by Chris Anderson on March 29, 2009 at 9:00pm — 4 Comments

3D Robotics
Good overview on the current state of open source hardware models

Limor and Phillip of Adafruit and MAKE have a good overview on the current state of open source licencing and business models. DIY Drones is included.

Added by Chris Anderson on March 29, 2009 at 8:56pm — 6 Comments

Under Construction: A-to-Z Amateur UAV Development Guide

For the time being, I am going to move development of the flow chart version of an "A-to-Z Amateur UAV Development Guide" to this blog post on my personal page. It is far from ready for prime time and should not get much visibility at this stage. If it leads to a useful guide, then perhaps a link can be added to Chris' "Newbies guide to UAVs" which has top-level post visibility.

My personal view of where this is going is not so much of a complete standalone set of instructions on how… Continue

Added by Paul Marsh on March 29, 2009 at 3:30pm — 8 Comments

Pan and tilt camera with basic headtracking and camera shutter based on Nunchuck, Arduino, and Xbee Pro 868

This is finally the post for my headtracking system. I still have some tweaking ahead, but here is the present situation.

It is based on following components:

- Arduino compatible board (I use a spare ArduPilot board) in the airframe

- Arduino compatible board on the ground (I use a Arduino Pro Mini from Sparkfun)…


Added by Reto on March 29, 2009 at 2:00pm — 6 Comments

3D Robotics
A newbie's guide to UAVs

What is an amateur UAV?

An Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) is an aircraft that has the capability of autonomous flight, without a pilot in control. Amateur UAVs are non-military and non-commercial. They typically fly under “recreational” exceptions to FAA regulations on UAVs, so…


Added by Chris Anderson on March 28, 2009 at 2:00pm — 236 Comments

My Easyglider Pro Conversion

I chose the Easyglider for its size, high L/D and ease of modification/construction with Elapor foam. There is plenty of room to slide in up to a 3000mAh Lipo pack under the wing but, as Chris has mentioned, there isn't a lot of room under the canopy. I modified the canopy with a tab in the front and magnet aft for attachment. The original, forward canopy hold down tabs were left off and it turned out ArduPilot was almost a perfect fit in their place (see pictures).

Just waiting for… Continue

Added by Bryan Cuervo on March 28, 2009 at 12:17pm — 8 Comments

UAV DevBoard users: Wait for MatrixNav firmware

If you have a UAV DevBoard, and are anxious to do some flying with it, you should skip the GentleNav firmware and wait for MatrixNav, it is almost done, and will perform a couple of orders of magnitude better than GentleNav.

GentleNav was originally developed for my previous board, which used the ET312 GPS, 2 gyros, and 2 accelerometers. The algorithm was rather simple, but worked well enough and I used it for several… Continue

Added by William Premerlani on March 28, 2009 at 10:39am — 20 Comments

ArduPilot failsafe RTL in case of out of RC range


My new board has arrived (thank you Chris) and is working fine. I am an FPV flyer at the first place and automatic RTL mode is so tempting for me... Arduilot doesnt want to cooperate with my Corona RP8D1 in case of loosing RC signal. I added two little friends to the wire mess inside my small FPV platform.

This is one of them:…


Added by Michal on March 27, 2009 at 4:13pm — 25 Comments

3D Robotics
Great "Picking a GPS module" tutorial at Sparkfun

Covers all the basics, including 5.5v vs 3.3v, refresh rate, connectors, chip sets, etc. All here.

Added by Chris Anderson on March 27, 2009 at 10:18am — 1 Comment

A Few Interesting Articles

While surfing the net, I came across the following articles that I thought would be of interest. They relate to applications for small UAVs. Sorry if these are repeats to the site, but I couldn't find any existing references, so here they are...

Robotic Weather Planes

Flying Robots to Provide Wi-Fi in Disaster… Continue

Added by Paul Marsh on March 27, 2009 at 10:11am — No Comments

3D Robotics
The Space Shuttle's autopilot

Sparkfun and Jack Crossfire have been diving into the archives this week and looking at Apollo and Space Shuttle electronics. You think you've got tough memory and MIPS limits? Ain't nothing like what the NASA engineers had to deal with (punch card source code shown at right!). They went to the moon with computers not as powerful as ArduPilot's failsafe chip, to… Continue

Added by Chris Anderson on March 26, 2009 at 4:30pm — 5 Comments

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