April 2009 Blog Posts (94)

ArduPilot: New Attiny FailSafe Firmware V1.6, now with RTL in case of R/C signal loss (Beta)

The latest ArduPilot Fail Safe firmware V1.6 includes a state of the art system to detected if we have glitches or bad signal, triggering the RTL and avoiding undesired "Remote Resets".

How it works?

Well, the first part is just a low pass filter that works only when switching to autopilot, this prevent undesired toggles to autopilot… Continue

Added by Jordi Muñoz on April 29, 2009 at 5:29pm — 30 Comments

Deans got rid of his piles.

Exciting developments in the Atto world.


Added by Gary Mortimer on April 28, 2009 at 11:58pm — 23 Comments

Umanned Airship in the News

This might be of interest, looking into the future...



Added by Ken Smith on April 28, 2009 at 11:14pm — 1 Comment

Air collision fears slow expansion of US drone use


The salient line is "until the pilotless aircraft gain the high-tech ability to sense and avoid commercial aircraft and other airborne objects, the government is unlikely to allow them to operate much more freely in congested airspace."

Added by Paul Mace on April 27, 2009 at 11:24am — 11 Comments

Yet Another Autopilot

It seems everyone and their mother has an autopilot board they're working on so I thought I would join the bandwagon. I've actually been wanting to develop one for quite some time, but after seeing Bill and Paul's progress on their DCM estimation work I got inspired to get started now.

There are several good autopilot boards available for experimentation, but none that had the feature set I was looking for. I… Continue

Added by Brian Wolfe on April 26, 2009 at 2:47pm — 19 Comments

3D Robotics
Settings you can change in the ArduPilot 2.1 code

In addition to the setting you can change from the desktop utility program (rudder and elevator trim, max speed, waypoints and home postition), these are the settings you can change from within the code itself. They're all at the top of the first tab of the code (called "ArduPilot_EasyStar_WP_PRO). My annotations and instructions are in [brackets]:

Especially note the settings at the bottom that allow you to reverse servo travel and say whether your FMA sensor is pointed… Continue

Added by Chris Anderson on April 26, 2009 at 9:00am — 17 Comments

First flight on auto pilot!

Oke today was a big day I had my first flight on autopilot. (I did not fly exualy)

Here are the setup and results:

ardupilot 2.1 with z sensor. plane little cessna (see my pics).

First I did a field setup to set up the home position. Pilot Marijn Penninx (he builds really great planes, check out www.scale-jets.com) took off and went to a safe alt. So he switched on the auto mode (RTL) and in one sec or less my plane was upside down. Something I did expect because I… Continue

Added by Jonas on April 26, 2009 at 7:30am — 5 Comments

3D Robotics
Correction on ArduPilot 2.1 field setup procedures

We got mixed up on versions and said the way to set up ArduPilot 2.1 at the field to record the home GPS position and switch the GPS module to digital mode was to connect ground and pin D6. Actually, the correct method is to put a jumper over pins D6 and D7, just like ArduPilot 2.0. Apologies for the confusion (we're working with too many code versions, and the ones using the shields we now have in prototype will have a more graceful setup procedure).

Added by Chris Anderson on April 25, 2009 at 10:27pm — 4 Comments

Ardunio Mega code to read MicroMag 3-Axis Magnetometer

We can calculate the UAV heading (flight directions) from multiple consecutive GPS readings if the UAV is moving. However, for a hovering, this method would not work and we may need a magnetic compass or a magnetometer (like MicroMag 3-Axis Magnetometer from SparkFun).

Is there any code out there for… Continue

Added by MC on April 25, 2009 at 11:23am — No Comments

MatrixNav revision 2 is released

Revision 2 of MatrixNav firmware has been flight tested and is now released. The documentation and operation stays the same as for the previous version. The link on the main page for the UAV DevBoard points to the new version. The documentation is available there, also.

The baud rate for the binary serial interface to the GPS has been raised in this version from 4,800 to 19,200. This eliminates a 12 second delay in the GPS… Continue

Added by William Premerlani on April 25, 2009 at 10:42am — 19 Comments

Ardupilot Utility Beta 3 Released Now Supports Atmega328!

Finally! took me some time fix this. But for some reason the new bootloader of the Atmega328 is running at 57600bps (Hoo! that means the uploading time is a lot shorter compared with AT168), so i had to add the option to select between atmega168 and atmega328 as is illustrated in the picture above or right.

Of course the latest file can be found… Continue

Added by Jordi Muñoz on April 24, 2009 at 5:00pm — 27 Comments

3D Robotics
Video of Sparkfun Autonomous Vehicle Competition

Figures. The one frame YouTube autoselects as the preview is the one where I look like an…

Added by Chris Anderson on April 23, 2009 at 8:30pm — 5 Comments

ArduPilot Shield Demo

I few days ago i received the first prototypes of the Ardupilot Shield. Right now they don't have silkscreen to reduce the prototyping costs, but the commercial version will do..

Main goals:

-On board 3.3V power regulator.

-Disable the GPS before uploading new firmware automatically.

-A lot of pins headers to easily attach sensors… Continue

Added by Jordi Muñoz on April 23, 2009 at 12:30pm — 51 Comments

EM406 dynamics: final resolution

I have the issue of the latency in the dynamic response of the EM406 GPS in binary mode finally resolved: you have to run at 57,600 baud in binary mode. Apparently there is a large communications buffer in the EM406 that gets flushed by the carriage return/line feeds in NMEA mode, but which does not get flushed in binary mode, unless you run at 57,600 baud. There must have been a memo on this, but I missed it.

I will revise the MatrixNav code and release it as soon as I can give it a… Continue

Added by William Premerlani on April 22, 2009 at 4:35am — 8 Comments

Two questions about getting started (FMA sensor, IMU)

Now that the Ardupilots are back in stock, I am ordering what I need to get one up in the air. The FMA IR sensor is out of stock at FMA Direct until May 15, so does anyone know of another vendor that may have them or if there is an easy replacement I could order or build? It's just three weeks, but I am anxious to get started ;)

Question 2, I would like to put a decent IMU onboard to document the vehicle attitude in flight. The three options I've found at SparkFun are the… Continue

Added by Garry Qualls on April 21, 2009 at 11:55pm — 5 Comments

3D Robotics
ArduPilot now red!

We've been green and blue but now we're red, to go with the overall Sparkfun board branding strategy. Oh, and we sold another 100 ArduPilots in the last five days, what with filling backorders and new sales!

Added by Chris Anderson on April 21, 2009 at 9:25pm — 2 Comments

Toy plane, passenger jet in near miss this makes me so angry.

Some idiot I hope they catch him makes it hard for all of as to enjoy our hobby.


Added by wrono on April 21, 2009 at 7:19pm — 7 Comments

3D Robotics
A new Arduino library for GPS parsing

Looks like the Fathers of Arduino have smiled on us UAV guys. David Cuartielles, one of the core Arduino developers, has posted a very welcome set of GPS parsing routines that anyone can use:

"I crafted three examples (basic, medium, advanced) featuring the use of different techniques to parse the GPS sentences. If you write something like a data logger, or a GPS toy, post your link here and I will be more than happy to include your code in… Continue

Added by Chris Anderson on April 21, 2009 at 6:30pm — 2 Comments

EasyStar Mods - Spar Upgrade

The more equipment that is installed on the plane, the more load the wing will need to take. To prevent the wings from flexing too much, the plastic spar can be replaced with a carbon one.


1. Hacksaw

2. Masking tape

3. Carbon rod (5/16" OD or 8 mm)

4. Original spar


1. Line up the two spars to get an idea of where you will have to cut the carbon spar.

2. Wrap the the location that… Continue

Added by Zach Lovering on April 21, 2009 at 4:59pm — 4 Comments

EasyStar Mods - Spar Hole Reinforcement

Another simple modification to increase the spar holes strength. I notices that after just a few flights (and a few hard landings) that the spar holes in the wing started to stretch. To fix this problem, I reinforced the holes with fiber washers. (Note that these pictures were taken after I had already done this modification)


1. Hobby knife

2. CA

3. Two fiber washers (5/16" ID x 3/4" OD)


1. Place the spar inside the hole and the… Continue

Added by Zach Lovering on April 21, 2009 at 4:59pm — 12 Comments

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