and I are almost ready to get our autopilot project "off the ground".
We received a free airplane from a friend of mine who now lives in Japan. (A lot cheaper to buy a new one than ship the old one.) The plane came with a glow engine but we converted it to electric. (Sorry for the crummy iPhone pictures!)
I added an access hatch to the front to create an "avionics bay".
We just got our uBlox GPS and Brian got it working last night. Here it is with our Arduino board and Sparkfun IMU.
We have developed a tightly-coupled GPS/INS algorithm to provide highly-accurate position, velocity, and attitude data. We hope to have the aircraft up and flying soon so we can collect flight data. The algorithm has been developed using simulation data, but I would like some real-world data to do the final tuning.
We have several options for the guidance and control aspect of the autopilot once the tightly-coupled algorithm is finished. One option is to develop our own single-board system, with air data sensors, IMU, failsafe/MUX, etc. (I am inspired by the work shown here, especially by Brian Wolfe
!) We would have to develop our own software as well.
The other option is to create a sensor-only board with air data sensors and IMU, and modify an Ardupilot to accept the position/velocity/attitude data. That way we don't need to re-invent the wheel, so to speak.
Our ultimate goal is to create an aerobatic-capable autopilot, so we will most likely design our own single-board autopilot eventually. I am hoping to create an adaptive control system that will "learn" how to fly an airplane. I'm just scratching the surface on that endevour, and I'm not sure I'm smart enough to pull it off!
We will update again once we get airborne.