And now, the 4th incarnation of the airframe

So it's changed a bit from what came in the original box...

3689453877?profile=originalNow got the long legs on the copter, and the two-axis camera mount and a camera, so I can show everyone that I

can't fly very well...

Some points on this airframe that are going to serve me well:

  • Lots of room underneath the main body for mounting various sensors (see below for notes)
  • Now an X configuration
  • Can adjust the balance a bit so I can accommodate a 6000maH battery (basically right under the center point of the frame
  • Modified electronics stack with APM on the top shelf, and various radios in the middle.
  • Got a new 2.4 radio GHz (Futaba) with a bunch of extra channels
  • Still need to dress the wires so it looks less like a cat toy
  • need to put the bracing back on the central body, else the legs get all saggy
  • Added a spur arm at the back.

3689453951?profile=originalWhat's that for?

  • I will mount the altitude sonar sensor back there, away from the electronic noise
  • White ball gives me a visual marker so I can hazard a guess as to which way the copter is pointing

So what next?
Well, I'm having a lot of fun just flying the thing again. I had some electrical problems which made me take everything apart so I could get to the power distribution board (which then turned out not to be the problem).

I now have a copy of VMware Fusion and Windows, so I can for the first time run the mission planner on a computer that I own.  So I might explore some of that Waypoint navigation stuff as well.

But the longer term plan is also why I bought a radio with a bunch of extra channels. And deep down, why I wanted a "drone" in the first place.

I am working on adding a second Arduino (probably an APM because I've got a couple of the old ones and one of the new purple ones).  The second processor will run a sensor array under the main body, with sonar, infrared and possibly optical flow sensors pointing in many directions. This will let me do object avoidance, and dynamic path planning based on knowledge of where we are, where we want to be and what is happening around us. This processor will communicate with the main (original) APM using MAVlink commands, and will be controlled/adjusted by some of the spare channels on the radio. Will be interesting to run "multi-station MAVlink" with both the flight control and navigation computers listening on the same channel.  May end up using some of the secondary pins as flow control between the two APMs

This will let me use the main APM as a "flight control computer" which will take inputs from the R/C channels and the MAVlink, That's also why I'm moving the "altitude sonar" away from the main body, so with luck there won't be a lot of noise/cross-talk.

I will be using one of the spare r/c channels as a fail-safe switch (I might reuse CH 8) so that I can tell the flight control computer to ignore any input from the navigation computer; then I'm back to having a slightly over-weight Arducopter.

I've got some diagrams and notes up on Google Docs; once I get a few evenings to tidy it up, I'll share it here.

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