ArduCopter arrives


On the day the world ends (12-21-2012)

I got my box in from Udrones yesterday, haven't started setting it up or adding options yet, but I have begun familiarizing myself somewhat with how to proceed and found the online manual here. It is very comforting to know there is a very good source of help and documentation as to how everything works.

I have had  my FW-450 tuned and working great for some time now so i'm not impatient to get in the air with this new quad so I will take my time and really do a good job of setting this one up. There are a few things I have coming before I have the complete parts list. I plan to pick up the receiver today, I use a JR 9 channel 2.4GHZ radio (9303) and probably will use a 9ch receiver by JR, or a Spektrum 8ch.


In my other Quad, I am using a DSM2 receiver, but since the transmitter is DSM, I am not getting the full benefit. However, I have to say that I have never had one range problem, but still, it is tempting to update and get a newer radio.  Perhaps, i should move to one of the long range systems, but then I feel like i'm burning money too fast! .

Besides today (12/21/12) is supposed to be the end of the world, so would it really be a wise investment?

If today is the end of the world, I hope I get enough notice that I can get my drone in the air in time to get some good video footage, I have it in the trunk of my car with all the batteries charged and ready to fly at a moments notice!

If things work out, I will still be here to post more progress reports on my new UAV. I have a MinimOSD shipping, and have a camera gimbal backordered from Udrones that I will add when it gets here. I have the telemetry option and look forward to learning all about that. 

if the world doesn't end today, I will be setting up my flight modes and finishing the setup and start on the FPV setup if the transmitter comes in today. (probably won't)  I have ordered an Immersion 600 mw 5.8 ghz transmitter and will be using a Sony 450 line camera with a wide FOV lens for FPV flight. 

I don't want this post to be all text, it needs an image or some color, so here is the token picture... a shot from a single frame of a some video I took with my GoPro HD 2 with my FW-450


2nd installment 12-22-12  

Well the Mayans were on drugs.. they probably just had a short memory loss and never finished the calendar which really had us sweating bullets yesterday. Anyway that means I get to complete my ArduCopter, 

yesterday, things just weren't working!!

I couldn't get the mission planner working and spent about 8 hours trying until finally giving up on using Windows XP.

The drivers don't install correctly on Windows XP, but work great on Windows 7. For anyone else having this problem, don't spin your wheels just find a Windows 7 machine you can use.

After installing the driver, the com port didn't appear by the driver name. When plugging in the cable for the first time, it says "found new hardware", but never completes loading the driver, and the any attempt to load or unload the device manually fails and locks up the machine until you pull the USB cable. the it frees up the system immediately.

It would be good if there was a fix for this for those who only have Windows XP, but I'm ok and have moved on.. Working on more stuff today, going to remount the Telemetry board and compass, they mounted with some real crappy velcro, and I like a tidy installation. Then I am going to tackle installing the receiver and setting it up in the mission planner along with flight modes.  I decided on the Spektrum AR-8000 and picked it up at the local hobby store yesterday    

Will post when I get more done!

3rd installment. 12-22-12

Ended up flying it after this little video was made (In the living room)  It seems stable and no bad habits.

I am disappointed in the props, motors and collets that are provided. The long 1/8 inch motor shafts and compression fit collets are recipes for problems. The worst problem is these collets can leave the motor shaft if they loosen and that is bout to happen if you don't check the before every flight. Also, it is impossible to get the running smooth with zero runout. I will replace them, probably with DJI motors and collets. DJI really has a good system in their design.

I did fly it though with the ones provided and It flies fine.

Here's a little walkthrough of my progress so far;


4TH installment:  

Waiting..... The weather has been bad for Flying Quads here, and I am waiting for 2.9 firmware.. I have things working pretty well, but Loiter isn't really working now, and I understand it is improved much .2.9

The latest thing I did was Monday, I replaced the motors that come stock on the ArduCopter with motors and propellers from DJI. The original motors and collets were unsatisfactory to me, and have lots of vibration. This is unavoidable when using 1/8' shafts with compression collet.  DJI has a great system that eliminates vibration and provides a very secure mounting arraignment for the propellers.  Although the  RPM/volt was slightly different, without any PID adjustments, I couldn't tell any difference in stability or performance. That was fortunate, as I am not experienced at tuning.    Looking forward to 2.9, and will be checking every day. Once I am happy with the autopilot performance, I will get the FPV part going, and also venture into using waypoints, using MP to send flight commands,  and autonomous flight.  In the meantime, flying my micro quad in the living room!

5th Installment:

 I've been anxiously waiting to see the official 2.9 firmware.  I am used to the rock steady naza and until 

i can get that with the APM, My camera stays on the flamewheel with the naza.  I decided to go ahead and set up the FPV, so as soon as my camera came in, I got the MinimOSD out of the drawer, and the 5.8 ghz transmitter (Immersion) and made up some cables. and started linking it up . I planned to make a y cable to allow the OSD and the 3DR radio use the telemetry at the same time.  

os began linking up the components one step at a time. the last connections was to be the y cable to the telemetry port. I monitored from a 5.8ghz receiver, first just the camera to the transmitter, all was well the image looked good on the monitor. (12v camera, and I uses a 3S lipo for power for the Transmitter and the camera).

Then I connected the 12V side of the minumOSD to the camera and to the transmitter as it shows in the Wiki.

Initially, I got the OSD initialization on the monitor, it booted up and then displayed "waiting on Mav"  but the camera video was messed up, it looked like it was out of sync of something in the background of the OSD text display. I had already seen a good video image from the camera in the preceeding step so I checked my wiring and all looked good, then after a couple of minutes the monitor suddenly went blue screen. It seem like the transmit went out.. 

After backing up, I found that the camera still worked fine, the transmitter and reciever and monitor all check out, but the OSD quit working. I put my finger on the board and it was hot enough to burn my finger somewhere down around the LED.   Not sure what is was, those little SMD's are so small!!

so somehow my MiniumOSD fried within 5 minutes of powering it up. I have ordered another one, so I need to make sure I'm not doing something wrong so I don't blow it up.

The only thing I can think of is; I made an assumption that the 12v+ and GND terminals are bused together and so it doesn't matter of the 12 volt source is on the in set of pins or the out set of pins (as it related to video in/out) from looking at the circuit board it looks like they are. In the wiki it shows  the 12+ tied to the supply + feed to the camera,

For wiring simplicity, I did it slightly different. I connected the 12+ for supplying the transmitter, to the lead going to the MinimOSD on the out, going to the out pin set, assuming that the +lead to the camera would receive its 12v across the buss. If these are not bussed and they the 12v in is filtered or regulated or something like that than perhaps I blew it!..

If they are bussed, then something else happened. Anyway, as soon as the new OSD board comes in, maybe I will have some "eyes"


6th Installment... Update

I got the minimOSD in so I will soon restart that installation. Also, the main thing I've been waiting for has come to pass. The 2.9 firmware official release is out. I uploaded it last night, but it was late and dark, so I wasn't able to test fly it until a brief flight this evening just as the sun was retreating.   

congratulations to all the developers, There is a world of difference.  The main thing I was hoping for is a good Loiter mode. although on take off I noticed right away that in Stable mode, the controls have more authority, I got used to that pretty fast. Then when I switched it into Loiter, the yawed about 45 dg. but it stabilized and aggressively held altitude and position.   That was very good to see!  There are a few things I didn't expect though. I'm sure they can be explained.   I noticed that in Loiter mode, I could override and coax it to a new loiter location, but it would work its way back to the original position. I thought that was odd, It wouldn't seem to me to be the desired behavior. To confuse me I'm sure, it didn't do that ever time, at least once, I was able to move it to a new position and it did lock in on the new location.  

I will have to test that some more to see whats up and see if there is some consistency in that behavior. 

Other than that, it is beginning to look like it has the stability I need to be confident to explore it much deeper.

I am looking forward to this weekend when hopefully I can give it a mission and see what it can do. Also, maybe I get get the FPV system and OSD going by then.

By the way... I mentioned early about the floats I added to my other Quad (not the ArduCopter) because I fly over water a bit, so I wanted to add some floatation. I realize it probably won't save my electronics, or at least render it untrustworthy, but at least if it floats, I have some chance of at least finding the wreckage. if it is a very soft landing, perhaps It could survive. I haven't water tested it yet.  I cut up some of the pool noodles that are popular water toys, and attached them to the extended legs on my Quad. A very cheap and easy way to provide some flotation!

heres the picture 3689492563?profile=original


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  • Thanks Richard !

  • Developer

    @Richard. Create a new blog entry, and use a similar Title (or a new one), you can always put a link in the current blog post to a previous blog posts so readers can go back to the beginning if they are new to your writing.

  • Sorry Rana

    I added something to it, I didn't realize that was the wrong way to do it, I guess I should just comment to add to it.

    It won't happen again..

  • Richard, by saving your old blog post with today's date, you are doing injustice to others, you should avoid that.

  • I think I will do the star topology, it sounds like a sure way to avoid a ground loop, and god practice even if not as convienient. I get to it as soon as my new OSD comes in.


  • Developer
    Don't take the bus! I think if you connect as in the diagram with 12V to the Video TX from the minimOSD that will split the current on the GND line on the way back through the minimOSD. Power the Video TX/videoGND at battery source eliminating a GND loop issue as they draw the max current. I realise the connection is a short on the board, but it only takes 0.3v differential on GND to fry the MAX chip. If the current from the video TX is large enough, enough current will flow through the MAX chip exceeding its limits.

    The cure is to use a star topology so that all grounds are at a common point for 12v equipment. Just like the ESCs for the PDB are all connected at one point.
  • Developer
    If you are powering using the APM it may be a better to power the MinimOSD via the APM by soldering the solder blobs on the back, and not connecting the 12V line to the board at all. See with the wiring option not to use the separate onboard regulator. With the new APM PM powering the APM you will not be getting servo noise.

    Also read this thread and the particular comment linked.

    It looks like that depending on how you have wired your arducopter you can get a ground current loop that burns out the video chip.
  • Yes the 12v on the video in/out are bussed. I power mine from the transmitter side too, no problem. I'd check the telem y cable. Given it never got Mav data, sounds fishy.
  • I used a little loctite threadlock (blue, 243) on the collets. It bonded well, and is removable (with pliers and muscle). It should work well until I can invest in new motors.

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