If at first you don't succeed... Coptermatic Chronicle part 1a

 

Well, after a week busy at work (err, and running through Portal 2), it's back to the bench.

 

Progress:

The second APM showed up, and this time I managed to solder the connectors on correctly.  That was a good feeling.

Got the IMU connectors on, hooked up the GPS and the magnetometer, and fired up the APM on the bench.  Ran several diagnostics successfully (using 2.0 Beta for now). Took  the numbers out of the GPS, plugged them into Google, and the little arrow was on my house. That was a great feeling.

Noticed that the magnetometer seems to oscillate around  ±8º ; don't know if this is a feature or something that is tweakable.  Time will tell. 

 

Next step is to put together the Quadcopter airframe, after which we get the joy of the first flights. Hope it will be less traumatic than my first flights in the 400-450 series helicopters.

Waiting on some connectors (Deans female) for the power distribution board so I can unplug and plug the ESCs rather than soldering/unsoldering them,  All my batteries use Eflite EC3 connectors, so I'll be getting a couple of EC3s as well.

 

Plans

My target for Block 1 is to have a stable platform which can "loiter" at a given position. This will involve the following steps, I think.

  1. Manual flight, using my RC Tx to control the craft (hands-on).  Demonstrate that it will perform stable hover and low-speed level flight in the confines of my back yard.  Get some sense for the battery life, and try things like mounting two batteries in parallel.  See how badly the ESCs overheat (if they do).
  2. Hands-off stable hover, under autopilot control.  Goal here is to get the craft to hover, maintaining altitude and orientation when I don't have my hands on the controls.   Program one of the channels in the Tx/Rx to get into and out of this mode.
  3. Hands-off orientation changes.  Once I can maintain a stable hands-off hover, figure out how to turn 90 º to the left and right and back to an original heading
  4. Return to starting point in autonomous stable slow fight. This involves:
    • Stable hands-off hover at starting point
    • controlled manual straight and level flight to some nearby point (line of sight, no obstructions, not too far)
    • Stable hover at far end point
    • slow level autonomous flight from "far end point" back to starting point
    • Stable hover at starting point
  5. Ability to automatically self-land from a stable hover.

There should be enough programming, learning and tinkering there to keep me busy for a week month or two.

I'm also writing some Java code on the Mac to act as a base-station. When I get my XBees set up, I'll be taking real-time telemetry from the Coptermatic and ingesting it into some ground monitoring software. Idea here are to save the logs to a file in raw text form,   put up some sort of graphical displays using Graphite or similar, and possibly storing the log data in a MySQL database for later use.  Hey, complex solutions can be fun!

'll be posting some photos and (hopefully) flight videos next time.

Views: 57

Comment by Russell B. Sutton on May 9, 2011 at 11:00pm
Can't Wait to see some video.  Good stuff Nigel

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