My Arducopter Experience



So here the setup;

  • Jakub's quad frame,
  • 950 kv Super Tiger motors, with Arducopter ESCs.
  • 10x 4.5 props
  • full set up including sonar, gps, and magnetometer.
  • 5000 mah battery 
  • DX8 Tx, Rx system.
  • 900 mhz killer cam osd system, (future upgrade to GoPro)
  • Custom 3d printed motor mounts
  • Carbon fiber + Pool noodles for shroud (because I didn't want to break the props or hurt anyone)

I just graduated from Aerospace Eng, at Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada. This was build for the UAV team to compete in the USC UAV competition. At that time we were runing PiratesNG code.

Pictures from the competition:


At the competition

The first day was very windy(35 kmh!!), yet for some reason we decided to take off. and we had a scary water puddle landing, where the battery was partially submerged in water. We were lucky that the Lipo was undamaged.

The second day we learnt of a very important flaw in our system. I had a 20 amp rated switch on the main power line.... which lead to a serious power drain and a crash. Luckly, the night before  we had created a frankinstien of a landing gear using carbon strips.This saved the crash (the carbon strips too most most of the impact and broke). So we removed our switch and beefed up the wiring.

The third day the weather was gorgeous, and all was looking good. We took off and went off into the wilderness. Our pilot has never flown the copter out in the open for too long so this was his first time. after we did a few circles and failing to see any targets. ( we were limited on the range for the camera) . A sudden gust forced the quad to loose altitude and plummet into some trees. But we quickly recovered it and found that we had a branch stuck on the quad. so we had to do an emergency landing and that was the end of our adventure. 


Unfortunately for us the arducopter 2 code released the week after the competition, so we missed out on the autopilot code.


Here is Carlton University's Videos of the event, our quad copter is in it,

Unmanned Systems Canada Student UAV Competition 2011 from Rob Williams on Vimeo.


Arducopter 2

After we got back from the competition, I started to upgrade the firmware to 2.0.xx. During the water puddle landing we busted up our sonar. So right now i have no sonar. Our frame has warped. Jakub's frame uses very thin G10 plates so there is some serious flexing on the legs. The aluminium legs are pretty good though. Our department just got a laser cutter so I'll be busy building a new frame in the next few weeks.

Have only flown in Stabilize mode, simple seems to go crazy with yaw.  

Does it need to get a gps lock for simple mode to work? and should my magnetometer show north correctly without a GPS lock? 


The 2.0.28 code was really good. I was relying heavily on the auto trim flight to get it to stop drifting. With the old labview based configuration the accel offsets were changeable through xbee. That feature has been removed which is making it hard for me to get the quad level.

If i save the parameters using the planner, will the offsets also be saved?


I'm having a lot of fun working with the ArduQuad, even though sometimes i feel like is should throw it at a wall. As for the Ryerson UAV team, we are building a Fixed wing plat form, as well as a tricopter, to engage more students into the world of UAVs and ardupilot. hopefully we'll have a fleet of arducopters, helis, and planes within the year.


I'll leave you with a funny video of us trying to fly the Arducopter through a coat rack... feel free to LoL.. 


there are more videos of us at on our you tube channel.






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  • Developer
    the standard mag configuration (assuming you're using a diydrones mag) is components down, pins forward.  That sounds like what you've done.  but then north showing as south doesn't sound good.
  • Oh I c. thank you for that information. Will try to figure it out. i have my board pins forward facing down.. maybe its not enabled that way in the code. Because north was showing south...
  • Developer
    The magnetometer should show North with or without a gps.  It's never quite perfect especially indoors as there's lots of interference around..but it should be generally ok.  Look out for metal objects within a couple of centimeters of the mag..that commonly causes people's readings to be off.
  • yea thats how i got it to stop drifting.. i had to hold it for 30 seconds to get into that mode though
  • Developer

    You can try the in-field level command. Hold disarm for 10+ seconds. You can adjust by propping it at different angles to get a better solution.


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