Hello everyone from the Aerial Vista Challenge Team. We have been trucking along on out competition UAV. We are real happy with the progress and we are getting all knids of stuff in from sponsors. This week we received our Arsov AUAV3 and in a couple of weeks we should be getting our AUAV X-1 Autopilots in. We will really be talking about those a lot in the near future. I would also like to add that M.A.R.S. Parachutes is sending us a mini parachute and we should be getting it in anyday.
Today I want to talk about something a little bit different. Rovers!!! We have a challenge here in the Texas Panhandle. I know that a lot of people deal with weather and sometimes it is just impossible to fly. In the panhandle our big challenge is wind. An average day here sees gusts in excess of 25 to 30 mph. In RC this has not usually been a big deal. With 600 size helis or larger 40 mph are navigable. In RC planes we usually have stable simple systems. However, in UAV work we are often pushing the boundaries and we have software that is not always stable. So between the winds and unstable programming we have a large possibility of a plane falling out of the air. Our solution has been to make a ground rover for systems testing.
Obviously there are lot of things with plane AP's that are not able to be tested on the ground. I want to talk about some of the things that we are hoping to accomplish with this system and what we think others can use them for. First I will talk about the platform a little. This is our one day rover. I assembled this on Sunday. I was looking for a crawler but I found a REVO that has been modified to be electric with a brushless motor. This is obviously a very fast machine. We are dialing down the throttle and of course programming a large amount of exponential into the radio. We will also tune the steering so that it is mild and we will not flip and damage components. The nice thing about this setup is that the slipper clutch is locked and so we do not have to worry about excessive wear at low speeds. These are some things that we used to make it usable. We needed a cheap flat platform to place electronics. I decided on a cutting board. They are inexpensive and made of durable Delrin. The other components on this setup are a 500 mw 900 mhz av setup and a 433 openlrs rx. We have the telefly pro for tracking modulation and minimal OSD. We are starting with these systems.
The Openlrs is a great new addition to long range radio market and a great benefit for those that want more flexibility in programming. Combined with an OpenTx radio and channel wizards you could have a very robust command and control system. The disadvantage is that they are not exactly plug and play yet. So these are for people who are up for debugging and personalizing a system for your own needs. That being said, we sure do not want to find bugs in the air. That is why we are starting with such a basic radio setup on the Rover at the moment. I have flashed a 1W Tx and 100 mw TxRx with openlrsng. This is the most recent stable publicly available update for the system to date. We are just range testing and making sure that the channels work like we want them to. We will actually be hacking a 1WTx into a reciever for the plane. This will give us a 1W 2way communications link with the plane. We should be able to receive telemetry and send commands on the same radio frequency at a great distance. This has been tested with APM by the developer Luxembourg. We will be releasing his and our work on this hack soon. Obviously there are a lot of variables at play here so we are going to be doing extensive ground testing of this setup before we put it in the air.
The telefly pro has been added on board because we need to test our tracking system. We have an MyFlyDream Automatic Tracking antenna and it requires that the telemetry be modulated across the audio and video channels to give us a diversity link with the plane and allows the tracker to follow the planeby coordinates and altitude. This tracker probably stands in a category all by itself in ability and we are proud to be representing MyFlyDream with this product. The Telefly Pro can stand alone in the system as we have it on the Rover for now or can be used in conjuction with other AP's and OSD's that do not support modem modulation of the telemetry data. The MyFlyDream Autopilot is the only system I know that supports both video and audio channel signal with a built in OSD and AP menu without the use of a GUI. However, it is a simple 8-bit AP like most others to date and leave a lot to be desired to combine with embedded systems and the firmware is proprietary. While I rank it as one of the best in class for hobby class autopilots, it is not what we desire our selves for development.
We will use the rover to test the long range radio and to get the tracker calibrated and running smoothly. Both of these will be important to be stable as we integrate them into our airborne platforms. I also like the idea that we will be able to practice FPV control without worrying about losing orientation in 3D space. I think this is a system that a lot of people should try before jumping into FPV planes. It takes a lot of practice and familiarity with the radio and onboard systems control requirements. Even flying a an RC pilot I have confused myself with multiple switch commands while trying to get used to a new system. I think testing without worrying about the extra costs of crashing is invaluable. We will be able to test our multiple vision systems. We can test the radio environments and the requirements for smoothing a lot of the interference out before actually getting airborne. We will be able to test embedding a linux based micro-controller for our sensory systems. All this can be done without worrying about sacrificing an airplane. We can perform critical tests regardless of the weather or wind. If you are new to FPV, autopilots or are a developer looking for a stable test platform, a rover is an in inexpensive platform that can save a lot of headache, time and trouble. We built this for a few hundred dollars, not counting testing systems. It is durable and easy to deploy.
I am sure we will be talking a lot about how much the rover saved our hind ends this year as we continue to progress with our anti-poaching plane. As always thank you for checking in our progress in the wildlife challenge and I hope that our information can help others in the community with their unmanned systems. Have a great week.