T3 Back to the Future


Remember back, way back in autopilot years probably about 20. The year 2009 and the first round of our gentlemens (ladies are allowed just none have ever entered) competition the T3 challenge.

Back then just flying way points was hard and all this gear was expensive. Ardupilots were made at Sparkfun in batches that ran out quick.


Lets try it again I suspect this time the challenge would really be flying it faster than somebody FPV racing.

Read about the first time here for hints and tips. 

As tech has moved on all aircraft types welcome lets make it not above 50m and 5 laps. All of course autonomous. Extra marks if that is from take off to landing.I will count the time from take off to landing so screaming dives to the start will not help. KMLs as evidence please!

UPDATE: Rovers (and boats) are also allowed! There will be a special rover/boat class, and you only have to beat other vehicles in that class. The course for such ground/water vehicles is 100m x 100m. 

I will accept FPV times for the sake of science and should they be much much quicker it will give the pure FPV crowd something to brag about.

An Easystar (yes before HK copied it) made one lap in less than a minute in 2009 so 5 in 5 minutes should be more than possible. 

As ever the time frame is flexible but why don't we all meet back here on August the 1st and find out who won!

Please add your entries and adventures below. Points are always awarded for silliness, just as long as its safe!


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  • I never could find a suitable location to run my Rover. There is a grass field I could try, but the city doesn't allow any type of fun stuff like that in the park, and I decided not to push my luck.   I looked everywhere I could, and didn't find any parking lots big enough for 100m x 100m.

    Maybe we can up with some better rover specific challenges that would be easier to find places to run?


  • @TCIII
    I'd assume the same goes for everyone else. I've spent hours this week driving from one place to another only to find them full of truckers, soccer kids, and pallets of building supplies(home depot)

    This afternoon was a bust. Feels like I've burned my slipper clutch, it's screaming at me, and I've lost all top end. There's a wobble in the steering that I can't seem to track down the cause of. 5feet of reverse at 10% throttle causes the rover to flip. Going forward it's clear that there is much play in the steering. It's definitely a mechanical issue. That last crash was devastating.(Throttle_nudge) Even my A-arms have a bit of play in them.
    I went home to regroup. Currently tearing down my stampede for parts to fix up the slash.
    I'll be back out there soon.

  • Admin

    Nice runs Grant!

    Though why is the rover not following a relative straight line between the anchor waypoints?

    I have found a vacant parking lot close to home that I have plotted a 100m x 100m course on, but I cannot run on it until Monday.

    Gary indicated that I could submit my runs after August 1st since I have had so much trouble finding a suitable space to run the T3 course.


    Tom C AVD

  • Developer

    That would be great if you completed a few laps Mike.  I'd love to see how you go.  A picture of your Rover would be great too!

  • Well Grant, at least you managed to get a run in. I was loading the car @4am this morning, headed to side-by-side soccer fields in town here. Was hoping to be ready before sun up. By 4:20, thunder and lightning, so I went to bed. Woke up around 9:30, the rain had stopped, but started again briefly at 10.
    Things started drying around 11am, but that's when the saturday morning soccer kids start.
    I'll try again this afternoon.
    Past the deadline or not, I'm determined to complete at least a lap or two.

  • Developer

    I got a run in before the cutoff but it is only a partial.  The Uni I live near has 2 ovals next to each other.  That is big enough to give me the 100x100 - just. 

    My rover was much faster then I thought it would be. The grass on the oval is quite short and with the big tyres I really don't think the rover would of gone any faster on a paved surface.

    I had to wait for the soccer teams to leave so I started my run as the sun was going down.

    My rover is configured to run very slowly around a course on the street out the front of my house for development and testing.  I didn't tune it for this run which I had never tried before - just told it to go fast.  The tuning is WAY WAY off.

    You can see the run below (started top left).  A couple of things happened.  It did manage to hit a soccer goal post - at slow speed whilst it was negotiating the waypoint.  I put it in manual, reversed slightly and then put it back in auto.  It also rolled over at one point several times which I didn't know until later (it was dark and far away) but landed right side up and
    continued on.  It also jumped out onto the road at which point I put it in manual, moved it back onto the pitch and set it going again. MUCH more tuning required.

    As it was turning around one of the waypoints it was a bit wide and managed to go under a spectator stand which was exactly the right height to rip off most of the gear on the rover that was mounted higher then the Pixhawk.  Picture below.


    It was at this point it started raining.

    I could of repaired it and made another attempt but it was cold, dark and raining so I packed it all up.  On the way home it occurred to me I didn't see the GoPro in the debris.  A quick check and sure enough it was missing.  Back to the soccer fields and a check under and around the spectator stand didn't find anything.  I started to search
    the ovals - in the dark.

    Did I mention the rain?

    I made 2 passes along the route the rover took and on my third pass after 45 minutes of searching just as I was going to give up and come back at sunrise I found it.  Remember I said the rover rolled over a couple of times and I didn't notice - it came off then.

    Had a great time.  Need more practise and tuning.

    Thanks, Grant.

  • Developer

    If you added another week, I might try another attempt with my IRIS. I have been thinking of giving it a go with the Bebop but it's so small that if something went wrong I'd have zero chance of finding it.

  • Gary, I assume that if we meeting on 1st August to define a winner the deadline is Midnight 31st July?...US time? US West coast time?

  • Developer

    I think we are all doing the same thing.  I just finished solder my parallel XT60's.  2 x 20C 5000mAh 2s lipos.  2.5km is a long way to drive at speed in grass.  I spent hours in google maps but I can't find anything sealed that is 100m x 100m nor any road configuration that might also work for a sneaky 3am go - no traffic. 

    It's cold here at the moment and very windy so I'm hoping that will help with the cooling.

    I will hopefully have a go this afternoon once the soccer teams leave.  Might be in the dark.  I have swapped over to tractor tyres on my rover to hopefully stay up on top of the grass rather then sinking in.

    If I can beat the rain.

  • @HFB +1

    I'll be making an attempt at sunrise tmrw, but I don't expect to be able to complete 5 laps with my current setup. I had a half run setup in the playground near my house. 50m x 50m.
    My 30c 4000mah 3s lipos cannot handle the constant current of high speed runs. Not to mention the excessive heat at esc and motor. Currently soldering a parallel XT60 for tmrw's run. That should take care of the batteries, and I'm looking for a way around the thermal overload protection on my esc. I have an esc fan and motor heatsink on order, but don't expect them for a few weeks.
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