Its been a while so lets try again. Had a hangout with Chris and we briefly spoke about the next T3 round. Chris will work on a top prize ;-)

The mission is simple, get airborne climb to 20m 

Fly a cube with 50m sides, pausing for one minute at each corner, so your flight time cannot be anything less than 8 minutes..... Bonus points if you can stay longer at each corner....

The neatest cube KML wins.

If you can do this with a 3D aircraft I feel you would have a very strong chance of winning!

I will close the competition on April the 14th. I will be looking at where you are flying very closely. Please don't try this in public places or within 500m of any building / road. 

Views: 13641

Comment by Steve Westerfeld on April 16, 2013 at 8:17am

When I saw this contest posted, my next post was on the Autoquad Forum that said DIY has just posted a contest for the AQ.  

Their was no doubt in my mind the AQ, anybody's AQ could put in a superior performance.  If you poke around AQ video's you'll see guys flying missions with it 2 meters off the ground, I'm not that confident although a properly calibrated one will not climb or descend when going into forward flight.  You could fly the paths at 1 ms or 10 ms with pretty much the same results.  As a matter of fact if you look at Larry's he flew fairly fast so he would be able to spend the 60 seconds at each corner.  I went at 5ms between WP's, 2.5ms vertically except for the initial climb which was 1ms with the minimum time of 196 seconds.   

I would be happy to dropbox any or all of the full binary files of any of the 3 missions.  They are large, the 42 minute flight is 193,393 megabytes.  You could download the QGC from our forum and look at the data that I used to create the KML file and you could export the KML file if you would like to.  You can look at all the sensor data that was logged 200 times a second and compare it's performance to whatever FC board you are using.

Randy's last plot looked good and I don't think my MK would do any better.

Bill didn't like the GPS altitude plot and suggested I also show the Baro plot which is what the copter was trying to follow.  My response was, I'm not concerned about it being good enough but it being too good.



Comment by Rob_Lefebvre on April 16, 2013 at 8:58am

Randy, that is looking very good!  Do you know what is with the kinks in the two horizontal legs?  Did the quad really do that or is it just data?

Bill, is there any smoothing of the GPS data before you log it, either in the GPS itself of your code?  I just ask because those lines are so *smooth*.  If you look at Randy's latest entry, his lines are quite straight, but they are not smooth. There's a fair bit of low-amplitude, high-frequency "noise", especially on the vertical legs.  I don't really think his quad moved like this, I daresay it's impossible.  I believe this to be translational noise in the GPS signal as the quad essentially held position but travelled vertically.

This is to be expected I think, as you can see noise in the position estimate if the GPS is parked on the ground.  When moving horizontally, the GPS typically does some smoothing.  Maybe you've got different settings or something?  Just making sure we're comparing apples to apples.

At the end of the day, BOTH groups should be extremely proud of the fact that we're at the point we're sitting here nitpicking details of exactly how the data was collected.  When the flight profiles are so good that we question our ability to measure the accuracy of them, that's simply amazing.  Compare this to just 1 year ago where we had NO entries in these competitions, and now several of us are duking it out!

Talking to the guys running the SparkFun competition, they questioned whether we could actually fly a copter through a 20x20 meter box (the wicket) based solely on GPS coordinates.  I think it's entirely possible, actually quite easy.  They figured you'd need a vision system to do it.

As stated, I initially thought the AQ entry was faked, but I don't think that's true anymore.  Just reading the AQ thread, you can see that this really happened.  If not, it would be an elaborate hoax that doesn't in any way justify the prize.


I'm still planning on trying to run the mission with a heli, but it wouldn't be an official entry.  I'll probably do a separate blog post about it.  It's mostly just to demonstrate the capability of the system on a heli.  Final nail in the coffin of the DJI Ace One. ;)

Comment by Bill Nesbitt on April 16, 2013 at 12:05pm

As I said earlier the data shown in the KML are raw LAT/LON coordinates recoded from the UBlox module.  We seem to getting back to the outside observer requirement rather quickly :)

I think that you will soon find out that there is more to integrating a GPS module into a system than connection its serial lines to the MCU.  Hardware design considerations including antenna selection, ground plane, signal routing and EMI defense are essential if you are going to get the best possible performance from your GPS module, especially in a noisy environment such as ours.

Comment by Gary Mortimer on April 16, 2013 at 1:03pm

Ok all, I am bringing the hammer down and will converse with Chris and we will choose the top three.

This has been a great contest, proving that friendly competition can push things forward and focus the mind. Well done to everyone!


Comment by Rob_Lefebvre on April 16, 2013 at 2:55pm

Bill, I agree with both of your statements.

Given the impressive showing on all sides in this round, it will be interesting to see what Gary comes up with next.  It's going to have to be challenging!

Comment by Scott Berfield on April 16, 2013 at 4:00pm

FUn following this and trying the one (kind of badly) time. Got me pretty interested in the AQ stuff as well. One thing that I have been unable to find is any sort of real guide to using the Mission Planning part of Mission Planner. MOst of it seem self-evident, but there are obvious gotchas - like how to change altitude in place, how the jump logic works, etc... that I have not seen well covered. 

Comment by Jim Solinski on April 18, 2013 at 8:19am

Hi All,

  It is now 4 days since this neato contest ended.  Who won?;)



Comment by James on April 18, 2013 at 2:57pm
I'm interested in the results too

Comment by Gary Mortimer on April 20, 2013 at 2:01pm

Sorry for the delay, my fault posted the results here basically its like this

1 Steve Westerfield, AutoQuad, longest loiter in each corner 42 minutes between 3 and 5 minutes at the corners

2 Aerhead, AutoQuad, a really great looking cube

3 Richard Boyhan APM, for trying so hard. 

Choosing winners seems not enough. I appreciate the hours of thinking before flight planning that everybody has put into this.

Well done all.

Comment by Randy on April 23, 2013 at 7:47pm

Congrats to the winners!  that was a good event and useful for me in terms of setting a specific goal to help improve performance.  I hope we do more of them....of course not before Sparkfun AVC.


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