Hi guys,

Today MatrixPilot controlled three more autonomous flights. All three flights were executed with the transmitter turned off. The picture above is the track of the first landing. It was aiming for the midpoint between the two fields, along a line that connects the centers of those two circles.

Recently I posted three flights of my GentleLady flying with MatrixPilot running on a UAV DevBoard, but I was not able to take a video at that time. The weather cleared today, so I thought I would get three more flights, this time with the EasyStar, and with a video camera documenting the hands off takeoffs and landings. This time, since I had the video camera as proof that the plane was able to take off again after each landing, I cycled the power on the plane between flights, but all three flights were with the same battery.

The first flight was just a test flight, without the video being recorded. Wouldn't you know it, it was the best of the three. Here is the GoogleEarth kmz file of the first flight: LOG00080.kmz. It includes waypoints, attitude information, wind estimation, and the track. You can animate the flight to re-create it, using the GoolgeEarth animation tool.

The following is a picture of the track of the first flight.

The second flight was the first flight that was captured on video. It was the most interesting of the three flights because it includes a missed approach. The plane was coming in high, and it looked to me that it might land on the busy highway to the northwest of field, so I cycled the power on the transmitter on and off to reset the controls. The plane then started all over again through the pattern, with the transmitter off, this time making a successful landing. Here is the kmz file: LOG00083.kmz The following is the track of the landing:

The third flight was executed immediately after the second flight. Here is the kmz file: LOG00084.kmz Here is a picture of the landing:

The third landing was actually right at the edge of the field. The plane came to rest against a fence post, but there was not any damage done.

The target for each landing was the point midway between the centers of the two fields. The distances between the landing point and the target for each flight were:

Flight#1: 34 meters

Flight#2: 38 meters

Flight#3: 80 meters

I will leave it up to the judges which flights to include in the average. Only two flights are needed for the contest, but it is not clear to me which ones qualify:

Flight#1: "clean flight", but no video

Flight#2: autonomous takeoff, manually commanded landing abort, then a complete autonomous flight. video recorded.

Flight#3: "clean flight", landed short. Bumped into a fence post, but no damage.

Now, the video:

Autonomous Flights of EasyStar with UAV DevBoard from William Premerlani on Vimeo.



Here are three more videos. The quality is much better, my son, Brian, took most of it. I was not going to publish them, because they were from an unsuccessful flight. But now that I think about it, I think you would enjoy them more, watching me make a "rooky" mistake.

Here is what happened...on the day of my first few autonomous flights, I did not get video for the first 3 flights, dead batteries in the video camera.

So, later on in the day, armed with fresh batteries, I decided to try again. This time I took my son, Brian with me to help take the videos. You will see him. We thought it was fitting for him to finally appear, since he was the one who got me started in this hobby. If it were not for him, I would be doing something else instead of diydrones. Just in case there is any confusion about who is who, I am the good looking one, he is the young one.

Between the time of the first flights and when we got back to the field, the wind direction had shifted. We would now be taking off and landing with the wind. Bad idea. I knew better. But I really wanted to get some video, so I fooled myself into thinking that, although the wind was in the wrong direction, it was not too strong. Wrong!!

So, we gave it a shot. Here is the video. Things were going fine until final approach. It was landing with the wind, coming in high and fast. I could see it was going to go long. I had to make a fast decision. The camera was rolling, and I was determined to get my video. So, I let the plane try for an automatic go around. It reached the landing waypoint, powered back up, turned toward the trees, and started to climb. It almost cleared the trees. Almost...

If you listen, you can hear the plane smack into the tree at the end. Brian says it is the sound of wood embracing wood. Oh, and cover your ears at the end, I never imagined I would ever publish this one:

Gentle Lady's flight into the trees. from William Premerlani on Vimeo.

After the GentleLady smacked into the tree, Brian and I walked down to see what we could see....It was way up in the tree, about 60 feet up.

Brian is an avid climber, I bought him a membership in an indoor rock climbing club, so he volunteered to climb up and fetch it. It wasn't easy, but he did it. He went up as high as he could, he was still about 10 feet too low. With a GentleLady, the wing is held on with rubber bands, which had popped off. Brian shook the tree, the wing finally shook loose and fell. But the tree had a firm grip on the tail, so Brian climbed up another 10 feet to fetch the rest of the plane. Here is what he looked like 60 feet up in the tree:

Brian rescues the Gentle Lady from a tree from William Premerlani on Vimeo.

The next question was what to do next. Brian vetoed the idea that we would try to complete the flight. It turned out the motor was running when the GentleLady landed in the tree, it was burned out. So, how to get the plane down? The only way was to throw it, as near as we could see. Brian was not signing up to climb down with the plane in one hand. Ever thoughtful, he took out the electronics first, and then dropped it straight down. It landed in the low branches of the tree. Here is the final step of the rescue:

Gentle Lady: the low hanging fruit from William Premerlani on Vimeo.

Aside from the burned out motor, there was not much damage to the GentleLady. A new motor, a couple of drops of glue, she was out flying again the next day.

Best regards,

Bill Premerlani, June 26, 2010

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  • Hi Billu Bhaiya !

    Thanks a lot for the calrification.
    So if I select ARDUSTATION then would it be sill compaible with Openlog ?

    Thanks & Best Regards

  • T3
    Hi Rana,

    You can only select one output format, so if you select UDB_EXTRA, you will not get ARDUSTATION. If you want Ardustation, you will have to select it. But it is my understanding that all formats are compatible with OpenLog.

    If you want to see what information goes into the serial output formats, take a look inside the file serialIO.c

    Best regards,
    Billu Bhaiya
  • Hi Billu Bhaiya !
    Thanks a lot for the new patch ! It working ok now and build is also getting sucessfull.

    Billu Bhaiya, if I use
    Besides other feature like OpenLog support, would the telemetry still be displayed in Ardustation ?

    Thanks & Best Regards

  • T3
    Hi Rana,

    Regarding "waypoint modification on the fly", we have not forgotten about it.

    Best regards,
    Billu Bhaiya
  • T3
    Hi Rana,

    Sorry about that. Use the svn "revert" command to undo my previous patch, and try the attached patch instead.

    Best regards,
    Billu Bhaiya

  • Hi Billu Bhaiya !

    After applying the patch in YawControl.c, through SVN Tortoise and the saving it;

    It resulted in error in compiling;

    Pl. suggest

    Thanks & Best Regards

  • Billu Bhaiya, you know very well I have been a great fan of yours since long time.
    I really enjoyed all the videos you posted.

    Thank you so much for posting these !

    Billu Bhaiya, can you please consider code modification so that waypoint modification on the fly can be achieved.

    I will make a small module on multipurpose PCB which will rest on the Magnetometer and if required, I can make it and send it to you.

    Even there are firmware utilities with which bytes in Flash area can be written and modified at the time when the code in Flash area is being executed, this is a sort of additional EEPROM synthesis using FLASH.

    Thanks & Best Regards

  • T3
    Hi Ric,

    You know, I thought of you as my son and I went to fetch my GentleLady out of the tree, about how we like to "push the envelope", and how sometimes we push too far.

    But, we always recover, stronger and smarter than before, and we come back again, to push the envelope farther.

    I am really, really impressed with your flights and flying skills. I wish I could fly like that, but I think, after flying for 25 years, I probably am not going to get much better at flying. I am a math-physics-engineering-computer sort of guy, so I am going to have to be satisfied working with the team to make the best possible UAV autopilot for you to demonstrate for us.

    Best regards,
  • Bill, Morli, there always is a "tree" (real or virtual) on the road of an RC plane : Murphy is fully applied and demonstrated in our activities ;D
    The sole way to survive flying RC plane is to consider them as disposable; they all are born dead ;D
    The only pilots who don't crash are those 1. who don't fly, 2. who are telling lies or 3. who flies other's planes.

    Bill, I enjoyed very much watching at your video and I console myself a little seeing that I am not the only one who do the same mistake twice (or more).

    Best regards,

  • Admin
    Now that was fun watching.:) Billu Bhaiya. I see now you have enlisted a help with video and he is doing good job apart from being rescue climber( bonus) too :).
    I didn't have trees for mile around but still had to rescue when wind kept pushing it back/away and the only ways was to dive and cover some ground towards me( it was almost a mile away) and motor needed some help. So a simple set of dives were initiated which seem to help but wing folded @ 300' and in the end I had to walk any way to fetch it. So tree or no trees , you need rescue member. Good luck and don't feel shy posting these videos. these are as inspirational if not educational too as a dead spot landing right on your foots steps..
    BTW loosening the X and Y axis bolts on camera tripod( or drop of machine oil) may help panning the camera. The "smack" into the tree was almost lost in creaking of tripod. :))) Cheers and have a nice day.
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