We love our beta testers. They help us find bugs, fix them and test all those variations of hardware and configuration that no single dev team could test themselves. Much of the sucess of APM, ArduCopter and all the other DIY Drones projects is due to a large and incredibly supportive group of beta testers.

 

But beta testing is not for everyone. The code is, by definition, unfinished and probably buggy. It changes by the day, and sometimes by the hour. The documentation may be lagging. And when things go wrong, you can lose your aircraft.

 

Here's who should consider being a beta tester:

 

--Experienced users

--People with well-tested hardware/airframes, so we can differentiate between hardware and software errors.

--People familiar with Arduino, so they can deal with code if need be.

--People with loads of patience who want to contribute to making something awesome.

 

Here's who should NOT consider being a beta tester:

 

--New users

--People with airframes and electronics that have not already been tested and flown on non-beta code

--People who don't want to geek out a bit with code

--People who just want to fly NOW

--People who don't want to risk their expensive equipment on experimental software.

 

We love both groups, but my advice to all of our users is to think carefully about which group you're most comfortable in.

 

APM 2 is out of beta, so this is not an issue there. But ArduCopter 2 was just launched in beta two weeks ago, and although it's improving at light speed, I'm concerned that new users are using the beta code without being prepared for what beta testing means and requires. It helps nobody when new users who have never set up their hardware before swamp the beta testing feedback process with basic setup issues. It's understandably frustrating for them and it's frustrating for the dev team, too.

 

So, if you don't fit the criteria for the first category above, please use the tried and true ArduPirates software for ArduCopter. It's very solid. Please only use the AC2 beta if you DO fit the first category above.

 

As always, you can get the latest status updates on the ArduCopter news page. When AC2 comes out of beta and is appropriate for everyone, we'll let you know there and here on DIY Drones.

 

Thanks!

Views: 3054

Comment by Greg Fletcher on May 19, 2011 at 8:42pm
Listen to Chris, it is after all called DIY not PNP drones.

Developer
Comment by Jason Short on May 19, 2011 at 8:59pm

Well said Chris. There are plenty of issue with AC2 which make it not ready for the average flyer. That and plenty of unknowns based on various airframes. 

One small coding issue can cause a fly-away, instability or crash. This is especially true with copters (and I've lost 4-5 planes to Ardupilot dev.) I fully expect to crash my quad with every Beta flight (and I almost do!). If you're not, don't fly it. But it doesn't mean that there is a fundamental issue with the code.

Here's some examples: A D-term was upped on the Alt hold algorithm from .01 to .1. This cause my flyaway at Sparkfun. A local variable caused my nav function to break since it masked a global variable. This could also cause a fly-away if you weren't ready at the mode switch.

That said, I think beta testing is a rewarding challenge. Submitting patches that fix real problems for the good of the community is a nice thing.


Developer
Comment by Jani Hirvinen on May 19, 2011 at 9:53pm

Also beta testing can break lamps, mom's valuable ming vase and especially make cuts a lot. You should sometimes see my hands/arms etc when something goes wrong. Even thou ArduCopter motors are not "strong" they can make nasty looking cuts with those small propellers.

 

My wife often asks after she hears crash or "#€€"#&#!€ from my mouth that ok now how many bandages you need now.

 

But still it's really fun to test and to push those devices up to their limits. Just like Jason, I have destroyed rather many quads and even hexas on testing our softwares and electronics. And this test continues so you all can fly with less crashes and hopefully someday without crashes at all.

 

Jose from our team once said to me that "It's good that you are the hardware guy, if you crash and run out of parts you can always make more of those". That's absolutely correct. I'm still now and then laughing his comment when I see those earlier emails on our development groups.

 

It's fun ,it's painful and sometimes a bit scary too. But that's how things will evolve.

 

Be careful and fly safe...

Comment by Kirill on May 19, 2011 at 10:54pm
I always wondered, is there any list, which contains the names of beta testers or guys, who help to improve software/hardware, find bugs and so on?

Developer
Comment by Jani Hirvinen on May 19, 2011 at 11:03pm

No any real list due beta testers "come and go" basically everyone who tests beta codes are beta testers. Best way to see what is happening is by looking wiki and our issue trackers on APM/ACM repositories. When people fly these devices and they find a but, they usually report in on trackers and from there development group then picks those up.

 

If you have not looked yet, take a look these:

ACM Issues, http://code.google.com/p/arducopter/issues/list


APM Issues, http://code.google.com/p/ardupilot-mega/issues/list

 

Comment by Kirill on May 19, 2011 at 11:51pm
Thanks for your answer, Jani. I guessed that it's like you described and your post proved my suggestion. Yes, of course I know about wiki and issue tracker, I even found a few bugs and reported about them during the APM was beta.
Comment by Ritchie on May 20, 2011 at 4:26am
I used the svn for a short while to keep my code up-to-date and only ever had some wobbles. My problem is still my landings :D thats why next launch is on a launcher and will be auto landed (the APM is probably better than me).
Comment by Chris Starke on May 20, 2011 at 5:52am
Lets be honest though, there is nothing quite like a piece of freshly compiled code in the morning :P

Developer
Comment by Doug Weibel on May 20, 2011 at 7:30am
Although APM 2.X is out of beta if you are testing some of the latest features you are still a beta tester ;)  APM has grown in complexity to the point that there are MANY combinations of configurations and features that have not been tested.  The core functionality and popular configurations have been pretty well tested, but if you have something unusual, you may be the first and are a beta tester.  Always proceed with a bit of caution.

Developer
Comment by Mark Colwell on May 20, 2011 at 8:02am

I really hate beta testing, I is a big time killer, but without it I would have a pile of trashed UAVs, I do enjoy adding the latest new options, HIL, OSD, and Camera Tracking. But debugging is difficult. Code is tight and not easy to decipher sometimes.  Current compile issue with "void waypoint_check" calling "climb_rate" 

What does this error message mean??

 

ArduPilotMega_2_1_mjc.cpp: In function 'void waypoint_check()':

climb_rate:9: error: expected identifier before '(' token

climb_rate:9: error: expected `;' before '(' token

test:671: error: expected `}' at end of input

 

Any Hints?

waypoint_check  code:

 

void waypoint_check() {

if(g.waypoint_index > 1) && (g.waypoint_index <= 12) { // Take pictures at WP-2 thru WP-12

 

if(wp_distance < 10) { // Get as close as it can for you    

arducam_pic(); // DO SOMETHIMNG }

 }

if(g.waypoint_index > 1) && (g.waypoint_index = 2){ // Start video recorder at WP-2 

 

if(wp_distance < 10){ // Get as close as it can for you    

arducam_vid(); // DO SOMETHIMNG }

 

} if(g.waypoint_index = 13){ // Take pictures at WP-13 

arducam_pic();

 }

}

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