An ELEV-8 Forum section?

My daughter has recently announced an interest in drones, UAVs, R/C we go down another rabbit hole! :lol: (Actually, I was into R/C planes and rockets years ago, but after a couple days of intel gathering, I can see things have progressed a lot since then.)
Has there ever been a sub-forum dedicated to the ELEV-8 or drones in general here? I find it slightly strange that a flagship drone like that doesn't have a section on the forums right now. Or have flying rigs been fairly small "traffic" here and always been lumped in with the Robotics sub-forum in general?

To anyone that currently has the ELEV-8, is the flight controller only programmed in C? I've been learning some SPIN recently from the official Prop book, but might have to switch that up for C if this is the case.


  • Hi DrPop,

    ELEV-8 content is most often posted to the Robotics forum category, as "Robotics" is the parent-category in the Parallax store for the ELEV-8 product range.

    A long time ago there may have been more sub-categories, but I think that increased the time users and moderators were spending hunting for topics, or choosing where to post things, and so things were simplified into broader categories, and ELEV-8 content was mostly merged into Robotics, and to a lesser extent General Discussion.

    The code is an interesting question. The Flight Controller firmware was originally developed in SPIN format, and I believe those sources are still lurking on the Parallax GitHub page. However, they would only be a starting point for you, as they don't include all the Flight Controller functionality. At some point in development, Jason Dorie swapped to C, and so the final versions are only in C language.

    Interestingly though, the SPIN code does contain drivers for most (if not all) of the Flight Controller sensors/features, and so can still be a useful reference!

    In all, I think you have found an opportunity to be learning C; as you suspected :)

    Have fun!
  • Thanks, I'm just not smart enough to reinvent the wheel if there was already a bunch of discussion on mods or any updates to the airframe, controller, etc. in one place to read through.

    Since there isn't an official book for Prop C like there is for SPIN, is the best resource for learning more Prop C pretty much just Parallax's learn section here?
  • I believe would be a good place to start.

    There's also some code examples in OBEX that might be interesting to experiment with. If you click the "All" category in OBEX, then click the language heading to sort by language, you can then find all the C objects together.
  • Thanks for the OBEX tip for the flight controller!
  • This is the GitHub page for the C files:

    I have lost the address to the SPIN files, but they were not finished as they went over to C at the end of the project when they found SPIN was not fast enough to fit all the sensors in and have room for more upgrades.
  • It was originally developed in Spin, but the CMM compiled C++ code runs at roughly 2x to 4x the speed of Spin. Getting all the code to fit into 32Kb was quite challenging, so some of it is less readable than I'd like, but the main code flow should be relatively easy to follow and is well commented. If you scroll down on the GitHub page that Publison pointed you at, there's a good high-level description of each of the code modules that should help you find your way around. If you have questions, I still lurk here regularly.
  • DrPopDrPop Posts: 226
    edited 2017-12-16 - 08:30:53
    Had no idea C code would run that much faster than SPIN, thanks for the explanation. I'll take a look at the sources once we get everything built, though with the way things are going and upcoming family visits, will probably be after the holidays before we're flying. :lol:

    EDIT: I'm going on record stating that late 2017, it is somewhat difficult at this point to piece together where the Elev-8 community has taken the project as a whole with possible mods and tweaks, add-ons, etc. I was admin on a fairly decent sized VBulletin based web forum for years, and it's simple to add sub-folders inside each major category. For example, under Robotics, folders for Elev-8, Arlo, Activitybot, BOE-Bot, Scribbler, Arduino, and Other. Everything pertaining to those categories would then be nicely sorted for someone coming along years later trying to piece together what level an entire project reached.
  • It's been ~13 years since I built and flew RC aircraft, so had to info binge on the current drone/UAV scene to get up to speed. Trying to get a feel for where Elev-8 development has reached regarding the last two to three years of UAV innovation.
    @JasonDorie and/or @VonSzarvas, may I PM either of you or anyone else involved in the project directly?
    Thank you for your time.
  • VonSzarvasVonSzarvas Posts: 1,848
    edited 2017-12-19 - 07:39:06
    Feel free to PM us anytime @DrPop, but if your questions have an element of "future" development in them, then you might be better contacting or KenGracey directly.

    Or if you feel your questions appropriate for the forum, then post here and I'll ask the relevant Parallaxians to take a look. Might be that your thoughts could help others too.

    As far as ELEV-8 software and flying advice goes though, @JasonDorie is the master!
  • VonSzarvas wrote: »
    Feel free to PM us far as ELEV-8 software and flying advice goes though, @JasonDorie is the master!

    Thanks, I appreciate the warm welcome from the flying crew here. :cool: I'm sure it'll take me several weeks of tinkering to get my wings back after all this time, and I'll have more specific questions when we get things flying after the holidays. Before I start, I'm curious about a few things if anyone can pitch in answers:
    Does anyone know if @JasonDorie was able to complete the GPS support for the Elev-8 Flight Controller he had mentioned working on roughly a year ago in some old threads I came across?

    Do any of you use an OpenTX compatible radio setup with the Elev-8 V3? Radios with fully programmable, open-source firmware seem pretty impressive with the options they can deliver. We didn't have anything like this back when I was flying 72MHz Futaba radios on RC planes.

    A question specific to the older Elev-8 V2 and the HoverflyOPEN flight controller: Is that flight controller hackable or re-programmable at all, or did it remain closed source? In addition to the V3 kit, Chris gave me a great deal on an older V2 kit "NOS", so I'd like the challenge of building it. If the Hoverfly controller can't be modded though, it seems almost pointless to build it up around that controller at this stage, and I'd just plan on putting another in from day one. If it's able to accept some mods, then it's a possibility to do something with since it has a good Prop chip on there, of course.
    Thanks and wishing you all clear skies over the holidays so you can get some airtime in! :smile:
  • Jason is an independent contractor, so I guess he works on what Parallax asks him to. :lol: GPS is on my wish list also.

    Altitude hold, (or terrain following), with the laser rangefinder seems closer, as there is some code on Github and the aluminum bracket for the Elev-8 is already available.

    The HoverflyOPEN, ( a misnomer IMHO), is closed software source. The "open" was the hardware specs. It is programmable as it sits and can be reconfigured to your heart's desire. It was an appropriate controller for the V1 and V2. That said, there is no reason you couldn't mount the Parallax flight controller on a V2, I have one waiting to do just that if I can find everything after my move. :)

    Building the Elev-8 is a fun project. I built a V1, two V2's, you for me and one for Parallax, and a V3. I did these to help Parallax tweak all the assembly instructions.
  • @Publison - thanks, that makes sense why no more news about GPS since those old posts, then. Still in information download mode here, blasting through four books and everything I can read online as well. Looks like we're (Parallax aficionados) up against a pretty formidable flight controller in the latest AX4 Pixhawk. GPS is going to be a must, along with altitude hold as you mentioned, to be anywhere close to competing with that. The Pixhawk uses barometer for altitude by default but of course that has its limitations, so optional data in from laser and ultrasonic sensors can be utilized as well if you have it. Will be interesting to see how difficult it is to integrate that into the Elev-8 flight controller.

    Do you know from owning both units, if the HoverflyOPEN assumes the same motor placement and prop rotation direction as the Elev-8 flight controller? Would they be swappable later without much reconfiguration of the V2? I might just build it as it came in the box if so.
  • PublisonPublison Posts: 11,221
    edited 2017-12-20 - 16:25:42
    The Parallax Flight Controller has a Barometer also for altitude.

    I'll attach the HoverFly manual for your reading pleasure.

    EDIT: Manual too big to upload. I'll provide a link.

    EDIT2: Here is the link:

  • DrPopDrPop Posts: 226
    edited 2017-12-20 - 22:37:23
    Thanks, that's cool Parallax still has the info for the old controller, I'll take a look. I didn't know if after building both versions if you'd noticed they were the same layout or not.
    Yes, I saw from the specs that the newer Elev-8 flight controller has on board barometer as it should, but from what I gathered from old forum postings is that it's still lacking any kind of functional autopilot features such as Nav capabilities or altitude hold, waypoints, return home, etc. I'm guessing that's still the situation?
    If I understand where it's at, we have the hardware, but the software needs to catch up.

    Edit: Well, what do you know, section 5.7.1 of that manual shows HoverflyOPEN had an altitude hold off an optional ultrasonic sensor. Maybe that will be useful to implement the same on the Elev-8 controller to improve accuracy along with the barometer data. :cool:

    And Edit #2: Short lived happiness. This is why it would be immensely helpful to future adopters of the platform to have all the Elev-8 related posts and info in one section. I came across this post: and this one as well: which both appear to show the altitude hold feature doesn't work. Was anyone ever able to straighten it out on the OPEN board or on the newer Elev-8 board as well? :confused:
  • DrPop wrote: »

    Edit: Well, what do you know, section 5.7.1 of that manual shows HoverflyOPEN had an altitude hold off an optional ultrasonic sensor. Maybe that will be useful to implement the same on the Elev-8 controller to improve accuracy along with the barometer data. :cool:

    That never worked. It seems that function was for another controller that we never saw.

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