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Thread: Ken/Cluso99/ W9GFO/JasonD's QuadCopter Build Log (updated info ELEV-8 + availability)

  1. #441

    Default Re: Ken/Cluso99/ W9GFO/JasonD's QuadCopter Build Log (updated info ELEV-8 + availabil

    I've been using Trex-600 landing gear on mine. They're a little beefy and hold up to rough landings quite well. I drilled extra holes in mine so they'd line up with my frame screws.

    Google search for "trex 600 landing skids" and you'll see all the pretty colors they come in, and they're cheap. Not to take away from the Parallax ones at all, but if you're worried about breaking skids these are meant to hold the weight of an 8lb helicopter during hard landings. I think they weigh about 80g per pair.

    http://www.helipross.com/align-t-rex...111.html?sl=EN

  2. #442

    Default Re: Ken/Cluso99/ W9GFO/JasonD's QuadCopter Build Log (updated info ELEV-8 + availabil

    I had another little breakthrough last night - at least I think I did - I need to test more to be sure, but it's very promising so far.

    Based on a conversation I had with a member of DIYDrones, and a different thread I found there, I added code to the gyro routine to bump the sampling rate up to 2000Hz, and internally I round and average the last 8 results at 250Hz. This has the net effect of reducing transient spikes and some vibration sensitivity. I've also boosted my internal flight loop and servo update loops to 250Hz, so everything is now matched.

    Previously, if I did a full throttle climb, or a low-throttle descent followed by a high-throttle recovery, it would wobble. I always suspected this was caused by motor vibration hitting a resonance frequency of the gyro, but I wasn't sure. Adding the over-sample and integrate code seems to have made the problem vanish - high-power climbs and fall recovery now seem to be as stable as my normal flight. I only have one night flight with the new code, and I'm nervous taking it above about 20 feet in the dark, so I'm not absolutely certain, but I'm pretty sure.

    That was the last real challenge for me in with this hardware (ie single gyro). I'm now cleaning up the code and prepping for a full "Completed Projects" release.

    Jason

  3. #443

    Default Re: Ken/Cluso99/ W9GFO/JasonD's QuadCopter Build Log (updated info ELEV-8 + availabil

    Jason, I can attest to the fact that the descending "wobbles" are a problem with the Hoverfly SPORT board. I've always thought this behavior would best be corrected with an accelerometer. But now that you're getting into the engineering details I think the SPORT firmware could be dramatically improved. Way to go!

    I'll get a SPORT off to you tomorrow.

    Ken Gracey

    Ken Gracey | Parallax Inc.| Direct
    : (916) 625-3010 | www.parallax.com

    Follow me on Twitter




  4. #444

    Default Re: Ken/Cluso99/ W9GFO/JasonD's QuadCopter Build Log (updated info ELEV-8 + availabil

    Are you updating the servo setting at 250Hz or outputting the servo pulse at 250Hz? I've heard that some ESCs will accept the higher rates but if you also have real servos on the quad, those won't like a 250Hz frame rate.

  5. #445

    Default Re: Ken/Cluso99/ W9GFO/JasonD's QuadCopter Build Log (updated info ELEV-8 + availabil

    Quote Originally Posted by W9GFO View Post
    Are you updating the servo setting at 250Hz or outputting the servo pulse at 250Hz? I've heard that some ESCs will accept the higher rates but if you also have real servos on the quad, those won't like a 250Hz frame rate.
    Both, but you're absolutely right - if there were analog servos plugged into my board they'd fry. (The way they work internally means they need a pulse delay of 40+ or they will burn out. Digital servos usually don't have this issue). If I want to run actual servos on my board I'll have to run a real Servo32 object in another cog, but this is known and intentional.

    Ken - I may have a couple more surprises in store for you shortly. See the attached images.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version

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    Last edited by JasonDorie; 12-13-2011 at 09:03 AM. Reason: Update preview images

  6. #446

    Default Re: Ken/Cluso99/ W9GFO/JasonD's QuadCopter Build Log (updated info ELEV-8 + availabil

    Okay, were you lurking around Parallax last week? I'm not paranoid, but if you planted a bug in my office I promise not to get after you. While Roy was visiting we were discussing the fact that Hoverfly should tell us how to talk to their setup software so that Jason could put the hooks into any OPEN code. But this has potential to be far better! If you can verify that the receiver is connected, that the ESCs are present, and that the sensors are working this would solve many problems for people. By their very nature quadcopters seem to be exactly the kind of product where we can proudly proclaim "this product doesn't work at all - you'll encounter a few hurdles along the way, and you're going to crash after you put it in the air!". Such support tools go a long ways towards increasing the chances for success. Thank you for sharing the screen shot!

    Ken Gracey | Parallax Inc.| Direct
    : (916) 625-3010 | www.parallax.com

    Follow me on Twitter




  7. #447

    Default Re: Ken/Cluso99/ W9GFO/JasonD's QuadCopter Build Log (updated info ELEV-8 + availabil

    Nope, not lurking - I've had this idea for a while, but it's nice to know that great minds still think alike.

    I wanted a way for me to change the settings from a NetBook in the field without having to alter code & re-flash the thing. My Prop-side code stores a bunch of config in a DAT section and there's a routine that will send or receive it, update the mirror copy in the EEPROM, and reboot the prop. Well, that's the theory... I'm still working out the kinks, but it's close.

    Also, there's no way to get any sort of feedback from the ESCs that I know of. I might include a kind of test mode - fire each motor in sequence, for example, to verify that they work, are connected correctly, and are spinning in the right direction, but I'm not there yet (and still debating that part).

    The ground station software already includes readings from all the gyros, including running min, max, average, and variance numbers so you can get an idea of how noisy they are, what the range is, etc. I may also add readings for the R/C inputs so you can verify they're all hooked up correctly.

  8. #448
    Cluso99's Avatar
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    Sydney/Brisbane Australia or 'sailing on the high seas'
    Posts
    10,053

    Default Re: Ken/Cluso99/ W9GFO/JasonD's QuadCopter Build Log (updated info ELEV-8 + availabil

    Nice Jason. Funny you should show that screen shot.
    I too have a little surprise in store as long as I can get the time... (sweeps office to ensure no bugs here either)...
    A tiny 2 wire terminal with lcd and 3 buttons to program/adjust settings simply while in the field.
    And waiting for my new pcbs...
    #1: 1.8"x1.8" Prop, eeprom, microSD, 2@ 8 posn servo connectors (8 for RC, 8 for ESC) plus 2@ 2 posn servo or expansion, 1 header for sensor pcb
    #2: 0.8"x0.8" Sensor pcb with regulator and header plus optional ITG3200 gyro, ADXL345 accelerometer, HMC5883 compass, BMP085 pressure/temp.

    pcb #1 does not require a propplug or FT232 for downloading - can use microSD (or another tba hopeful trick) - sweeps office again for bugs!
    BTW I only have 3 sets of pcbs coming first up - 1 for me, 1 for Jason, 1 for Ken (if you are interested).
    My Prop boards: CpuBlade, TriBlade, RamBlade, www.clusos.com
    Prop Tools (Index)
    Emulators (Index) ZiCog (Z80)
    Prop OS (also see Sphinx, PropDos, PropCmd)

  9. #449

    Default Re: Ken/Cluso99/ W9GFO/JasonD's QuadCopter Build Log (updated info ELEV-8 + availabil

    OooOooOooo... That sounds cool. I really have to start getting into making my own SMT PCBs. I've done little bits of SMT work, but never a full board, so I envy your finished look items.

    I've been seriously thinking of adding a microSD chip to log data - R/C inputs, gyro values, PID loop values - the works. It'd probably help tuning the flight controls because I could see how quickly the values hit their targets. My ground station is (hopefully) ultimately going to include a bunch of this, but I may only have enough bandwidth to do a partial set. An SD card should keep up no problem.

    I have a pair of "chip on glass" 2-line LCD panels that I bought so I'd be able to make simple program changes in the field. My idea is that with the throttle at zero, if you push the rudder full left and hold it, it goes into program mode. Then you just use the aile / elev stick to move up & down between menu items and left & right to increase/decrease a value. When done, hold the rudder full left (or choose a "save" or "exit"menu item perhaps) and it updates the variables and EEPROM. I did this with my "Propeller with Propellers" version and it works well. I just don't have an easy-to-mount LCD board - that was done using a chunky 3-wire serial one, and I want something permanent.

    Now I just have to mount it and write the code.

    I also want to add another channel or two to my setup so I can use remote switches to toggle between pairs (or a trio) of settings. One for "aggressive", one for "sedate", etc, or just be able to play with a few different PID settings to see how they feel, but be able to switch them up in flight.

    So many ideas, only so many sleep hours I can steal.

  10. #450
    Cluso99's Avatar
    Location
    Sydney/Brisbane Australia or 'sailing on the high seas'
    Posts
    10,053

    Default Re: Ken/Cluso99/ W9GFO/JasonD's QuadCopter Build Log (updated info ELEV-8 + availabil

    Jason: No doubt you have a few spare servo channels on your pcb. By using 1 of these as an input you can configure a switch using jumper wires to 5V or Gnd (your servo inputs need to have series resistors fitted for 5V else use 3v3 or a series resistor instead of a link). By using multiple spare channels, you can use a binary set of parameters simply. This of course only works on the ground.

    Idea for in the air... Use 1 switch channel to indicate to store the 2nd channel and press this multiple times within a few seconds to get a new mode. There are lots of ways you can achieve something like this.

    My board has series resistors on the whole 20 servo channels. 4 channels have 5V fixed (as in the 2 x 2). 2 channels have 5V by jumpers (as in 1 per 8) and the others can have solder bridges underneath if you require more channels to have the 5V. This is because only 1 ESC should supply the 5V. And only 1 receiver channel needs to be supplied the 5V. I added the microSD because I wanted to be able to store the sensor data to analyse later. I think this is a must if I want to understand precisely what is happening. Then its just a matter to copy the files to a spreadsheet to graph the sensors. I also have a power switch on the pcb which will also power off the rc receiver too. The sensor pcb piggybacks on top of the pcb or you can use a wii mp board. And the 2 pcbs will fit into a Hammond 1551R or S box for protection.

    I can use any channel to output TV monochrome NTSC by just taking gnd and the output to the TV (uses the series servo resistor for the TV out - see my 1pin debugger object). I have a $25 3.5" 12V TV monitor (car reversing monitor from eBay).

    Here are my two pcb layouts. The left is the sensor pcb and is 0.8"sq and the right is the prop pcb and is 1.8"sq. The sensor pcb plugs into the prop pcb over the top of the microSD. If you look carefully you will see the check marks and the pins by just sliding the sensor pcb over the prop pcb.

    Click image for larger version

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    My Prop boards: CpuBlade, TriBlade, RamBlade, www.clusos.com
    Prop Tools (Index)
    Emulators (Index) ZiCog (Z80)
    Prop OS (also see Sphinx, PropDos, PropCmd)

  11. #451

    Default Re: Ken/Cluso99/ W9GFO/JasonD's QuadCopter Build Log (updated info ELEV-8 + availabil

    I actually have a 9 channel transmitter (and another that's 7 channels) because I fly helis. They often use multiple channels on the throttle or switches to control things like fuel mixture curves, blade pitch curves, motor governor settings, gyro settings, etc.

    The point being I have lots of actual on-the-remote switches that I could flip while in flight and have a new set of PID parameters become active so I could contrast multiple sets of settings. I have two switches that are three-point, so I could have a LOT of different tunings if I wanted to get really tricky, or just use one switch for roll/pitch and the other for yaw, as they tend to require quite different tunings anyway.

    At the moment, my quad board is on a protoboard that I harvested from something else, and there's an old chip in the way of my next R/C channel spot, so I'm going to have to do a bit of reworking if I want more channels on it. I also have a new board based on the MinIMU that I've been writing a driver for. That's just about done (I have to add the new oversampling code, but that should be easy). I was smart and installed 6 R/C channels on this one from the beginning. And I haven't been worried about plugging in multiple BECs - they're just linear regulators, so they can be run in parallel with no problems. If you run multiple switching BECs in parallel I think it confuses them and you get really bad ripple.

    I've also done a bunch of reading, and found that the small satellite receivers for Spektrum receivers can be used on their own - they're SPI, and the protocol has been reverse engineered. I plan to write a driver for it so it'll be "as many channels as you have" on a 3-pin JST. That's not a requirement, but it'd be pretty cool.

    Your boards are gorgeous. I definitely want one. :-)

  12. #452

    Default Re: Ken/Cluso99/ W9GFO/JasonD's QuadCopter Build Log (updated info ELEV-8 + availabil

    Jason,
    Almost all ESCs are "programmable/configurable" and people have figured out the protocols for this with some brands. It could be used to detect the ESCs and even configure them via code.
    Here is a site with the info & code for Turnigy ESCs (the ones in the ELEV-8 kit are this brand): http://www.frank-zhao.com/cache/escprogrammingcardhack.php

    I suspect that a number of them use the same protocol even, because people have mentioned being able to use programming cards from some brands with other brands.

    Cluso99: that board setup looks decent. Some comments: You might want to consider making the mounting holes on the main board a little larger so you can put rubber grommets in it and then fit a screws thru them for mounting to help reduce vibrations (the hoverfly boards have this setup, see what I'm talking about in this image: http://static.rcgroups.net/forums/at...4-IMG_4534.jpg ). Also, the sensor daughter board needs to be mounted solidly, I think you have those small holes at the opposite end from the connection header end that line up with the same size holes in the main board for this? Is the idea to solder in some posts?

  13. #453

    Default Re: Ken/Cluso99/ W9GFO/JasonD's QuadCopter Build Log (updated info ELEV-8 + availabil

    Roy - thanks for that - I have TowerPro (acro series) ESCs because they have a programmable throttle range (no startup init required), and they too have a programming box. I'm curious to see if the programming matches. Since it's easy to program the ESCs externally I probably won't do this right away, but it certainly would be a nice feature.

    Ken (and all) - I've updated the screen shots for my fully working QuadX Ground Station. The programming all works. I'll have to test the flight config (+ or x) by physically changing my quad temporarily, but it should all work. I'll also have to make sure that my pin choices are HoverFly compatible. The high-speed servo code is hard-wired (partially), but everything else I could configure easily in code.

  14. #454

    Default Re: Ken/Cluso99/ W9GFO/JasonD's QuadCopter Build Log (updated info ELEV-8 + availabil

    Jason,
    I was thinking that you could use that protocol stuff to just detect if an ESC was present on the connector. Perhaps just do one of the commands to read the settings out (like the card does), and if it responds then you know an ESC is there. The Hoverfly boards do something to detect the presence of the ESCs and goes into an error state if one or more is missing.

  15. #455

    Default Re: Ken/Cluso99/ W9GFO/JasonD's QuadCopter Build Log (updated info ELEV-8 + availabil

    Ahhh.. Got it - that's a good idea.

    I did another flight today with my latest changes. The fast ascent / descent wobble is still there, but it's reduced significantly. It used to wobble and oscillate badly during just about ANY descent, so this is a marked improvement.

  16. #456

    Default Re: Ken/Cluso99/ W9GFO/JasonD's QuadCopter Build Log (updated info ELEV-8 + availabil

    Descending into your own turbulence may require enough power to correct that the correction causes the prop to momentarily stall, which would begin a cycle.

  17. #457

    Default Re: Ken/Cluso99/ W9GFO/JasonD's QuadCopter Build Log (updated info ELEV-8 + availabil

    Helicopters have the same issue, but since they only have one rotor it doesn't usually affect stability - it just means you need more power to climb out after a descent than you would to hover normally.

    By descending in place, you create a downward moving column of air that pulls you with it, and it's turbulent to boot. In a single-rotor heli, applying normal power may not overcome the downward speed of the air column, so you need more power just to stop the descent. In a multi-rotor, each rotor has the problem, and turbulence compounds it because they won't all see the same turbulence at the same time, making it more unstable than usual.

    I call it "the descent sonic boom". :-) I was happy just to make the effect less pronounced.

    My rapid ascent problem is more likely one of balance or vibration resonance. If the weight isn't properly centered, applying full power to all the props may make it tip. It should recover from that though, so I suspect it's the latter - higher motor speed hitting a resonant frequency of the gyro sensors and causing false tilt readings. I'll never know for sure unless I start recording my flight data to SD card.

  18. #458

    Default Re: Ken/Cluso99/ W9GFO/JasonD's QuadCopter Build Log (updated info ELEV-8 + availabil

    Helis have the settling with power or vortex ring state problem when descending too quickly. It's a little different in that the flow pattern through the rotor disc is reversed in areas. The quads should not have reversed flow at all. An RC heli can get out of it through sheer power but a full size needs to fly out of it.

    It should be easy to rule out. If you add some weight and it gets worse then that would point to stalling - if it doesn't then it is something else.

  19. #459

    Default Re: Ken/Cluso99/ W9GFO/JasonD's QuadCopter Build Log (updated info ELEV-8 + availabil

    I don't think I was paying attention when I read that the prop might momentarily stall - You're absolutely right, that could be it. I should try flying with a single battery and see if it gets better - that's an easy test for me.

  20. #460

    Default Re: Ken/Cluso99/ W9GFO/JasonD's QuadCopter Build Log (updated info ELEV-8 + availabil

    Today it finally happened - we hit the HR manager's BMW. There was no damage, but it was a close call! Nick was flying around and somehow got a bit sideways on the landing and crashed into the wheel, leaving a broken propeller nicely stuck between the wheel and tire. The ELEV-8 bounced off the wheel and Daniel started jumping up and down. Unfortunately, the HR manager saw the whole event unfold from her office. When we came inside the office there was a meeting (and a confession):

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    To lighten the mood, HR manager was invited to record a crash for Nick on the whiteboard. Nick had at least 30 flights before this crash.

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    Let's hope for brighter days, and maybe that BMW will get parked on the other side of the building.

    Ken Gracey

    Ken Gracey | Parallax Inc.| Direct
    : (916) 625-3010 | www.parallax.com

    Follow me on Twitter




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