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Posts posted by Spitfire76

  1. Hi @Benjamin 

    Looks like you are making some good progress with this build. To answer you questions...

    1. You mentioned "Multiwii" but that's a different flight controller from the APM. To setup the APM flight controller you need "Mission Planner" which you will find links to on the http://copter.ardupilot.com/ website.

    2. Its normal when you "arm" for the motors to spin at a low rate. It was not like this in earlier versions of the code but I guess they added it to make sure that you know the motors are armed.

    • Like 2

  2. I too am using an APM 2.6 but have not changed any of the PID settings from the default so I can't really make any recommendations. For the type of flying that I've done my UAV seems to behave well and I've not had the issues that you are running into. I've not used the guided mode but do have a switch setup on my TX for RTL and have tested it several times and it always impresses me that it can land so well. I am running 3.2.1 which is the latest that will run in the APM board. I am currently in the process of building a ground station for live video and telemetry so will check out the guided mode as part of the testing.  

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  3. Good choice for the motors and it looks like you get 2 sets of propellers in that package as well so a great deal!. You might want to go for 30A ESCs just to be on the high end of the motor ESC recommendation rather than the low end (20-30A). Also the APM power module is rated at 2.25A so if you plan on using the BEC from one of the ESCs for 5v power it might be better to go with 30A ESCs with a 3 AMP BEC rather than a 20 amp with 2A BEC. Your link to the GPS/Compass description states that its for both MW and APM so hopefully it should be fine but will I check into this a little further. I have not done it but its possible to reconfigure these.

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  4. 1. That looks like a 3 cell 2200mA battery which is the size that I use although I buy mine from Hobbyking. That looks a good price if its both battery and charger but did you see their long delivery times of over 39 days ?.

    2. I used "Andoer Ublox NEO-6M High Precision GPS Module Built-in Compass GPS Folding Antenna Mount Holder for FPV Multirotor Quadcopter APM Flight Controller" which I purchased from Amazon. The Antenna is important as it keeps the GPS and compass away from the any interference caused by the power distribution. There are later GPS chips (7 and 8) from ublox that lock onto more satellites but are usually more expensive. I've found the NEO-6M to work fine where I live but maybe i'll upgrade in the future. 

    3. Yes, you use an USB cable (micro at APM end) to connect to Mission Planner on your PC and add the wireless telemetry later.

    4. 20 A should be fine for a 450 quad but it does really depend on what motors you plan on using. Have a you decided on those ?. Also we need to talk about where the +5v power for the APM is derived from. In my case it comes from one of the ESCs which have a built in BEC but another solution is to use the APM power module. If using an ESC BEC you just need to make sure that it can deliver sufficient current for the APM, RX etc. The one you have a link to has 2 A which I believe should be ok but let me check. I have thought about getting the APM power module as it has a built in voltage and current sensor. Here is where I got most of my information regarding power.


    5. What I understand is that this number refers to the version of the board not the software that runs on it. I believe 2.5 had an internal compass and 2.6 and above the internal compass was removed. Its better to use an external compass as I explained above. I am not sure what the difference is between an APM 2.6, 2.7 or 2.8 board.


    • Like 2

  5. 1. For sure you can always add a camera and gimbal later providing you have the right style and size of frame. Yes, you can control the gimbal from the TX. For example on my setup I have configured a slider control on the Tx that allows me to gradually change the pitch of the gimbal while flying.

    2. Any live video feed from either a gimbal camera or FPV camera needs to have low latency so what you see on a monitor or with FPV goggles is in realtime. Digital video streaming usually has higher latency so usually analogue is used. Most control TX/RX operate at 2.4 Ghz and the video TX/RX typically uses 5.8 Ghz as not to interfere. 

    3. I am not sure what range my FrSky Taranis has but I do have the failsafe mode enabled which triggers the flight controller to fly back to the launch site and land itself if it looses the TX signal for any reason. I also have a "Geo Fence" setup that will do the same thing if the UAV goes too far or too high.

    4. Initially I used a multi-wii flight controller but now use the APM 2.6 running the open source software. You will find a lot of information here.


    I run "Mission Planner" on my PC to perform the configuration and calibration of the UAV. The PC is connected to the APM via an USB cable but I also added a wireless connection (915 Mhz Telemetry) so the PC can be connected while flying.

    Feel free to continue to ask questions.

    • Like 2

  6. I should also add that a camera gimbal is great for aerial video as it keeps the camera stable but you don't want one for the FPV camera as you want to see/feel the roll and pitch of the UAV. If you are considering a gimbal you want to make sure that you have enough clearance under the UAV. The S500 frame that I used from HK does have clearance but I would have preferred a bit more as the camera is only about 50 mm from the ground. Of course a 3 axis gimbal is better that a 2 but then you have to consider having retractable landing gear as this will show in the video when you rotate the camera. My advise would be to build and learn to fly you UAV first without the camera as it less things to break when you crash :)


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  7. I chose an APM 2.6 board for my quad build and I am really happy with the way it flies. My next build, most likely a hex using the Tarot 680 pro frame will use a Pixhawk since the APM board has been retired due to its memory limitation although it works just fine with the 3.2.1 version. I am currently in the process of selecting a video system so that I can have a live feed from the mobius camera. Here is my most recent build list.

    • Frame - S500 (HK) - 500mm frame
    • Flight Controller - APM 2.6 + GPS and external compass (3DR clone from Amazon)
    • FC anti-vibration mount (Amazon)
    • 915 Mhz Telemetry ground and air modules  (3DR clones from Amazon)
    • ESCs - Turnigy Multistar 20A (HK) updated with simonk firmware
    • Motors - 4pcs Emax MT2213 935KV 2CW 2CCW Brushless Motor (Amazon)
    • Power distribution board - HK
    • Receiver - Frsky X8R from (Aloft Hobbies)
    • Transmitter - FrSky Taranis X9D (Aloft Hobbies) updated with OpenTX 2.x firmware.
    • Propellers - Turnigy Slow Flyer 10x4.5 (HK)
    • Battery - Turnigy 3 cell, 20-30C, 2200mAh LiPo (HK)
    • Battery charger - IMAX B6AC Version 2 by SKYRC (Amazon)
    • Battery level sensor alarm (HK)
    • Tarot 2 axis gimbal and controller for a Mobius camera (HK)
    • Camera (Mobius Actioncam)

    HK - Hobbyking

    • Like 2

  8. Mine is using the APM 2.6 board but runs the same software as the Pixhawk although as this board has now been retired (like me!) the latest build I can install is 3.2.1 but it seems to work just fine. In addition to the elevator I also had to invert the rudder channel on my Taranis in order for left stick to make it rotate anti-clockwise and right stick clockwise. This also had the effect of reversing the arming but no big deal.

  9. I would like to add video streaming to my UAV and display it on a laptop or tablet. I currently have a Mobius Action camera mounted on a 2 axis gimbal and it does provide composite video and audio out but would prefer to go with a digital solution rather than analogue. I know that analogue video provides very low latency which is essential for FPV but I really just want to be able to frame my video or pictures and so some latency could be tolerated. I believe that some other cameras like the GoPro have built in wifi streaming but I read that its not a good idea to use it while flying as it can interfere with the 2.4 Ghz radio used for controlling the UAV. Any thoughts or ideas on this topic would be most welcome.

  10. I am not sure if this is the cause of your issue or not but I believe its worth checking how the power is distributed. Do you have a 3DR (or clone) power module ?. Also do you know if the ESCs have their own BECs ?. The reason for asking is this determines if you need to remove of leave a jumper on the APM board. 


    I don't have a power module on mine so all the power is coming from one of the ESCs which have BECs. That ESC has all 3 wires GND, VCC and Signal connected to the APM. All other ESCs only have GND and Signal connected. I leave the jumper in.

  11. After reading a lot about how lipo batteries sometime catching fire I built the following "battery bunker" from a half cinder block, concrete top cap, some play sand and a zip lock bag. The idea is if the battery does catch fie it burns the bag and the flames are quenched by the sand. I can't take credit for the idea it was one of several that I found on various forums and youtube.   


  12. and I was thinking that my next build would be a hex, mainly because of its ability to recover from a motor failure better than a quad! Hopefully you were able to salvage most of the parts. Maybe we should start a discussion on parachute mechanisms. The few that I looked at seem expensive and usually are only effective if the UAV is flying high as it take time for them to deploy.

  13. I have a similar build except I am using the predecessor to Pixhawk; an APM 2.6 with external compass and GPS but the software is the same. Its important that you perform all the calibration steps (ESC/motor, accelerometer, radio, compass etc.) for it to fly well. As you may know you perform these steps from mission planner and I found that it really helps, especially for the compass calibration, if mission planner is connected wirelessly via the telemetry modules as usually the usb cable is a bit short to rotate the UAV in all axis. Details of my build -   


    • Like 1

  14. Transmitters for use with RC models have the joy sticks set for one of 4 modes as follows:


    The throttle should not center itself.

    Mode 2 is typically what we use in the US and I believe mode 1 is used in Europe. These transmitters have been used for planes so you have to translate the controls as follows.

    Throttle - increases RPM of all motors so controls altitude. Low throttle is when the stick is down.

    Rudder - rotates the UAV, left turns it anti-clockwise and right clockwise.

    Elevator - controls pitch, stick up to go forward, stick down to go backward

    Aileron - controls roll, stick left turn left, stick right turn right


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  15. I performed a quick bench test and found that I could change the flight mode to RTL using the MP action tab. With the props removed I armed the quad and increased the throttle to simulate it was in the air. I then clicked on the "Do Action" to initiate the RTL. I answered yes to "Are you sure want to RETURN_TO_LAUNCH" and the status in the artificial horizon changed from "stabilize" to "RTL". Also the motor RPMs increased and I had no longer control on my transmitter so it must be working. The version of ArduCopter is 3.2.1 and the mission planner version is 1.3.34.

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  16. I have built a quadcopter using an APM 2.6 for the flight controller. It was not an original 3DR board but a clone that I purchased on Amazon for around $40. Actually the APM board has been retired for use with ArduCopter software as there is insufficient memory to load the later versions. The last version that can fit on the board is 3.2.1 but this has worked fine for me. The Pixhawk is the board you need to load the later versions. You can see my complete build in the DIY section of this forum.

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  17. I have an APM board on my UAV which as you may know is the predecessor to the Pixhawk and runs the same software. I've setup a 3 position switch on my Tarranis XD9 transmitter for the 3 flight modes: stabilize,  loiter and RTL which allows me to change flight modes in the air. I also have 915 mhz telemetry connecting my laptop running mission planner to the APM flight controller but I have not tried to change flight modes using the action tab but its something that I could try. 


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  18. Alan, Its actually a rebuild of a Kickstarter project (Fourbot) that I backed a few years ago. I ended up with a bunch of cheap components, no build instructions and very little support from the project creator. With a lot of googling and help from other backers I got it built and in the air but was unhappy with the poor quality of parts so I have been gradually replacing them. From the list above the motors and ESCs are still from the original kickstarter project everything else as been replaced or added. Although that KS project was poorly managed I have no regrets backing it as it got me hooked on this technology and I have learnt a lot rebuilding it. My plan now is to build a more professional type of UAV, most likely a 600-700mm hex with retractable landing gear, 3 axis gimbal, 3DR pixhawk controller etc...

    Cheers - Richard

    • Like 1