Articles for August 2015

Pixhawk Prizes for Pronto Pair :- T3 Back to the Future Winners

Back in 2009 we ran our first pylon style race in a figure eight pattern. It was won by an Easystar using a paparazzi autopilot in a fraction over 49 seconds for a single lap.

This time we asked contestants to complete 5 laps and Dawid Preller flew a blistering time of 221 seconds. That’s 44 and a tiny bit seconds a lap including launch and landing. He was flying an A44 Eaglet. No nor had I…

We had a wide range of aircraft Rob_Lefebvre with his Goblin helicopter came second in a time of 281 seconds. A chap called Anderson entered a Solo and Skyfun 348 and 397 seconds respectively.

Robs Goblin

Linus had a go

I don’t think I anticipated any rovers entering, we had four! Well three that tried and the chap Anderson just demonstrated how small his hands are.

Chris tried to enter a Go kart claiming it capable of speeds in excess of 100 mph! 

But it was not to be.

The Rover course was made smaller as finding 200m square of flat smooth open space proved difficult.

Grant Morpeth seems to have misinterpreted the rules thinking it was a football competition.

The two Rover entries that posted times were Healthyfatboy at 316 seconds and Tom who was plagued with rain and whilst making fast lap times could not get the five in a row in. I suspect he might actually be hiding some advanced tuning in order to  scoop the prizes next time.

So congratulations to Dawid Preller and Healthyfatboy, a Pixhawk courtesy of 3DR will be winging its way to you both shortly.

Congratulations must also go to everybody that entered and sacrificed time and in some cases equipment to help make the APM experience better for everybody. Its these competitions that push things on. 

Perhaps next time we can have some boats as well to make land sea and air.

Unlike those FPV chaps, its real drone racing here 😉

If you want to know more about T3 take a scroll down the right hand side of the page or click here 

Powered by WPeMatico Helps you price out your Multirotor Build and Share it with Others

RotorBuilds is a new application that allows multirotor DIYers to price out their build and share the finished product with others.  As you add each part to your build the total price is updated in real time to give you an idea of your total build cost before and after completion.  It offers an extensive social foundation that allows users to discuss builds, talk privately, “like” builds and follow updates from one another.  Ask questions and offer updates about your build to get valuable feedback from the community!

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An awesome day at CMAC

Anyone who has been involved in aeromodelling for a while dreams of having of of those days when everything works right. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does it sure is nice!

CanberraUAV had one of those days yesterday. It was a wonderful sunny winters day at our local flying field and we were test flying our latest creations.

First up was the “Vampire Mark 2”, a combined plane quadcopter built by Jack Pittar. It consists of a senior telemaster with a 15cc petrol engine, but with the addition of 4 quadcopter motors. It was the maiden flight yesterday, and it was setup with a Pixhawk controlling the quad engines and the rest controlled manually as a normal RC model. We flew with two pilots (Justin Galbraith and Jack Pittar). The takeoff was vertical as a quadcopter, and it then transitioned to fixed wing flight using the extremely simple method of advancing the throttle on the plane while lowering the throttle on the telemaster. Transition was very easy and the plane reached 31m/s in forward flight at full throttle. The landing transition was equally easy. Jack lowered the throttle on the plane while Justin raised the throttle on the quadcopter. No problems!

Given this was the first flight of a highly experimental aircraft we were pretty pleased with the result! Jack is thinking of building an even bigger version soon that will be able to complete the 2016 OBC mission with plenty of room for equipment.

Next up was our JS90 helicopter, originally built by Ryan Pope and adapted for autonomous flight.

This is the flybar version of the JS90-v2 heli from Hobbyking, with a OS GT15HZ petrol engine fitted, along with a Pixhawk2 and a new “Blue Label” Lidar from pulsedlight. We’ve been flying (and crashing!) this heli for a while now, but yesterday was finally the day when we got to try high speed autonomous flight.

apart from a small gap where we lost telemetry in the north west corner you can see the tracking in the auto mission was great. Once we learned how to tune a flybar heli (which turns out to be extremely simple!) it flies really well. We did have some issues getting it to fly as fast as we want. Above about 17m/s it occasionally pulled back and stopped for a second before continuing. We knew it could do more as it happily flew at over 27m/s in ALT_HOLD mode. With some help from Randy and a small code change to help with tuning we think we’ve tracked down the cause of that issue and expect to be doing 27m/s AUTO missions next weekend.

Next up was another quad plane, this one quite different from the big telemaster build!

We had been trying to track down a problem with loiter on the Parrot Bebop when running ArduPilot. We suspected there may have been a GPS lag issue, so we wanted to get some flight data that would allow us to compare the performance of a uBlox GPS with the GPS in the Bebop for dynamic flight. We thought a good way to do that would be to strap the Bebop to a plane and take it for a fly. The results were very interesting! For this flight we saw a lag on the Bebop GPS of over 5 seconds, which must be some sort of buffering issue. We’ll chat to Julien from Parrot to see if we can track down the issue.

Next we thought it would be fun to see if something else could lift the tiny Bebop. Peter had his Solo there, so we strapped the Bebop to it and went for a fast fly in drift mode. Great fun!

Overall it was a fantastic day! Next week we’re really looking forward to trying the Trex700 petrol conversion that Greg has built which you can see in the background in this photo of our build day on Saturday. The build looks really good and we expect it to perform even better than the JS90, as Greg has managed to fit a Pixhawk while still being able to install the canopy. That should reduce drag quite a lot.

The switch of focus for CanberraUAV to VTOL aircraft has been a lot of work, but the results are really paying off and we’re having a lot of fun in the process. We hope that we’ll have a lot more weekends like this one in the future.

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Hover – #1 app for Drone pilots adds International airports to no-fly zone maps!

International airport no-fly zone maps are now available! Of course detailed US, UK, and Korean maps are still up and running as well :)🙂

Hover – an app for Drone Enthusiasts

Hover Features (iOS & Android):
– US & UK no-fly zone maps
– Flight Logs
– Weather data
– Timer
– Industry News Feed

Let me know if you have any questions!

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Improvements in APM wikis and other documentation

I’d like to take a moment and call out Hamish Willee and the rest of the documentation team, who every day make scores of improvements to the wikis and other documentation for the APM and other Dronecode project wikis. To call out just one example, you may have noticed the new sidebar/menu system, which is clean, clear and works much better on mobile.

On the developer documentation, we’re moving to a Sphinx theme, which is easier to maintain and integrates well with the code development process. You can see one such example with the MAVProxy page.


If you’d like to be part of the documentation team, you can participate via the maillist, or just post bug or addition requests via the Issue Tracker. They love new contributors! 

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Using ROS Gazebo simulator with ArduCopter

The future of robotics development, including drones, is powerful simulation, which makes it possible to achieve faster development and better performance by reducing the “trial and error” process of testing everything with physical machines. The Dronecode projects have long used a number of powerful drone-specific simulators, including both “hardware-in-the-loop” (HITL) and “software-in-the-loop” (SITL) programs. 

But as drone simulation goes beyond simply simulating the drone itself and extends to simulating an entire robotic system, including swarming, pathfinding, environmental awareness and autonomous mapping and naviation without GPS, you need even more powerful tools. 

The gold standard for advanced robotics simulation is the ROS/Gazebo package, which is now supported by ArduPilot as part of the Dronecode project (ROS is the Robot Operating System, created by the Open Source Robotics Foundation, which is part of Dronecode.

The APM Dev wiki now has a great page on how to use it. Here’s a sample, but click through for the whole thing.

ROS and Gazebo are a well-known and respected robotics framework and simulator:

  • The ROS framework contains many “packets” of software for performing robotics tasks. It allows you to model the environment (including indoor environments with walls, doors etc) and run your own control algorithms for autonomous flight.
  • Gazebo supports several different Copter models (at time of writing there are 6 URDF models in the rotors_simulator package). These can be extended to include support for additional sensors and other behaviours.
The ROS/Gazebo is particularly useful for defining autonomous indoor flights.

This article shows how you can replace the default SITL Copter simulation with one supplied by Gazebo and control the autopilot using the ROS framework (instead of Mavproxy or some other Ground Control System).

An architectural overview of how ROS/Gazebo integrate with SITL is shown below:

Architecture Diagram: Using SITL with ROS and Gazebo

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Screen shot of our new iPad app

We flew our remote hexacopter on Cape Cod from over 60 miles away over a cellular connection using only this iPad interface. Beautiful day for a flight. Actual screen shot from the flight.

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Erle Robotics in the top 30 robotic startups worldwide

Hello everyone,

Erle Robotics is happy to announce that has been selected by RoboHub as one of the 30 most promising robotic startup worldwide. But that’s not all, now we are competing to be one of the top 10.

The votation for “Readers Pick” are open and the 3rd round polling takes until 1st of September, in case anyone is interested taking active part.

We are delighted to see how a company that uses so many open technologies (APM, ROS, BeagleBone Black, Linux, Pixhawk Fire Cape,..) can reach so high.

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