First Official Pixhawk 2 Unboxing

Adam from Aeroworks Productions unboxes the new Pixhawk 2 flight controller.

• An integrated, single board / box flight controller.
• Sufficient I/O for most applications without expansion.
• Improved ease
• Improved sensor performance.
• Improved microcontroller resources.
• Increased reliability and
reduced integration complexity. • Reduced BoM and manufacturing costs.

Key design points

• All-in-one design with integrated FMU and IO and lots of I/O ports.
• Improved manufacturability, designed for simpler mounting and case design. • Separate power supplies for FMU and IO (see power architecture section).
• On-board battery backup for FMU and IO SRAM / RTC.
• Integration with the standard power brick.

Pixhawk FMU Main Board

• STM32F427; flash 2MiB, RAM 256KiB.
• On
-board 16KiB SPI FRAM
MPU9250 or ICM 20xxx integrated accelerometer / gyro. • MS5611 Baro
• All sensors connected via SPI.
• Micro SD
interfaces via SDIO.

Vibration Damped IMU board

• LSM303D integrated accelerometer / magnetometer. • L3GD20 gyro.
MPU9250 or ICM 20xxx Gyro / Accel
• MS5611 Baro

• All sensors connected via SPI.

I/O ports

• 14 PWM servo outputs (8 from IO, 6 from FMU).
• R/C inputs for CPPM, Spektrum / DSM and S.Bus.
Analogue / PWM RSSI input.
• S.Bus servo output.
• 5 general purpose serial ports, 2 with full flow contr
• Two I2C ports
• One SPI port (un
-buffered, for short cables only not recommended for use). • Two CAN Bus interface.
• 3 Analogue inputs
• High-powered piezo buzzer driver. (On expansion board)
• High-power RGB LED. (I2C driver compatible Connected externally only)
• Safety switch / LED. 

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Very Cool Flying RC Drone Truck

This is some pretty heavy duty stuff. I hope this channel grows and lives up to it’s advertised hype.

I haven’t see this level of DIY for a very long time. Anyone else get that feeling?

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World's tiniest drone has just one prop

Super impressive control implementation to make this work. From Popular Mechanics:

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have unveiled the world’s smallest self-powered drone, which weighs only 2.5 grams and is the size of a quarter.

The tiny drone is called Piccolissimo, after the Italian word for pocket-sized. The drone comes in two versions: the quarter-sized one, and a slightly larger and heavier one that is steerable.

The drone can fly and steer because both the body and the propeller work together. A tiny motor spins the body while the propeller spins the opposite direction. The propeller is mounted off-center, which is how the drone steers. By precisely changing the speed of the propeller at different points during the rotation of the body, the drone can control the direction of its movement. It’s a trick that’s been put to use in larger drones before, and is no less clever now that it’s smaller.

The drone is built using a 3D-printed frame, a lithium polymer battery, a motor, and a simple control mechanism. These simple parts ensure that the drone is very cheap and easy to build.

“One of the interesting things about the design is that much of the complexity is in the design of the body which is 3D printed,” said researcher Mark Yim to Digital Trends. “Since the cost of 3D-printed parts are based on the volume of plastic in the part, and independent of complexity, the flyer is very low-cost.”

The researchers hope that their drones could be used in swarms for applications like search and rescue, where hundreds of small Piccolissimos could be used for the same cost as a single large quadcopter.

Source: UPenn via Digital Trends

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Pre-order for Precis-BX316

Precis-BX316, the Multi-GNSS, Dual Frequency RTK Board with Dual Antenna for Heading released. Pre-order Now. Check with our sales representatives for details. Key features:

  • Multi-GNSS Signal Tracking
    • GPS L1L2/GLONASS G1G2/BeiDou B1B2
  • Reliable Centimeter-level Positioning
    • Up to 20Hz RTK solution output
  • Dual-Antenna GNSS Heading
    • Accurate yaw & pitch angle of moving platform
  • Accurate Shutter Synchronization
    • Ideal for aerial mapping and drone
  • Raw Observation Data Logging
    • Onboard SD Card for data logging & storage
  • Smaller, Lighter 
    • Compact and lightweight design

Learn more about this RTK board, click here. Contact Us:

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Parrot Disco for whale and dolphin survey (and a teardown)

My team and I used the Parrot Disco for a few days of whale and dolphin surveys off the coast of Timor Leste where a cetacean migration event has been going on for the past few weeks. This effort is a partnership between the Unmanned Research Aircraft Facility, a University of Adelaide unit I lead and Conservation International, and supported by Parrot’s Educational Program and a local supplier (MongrelGear).

This bird is super easy to launch and fly, as other Disco users have already noted. It is a perfect platform for operating off a boat that was following a pod of dolphins moving at ~8 knots.

We decided to bring it back down after ~15 min of video footage (with ~80% battery remaining). We went for a moving target final approach to land on the aft of the boat, which was maintaining a straight course at ~10 knots. We set up an improvised ‘catch net’ using a bedsheet for the Disco.

Unfortunately the bird was just short of the target, hit the stern and went for a swim. Luckily we were able to retrieve it, immediately disassembled the entire wing and its CHUCK controller, and flushed them with freshwater. Amazingly nothing was damaged, barring a scratched camera lens and the battery. We only lost the fuselage cover to the sea.

The following day, we treated all electronics (C.H.U.C.K.) and the two servos with CorrosionX. We left only the barometer untreated (well protected under the GPS). The teardown photographs are below. The antenna array is really interesting!

[Main board top]

[Main board below]

[secondary board below]

[Secondary board top]

[GPS board below]

[CorrosionX treatment all done!]

[Antenna arrays] 

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Guidance algorithm for tracking smooth trajectories


I have written with my friend Yuri Kapitanyuk (the main idea was from him) an algorithm for solving the problem of tracking smooth curves by an unmanned aerial vehicle travelling with a constant airspeed and under a wind disturbance. Basically, if the trajectories are twice differentiable, i.e., they are continuous, without “spikes”, etc. then the algorithm is capable to construct an attractive vector field around the trajectory in order to guide the vehicle.

The algorithm has been successfully tested on different fixed wings and it is available in Paparazzi. It has been written as an independent module there, so it should be easy to port to other platforms if somebody is interested. In fact, the code of the algorithm has been split in two parts there.

  • The first one is the core of the algorithm and it is transparent for the user that wants to include its own custom trajectories.
  • The second one corresponds to the trajectories, where the user has to provide the equations of the trajectory, its gradient and its Hessian (the gradient of the gradient).

That makes the algorithm very modular. As an examples (in the gif) I have already implemented in Paparrazi ellipses (they cover the case of circumferences) and sinusoidals (they also cover the particular case of straight lines a.k.a. zero frequency).

If one is interested in the details and how the algorithm works, I have written a more detailed post in my blog .


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Pixhawk 2.1 set to fly off shelves

By Gary Mortimer

From SUAS News

Not just flying, but driving and floating as well. Pixhawk 2.1 running Ardupilot software can be used to command all types of autonomous vehicle.

Shipping has started from Australia and distributors around the world.pixhawk2-1

Designed by Philip Rowse of ProfiCNC the Pixhawk 2.1 is a tale of two halves.

A cube contains an isolated and dampened IMU that is heated by a thermal resistor. This allows for consistent operations across a wide temperature range. It is particularly important in cold weather conditions.

The IMU solution is triple redundant, having.

3 Accelerometers

3 Gyroscopes

3 Magnetometers

2 Barometers

The cube essentially is the part that will keep your flying platform the right way up. It connects to a carrier board that provides the inputs and outputs to flying controls/motors and command and control (C2) links.

Cube and carrier board are sold as a combined kit for $238 or individually.

This allows end users to have the power of a triple redundant heated IMU in their own carrier boards for specialist applications.

The standard carrier board has a built in Intel Edison port to easily add a powerful companion computer. It has standard radio control in and out along with SBUS support.

You can connect two GPS for that extra sense of in-flight security, better still they can be RTK GPS.

Very unusual in this space, the Pixhawk 2.1 has two power inputs. Allowing you redundancy in case of one power system going down.

The Pixhawk 2 Suite comes as standard with.

  1. The Cube…. the brains behind the operation.
  2. A full carrier board.
  3. 1 Power Brick (two power bricks can be filtered for redundant power.)
  4. Cable set that allows you to connect to your old Telemetry module, GPS, and sensors

I was lucky enough to receive an alpha unit, and quite honestly lost my mind over the new connectors. A vast improvement over Pixhawk 1

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Quaternium new ruggedized GCS

We launch our new GCS for HYBRiX drone, it has control for aircraft and for  camera control in the same unit.

This is thought for use with APM flight controllers. it has a 6 position flight mode selector and full MAVLINK support and long range. Radio setup allows connection to 25km with dipole antennas and probably more than 50km with Yagi.
We have been testing control of multirotors through Tower app at 25km with omnidirectional antennas. We have successfully upload complex flight plans (25 WPs or more) at this distance.
I hope you like it
Jose Luis Cortes

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