Quadcopter workshop - It lives! (11 Dec 2015 to 13 Dec 2015)


(Alex Satrapa) #21

I’ve gone and shredded my retirement fund. So other attendees should be warned that I’ll be there :wink:

Just the basic X525 + Beginner’s kit. I’m not as rich as the rest of you :frowning:


(Alex Satrapa) #22

What reading should we do beforehand?

  1. Regulations regarding drones (“LoS”, restrictions on ceiling, use of full autonomous mode where drone takes off, flies, lands without manual intervention)
  2. Whether there are benefits to being a model aircraft club member
  3. MHV “house rules” for aircraft around the space
  4. Is there value in learning how to use HITL/SITL before assembling a drone?
  5. What about the technologies involved: Mavlink, RC controllers, yadda yadda?

How much trouble will I get into for flying a drone autonomously at night over the lake at altitudes of 10–50m?


(Paul Harvey) #23

It’s been a while since I read the regs but it basically amounts to: if you screw up, there’s plenty of rope in the regs to hang you with. Similar to drivers vs pedestrians. For example: I tried very hard to see if there was a definition of “populous area”. I don’t recall ever finding one. You’d think that it’d be tough to argue in court that a lake would be considered a populous area, but then there’s other obligations such as not operating over or near people who aren’t directly involved with the flying.

Definitely read up at https://www.casa.gov.au/operations/standard-page/remotely-piloted-aircraft-rpa - the rules are changing a lot more frequently than people seem to realize. CASA has guidelines written for the people who can’t be bothered looking up (let alone reading) the regs, but those are worth reading anyway just in case you have trouble understanding which regs are actually relevant to your particular flying activity. Once you understand whether you’re “flying as a model”, or as a UAV or whatever - then dive into that part of the regs (that’s what I’d recommend at least).


(Stephen Dade) #24

I’ll sort out a reading list in the next couple of weeks

I know of at least 1 person that’s lost their quadcopter in that lake! Not recommended.

Also, everything that @csirac2_ siad :slight_smile:


(Max Bainrot) #25

Night flying is def not recommended as its very hard to comply with Visual Flight Rules, I cant remember if the tldr regs put it as a “should not” or as a “do not” though

Ta
Max


(Paul Harvey) #26

There is an exception for night flying at approved “aviation administration organizations”, which I think amounts to MAAA airfields, and only if they’ve established their own rules/protocols for doing so (and you are operating within them).

25 penalty units is something like $5k IIRC.

Night flying is an example of a thing that’ll pretty trivially get you dobbed in.

EDIT: https://www.casa.gov.au/standard-page/casr-part-101-unmanned-aircraft-and-rocket-operations?WCMS%3APWA%3A%3Apc=PARTS101 101.385 “Operating model aircraft at night”. There’s continuous visibility requirements, and yes, VMC requirements listed out in detail there. Most of the penalties seem to be either 25 or 50 penalty units.


(Max Bainrot) #27

Did some research today and got some useful definitions

“Night” is defined as before start/after end of civil twilight, basically
sun is 6° below the horizon

To work out what time that is, Geoscience Australia has a nice calculator
which is assuming clear met conditions which can be found here ->
http://www.ga.gov.au/bin/geodesy/run/gazmap_sunrise?placename=Canberra&placetype=0&state=0#loc
(pre-entered-ishy for your viewing satisfaction :slight_smile: )

My reference to what CASA defines as night is
http://services.casa.gov.au/outnback/inc/pages/episode2/episode-2_The_lowdown_on_Last_Light.shtml
and there was a PDF too that I couldn’t find. Apparently its in the regs,
but I couldn’t find it.

Though it raises an interesting question, if one is so lucky to be on a
field that is lit and no one is using said field, is it still NVFR within
the bounds of the lighted “box”?


(Paul Harvey) #28

As you say, they’re recycling the aviation definition of night. It certainly seems to be worded as a time of day rather than environmental condition, so the letter of the law probably wouldn’t support lighted fields unless they were MAAA approved as such. But you’d have to have some serious enemies to end up in trouble IMHO :slight_smile:


(Alex Satrapa) #29

Are orders closed because group order is made, or did you actually fill the course? I have a friend who is interested, if there is space he might be willing to order parts himself.


(Stephen Dade) #30

No space left on this course unfortunately.

I’m sure we’ll be running more in the future!


(Alex Satrapa) #31

More reading of interest to drone pilots :smiley:

http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/nov/26/drone-regulations-united-states-testing-air-traffic-control-system-precisionhawk


(Alex Satrapa) #32

I remember reading something about Javascript-based Ground Control System in Chrome, which might work on OS X: is that real or was I hallucinating? Will I need to bring a Linux box to the course too? If my MacBook with Chrome isn’t going to be sufficient, I’ll need to procure an alternative GCS (at which point I start asking silly questions like “will a Raspberry Pi B with HDMI 1080p monitor be sufficient”).

Edit: There’s Mission Planner and APM Planner 2.0 at the APM site.


(Stephen Dade) #33

There’s a whole bunch of GCS Programs listed at http://copter.ardupilot.com/wiki/common-choosing-a-ground-station/

Does Chrome run Android apps? If so there’s plenty of choices in the above list.


(Alex Satrapa) #34

You folks probably know this already: discussion of advantage of low resolution board cameras over GoPro for FPV, especially racing:


(Alex Satrapa) #35

And one for Tridge/Jack: VTOL with rotors that transition into propellers, kinda like a Beechcraft had a baby to an Osprey.


(Alex Satrapa) #36

(Paul Harvey) #37

(Paul Harvey) #38

Oh: try to take pictures if you can :smiley:


(Alex Satrapa) #39

Feedback/things to remember so far:

  1. Tip for new players: the supplied receiver (RX-F801) works in PPM-sum mode, you just have to plug the jumper across the bottom row: all appropriate connections are highlighted in orange on the soft cover.
  2. The RX-F801 will bind with the FrSKY DJT Telemetry transmitter module, as long as it is correctly configured (see above).
  3. Any transmitter/receiver pair will work as long as the receiver supports S.BUS or PPM-Sum output.
  4. The autopilots for the X525s didn’t arrive on time (no big deal, we’ve had fun so far): the new part selected appears to be superior to the HKPilot and thus worth the wait, but as a contingency plan in the future it might be worth ensuring that sufficient loan equipment is available (e.g.: from MHV & CMAC members) to complete the course in pairs if not individually. James and Peter managed to scrounge up two PixHawks for the three X525 builders, but only two telemetry radios.
  5. Continuing the above: a nifty speed hack is assembling the autopilot components on a separate board, which could then be velcroed/zip-tied/taped/Macguyvered to the frame of the quad whose autopilot has not arrived/is broken.
  6. Having FPV camera and transmitter available as a kit would be awesome (so FPV racer becomes 250 quad kit + FPV transmit kit, and X525 Drone builders can opt for that feature too with X525 quad kit + Autopilot kit + FPV transmit kit)
  7. I’m not aware of all the factors that come into play, but I wonder if having just two models of quad (250 and X525), all running the same autopilot, might make ordering and building easier? I guess the requirements for an FPV racer are entirely different to a general purpose drone like the X525 we’re building. Is it possible to add the required peripherals to a PixRacer in order to make it perform similarly to a PixHawk/Raptor? Thus for both 250 and X525 quads, the “autopilot kit” could include the GPS, Compass and whatever else is required.
  8. An important build discipline was learned the hard way: make sure to test all power-supplying equipment before starting assembly. We had one or two ESCs which were producing far too high a voltage on the servo lines, which fried two servo testers.
  9. Another test-as-you-build item: ensure telemetry radios are tested end-to-end before being mounted on the quad.
  10. Also make sure autopilot is reset to a known state before starting configuration: we had telemetry issues on one quad due to mismatch in baud rates between radios and autopilot, and one drone crashed on launch due to inverted controls being programmed in from a previous deployment of the loaned autopilot.
  11. Using propellers of contrasting colours for the front and rear pairs helps identify the quad’s orientation at a distance. Peter used green/orange (with orange at the rear). Note that you need counter-rotating pairs, so Green CW, Green CCW, Orange CW and Orange CCW, which Hobbyking conveniently sell in sets of four so you’ll have a complete set of spares if you buy one set of green and one set of orange. Colour range is red, fluoro yellow, orange, green, blue, and black.
  12. The course-specific store was nicely done, thank you.

To help those people buying the beginner’s kit, it might be worth ordering the transmitter, simulator cable and appropriate accessories in advance. Then you can present a separate home-study course involving setting up a flight simulator, connecting the transmitter, and learning to fly a simulated plane/quad, then learning how to configure mixes and switches:

  1. As a complete RC newbie, I found that having the quad default to loiter or pos hold mode made life much easier and less scary for me. So rather than booting in “stabilise” mode, I think I’ll switch to “loiter”, with “alt hold” and “stabilise” being the next options on the ID switch
  2. Peter’s configuration of the ID/AIL DR switches (on the Turnigy 9XR)to switch modes on the fly is very nifty (I don’t know how common this is amongst the quad-flying community, but I heard it from Peter first)
  3. Peter’s use of ELE DR switch to trigger RTL is sanity saving for newbies like me
  4. Configuring a very small diameter & altitude geofence is sanity saving for newbies like me
  5. For newbies like me, the major cause of panic is fear of destroying that brand new shiny toy :cry:
  6. Ensure that geofence boundaries are consistent for all commissioning flights, and reflect the training area available (for the open area to the North of Ginninderra House, establish geofence of 20m radius and 20m altitude, RTL height of 10m)
  7. An XT60-to-JST adaptor is required for charging the 9XR Pro’s battery using the Accucel 6 charger
  8. A useful addition to the RC beginners’ kit could be 3S balance lead extensions so you can put the charger outside the fireproof enclosure.

Having Copter and 9XR configurations ready ahead of time, with some simulated flight under our belts, would probably lead to fewer panics and crash landings :smiley:

I will acquire a second autopilot in the next six months, and i’m keen to help run/supervise another of these courses.


(Alex Satrapa) #40

Update: all attending participants got their quadcopters in the air and back down in more or less one piece! We foolishly put the PixRacer’s GPS module on a mast, which meant that there was a large pendulum attached to a small craft. As soon as it got off the ground it started shaking quite violently, finding the resonant frequency of the GPS module-as-a-pendulum with frightening vigour :cold_sweat:

The 250 builds were quite impressive, with a range of skills from “never soldered before” through to “I brought my RC workshop with me complete with shelves, work mat and soldering station”.

I’ll have some photos to publish later tonight.