AWuAV 3015E the Revolutionary Open Source drone

SOFTWARE

Ardupilot is the most advanced, full-featured and reliable autopilot software available. It has been developed over 5+ years by a team of diverse professional engineers and computer scientists. It is the only autopilot software capable of controlling any vehicle system imaginable, from conventional airplanes, multirotors, and helicopters, to boats and even submarines. And now being expanded to feature support for new emerging vehicle types such as quad-planes and compound helicopters.

Installed in over 1,000,000 vehicles world-wide, and with its advanced data-logging, analysis and simulation tools, Ardupilot is the most tested and proven autopilot software. The open-source code base means that it is rapidly evolving, always at the cutting edge of technology development. With many peripheral suppliers creating interfaces, users benefit from a broad ecosystem of sensors, companion computers and communication systems. Finally, since the source code is open, it can be audited to ensure compliance with security and secrecy requirements.

The software suite is installed in aircraft from many OEM UAV companies, such as 3DR, jDrones, PrecisionHawk, AgEagle and Kespry. It is also used for testing and development by several large institutions and corporations such as NASA, Intel and Insitu/Boeing, as well as countless colleges and universities around the world.

HARDWARE

Ardupilot software can be installed and operated on many different hardware systems. Originally developed for 8-bit microcontrollers, it has evolved to now be optimized for use with 32-bit ARM microcontrollers. However, it can now even be run under Linux, opening up whole new classes of electronics like Single Board Computers, all the way up to a full PC system.

ARM Cortex 32-bit

Pixhawk

The most commonly used today is the Pixhawk-class hardware. While the original Pixhawk has been discontinued by 3DR, there are clone versions available from many alternative vendors. Ardupilot group does not recommend these options, as many suffer from poor quality and typically feature design changes that are undocumented.

Pixhawk 2

The newest, and most advanced version in the 32-bit lineup is the Pixhawk2 available from ProfiCNC. This flight controller features built-in vibration isolation, 3 IMU’s for redundancy, and temperature control. The core of the Pixhawk 2 system is the Cube, which is designed to be installed either onto a breakout board for system integrators, or directly onto a custom carrier board for OEM users.

PixRacer

Another good alternative is the Pixracer, which is a mini system designed for racing quads, but is also an excellent choice for mini-drone systems often used for testing by research groups.. As with the original Pixhawk, it is best to source from the original designer and manufacturer Arsov Tech. There are many clones of this system available, but again, these tend to be poor quality.

Linux Computers

Navio2

One interesting option for running Ardupilot on a more powerful processor, is with this daughterboard from Emlid which simply installs on a standard Raspberry Pi. This opens up some interesting possibilities like virtually infinite control range using LTE connectivity.

PXFmini

Need something smaller? Try the PXFmini from Erle Robotics. The PXFmini is a low cost and open autopilot shield for the Raspberry Pi Zero.

FlytPOD

One of the most powerful systems available is this unit from Flytbase. It is basically an Odroid XU4 SBC fused with a Pixhawk, all housed in an attractive case. It also features an inbuilt High Power WiFi, RC Receiver Support, External 3G/4G dongle provisions and a Serial Port for Telemetry using external Radio. Finally, it embodies an external Safety Switch, RGB LED for system status, USB3.0, USB2.0, HDMI and user configurable I/Os.

Copter-3.5.0 has been released!

After months of beta testing, Copter-3.5.0 has been released! This covers multicopters including quad, hexa, octa, tri, traditional helicopters, single and coax copters.

Note #1: The FRAME_CLASS33 parameter must be set once after the upgrade (except for tradheli which will default automatically). 1=quadcopter, 2=hexacopter, 3=Octa, 4=OctaQuad, 5=Y6, 6=TradHeli, 7=Tri, 8=SingleCopter, 9=CoaxCopter, 10=DualRotorTradHeli (wiki17)

Note #2: in a few cases, Pixhawk1 users have found the I/O board’s firmware is not updated and they hear this sad tune74. The solution is to force the I/O firmware upgrade by attaching and safety switch and then keep it pressed during the first several seconds after powering on the board.

Note #3: RCx_FUNCTION parameters have been renamed to SERVOx_FUNCTION. Some wiki pages do not yet reflect this renaming but will be updated shortly.

A compass calibration19 will be required after the upgrade (a message should appear on the HUD as part of the pre-arm checks) but beyond that, all parameters should be automatically copied and translated from previous versions meaning no additional calibration or re-tuning should be required.

The full list of changes can be found in the ReleaseNotes88 but some of the highlights are:

  • Performance improvements including 8kHz IMU sampling for improved vibration resistance, greatly reduced latency between IMU updates and motor outputs
  • AutoTune with position hold if entered from Loiter/PosHold flight modes (wiki29)
  • Delivery improvements including Servo Gripper19 and Package Place
  • Driver additions and improvements:
  • Flight controllers supported now includes:
    • The Cube31 (aka Pixhawk2)
    • Beagle Bone Blue27
    • improved Intel Aero RTF support (ArduPilot is included in Intel’s next software release)
    • AUAV2.1
    • PixhawkMini support
  • GPS improvements:
  • Mission fix for Turn-towards-next-waypoint-too-soon issue (only applies to AUTO flight mode)
  • Non-GPS loiter and navigation:
    • support StereoLabs ZED camera (visual odometry) (wiki22)
    • support Pozyx beacons (wiki11)
  • Object avoidance:
    • normal (i.e. non 360deg) range finders supported (video27)
    • simple object avoidance in AltHold mode (wiki22)
  • Precision Loiter using IR-Lock (wiki19)
  • Pixracer10 improvements:
    • ESC calibration fixes
    • board LEDs now work
  • Solo supported (we recommend upgrading flight controller to a Green Cube23 from a HEX reseller9)

Support issues should be raised in the Copter-3.5 forum34.

To backout to Copter-3.4.5 using Mission Planner:

  • open the Initial Setup >> Install Firmware screen
  • click “Pick previous firmware” and select “AC 3.4.6”
  • the version displayed under the icons should change to “APM:Cotper V 3.4.6”
  • click on the appropriate icon to download and install the older version
  • Note: if the “install previous firmware” link is not available, click Config/Tuning >> Planner and set “Layout” to “Advanced”

To backout using other GCSs with exact firmware version

  • with a web browser open http://firmware.ap.ardupilot.org/Copter/stable-3.4.6/37
  • click on the appropriate link for your board and frame type. For example, if you are using a Pixhawk, Cube/Pixhawk2 or Pixracer on a quadcopter select the “PX4-quad6” directory.
  • right-mouse-button click on the appropriate ArduCopter-XX.px4 firmware file and select “Save Link As”. For example, ArduCopter-v2.px4 is for Pixhawks, ArduCopter-v4 is for pixracers. Pixhawk2 users should in general stick with Copter-3.5.
  • From the ground stations install firmware screen select “Load custom firmware” and select the file downloaded from above
  • Note: if using MP and the “install previous firmware” link is not available, click Config/Tuning >> Planner and set “Layout” to “Advanced”