Thread: Build Log ArduPirates build
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Old Aug 03, 2010, 02:02 PM
kinderkram is offline
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Germany, NRW, Dusseldorf
Joined Jun 2010
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Build Log
ArduPirates build

The original ArduCopter is a project of the DIY drones team.

The original ArduCopter has gone commercially now...

Meanwhile a very international and very active community used this blog to fill the gaps in the "original" project.

NOTE: The further development of the "official" Arducopter NG code was taken over by the Pirates!
ArduPirates are now teaming up and joining forces with the Arducopter Team.

Read DIYDrones founder Chris Anderson's blog announcement here:

Our Group is called ArduPirates

We started a Google Code project which can be found here:

Pirate Bastien recently updated the ArduPirates' Wiki

You will find most informations to set up your ArduCopter there.

Pirate Menno aka joebarteam offers a great tutorial on PID tuning

Step-by-step instructions with videos!
Not only applicable for MegaPirates but for every multirotor aircraft needing tuning of the PIDs.

What the Pirates have to offer:

Working Sparkfun Magnetometer, GPS hold, altitude hold with Barometer and Sonar and also automatic camera leveling plus an automatic camera trigger!
Even more: Hein's code applies to Hexa builds. Our Octocopters are using standard ESCs!

Hein demonstrating waypoint Navigation using AC2.0.23 code:

Hexa Waypoint test.wmv (2 min 44 sec)

Greg demonstrating different flight modes

New! Dani's Universal Ardu Online Configurator for NG code

Ahoi, Pirates!

I installed a new discussion Group on Google:

The aim is to speed up the discussion and exchange of news, ideas and new developments faster than before.

If you want to join the Pirates, send me a PM with your google mail address and I'll add you to both the wiki/trunk and the group.

The ArduPirates' Group is open to everyone willing to share experiences on the ArduCopter/ArduPirates project.

Non-members can read the posts but only members can post.

Happy Pirating!

Hooray! Norbert (not me) aka Norf started a Facebook FanPage for the ArduPirates!

All aboard! We're sailing for new harbors!

Norf also started a Build Log for Hexa copters

ArduPirates Hexacopter First Flights (2 min 12 sec)

The unstoppable Norf also created a Vimeo Video Group for Arducopter Pilots:

DIYdrones now supports full installations of the ArduCopter Configurator!

Download the complete installation file for the Configurator 1.22 here.
Install it - all necessary NI runtimes and drivers for your Win OS will be included!

If you're a non-English user you'll have to change the "regional settings" of your Windows to "English/US" or otherwise your settings will not be saved properly!

Loading ArduPirates code from REV527 zip file (6 min 55 sec)

ArduCopterNG Magnetometer offset calibration (9 min 51 sec)


When you plug in the USB make sure you don't have your ESCs and motors connected.
Otherwise you will blow your outputs!

There are two methods to prevent blowing your outputs:
1. Disconnect all power lines coming from the ESCs before you plug in the USB
2. Connect lipo first before you plug in the USB - and make sure to unplug the USB fisrt before you disconnect the lipo

Atm. the official development is at public beta 2.0 stage.
So please be careful as you might face unwanted and surprising impacts on your setup as the software might be very buggy at some stages!

One of the first official releases will be The ArduCopter Quad. All available informations will be collected there:

Interesting Reads:
Dedicated RCG thread for the ArduCopter development:
Another thread here at RCgroups dealing with different Ardu branches:
Jesolin's Mega Index (a must!):

DIYdrones arducopter page:
DIYdrones forum:
AeroQuad forum:!
ArduCopter Wiki:

Parts list:

Ardu Pilot Mega (flight controller)

ArduPilot Mega IMU Shield/OilPan (sensor board)

Pin Headers (you need 2 or 1 x 16 rows)

Con Headers (you need 2)

Servo cable (4-8pcs. needed, recently 6 - to connect your rx)

Magnetometer & Cable

GPS & Cable

You can purchase most parts from the AeroQuad store, Sparkfun in the USA, FahPah Shop in Asia, Coolcomponents in the UK or Lipoly and Watterott in Germany (if available).

*You should give my new Arducopter Installer & Updater Software a try.
See info below.

Note: The public alpha sketches and libraries are available for download here

Unfortunally the alpha 1.0 isn't represented in the trunk so it might get a bit confusing for beginners.

Instructions for manual setup:

Depending on your OS you may need some drivers for the USB-port of the shield.

Arduino Software needed to upload the firmware to the board:
Arduino troubleshouting:

ArduCopter Configurator:
Sorry, this fine piece of software won't be further developed by Ted Carancho any longer (see message above)

Installation instructions for the libraries:

ArduCopter firmware:
You need to download all files, put them into a folder i.e. named "ArduCopter" within the given path of the Arduino software.

See more pics of the Arducopter Configurator in the attachements.

The configurator is also a great resource when it comes to training your thumbs. You can see any reaction when moving the sticks and use it like some kind of "flight commands simulator".
That's how I found out that my yaw-stick-thumb has to be trained a lot more ...

Always in mind to make the whole software stuff easier and faster, here comes the latest release of my
ArduCopter Installer & Updater Software.

I decided to split the installation and the update process.

You'll need to download these 2 files:

The Kinderkram Quad Installer:

Only needed if you DIDN'T already use my setup program.

New: The Arducopter Quad Updater

Only 6,5MB file size. Will automatically load the Arducopter sketches. You only need to press the Upload button in Arduino.

The recent version 1.0 contains
- Arducopter sketches & libraries from the public alpha 1.0
- Arduino 0021
- Configurator 1.1 (Important: Install it to C:\Arducopter\ArducopterConfigurator !)

After the installation in C:\Arducopter you can easily upgrade the Configurator to version 1.22 manually. Just press the "Update" button.
If you bump into any problems, have a look into C:\Arducopter\sketches\Arducopter. If there's a Arducopter_alpha_RC1.pde - delete it!
And please check if all settings apply to your setup, i.e. COM-Ports , Baudrates etc.

Always download new updates from my server to C:\Arducopter\Updates

You can download installation instructions as PDF here (65KB):

I also made a small tutorial for the use of SVN for easy semi-automatic updates of upcoming releases directly from the Arducopter trunk:

Here's a short How-To:

After the installation of Tortoise SVN (

1. SKETCHES: right-click on the C:\Arducopter\sketches\Arducopter folder. As "URL of Repository" put in When you click "OK" all previous files will be overwritten.

2. LIBRARIES: right-click on the C:\Arducopter\arduino\libraries folder. As "URL of Repository" put in

3. CONFIGURATOR: right-click on the C:\Arducopter\ArducopterConfigurator folder. As "URL of Repository" put in

Please report all bugs here and Have Fun!

Software repository for ArduCopter:

Build instructions (official ArduPilot Mega manual):

The above image shows the abilities of the 2 boards connecting sensors. This sketch is ment for quadrocopters.

Setup for the X-mode (image of +-mode see attachments)

Jakub's Frame:

Jakub is a nice guy from Krakow in Poland. He sells his standard quad frame for 59$ plus decent shipping fees worldwide.
His brand new store offers a large amout of different frames (from Tris to Hexa) now:

Some samples:

He's also very active in the RCG forums and you can read a thread about his new creations here:

Video of Jakub's frame assembly:
Foldable quadcopter frame assembly manual (4 min 25 sec)



Of course you can use other frames, motors and escs.

A great resource for informations on motors is Old Man Mike's regularly updated thread:


Motors 4 x 20$ = 80$
ESCs 4 x 20$ = 80$
Frame = 70$ - 150$
APM = 60$
IMU = 160$
CABLE = 10$
SUM = 480$ - 560$

GPS = 35$
CABLE = 5$
SUM = 80$

+SHIPPING ~ 10$ - 60$

COMPLETE ~ 570$ - 700$

Depending on what you want - you could build your own cheap frame, buy cheaper components - you can get away with less than 400$ for a standard version with triple axis gyros, accs and pressure sensor.

Complete costs may vary if you add shipping, tax and customs.
For European customers the overall costs will be around 600 - 700€ atm.


If you don't have any experience in fine soldering and/or are not willing to learn - forget it!
You better look for someone who does the soldering for you. You can ask tv or radio repair shops or any company dealing with reparation of electronic parts in your hometown.
A skilled solderer should complete this within around 30mins or less.
List of video tutorials for those who want to learn soldering:

It's already been discussed to sell pre-soldered and pre-configured kits in the future. So keep an eye on the mentioned forums and threads.

If you're willing to give it a try you should buy some low-cost tools. These are:
- a fine soldering iron with 1mm tip
- magnifying glasses with a stand
- of course some 1mm soldering wire
- a clean sponge for cleaning the tip

Assembly Tutorial for the APM/APM shield:

ArduPilot Mega - Assembly (0 min 16 sec)

*You should give my new Arducopter Installer & Updater Software a try.
See the info above.


Recommended read: The ArduCopter Wiki "Programming ArduPilot Mega"

1. Copy the arduino-0021 folder onto your harddisk.
Follow the setup instructions from the Arduino-0021-README.txt
Some of the necessary libraries are already included.
In case of problems, consult the Arduino Trouble Shooting (

2. Install the USB Serial Drivers if necessary. When you plug in the Megashield (oilpan), you might be asked for the drivers (not needed on Win7 and Mac OS 10.5x).
Point the installer to the "USB Serial Drivers" folder.

3. Upload the ArduCopter firmware to the APM.
- plug the board into the USB
- start arduino.exe from the arduino-0021 folder
- go to -> File -> Preferences and set the location for your sketches. Choose the folder that resides above the "ArduCopter-firmware" folder
- go to -> Tools -> Board and choose the "Arduino Mega" as your board
- go to -> Tools -> Serial Port and choose the port that was previously set up after you installed the USB Serial Driver (usually COM3)
- go to -> Tools -> Serial Monitor and set the port speed to 115200 baud
- go to -> File -> Sketchbook -> ArduCopter
- click on the "Upload"-button. Then the arduino software compiles the firmware and uploads it afterwards. You should get the message "Done Uploading"

4. Install the Arducopter Configurator by starting the setup.exe
After installation start the Arducopter Configurator software
- choose COM3 als serial port (if it's the desired port - see above)
- type 115200 baud for the "Baud Rate", set the timeout to 30 sec
- click on Connect

If you're a non-US user you'll have to change the "regional settings" of your Windows to "English/US" or otherwise your settings will not be saved properly!

5. Configure your copter
- go to "Initial Setup" and click on "Initialize EEPROM"
- in the status bar it should say "Initializing done"
- Go to the "Calibration" screen and set the following values:

You only need to adjust the PID values for the accels.
Leave the others untouched for now.

To set the values you'll have to choose "Calibration" from the upper right drop down menu. You can lower or higher the values on the right hand side and press "Update" each time.

Lower Pitch = Lower Values
Lower Roll = Higher Values
Lower Z Axis = Higher Values

Accel Roll & Pitch have to be near zero, while Accel Z should be near 408.
Also check the artificial horizon. If the gyros are playing rollercoaster it's time for a rrreeesssettt. But disconnect from the Configurator first or it will hang.

- Go to "Transmitter Adjustment" and check if your commands are displayed correctly

See more images for a step-by-step configuration in the attachements below.

The firm- and software is at alpha stage. That means there are still several bugs in the code that have to be ironed out!

III. CALIBRATING ESCS and getting the MOTORS working

Usually all calibration will be done through the configurator. For now you can only initialize the EEPROM and calibrate your tx/rx within the version 1.21.

So you'll have to do the calibration manually:
Plug each ESC attached to the motors into the throttle channel of your rx.
Switch on your tx and go to full throttle. Plug in the lipo for the motors. You'll here 2 series of beeps confirming the correct calibration.
Then pull your throttle back to zero and wait for the beep code. When done unplug the lipo, switch the tx off, plug the lipos again and switch on the tx again.

Do this for each ESC you want to calibrate.

After the calibration is done you can plug all cables in place and try to arm the motors by pushing the throttle stick to the lower right position.
To disarm the motors push it to the lower left.

ArduCopter Quad uses 4 motors in total and they are named as:

+ Configuration
OUT0 = Right motor (CCW)
OUT1 = Left motor (CCW)
OUT2 = Front motor (CW)
OUT3 = Rear motor (CW)

X Configuration
OUT0 = Front/Right motor (CCW)
OUT1 = Back/Left motor (CCW)
OUT2 = Front/Left motor (CW)
OUT3 = Back/Right motor (CW)

CCW = Counter Clock Wise rotation (eg backwards) CS = Clock Wise (eg forward like clock does)

Aaron's Tutorial for the Ublox GPS

Here's a description on how to set up the latitude:

In the "Position Hold" settings of the configurator you need to change the value for the "Geo Correction Factor". Where GCF = cos(latitude).
You can find the value of your current latitude via Google Maps or Google Earth and use a simple cosinus calculator like this:

- Go to Google Maps
- Search for your location
- Click the right mouse button on the marker and choose "what is here"
- Then it writes the values into the search field
- The first value is your Latitude

Check "DEG." and put in the latitude value (in my case 51.2), then press "cos".
In my case the resulting 0,626 is the value you need for the Geo Correction Factor. Press "Update" in the configurator afterwards.


Started by Norbert Machinek aka kinderkram
Düsseldorf, Germany 08/04/2010

kinderkram is offline Find More Posts by kinderkram
Last edited by kinderkram; Oct 15, 2011 at 04:44 AM.
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