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Old Jun 21, 2013, 04:19 AM
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Joined Apr 2013
73 Posts
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Firetail UAV System

Hi,

I have been developing a UAV system named 'Firetail'. I'm using the following equipment: a modified Raspberry Pi (unused plugs have been desoldered and removed), an Arduino Nano, an AltIMU-10 and an RFD900 radio modem. The ground station equipment is simply a laptop, an RFD900 modem on a pole and a PS3 controller to fly the thing. It's a long term project that I'm sure will never be finished and presently, the goal is to simply reach a point where I can manually fly it. I'm not sure if it will work the way I intend it to, and I'm hoping the clever people on this forum will be able to help me with the thousands of problems I'm sure I will encounter.

My motivation for starting this project is that the Raspberry Pi runs Linux and is much faster than the ATmega based autopilots. These two factors combined make a huge number of UAV possibilities so much easier to reach. It's a much better all-round computer. Unfortunately though it is bigger, heavier and lacks the large number outputs and inputs offered by Arduinos. I am using an Arduino Nano to drive servos and read analogue inputs (like battery voltage).

For the aircraft, I have purchased a Bixler 2 and I'm still waiting for it to arrive. One of my biggest concerns at the moment is the weight and size of the Raspberry Pi. I have it in a balsa wood case, along with the Arduino Nano and (when it arrives) the AltIMU-10. The case measures 110mm long, 35mm high and 65mm wide. There are also USB connectors and wiring that take up some room on either end. Would this fit into the Bixler?

Another possible issue is the latency of the radio link. I'd like to send flight control commands and receive telemetry data using the same radio. I've done some testing with the RFD900s and they seem to have a latency of around 50 - 80ms to transmit & receive 150 bytes. Combined with the time required for the Arduino, it could take 90ms for the flight controls to respond. Is that too slow for manual flying? Is there any settings or options with the RFD900s that could improve this?

I've started a blog too, if anyone is interested.
http://www.camelsoftware.com/blog

Cheers,
SuperCam
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Old Jun 21, 2013, 09:52 AM
rookie flyer
Croatia
Joined Nov 2010
150 Posts
I doubt that not even 1/10th of a second would be obstacle in control response. except if you plan to mount that on jet and enter dog fighting
Joke m8, couldnt resist
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Old Jun 21, 2013, 07:35 PM
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Joined Apr 2013
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That's good to know. I'm hoping it is quick enough to be not normally noticeable. This weekend I'm going to do a range test and I'll see if I can get some data on latency vs range.

Does anyone have any info on the equipment carrying capability of stock Bixlers? I have seen heaps of pics of modified planes but I don't know how much room it has on the inside.
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