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Old Apr 01, 2012, 02:01 PM
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Moscow, Russia
Joined Aug 2010
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SmartAP - Smart Autopilot

For the last six month we (my friend and I) have been working on the development of autopilot. We called it SmartAP - Smart Autopilot.
It's all started in October 2011, when I decided to try to build our own autopilot, designed using the latest components.
Firstly, we purchased evaluation boards for a desired microcontroller, we have chosen STM32F103, based on ARM Cortex M3. Then we started to build autopilot step by step-by-step from the scratch on the breadboard, creating preliminary version of the software.
A couple of month later we had been focused on the autopilot hardware. We made our own PCB design, ordered several PCBs and SMD electronic components to produce several boards for tests. The last step was placing components on PCBs and it was done two days ago (unfortunately, MPU-6050 is missed, due to some shipment delays, we are expecting it to be delivered next week).

Now we are working on the first final version of the software to make maiden flight. Also we are thinking about implementing some interesting features, which no one of existing autopilots has today.
We don't know exactly about the future development of this project (we definitely continue to work on this), but if there will be a demand for this, we might establish mass production and start sales.

Here are some main features:
PCB size 60x40mm, (4 layers), weight 14g
72MHz STM32 ARM Cortex M3 microcontroller
6 PWM inputs, 6 PWM outputs
IMU - Invensense MPU-6050 (using internal DMP)
Magnetometer - HMC5883
Pressure sensor - BMP085 (I wanted to use MS5611, but it was very difficult to order it)
UART port for wireless telemetry connection (e.g. Xbee)
MicroSD card slot for flight data logging
GPS port
Sonar port
Airspeed sensor port


If you have any questions - feel free to ask them.


Kirill
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Old Apr 02, 2012, 03:35 AM
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What are the "features" nobody has?

Can you go full drone and program waypoints? Can you record a flight and use a playback feature?
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Old Apr 02, 2012, 12:30 PM
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Moscow, Russia
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The main features, which we plan to implement soon are:
1. Possibility of navigation without GPS, using only IMU.
2. Automatic PID tweaking

The features you've written about are also planned.

Now we are preparing for the maiden flight.
I will post project news here.
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Old Apr 11, 2012, 06:43 AM
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Hi Friends,

I have owned and flown almost all FPV UAV auto pilots including Paparzzi,Lego,Pico,Atto pilot and much applauded Ardu pilot. Indeed I liked one for one reason and the other for the other. Perhaps none of them at least is easy to configure and use on first hand and none has all the feaures one needs for serious applications.
However I recently stumbled on Micro Flight auto pilot developed on 33f series of PIC development board. The pilot is known to be developed by vetren HAMs Kang.K.P.S. and Sukhpal Singh of India and has a very dynamic set of features and dead reckoning code.Although this has been developed for in house Uav project of an Indian Police Department but they are also planning to launch an alternative version for RC FPV fliers.
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Old Apr 12, 2012, 09:54 AM
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Hi Aviaks,
I would be very interested to know more and see your product in act. I am now looking to buy and test one or more autopilot systems and very curious to see latest technologies coming out. Please keep us posted!

Toff,
Seen your incredibly wide experience, would you be able to post a quick table with pro&cons you found about different autopilots? I am super interested in comparisons, especially among the various open-source vs closed-source.

Which one would you advise to start with, considering very low RC experience?
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Old Apr 16, 2012, 08:01 AM
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Joined Dec 2005
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Autopilot choice

In reply to syncra about autopilot choice.

I have an autopilot now. It is Thermopile based and I am replacing it.

The one I have chosen is the Gluonpilot from www.gluonpilot.com.

I have chosen this for several reasons.

1) Open source software and hardware.
2) It uses an RTOS or Real Time Operating System.
3) It comes ready to use.
4) It works very well with just a single board required. A 2nd board is optional.

I feel the RTOS is the most significant feature. It allows for porting to different processors, at minimal cost. It allows programming in a high level language with the OS / compiler looking after the timing of interrupts and critical timing loops.

It is also ahead of its' time in that Ardupilot have just come out with their 3rd iteration of hardware and still do not use an RTOS. They have just done a major rewrite and acknowledge that when the Arduino platform moves to an RTOS they will as well. So they will have designed and written code for 3 different units and will do the code all over again using the RTOS sometime later this year. That burns up developer talent and time. I feel they should have used an RTOS from the start.

Part of the reason for this, for ArduPilot, was their adoption of the open source Arduino and they are following the roadmap of the Arduino group. I am not saying their choice is incorrect, I am just saying I think starting a project using an RTOS is a better option for the long term.

It is also interesting to note that the GluonPilot page or wiki indicates that it incorporates many of the algorithms from UAVdev Board, Ardupilot and Paparazzi. So each of the current "mainstream" autopilots appear to be borrowing from each other for their code base. I just feel the GluonPilot has made a technical choice that is more appropriate by using the RTOS.

Jim H
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Old Apr 16, 2012, 03:20 PM
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Moscow, Russia
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Toff Penfold View Post
Hi Friends,

I have owned and flown almost all FPV UAV auto pilots including Paparzzi,Lego,Pico,Atto pilot and much applauded Ardu pilot. Indeed I liked one for one reason and the other for the other. Perhaps none of them at least is easy to configure and use on first hand and none has all the feaures one needs for serious applications.
However I recently stumbled on Micro Flight auto pilot developed on 33f series of PIC development board. The pilot is known to be developed by vetren HAMs Kang.K.P.S. and Sukhpal Singh of India and has a very dynamic set of features and dead reckoning code.Although this has been developed for in house Uav project of an Indian Police Department but they are also planning to launch an alternative version for RC FPV fliers.
As for me, I'm ArduPilot user, I also like it very much, however, as far as it open source - it gives an opportunity to understand how the stuff works. Almost a year of experience with it gave me good knowledge in this area, that's why I decided to try to build my own one. I know, it's a preliminary version, but I tried to take into account all disadvantages and things, which ca be done (in my oppinion) better.
Yes, absolutely agree with you, hundreds of similar projects exist, for instance, you've mentioned one of them. My project - is another yet effort to reach and outperform the level of contemporary low cost autopilots.
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Old Apr 16, 2012, 03:34 PM
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Moscow, Russia
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Quote:
Originally Posted by syncra View Post
Hi Aviaks,
I would be very interested to know more and see your product in act. I am now looking to buy and test one or more autopilot systems and very curious to see latest technologies coming out. Please keep us posted!
Syncra, thank you for your interest in our project! Honestly speaking, this is a very young project and a lot of things still have to be done. You may consider it as an autopilot for the nearest future, but now I recommend you to purchase one of well-known autopilots to catch the idea of how the stuff works.
Of course, I will keep you up posted here in this thread.

As for the latest news, Manual control mode (as known as acro sometimes) is already implemented, now we are beginning to work on stabilize mode, as was mentioned above - automatic PID tweaking are among the most important things we want to do first (it will make possible to fly very stable independently from the type of your copter, payload, wind etc, you won't need to tune coefficients manually anymore).
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Old Apr 17, 2012, 10:55 AM
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That's great. So Aviakis, what autopilot do you advise me to start from?
ArduPilot, GlounPilot, any other that I don't even know? Which one is easier to set up?
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Old Apr 17, 2012, 02:11 PM
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Moscow, Russia
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Originally Posted by syncra View Post
That's great. So Aviakis, what autopilot do you advise me to start from?
ArduPilot, GlounPilot, any other that I don't even know? Which one is easier to set up?
I'd like to suggest you ArduPilot Mega 2.0. In my oppinion, this is the best one. You will have an out-of-the-box ready to fly system and at the same time a good platform, where you can test your own features and learn more how it works (of course if you want).
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Old Apr 20, 2012, 01:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by syncra View Post
That's great. So Aviakis, what autopilot do you advise me to start from?
ArduPilot, GlounPilot, any other that I don't even know? Which one is easier to set up?
Hi,

I would say the same for the Gluonpilot. It is a stable system and in my opinion quite easy to setup. The included ground control station is also very functional.

I know all systems have their +'s and -'s but I like the Gluonpilot for its features and maturity.

Good luck with your autopilot whichever system you choose!

Björn
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Old Jun 03, 2012, 02:29 PM
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Moscow, Russia
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Here is a short video of SmartAP first flight. Sorry for the quality, it was evening.
Quadcopter is stable enough.

SmartAP - Stabilization Mode Flight (1 min 25 sec)
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Old Jun 04, 2012, 03:51 PM
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Moscow, Russia
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Here is another couple of video. We have tested quadcopter indoor, checked ascending/descending - very smooth (the first video) and stabilization hovering over the point (the second video):

SmartAP Multirotor Autopilot - Indoor Dynamics Flight (1 min 29 sec)


SmartAP Multirotor Autopilot - Indoor Static Flight Test (1 min 52 sec)
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Old Jun 08, 2012, 02:42 PM
Gaftopher
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Well done!
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Old Jun 13, 2012, 09:45 AM
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Moscow, Russia
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Thanks, Gary!
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