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Old Apr 29, 2009, 12:18 PM
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Sent. Thanks Greg

Okay, so I'm getting closer to actually making some purchases. It looks like the Ardupilot 2.x is the way to go. I wont need the co-pilot, and it uses aileron/elevator rather than rudder, which I like. I'm reading all the instructions on the DIY drones site so I know what I'm getting myself into. I'm sure I'll have questions, so stand by...
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Old Apr 29, 2009, 01:05 PM
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Okay, after some reading it looks like I only need a GCS if I'm transmitting telemetry with something like an Xbee wireless module, but this isn't required to fly, correct? i.e. I can fly without transmitting anything back to me from the aircraft. Although having a ground station to show where I am and what the aircraft is doing would be very useful, I just don't feel like forking out the cash for it yet. I'll start with the bare minimum and get comfortable with that first I think, then go to that step. Any objections?
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Old Apr 29, 2009, 01:26 PM
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If you're made of money skip the plane tracking system. Otherwise get that running first before you start playing with autonomous flight stuff.


Quote:
Originally Posted by aero_k
Okay, after some reading it looks like I only need a GCS if I'm transmitting telemetry with something like an Xbee wireless module, but this isn't required to fly, correct? i.e. I can fly without transmitting anything back to me from the aircraft. Although having a ground station to show where I am and what the aircraft is doing would be very useful, I just don't feel like forking out the cash for it yet. I'll start with the bare minimum and get comfortable with that first I think, then go to that step. Any objections?
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Old Apr 29, 2009, 03:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rich smith
If you're made of money skip the plane tracking system. Otherwise get that running first before you start playing with autonomous flight stuff.
Do you mean, if I'm NOT made of money (which I'm definitely not) skip the plane tracking system, or are you saying that I should start with the tracking system (Xbee) and get it working on the ground, then try to put it in the air? Maybe I'm misunderstanding...
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Old Apr 29, 2009, 04:08 PM
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I'm finding out that the incidental costs will drive up the price. When you get your Ardu, check the GPS cable to make sure all pin positions are clear and open. That little $2.00 cable had some flashing blocking the Gnd pin. It pushed the pin out of the way instead of accepting it. I ended up buying a special programmer for $45.00 after shipping so I can check the condition of the chips. Was that really a necessary purchase? I might end up buying a new Ardu board in the end - mo money, mo money. It's these kinds of unexpected costs that drive up costs in the end.
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Old Apr 29, 2009, 10:51 PM
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Pilipinas
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I'm also planning to embark on the same project. Just like aero_k, I'm still in the process of researching what stuff to get. I can scratch-build model planes so the platform is no longer a concern, but the design depends on the payload. Basically, I plan on the following in one system:

1. autonomous flight
2. FPV flying
3. a separate camera (independent of FPV) that moves on all axes and remotely controlled including the zoom capability
4. telemetry, for realtime video and flight information

Here goes more stupid noob questions as I've not read it asked before, please bear with me:

Am I correct to assume that the ardupilot and accessories should address No. 1 and eagle tree system should take care of No. 4 or does the ardupilot also support telemetry? What do I need to achieve Nos. 2 and 3?

I understand you have to pre-program the waypoints to the ardupilot. I also know that on take offs and landing, the aircraft should be RC controlled. How do you switch between RC to autonomous then back to RC?

What is the range that the "UAV" can be flown autonomously with the stock Tx-Rx hardware? Can the range be increased with hop-ups?

WHat other hardware do I need?

Can electric flight be possible for 2-3 hours of operations?

The application shall be to survey protected land and see if there are illegal settlers/poachers, etc. A cheaper alternative to flying out a full-scale light helicopter. The emphasis on CHEAP.

Thanks in advance.
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Old Apr 30, 2009, 11:57 AM
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Hey bolkow, it's nice to have company. I think I can answer some of your questions (others correct me if I'm wrong):

Am I correct to assume that the ardupilot and accessories should address No. 1 and eagle tree system should take care of No. 4 or does the ardupilot also support telemetry?
I believe Ardupilot supports telemetry, but you need to be a wireless module like a Zigbee (xbee). Maybe thats what EagleTree is? More here: http://diydrones.com/profiles/blogs/...s-telemetry-to

What do I need to achieve Nos. 2 and 3?
No idea, but I'm interested in hearing the answer from the "experts"

I understand you have to pre-program the waypoints to the ardupilot. I also know that on take offs and landing, the aircraft should be RC controlled. How do you switch between RC to autonomous then back to RC?
You can switch between manual control and autopilot using a toggle switch on your Transmitter. I believe you can also switch between Waypoints, Return-to-home (plane flies back to where it started on its own), and Fly-by-wire (manual control with auto-stabilization) using a 3-position toggle switch, which I think is pretty cool. At this point, I don't know how to to that though.

There's a lot of information here: http://diydrones.com/profiles/blog/s...ogPost%3A44814. Go through all the "instructions" links about half way down, they are fairly clear (even I can mostly understand them!).

I'm not sure about range, but I think 2-3 hours could be achievable with an efficient airframe and high capacity batteries. Thats not really dependent on the autopilot, but how much power you can pack into the plane and get it in the air.

Hope that helps, and I hope everything I said is correct, since I'm still learning too...
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Old Apr 30, 2009, 06:00 PM
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Thanks for your inputs aero_k. I've also done some surfing since I last posted and also stumbled upon the diydrones site. I saw the " A Newbies Guide to UAV's" posted by Chris Anderson and while it's still under construction, I learned that I'm on the right track in my research.

My intent is more than hobby application, sort of semi-industrial use as mentioned in my previous post. I'm looking for a more robust system, but for the prototype, cheap components will do just to prove that the system works and doable in the initial test flights. Will probably upgrade later as personal funding permits. I.E. for now, I'm looking at thermopile-based stabilisation system, then probably get an IMU system later as redundancy. I don't want to jump into the expensive stuff immediately while still learning the ropes.

Great thread BTW.

Some people may already have done a similar project. Does anybody know the rough estimate of the weight of the complete system (payload) I mentioned (excluding the airframe and radio equipment to fly the RC aircraft manually)?
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Old Apr 30, 2009, 06:57 PM
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Looks like your are indeed on track. I wish I had a practical application for my "UAV", because it really guides the design process, but I just can't seem to find one! I'm just interested in learning about the technology so when I do have a practical application I'm ahead of the game. Maybe it will help me get a job after I finish grad school too!
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Old May 01, 2009, 09:36 AM
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IMO it's more important to be able to track your plane before sending it off on it's own. In my case the additional cost of an XBee module paid for itself several times over. And yes, it's not only vital to test the tracking system on the ground but also the autopilot code itself.

Quote:
Originally Posted by aero_k
Do you mean, if I'm NOT made of money (which I'm definitely not) skip the plane tracking system, or are you saying that I should start with the tracking system (Xbee) and get it working on the ground, then try to put it in the air? Maybe I'm misunderstanding...
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Old May 01, 2009, 09:49 AM
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Yeah, I was thinking about that last night and it started to make sense. I can start by flying under manual control and track the plane and make sure the correct data is coming back, then move up to Fly-by-wire, then go to pilot if everything seems to be working. Good point.
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