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Aug 14, 2015, 05:46 AM
Servo User
TriPilot's Avatar
New Product

Raven Flight Controller


I've been developing a new flight controller that I'm currently testing on my Simplecopter Tricopter 2.0 and Mini Tricopter. It's called the Raven and is aimed at pilots who like the option of having some additional automated flying modes, namely Altitude Hold, Loiter and Return To Launch (RTL).

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Description:

The Raven is a self contained, programmable flight controller with the same board dimensions and mounting hole spacing as the outstanding KK2 board. At its heart however is a larger 8-bit, Atmega 2560 microcontroller that has 8 receiver inputs and 12 accurate PWM outputs. The board has a gyroscope and accelerometer, but also incorporates an on-board magnetometer (compass for direction) and barometer (for altitude). Interaction with the processor is provided by four buttons and a super fast 1.3”, monochrome, OLED display. In addition, there are 4 serial ports for program/debug, satellite receiver, GPS and OSD (OSD not yet implemented). There's also provision for battery voltage monitoring and a buzzer.

It uses its own firmware that isn't based on, or ported from, any pre-existing flight controller projects such as the KK2, Multiwii or APM. Firmware updates can be burnt (programmed) to flash memory, via either a 6 pin SPI (Serial Peripheral Interface) programming header, or the Serial0 port using the microcontroller's bootloader. (The bootloader is code that allows the mircocontroller to be programmed over its serial port).

The Raven has a menu system similar to the KK2, but extends it to cover automated modes. Here's the spec:

Hardware:

Board Dimensions: 50.5mm x 50.5mm
Mounting Holes: diameter 3mm, 45mm spacing
Processor: RISC 8-bit 16MHz Atmega 2560, 100 pin TQFP package
Memory: 256k flash, 8k RAM, 4k EEPROM
Display: 1.3” monochrome OLED (super fast hardware SPI bus driven)
Gyro/Accel: MPU6050
Magnetometer (compass): HMC5883L
Barometer: MS5611 + cable tie and foam to protect it from wind and sunlight
Inputs: 8 receiver channels (T, A, E, R, G, 1, 2 & 3) + battery voltage monitor input
Outputs: 12, 11-bit resolution PWM channels at 400Hz (motors/digital servos) or 14-bit resolution at 50Hz (analog servos) + buzzer output
Serial0: program and debug
Serial1: satellite receiver input (on the throttle input channel)
Serial2: GPS (uBlox, automatic configuration, supports UBX binary protocol, 10Hz at 9600bps)
Serial3: OSD (not yet implemented)
Firmware updates: via 6 pin SPI programming header or Serial0 port using the bootloader

Software:

Modes: Rate, Auto-Level, Heading Free, Altitude Hold, Loiter and Return To Launch
Receivers: Standard, CPPM, plus DSM2 and DSMX satellite receivers, (sorry, no S.BUS yet)
Mixer modes: 12 channels with the following pre-set configurations – Tricopter, V-Tail, Quadcopter x, Quadcopter +, Hexacopter x, Hexacopter +, Octocopter x, Octocopter +, Singlecopter 1M4S, Singlecopter 2M2S, Dualcopter, Y4, Y6, X8 +, X8 x, H6, H8, V6 and V8
Sub Menus: Radio, PI Editor, Settings, Display, Calibrate, Motor Layout, Factory Reset, Version
Camera Gimbal: 2 axis gimbal option on outputs 11 and 12, standard and SS gimbals supported, (though currently only tested on two HS-82MG servos)

Here's a video showing the Raven's modes of operation:

Raven Flight Controller - Modes (7 min 25 sec)


The Raven is a prototype in the late stages of development. All flight modes including loiter and RTL have been implemented and successfully tested on the Tricopter 2.0. At the moment these modes use the GPS alone for position and speed calculations during navigation. Work is currently being undertaken to investigate the feasibility of fusing the accelerometer data with the GPS for loiter and RTL. I'm also building two new preliminary prototypes using 32-bit ARM Cortex processors for a couple of future designs that I have in mind.

If there's any interest in this board? I'll investigate the costs associated with getting it into some form of limited production. I'll post a flight demo video in the next couple of weeks.
Last edited by TriPilot; Aug 14, 2015 at 07:16 AM.
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Aug 14, 2015, 11:18 AM
Team AlienWarpSquad
Oh, it is for this copter:
https://www.rcgroups.com/forums/show....php?t=2227472
Aug 14, 2015, 04:10 PM
RP-sUAS
BuffaloJustin's Avatar
I would definitely be interested in a FC like this; programable with no external device and has altitude and position hold... Sounds great! Would be ideal for some low cost beginner builds.
Aug 16, 2015, 11:36 AM
Servo User
TriPilot's Avatar
Quote:
Would be ideal for some low cost beginner builds.
Thanks for your feedback.

I agree, with the KK2 currently being sold by HK for around $20 and plenty of other options around at a similar price, I'm mindful of the fact that cost is going to be the biggest factor in the board's development.
Aug 16, 2015, 12:58 PM
RP-sUAS
BuffaloJustin's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by TriPilot
Thanks for your feedback.

I agree, with the KK2 currently being sold by HK for around $20 and plenty of other options around at a similar price, I'm mindful of the fact that cost is going to be the biggest factor in the board's development.
If you keep the price at or less then $100 with a GPS unit included, or at $60 or less without, I think you have a market. There is really nothing else in this class; the main selling point being on-board setup.

Of course, it must perform well in GPS modes... Be mindful that the minix, Tarot zyx-m, openpilot revo nano, and a naza lite (with clone GPS) can all be had around $120.
Aug 16, 2015, 01:18 PM
Quad Owners Do It 4 x Better
Your board sounds like something Im in the market for we can call it the Super KK lol Raven sounds fine. One thing to think about is if you release such a great board people are going to want it. I hope you can meet demand if the board becomes popular.
Aug 17, 2015, 03:49 AM
Servo User
TriPilot's Avatar
Quote:
Of course, it must perform well in GPS modes...
I'll start work on a flight demo video, that way you can see how it performs in the GPS modes.

It's currently using a uBlox NEO-6M GPS that cost me about $22. I'm also shortly going to test it with a NEO-8M.
Sep 04, 2015, 09:59 AM
Servo User
TriPilot's Avatar
Successfully tested the Raven flight controller with Drotek's Ublox NEO-M8N GPS.

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The Raven automatically handles the GPS configuration, so all that was necessary was to disconnect the NEO-6M and replace it with the NEO-M8N.

In addition to the American GPS system, the Ublox NEO-M8N can also receives data from the Russian GLONASS satellites. During the test it managed to receive data from up to 20 satellites. Loiter and Return To Launch modes performed well. It also achieved a noticeably quicker fix than the NEO-6M.

Flight video to follow...
Last edited by TriPilot; Sep 13, 2015 at 10:39 AM.
Sep 07, 2015, 08:44 PM
Registered User
Tripilot , I'm interested in your FC. Ill be watching this one closely.

Reaper
Sep 08, 2015, 07:43 AM
RP-sUAS
BuffaloJustin's Avatar
Keep the updates coming tripilot.
Sep 08, 2015, 07:55 AM
Registered User
Quote:
Originally Posted by BuffaloJustin
If you keep the price at or less then $100 with a GPS unit included, or at $60 or less without, I think you have a market. There is really nothing else in this class; the main selling point being on-board setup.

Of course, it must perform well in GPS modes... Be mindful that the minix, Tarot zyx-m, openpilot revo nano, and a naza lite (with clone GPS) can all be had around $120.
You should just license it to HobbyKing.
Sep 30, 2015, 07:41 AM
Servo User
TriPilot's Avatar
Just finished the first of two 32-bit, ARM Cortex prototype flight controllers that I'd planned.

I ported the Raven flight controller's 8-bit Atmega 2560 firmware to a 32-bit ARM Cortex M0+ processor. The developmental prototype pictured below is a manual (rate and auto-level) only flight controller, including an OLED display and 4 button user interface.

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The finished product will be called the Falcon flight controller, also a manual only board. The aim is to combine increased processing power (48MHz) at a reduced cost. The prototype has been mounted and flight tested on a T-Copter. As expected it flies similarly to the Raven.

Raven flight video to follow shortly.
Sep 30, 2015, 07:54 AM
RP-sUAS
BuffaloJustin's Avatar
So, if I follow you plan to have three flight controllers?

1. raven; 8 bit, like KK but GPS enabled
2. Falcon; 32 bit, rate and attitude/self level only
3. Unnamed as of yet; 32 bit, ??? Features (I assume GPS modes on this one?)

Please continue to keep us updated on your interesting work.
Sep 30, 2015, 09:32 AM
Servo User
TriPilot's Avatar
Quote:
So, if I follow you plan to have three flight controllers?

1. raven; 8 bit, like KK but GPS enabled
2. Falcon; 32 bit, rate and attitude/self level only
3. Unnamed as of yet; 32 bit, ??? Features (I assume GPS modes on this one?)
Yes, that's right, but over a period of time. (I don't want to bite off more than I can chew). The firmware is about 80% of the development time, hardware 20%. So the Falcon is really a spin-off of the Raven's development, using a cut down version of the firmware, but in a faster, cheaper, processor. Atmel's ARM Cortex M0+ processor also has the added benefit that it has a native USB port, so firmware updates will only require a USB cable.

The second unnamed prototype will use the more powerful 32-bit ARM Cortex M3 or M4 processor and like the Raven, incorporate GPS. I'll use it to push the firmware further, namely investigating fusing the accelerometer data with the GPS for the automated modes (Loiter, RTL, etc..) and possibly try out some more advanced rotational/position estimation algorithms.
Oct 09, 2015, 02:21 PM
Servo User
TriPilot's Avatar
Here's the demo video of the Raven flight controller in action:

Raven Flight Controller - Demo (4 min 19 sec)
Last edited by TriPilot; Oct 09, 2015 at 04:04 PM.


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