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Nov 28, 2015, 11:45 AM
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AlienWii is now AlienFlight and can be build by yourself


I like to make all users aware the documentation to build the well-known AlienWii flight controller is now available to the public.

http://alienflight.com/

Also the classic AlienWii flight controller is not alone there. This is also one reason why AlineWii is now renamed to AlienFlight.

I was working with Lance since a while on some STM32 based brushed flight controllers wich also supporting multicopters with more than 4 motors. Some prototypes in different variants (Hexa, Octo, STM32F1 and ST32F3 based) popped up here and there but they never gone into production. You can also find now two of the latest versions with the documentation to build them at the AlienFlight web page. If you have some experience with building SMD electronics it should be possible for you to build your own flight controllers now. May be you also will find a friend who can help you with this. May be also some RC companies are stepping in and make them commercial available in there stores.

Here are already some users active to build their own flight controllers and have already some progress. The first of this user build controllers are already had their maiden flights.

http://community.micro-motor-warehou...nflight-fc/178

Some history regarding the 32bit controllers and some builds based on them with configuration details can be found in my Nanocopter thread at the MultiWii forum.

http://www.multiwii.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=12&t=4893

These 32 bit versions are supported by the Cleanflight firmware with the ALIENWIIF1 and ALIENWIIF3 targets. There are some unique features of the controllers which are supported by some firmware extensions like the hardware bind plug, a custom mixer for more easy Octocopter motor wiring and target specific defaults optimized for brushed multicopter builds.

Actually I'm working with Lance at a new variant of the STM32F3 based Octo controller with an single sided PCB design (more easy to build) and an SPI based Gyro/ACC sensor (will give some more room for future firmware improvements). After this is tested we also planning to publish this at the AlienFlight web page.

I open the thread in the hope to have a place here for the community to share experience, get help and collect feedback related to the AlienFlight controllers. I also like to invite all users here to share information and help beginners with there questions. Please use this tread for specific information regarding the AlienFlight controllers and handle general firmware related issues in the related firmware thread.

Looking forward to see some good discussions here.
Last edited by mj666; Jan 31, 2016 at 12:35 PM.
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Dec 31, 2015, 03:24 AM
Registered User
Thanks Michael, this is excellent news, and if some of it means what I hope it means I am overjoyed

Also having a place where we can get some advice regarding any problems, and help / encourage beginners on this fabulous journey will be great and I for one am extremely excited by these developments. Thanks to both you and humbled
Last edited by Pedro147; Apr 11, 2016 at 11:10 PM.
Dec 31, 2015, 11:36 AM
I'm Alienated

Thanks!


Hello mj666. Sorry I have not been here till now. I would just like to say thank you very much to both you and to Lance for open sourcing all of the hard work that he and you have done to make this possible for the community. Another ground breaking move by Lance in my humble opinion and a very unselfish one at that. I knew he was trying to open source as he mentioned this to me in July and I kept my mouth shut until he finally released some of the files for the classic narrow. I was very excited when that happened and joined forces with Peter Newman, the other poster here......we will fix that don't worry. He worked for about 6 weeks on creating the gerbers to make the pedrowii, just as he was about to finalize the BOM AlienWii at the time released the new files and the first glimpse at the new AlienFlight sight with the 3 new designs. It was good because it helped us complete the BOM with the correct components, mainly capacitors and V ratings which we had thought would all be 6.3v but found with the BOM from the release of the AlienFlight which indicated we had that wrong, so I have a bunch of 0603 smd caps rated at 6.3v that some day maybe I can find a use for haha. Peter was successful at the recreation of that original classic narrow and the first flight of one was Tuesday evening while I skyped with Peter to show him his handy work.

When AlienFlight released the 5v version, I wasted no time ordering all the components and the PCBs. Bought enough to make 12 FCs and wanting to share the love. At the first chance I got which was right around thanksgiving I deviated from my work and took a few days to get into them. All went smoothly and this was my very first time assembling an entire FC. I had been practicing since early on in the year at replacing components on the Alienwii fc I had and trying to source various components to replace the ones on the card which is much more difficult than one would think without having some electronics knowledge of SMD components. I dug into the code books trying to identify all the various parts and found that my lack of knowledge and the lack of any identifiable markings on specific components was not going to make finding the correct parts easy. What I have discovered over the past 8 months in all that is there are generally 1 of 4 components that will be an issue on the FC if it has a problem. We all know about the FETs and besides that there are the 3 chips which depending on what someone did to the FC could damage any one of those. Reverse polarity, most likely the buck boost chip unless it was the original version with the LDO chip which seems to fry the Atmega. So I did a lot of poking around and asking and more research, spent days on digikey finding all the things I needed to repair these and offered up to anyone that had FC which were disabled to repair them. I have had numerous successes and I have a pile of AlienWii classic narrow and classics sitting on the work bench right now. Most commonly it is either the Gyro or the buck boost chip. I have only seen 1 out of about 10 so far that had a bad Atmega and that poor classic had seen some rough days. Had to replace Gyro and Atmega, repair a trace to one of the motors that was incinerated as well as the pad for the power through hole on the board, and both sat and V wires were a mess V was reversed and the sat wires were soldered on top the through hole rather than cleaning out the holes and doing a fresh solder job. With these classic cards I been pulling the wires and adding sockets so folks don't have to go through all that frayed wire business. That is just a little background of where I have been.

Beyond the obsession I had to understand how to repair these I also wanted to know "how" it was done. I am very curious by nature and sometimes a little OCD about such things. I love technology and science and when I first set hands on the classic I bought in December of last year I knew nothing about any of it. It did not take me long before I was jonesing for another so I played the game and spent many sleepless hours fixated on the procurement of more of these FC. I have 9 of the production run AW a couple classics and about 5 narrows. Some were purchased from others selling theirs off and any chance I had to buy one I jumped on especially after I was told that AlienQuads would not be able to continue after the FET incident. I felt very sad that this happened and had been seriously in love with this little FC so it was somewhat devastating news to me that there would be no more. Lance did say he wanted to open source this but wasn't sure if he would be able to pull it off so that is where my mission to save the ones that were out here and try to gather the folks that have the FC to a central location. I started a Facebook group just for that purpose and I was no real FB guy or forum poster till all this happened but I was desperate and wanted to do whatever I could to save the aliens that had been released in the production runs. I still am on that mission and will help anyone I can to get an original FC up in the air again. I have met many cool people on this journey and shared what knowledge I can with the community freely. When I have time I try to video what I do to help others find their way through all of this. This is my way of giving back what you and Lance have given everyone. I have been seriously strapped for time lately and that is killing me because I have to do this in baby steps when I want to take full strides.

I am Rambling as I do sometimes because I have so much to say and well I am very excited about all of this. For sure this is very doable and there are many ways around spending a bunch of money on fancy equipment to do it. Like you say mj666 with a little SMD experience this should be doable for anyone. We do not need to understand how it all works just how to put the pieces where they belong and enough about the SMD to properly flow the PCBs. There are workarounds even if you don't have money for a hot air smd or smd reflow oven. On the MMC forum we have one of the members that used the skillet method to flow the PCBs. I will do anything I can to lend a hand in all this to those that want to do it and I am hoping that I get good enough to offer these out for close to what they cost me to make. The list of folks that would love to test one is much longer than the list of guys trying to make them. I hope that over the next few months this will balance out a little more. I know Lance has more up his sleeve than meets the eye here and that he is a perfectionist which to me means the work is not done and that we will see more surprises I am sure. It is very cool that the latest designs were released right around my anniversary with the AW classic purchase that threw me into all of this.

Appreciate the link to the community forum and hope to see you around there when you have time. If I was better at prioritizing mine I may be a little further along in all this but it is a difficult task as I own a small biz and that always supersedes play time. Much respect mj666, thanks for all the hard work, you guys are making history here I will be blowing up this thread as much as possible and spread the word to bring in the people participating and wanting to. Just give me a few days and we will get this thread started
Dec 31, 2015, 04:59 PM
Micro Helicopter Electrician
1Hammer's Avatar
Very good to see this thread!

These boards have been a personal fascination and being able to build my own has been an amazing experience. I know this board has been upgraded but this is the AlienFlight Classic Narrow 5v board two sided I built...haven't been able to flash the bootloader yet but it looks good.
Dec 31, 2015, 11:37 PM
I'm Alienated
Quote:
Originally Posted by 1Hammer View Post
Very good to see this thread!

These boards have been a personal fascination and being able to build my own has been an amazing experience. I know this board has been upgraded but this is the AlienFlight Classic Narrow 5v board two sided I built...haven't been able to flash the bootloader yet but it looks good.
What you are saying is ditto for me John and like music to my ears. I am hoping that many others will take the plunge and do these builds. I do not know how many may be doing them without saying but I do know there at least a dozen or so that are trying and or succeeded. My success was bitter sweet with the 4 AF 5v I built and the mysterious FET issue only on the left side of the card. I know all the components were placed properly but still I have only this issue on the left side where the FETs get "stuck" for a lack of better understanding of what is happening. They will get stuck at like 25% and that's that till I replace one then it flies great for x amount of times. While this is frustrating I know that this bootloader issue that you and several others have had with the AF 5v have been even more so of a torment. This would be the place to find the root of that issue I woul think being as mj666 has from what I can see a very good handle on all the firmware and programming I will be posting pictures and video here like this.....
(2 min 7 sec)

Happy New Years Eve my US friends , I haven't checked time zone differences between US and Germany yet but it think it is already happy New Year for you mj666!
Last edited by madman1412; Dec 31, 2015 at 11:58 PM.
Jan 01, 2016, 02:14 AM
Registered User
Quote:
Originally Posted by 1Hammer View Post
...haven't been able to flash the bootloader yet
Hi John. I am still keen to see the results of the bootloader error that you get with verbose output turned on in Arduino

I hope that my instructions were clear enough for you to follow

Jan 01, 2016, 07:38 AM
Registered User
Thread OP
An device like this will help to find bad components and also find the specifications of resistors and caps if not labeled.

http://www.ebay.de/itm/Digitale-RCD-...sAAOxyV85RzW1Z

An cheap hot air station is quite helpful with working on this controllers but many thing can be done with an high quality iron and an small soldertip.

http://www.ebay.de/itm/700W-DE-Lager...gAAOSwHPlWdQg3
http://www.ebay.de/itm/AOYUE-Int936-...QAAOSw~gRVitwU

So you don't need expensive equipment. For sure if you really want to do more and reflow oven will be usefully. Even for this there will be affordable versions. I don't to many build from scratch myself but I also do repair and rework of comports.

I only have one classic AlienWii and all other FC's are different variants an prototypes of the F1 and F3. I started with the Micro WMC and still have some of them. With the STM32 based controllers you will never have an boot loader problem since this is part of the MCU and can not be destroyed without breaking the chip itself. The boot loader flashing for an AVR controller is documented in many Arduino descriptions and is really the same process for the AlienWii classic controllers. Till now I never come into the need to repair the boot loader. For the classic AlienWii without the buck boost converter (early versions) you should use good battery's and really time your flights well. Brownouts can damage the configuration and sometimes even the boot loader. and you need to repair this. For sure everyone who build classic AlienWii need to be able and need to have the proper equipment to also flash the boot loader.
Jan 01, 2016, 08:21 AM
Registered User
Thanks for the tip on the digital resistance/capacitance meter mj666, nice piece of equipment which I just trying to find on Ebay Australia. Among the people that I know of making the AlienFlight boards they range from using the skillet method (lordnibbia) to hot air rework stations(madman1412) to Infrared SMD ovens (1Hammer) Personally I am using a $100 pizza oven controlled by a PID controller

As far as flashing the bootloader to the Atmega32u4 some of us have had relatively few problems achieving this whereas others like John (1Hammer) and myself cannot seem to get ours to accept the bootloader. 1Hammer is trying to flash his Atmega based 5v AlienFlight Classic Narrow and I am trying to flash a production type Alienwii Classic Narrow both of us unsuccessfully. If you at all interested in my investigations into my bootloader flashing problem the most help that I have received so far has been from some very helpful members of AVR Freaks here. It is too complex an issue to repeat here As yet both our issues are currently unresolved. Thanks again for starting this thread and supplying us with information and encouragement and Happy New Year to you Michael and Lance.
Last edited by Pedro147; Jan 01, 2016 at 10:07 AM.
Jan 01, 2016, 12:20 PM
Registered User
Thread OP
Are you sure you don't have an soldering problem of your AVR? Usually with the steps described at the link below and the proper equipment and cabling the boot loader flashing should not be a major problem.

http://alienflight.com/flash-bootloader-AlienWii-32u4/
Last edited by mj666; Jan 04, 2016 at 01:50 PM.
Jan 01, 2016, 03:10 PM
Whoop the planet!
benedikt's Avatar
Subscribed. I'm running out
Haven't been talking to Lance for a while now.
I'm glad this moving along as it does!
The latest revisions look very thoughtful.
Overkill FETs and 5V out with plug - very nice.
Jan 01, 2016, 08:57 PM
Registered User
Quote:
Originally Posted by mj666 View Post
Are you sure you don't have an soldering problem of your AVR?
Yes from all the help that I received at AVR Freaks a hardware issue is looking likely. It must be a non critical issue though because the FC still works and flies OK but it just does not show up in Windows 7 device manager or the Multiwii GUI. This is not a driver or Java issue either seeing as other Alienwii FC's that I have show up in both device manager and the GUI.

I just thought that if I tried to flash the bootloader onto the FC again, these issues may be resolved. The next thing that I will try is to check the continuity of all th AVR to bootloading pins on the FC. I have also tried to flash the bootloader with Arduino uno as ISP but same problem as when using USBasp programmer.

Jan 02, 2016, 02:46 PM
I'm Alienated
Quote:
Originally Posted by benedikt View Post
Subscribed. I'm running out
Haven't been talking to Lance for a while now.
I'm glad this moving along as it does!
The latest revisions look very thoughtful.
Overkill FETs and 5V out with plug - very nice.
Hey Benedikt, haven't seen you in a while! Hahaha nice to see you!

Mj666, thanks for the info on the digital RCD tester. Did not know such a thing existed but I wasted no time in purchasing one. Should be here sometime this week.

I am very happy that you are here to help guide us "noobs" if you will through this process. Here is what my workbench looks like these days thanks to you and Lance! 😁
Jan 02, 2016, 02:51 PM
I'm Alienated
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pedro147 View Post
Yes from all the help that I received at AVR Freaks a hardware issue is looking likely. It must be a non critical issue though because the FC still works and flies OK but it just does not show up in Windows 7 device manager or the Multiwii GUI. This is not a driver or Java issue either seeing as other Alienwii FC's that I have show up in both device manager and the GUI.

I just thought that if I tried to flash the bootloader onto the FC again, these issues may be resolved. The next thing that I will try is to check the continuity of all th AVR to bootloading pins on the FC. I have also tried to flash the bootloader with Arduino uno as ISP but same problem as when using USBasp programmer.

Hmmm, you could possibly try reflowing the atmega? I hadn't thought about that till just now. Not sure if it would be working though if you had a severed pad on the atmega. Just a thought though, I have fixed gyros with a reflow.
Jan 05, 2016, 09:20 AM
Registered User
Quote:
Originally Posted by mj666 View Post
Are you sure you don't have an soldering problem of your AVR?
Yes Michael, it appears that this may be the case for me. In desperation I used my USBasp programmer to flash the bootloader onto a production Classic Narrow just to test that my programmer and wiring connections are sound. The bootloader was flashed successfully so it does in fact appear that the problem lies in my FC

Quote:
Originally Posted by madman1412 View Post
Hmmm, you could possibly try reflowing the atmega?
Thanks Adam. At this stage seeing as the card is still working OK but is just unable to have the operating sketch reflashed, I will leave well enough alone until I lose configs and the card resets to the default settings. When that happens I will have to try a reflow seeing as I will not be able to fly it in the default acro mode that's for sure
Last edited by Pedro147; Jan 05, 2016 at 09:25 AM.
Jan 05, 2016, 12:36 PM
I'm Alienated
Have a look what Pedro147 did with EagleCad and some alienwii classic narrow files that were up for a short while back around September I think? Anyhow he designed I built and flew it. That is what we call team work!
(2 min 57 sec)


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