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Jul 27 2011

ArduPilot/ArduCopter Update

As many of you know our attempt at photographing Elbow Ridge Farm via two EasyStars this past weekend was anything but successful. Although the primary issue of Auto mode being inactive was eventually resolved at the field by trimming the endpoints on the mode toggle switch, we were still unable to fly our missions due to the system failing to obtain a GPS lock. Even after that weekend when the GPS was relocated to a more familiar region it was unable to obtain a GPS signal. Out of frustration I had decided to clear the GPS settings and delete the current firmware. Starting from scratch I reloaded both the firmware for the GPS as well as a script which enables it to communicate with the ArduPilot. In doing this I had also updated the GPS to a more recent firmware version. Just as it had in the past the ArduPilot was able to get a GPS lock within 5 minutes of being powered up (as indicated by the solid blue LED on IMU shown in the above picture). I’m planning on flying a short mission with the EasyStar tomorrow afternoon to make sure everything is working as it should be. Hopefully this will better prepare us for our next trip to Elbow Ridge Farm.

This week Jonathan had given me the camera mount and landing gear from one of the old Gaui quads so I could attach it to the new ArduCopter system. I just figured I’d post a picture of the new setup. The landing gear had to be extended by 2 in to provide enough clearance for the camera so I drew up a CAD model and laser cut a set of extensions out of 1/8’’ thick plastic sheet (triangular support structure on bottom). I had also added a servo to the camera mount and attached it to one of the output ports on the ArduPilot Mega to provide automatic camera stabilization. So far it seems to work great but we’ll need to upgrade the stabilizing servo if we plan to fly missions with camera stabilization activated.