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Aerial Videography and Photography Aerial Video/Photo from R/C Helicopters


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Old 01-11-2017, 04:30 AM   #1
TimBaconHeli
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Default Pixhawk 2

Hello,
So im trying to figure out which APS i would like to use for a new aerial photography build and was wondering if the Pixhawk 2 was acceptable to use for a traditional helicopter? Ive spent a few hours researching the system and honestly am coming up short? I have found tons of data in regards to Pixhawk 1, but the newer model is posing a problem....
I know ive seen some people on here that have used the original Pixhawk and if anyone has any direct experience with the newer release i would certainly appreciate your input. Im a sucker for open source hardware and software, i like the model and have used many open source programs and peices of hardware over the years... Gimp, Open office, Linux yada yada yada and now i have the Horus so i love that i can continue using open source in my hobby. I like that i feel as though i can have some direct input with developers if problems arise.
Thanks in advance,
Tim
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Old 01-12-2017, 05:46 PM   #2
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Hi Tim,

What are you planning on putting it on?

I have extensive experience with the system, actually I wrote most of the helicopter code. I'm mostly still flying Pixhawk1 but that is because PH2 isn't widely available yet. I have 1, but haven't mounted it yet. The first batch sold out very quickly. Second batch is due any week now.

The Pixhawk2 has internal vibration isolation for the IMU, which will really make it easier for people to use. The need for external isolation for the Pixhawk1 was the number one reason why people struggled to use it, particularly helicopter users.

I have some concern that the isolation in the PH2 might not be tuned to operate well at the frequency generated by a helicopter. But, I did a test last week, and so far the data is looking pretty good. However I should mention that I tested it on my Procyon drone helicopter, which is very smooth.

So, need more investigation here, but so far things are looking good.
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Old 01-12-2017, 06:39 PM   #3
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Rob,
First thank you for the reply and included information. Im looking to put it on a trex 800 conversion camera platform ive been working on for the past year. I was using an ar7210bx with their auto level software installed as an aid to redice pilot load while im capturing aerial video up until now, just went with Horus and am looking to up my game per se with the flight controller, also i enjoy the technical side of that so the thought of installing something like the Pixhawk intrigues me.
Im very interested in autonomous flight as well and like the fact that i can use it on multiple platforns.
Tim
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Old 01-12-2017, 07:03 PM   #4
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Quote:
Pixhawk 2 is a small cube, with a 38.5mm square footprint.

All connection to the cube is via a DF17 connector coming out the bottom of the cube.

This modularity allows for multiple form factors to suit multiple platforms.

For the stand alone market, it will be coming out in two form factors to start with, a "Full" configuration, and a "mini" configuration. The full will have connectors for everything, the kitchen sink.... While the mini is restricted to the bare essentials.

For RTF's or kit aircraft, I am working on a series of plug and fly systems, that allow you to remove most of your wiring from your aircraft, and take advantage of the easy to use modular structure.

The cube also has a massive quality advantage. Given that every single pin is available on the DF17 connection on the base, it allows complete factory full motion testing and calibration of each cube.

Pixhawk 2 is continuing to grow. When we release the Pixhawk 2 stand alone, it will be using the latest sensors available on the market, in a form factor that allows the ultimate in flexibility.

Please note. Pixhawk 2 Stand alone is NOT a 3DR product. It is a community driven product, designed by the community for the community.

A key requirement for my partner companies who will be making this will be active support of the community.

Looking forward to announcing more info soon!

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Huh??

Pardon the very stupid question, but what does Pixhawk do? I downloaded the PDF pixhawk-manual-rev7.pdf and still don't know what it does. Does it fly the helicopter? How? Where do you plug the cyclic servos and rudder servo? How to connect to ESC?
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Old 01-12-2017, 07:40 PM   #5
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As i understand it, pixhawk is a flight controller that includes many different flight modes? Stabilized, autopilot, way point, gps etc. It sounds like Rob whom awnsered my initial post is definalty the person to ask. I will say im wondering avout many questions you just asked as well .
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Old 01-13-2017, 04:15 AM   #6
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So correct me if I'm wrong, but arducopter is the "firmware" for the flight controller, and the pixhawk 2 is the hardware base? That being said, does the firmware work out of the box with the new generation of Pixhawk? And i, through reading, noticed that pixhawk supports FrSky telemetry. Does the new Pixhawk 2 support the newer smart port telemetry present on the x series radios? I saw a snippet about pixhawk 1 not supporting smart port?

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Old 01-14-2017, 07:55 PM   #7
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The Pixhawk2, is sort of like going to a real computer store, and buying a motherboard and CPU. What you do with it after that is up to you. You could run Windows, or a flavor of Linux.

In the case of the autopilot, you can run Ardupilot, or a few other softwares (that are generally not very good). With Ardupilot you have builds for every type of vehicle, from submarine to satellite.

And just like the PC market, there are other hardware that you could buy and run Ardupilot on. Pixhawk2, Pixhawk 1, PixRacer, PixHack, Dropix, etc. etc.

And again, just like the PC market, then you can start adding peripherals. Telemetry radios, with several different types. Different GPS units. Different mags. Optical Flow. Lidar, etc. etc. It just goes on an on.

It's an open platform, and you can basically do whatever you want. However, for some people, they get overwhelmed with choice and complexity. They'd rather just have a system served to them with all of the choice removed. Like Apple. DJI serves this role, and the comparison is pretty valid. They used to make Heli stuff, but not really anymore.

So, what can Ardupilot on Pixhawk DO? This:

Procyon 800E Cold Demo (5 min 44 sec)



It's also really great for scale helicopters, to give you complete radio failsafe and making piloting easier. It's also capable of sport flight, would be great for a heli trainer, etc.
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Old 01-14-2017, 08:03 PM   #8
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I used to program computers, I like and fly RC helis, and love robot automation, and would be a potential customer. The website does not explain it very well. Is it because it's function could easily be duplicated with some easy to construct Arduino components?
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Old 01-14-2017, 09:45 PM   #9
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No, we went WAY beyond Arduino years ago.

I can't really speak to the website, I don't have any involvement in that. I guess they assume that, if you found their website, you already know what you're doing.

Go to www.Ardupilot.org. There's an extensive wiki. But understand, it's a deep rabbit hole. This is the most complicated and extensive autopilot system in the world, save for multi-million dollar military stuff. So, there's a lot to it and it can be overwhelming.
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Old 01-14-2017, 10:09 PM   #10
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Well... Glad to hear its a deep rabbit hole. Just pre-ordered a Pixhawk 2, gps etc. Excited to dig into a new project, only this time one that will keep me busy for awhile.
Are there any other items i would need for setting up a pixhawk 2 based automated system on an large helicopter? Obviously i know the skys the limit from what ive read, but sensor wise and basic flight comytol/automation, is the pixhawk unit, gps and radio gear all that is needed?
Im assumimg a dedicated laptop for mission planner would be a good idea as well?
Thanks,
Tim
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Old 01-23-2017, 11:34 PM   #11
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I'm only just starting to look into the heli-side of Arducopter, but I have been using Arduplane/pixhawks for the last couple of years.

There's several options for 'Ground stations'.
I have a mini-PC built into a hardcase, with monitor + FPV setup. (although I've never actually gotten around to use it the FPV side of things..I tend to keep the 2 separate).


At the very basic level, there's also the Tower App for Android devices,
https://play.google.com/store/apps/d....android&hl=en
This will do most of the functionality, but for testing/tuning, you really want a small laptop.

As Robert says, it's a huge rabbit hole .
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Old 01-24-2017, 03:03 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ic-racer View Post
Huh??

Pardon the very stupid question, but what does Pixhawk do? I downloaded the PDF pixhawk-manual-rev7.pdf and still don't know what it does. Does it fly the helicopter? How? Where do you plug the cyclic servos and rudder servo? How to connect to ESC?
Basically it shows us how overpriced and bad our FBL systems actually are.
I came to helicopters from flying drones of all sorts. I have a pixhawk and know of the wonders it can do.

Thanks to Rob here we can see that this actually can transform over to helicopters.

What can a pixhawk do? It can fly your machine. It can autonomously fly to waypoints you assigned, come back and land right next to you.

Most of us heli pilots have no need for this. We want to fly our helis ourselves - this translates to "rate mode" in drone flight controllers.
bailout and self level would roughly translate to "horizon mode" on a drone.

Now the funny part: On a drone this costs 15$. On the helicopter it costs 200$.

There is the argument, that it is not as eay to do it for helicopters but in all honesty: Rob proofs that it is not the case if he can make a heli fly with a pixhawk wich is a drone FC (a very good one).
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Old 01-24-2017, 12:22 PM   #13
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If you want a simpler setup without a laptop based ground station you can do it with lua scripts on a Taranis.

You can buy the solution pre-made from craft and theory. I have no connection to this outfit, I just found out about this so I can't comment on it except that it is an option.
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Old 01-25-2017, 02:10 PM   #14
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It's funny you should mention Flight Deck, I was recently looking at that. It simply amazes me how much more flexibility my new Horus radio offers. I'm just about through the learning curve and am totally impresses and happy with the purchase. Something like Flight Deck looks to be something I would use in a pinch, or if I dident want to lug around a lot of extra hardware, that being said I am in the process of putting together a proper base station to use when flying my bigger UAV builds.
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Old 01-25-2017, 03:00 PM   #15
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Well for many UAV type scenarios I could see how you might want a sophisticated ground station especially for long range but just to add some bling to a heli you don't need much and you can build it yourself. If you've ever flown gliders up high drifting downwind in a thermal you can appreciate an IFR panel to fly it back when you have lost sight of it. It happens!

I've gotten quite interested in the idea of using arducopter and some hardware instead of a FBL on a traditional heli. On another thread I've been typing about auto triggering FBL rescue off of a smart altimeter as a training aid to avoid expensive crashes. If you pay ~$250.00 for a FBL (or more!) it seems dumb when one of these drone controllers can do all that and a whole lot more and in the same price range or less. With all the sensors and processor horsepower it should be possible to project the aircraft's trajectory and keep it from crashing while still allowing it to fly hard 3D fairly close to the ground. The limitation of the other method is that some people aren't happy with the height that a simpler system has to operate at and feel it is not low enough. Ardupilot is quite the rabbit hole though as pointed out. It could take a while to dig through all this.
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Old 01-25-2017, 06:30 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by phatburner View Post
Well for many UAV type scenarios I could see how you might want a sophisticated ground station especially for long range but just to add some bling to a heli you don't need much and you can build it yourself. If you've ever flown gliders up high drifting downwind in a thermal you can appreciate an IFR panel to fly it back when you have lost sight of it. It happens!

I've gotten quite interested in the idea of using arducopter and some hardware instead of a FBL on a traditional heli. On another thread I've been typing about auto triggering FBL rescue off of a smart altimeter as a training aid to avoid expensive crashes. If you pay ~$250.00 for a FBL (or more!) it seems dumb when one of these drone controllers can do all that and a whole lot more and in the same price range or less. With all the sensors and processor horsepower it should be possible to project the aircraft's trajectory and keep it from crashing while still allowing it to fly hard 3D fairly close to the ground. The limitation of the other method is that some people aren't happy with the height that a simpler system has to operate at and feel it is not low enough. Ardupilot is quite the rabbit hole though as pointed out. It could take a while to dig through all this.
Interesting you should mention using an altitude sensor to trigger an fbl. I've read here on helifreak about using sensors to trigger the fbl's rescue feature. Lo and behold I have sitting on my desk an FrSky precision vario sensor to use in combination with my new Spirit fbl and my Horus. There seemed to be some success with this sort of a setup, and as more of a hobby within a hobby I decided to give it a go and see what the outcome was for myself. I also recall there being some talk about the height needed to set as the limit as well, and that it might not be "low enough"? I guess i'll find out soon enough...
That all being said, with all the sensors and processing power on tap for the Pixhawk 2 and available companion boards, you would think that would be the route to take when designing a system that was more bulletproof for new pilots? I have no idea how capable, or not the Pixhawk 2 is as far as 3d flight? I have dedicated 3d heli's and am not intending on the Pixhawk being used for that purpose, really looking at getting into lowering pilot burden when inspecting towers and lines, aerial photography & videography as well as moving towards autonomous flight with my 800 sized machines for mapping and surveying in the future.
On a side note I have no interest in flying planes for hobby purposes as after learning helis I find them kinda boring, but long range autonomous fpv planes interests me a lot. The whole field of aerial robotics is very intriguing to me.
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Old 01-26-2017, 07:54 AM   #17
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Helis boring? I'm so surprised at that comment. I started flying fixed wing models as a kid and gave up the hobby in my teens when I began flying the full scale stuff. A few years back some guys started showing up at the airport with RC models (farm airport) and I got the bug again, but I found the fixed wing kinda boring so that's why I got into helis. I find it challenging learning to control it in all the different flight directions and orientations. More fun than flying the big stuff in my opinion and also that of my friend who flies for Air Canada. The big stuff is super boring these days!

If you ever get the urge to fly some 3D and see if the ardupilot can work well as a software enforced altitude floor down around the 1 meter level I'd be very interested in hearing about your experiences. And so would many others I think.

Edit: I sent you a PM so as not to hijack this thread with more about using your baro sensor.

Last edited by phatburner; 01-26-2017 at 08:08 AM.. Reason: additional comment
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Old 01-26-2017, 12:37 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by phatburner View Post
Helis boring? I'm so surprised at that comment. I started flying fixed wing models as a kid and gave up the hobby in my teens when I began flying the full scale stuff. A few years back some guys started showing up at the airport with RC models (farm airport) and I got the bug again, but I found the fixed wing kinda boring so that's why I got into helis. I find it challenging learning to control it in all the different flight directions and orientations. More fun than flying the big stuff in my opinion and also that of my friend who flies for Air Canada. The big stuff is super boring these days!

If you ever get the urge to fly some 3D and see if the ardupilot can work well as a software enforced altitude floor down around the 1 meter level I'd be very interested in hearing about your experiences. And so would many others I think.

Edit: I sent you a PM so as not to hijack this thread with more about using your baro sensor.
Lol, no the helis arent boring, i was saying fixed wing was, except for getting into robotics/autonomous and long range fov stuff. The challenging nature of helis is also what draws me in.
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Old 01-26-2017, 10:25 PM   #19
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Default Pixhawk 2 powering....

So im trying to dig through as much data as i can regarding the pixhawk 2 and so far im not getting very far with system power requirements and voltage/amperage throughput.
I just installed a bunch of BK HV servos on my trex 800 which i intended on running directly with a 2s lipo, was going to build in some form of redundancy for safetys sake as well but if im understanding correctly i can only run 5ish volts through the Pixhawk and its servo rail? Is this correct? I suppose i can power the servos seperatly, but i really dont want to get into having a Griswald family christmas light wiring mess all over my UAS. I would like to run the servos at 8volts as the specs are much better at that voltage... Thinking nothing bad comes from having speed and holding power in that department, unless it is totally wasted and in that case ill just put the Align 6 volt digital servos back on it and save the BK's for another 3d heli build?
Am i off base here?
Uggh, so much to learn about this system, it seems like i spend a few hours a day reading the ardupilot forum and leave with more questions than awnsers..... Not unlike learning helis in that aspect i guess looking back. :/
Thanks in advance,
Tim
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Old 01-27-2017, 07:27 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by phatburner View Post
If you want a simpler setup without a laptop based ground station you can do it with lua scripts on a Taranis.

You can buy the solution pre-made from craft and theory. I have no connection to this outfit, I just found out about this so I can't comment on it except that it is an option.
No, this is not at all the same thing. Routing your flight control over a telemetry link is really not a good thing to do.
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