Our mission was to rebuild a quad copter that was on the shelf from a class before us. Our goal was to first get it back flying again and then to program it to perform a fully automatic flight. This would involve it to takeoff, fly a pattern with preset waypoints, and then return to the launch site and perform an automatic landing.
Step 1: Research
The first thing we had to do was find all of the parts and pieces that we had to work with. So we got together everything that we thought went with the quad copter and laid them all out on a table. Next was to hit the computers and research each part to find out what each component was for, how each component worked, and any technical information we could find (i.e. mounting location, pin-out information, wiring diagrams, etc…).
Step 2: The AutoPilot and GPS Units
We found out that the flight control system was the APM 2.6 autopilot with the 3RD GPS. The APM 2.6 is an easy-to-set-up and easy-to-fly platform for multi-rotors and helicopters. Its features go far beyond the basic manual control RC multi-copters on the market today. Unlike RC only multi-copters, it is a complete UAV solution, offering both remote control and autonomous flight, including waypoints, mission planning and telemetry displayed on a powerful ground station.
Step 3: Mounting and Wiring All of the Components
Step 4: Installing the Ground Control (Mission Planer) on Your Laptop
After looking at several flight control stations, we decided to use the Mission Planner.
Mission Planner is free, open source software available for Windows. These instructions will guide you through installing Mission Planner on your ground station computer. This will let you connect to the APM 2.6 autopilot to your laptop. This will be necessary to download the firmware as well as to set up your radio, and other mandatory calibrations.
Step 5: Mandatory Hardware Configuration
As part of first time setup, you’ll need to configure some required hardware components using the Mission Planner. These instructions describe the process for selecting frame orientation and configuring the RC transmitter/receiver, compass, and accelerometer. There is also a link for additional optional configurations.
Step 6: Motor and Flight Control Test
This could be very dangerous so please make sure all propellers are tight and all moving parts are secured properly and are in good condition. I do not suggest for you to do this.
Step 7: First Flight
This was a short first flight but all we wanted to do is to see how stable it was. All of our classes were at night so we had to fly at night. The white and red LED lights really helped to see which direction it was flying. Also this was recorded by an ipad so we did our best to capture each test flight.
Step 8: First Landing Using the Auto Function
We tested the auto land to make sure all of our settings were correct. This function would be used as a failsafe if the Quad Copter lost GPS communications in auto flight. If this were to happen the Quad Copter would land safely instead of flying off course or crashing.
Step 9: Speaking of a Crash.........
This happened during our first auto flight using way points to guide the copter along a pre-programed flight. I think we had a malfunctioning battery holder. The battery seemed to become loose and fell out of the holder, which caused the battery to dangle back and forth by it's wiring harness. This caused the copter to lose control and flip on its back and fly straight into the ground. This happened on the next to the last class of the semester so we were unable to get the replacement parts installed to try it again. We did get it flying but ran out of time to perform the automatic flight.
I guess it's up to the next class to make it happen.