tinyCopter Updates

I finally got the revision C control boards in the mail, along with a Ponoko order for some lasercut acrylic. I won’t go into detail over the new boards, because I did that in a previous post, but the new ones have USB for debugging and uploading new programs from Xmegaduino.That was the goal, at least. I figured that the RTS line on the FT232 would be used as reset, like normal. This is not the case, however. The DTR line is. Oh well. Luckily, I can use my AVRISPmkII clone to upload programs just as easily. There is also one other issue, and that is that I used some 0402 resistors accidentally. You can see in the first picture by the headers that I had to improvise with some 0603’s.

The acrylic plates that I got from Ponoko are great. They don’t serve any real purpose, but I figured that it would look cool and protect the control board from flying debris in the event of a crash. To get the shape exactly the same as the PCB, I exported only the dimension layer in EAGLE, brought it into SolidWorks to clean it up and create a .dxf file that Inkscape would like, and imported into it the template from Ponoko.

I’m also (finally) starting to work on modifying the AeroQuad code for use on my Xmega. For someone new to actual AVR programming (setting up registers and bit-level operations), work is going slowly, but I’m getting there. I hope to be flying in a week or two.

tinyCopter Revision C Main Board

tinyCopter Revision C Main Board

tinyCopter Revision C Main Board

I was also on Adafruit’s weekly show-and-tell. You can watch the video here.

Revision C Updates

Along with any revision comes along changes, and this one is no different. First off, let me start off by saying that I am not abandoning the MPU-6050. It is a excellent chip, but it is not all-powerful. I am moving to a more traditional setup with this revision, with a separate accelerometer, gyroscope, and magnetometer. The accelerometer will be an ADXL345 from Analog Devices, the gyroscope will be the venerable ITG-3200 from InvenSense, and the magnetometer will be the HMC5883 from Honeywell. The reason for the switch to this setup is because of the lack of examples for the MPU-6050, and because I found out about the AeroQuad project.

The Xmega is also getting downsized. I finally came to the conclusion that I don’t need ALL of the pins on an A3, so an A4 will be replacing it. This is both to help reduce the size of the board, and to become compatible with the Akafuino X, an Arduino compatible powered by an Xmega A4. Also, just for kicks, I am going to overclock it. I’ve heard of people going as high as 80MHz with the Xmega, so I might as well give it a try. The specific one that I plan on using is the version with USB capability, but I will just use a FT232 for communication.

There will also be multiple ways to power the board. All options go through an AP1117 3.3V regulator, but now there is more than one way to get there. The main input is through a standard JST connector. The secondary input comes from the BEC circuit on one of the motor ESC’s. The third option isn’t useful during flight, but is there anyway, and that is through USB.

So, quite a big turn in the project at this point, but I think these changes will be for the best. I (and many of my friends) want to see this thing fly, and fly well. Development will continue on Rev B, as I want to get that MPU-6050 up in the air.

This thing is looking to be quite a dense bugger.

tinyCopter Updates

Whoops! This was supposed to be posted almost a week ago! Ah well…

So, time for some updates on tinyCopter. I finally ordered propellers! The ones I got are GWS 3-blade 7×3.5 in both normal and reverse rotation. I ordered them from RC Dude Hobbies, and they shipped all the way from Nevada to Michigan in just 2 days! And that was standard shipping! I am really happy with their service, and will order from them in the future.

Once I got the props installed on the motors, I fired one up, using my Arduino to generate the servo signals. I had the copter in my vice, so I loosened it up and upped the throttle. The end started to pull upward, indicating that with all four motors going, there will be plenty of lift.

tinyCopter - Propellers

You can also see in the picture a purple PCB next to the battery. That is a 2 cell LiPo charger based on the LT3652 from Linear. I have it set to the full 2 amp charging current it supports, and my 1300mAH battery says it is rated for a 5C charging current – which seems quite high if you ask me – so I should be good to go there. Still, I might charge it outside the first couple of times, just to be extra safe. You can find the files for it up on GitHub.

Some tinyCopter Pictures

I figured I’d take some pictures of tinyCopter so that you people can see what I’m actually building (these are on Flickr, so you could just add me as a contact there and see all of my cool pictures).

tinyCopter Frame

tinyCopter Main Board

Turnigy 1811

There. As you can see, the frame is made from aluminum u-channel. I am using Turnigy 1811 2000Kv motors because they were inexpensive, but I probably should have bought more powerful ones. By my estimates, these should hover tinyCopter at anywhere between 30 and 60 percent throttle. I recently (as in today) just bought some HobbyKing brand 6 amp ESC’s and a Turnigy 1300 mAh 2S battery. I’ve also built a 6 DOF IMU board just in case I can’t get the MPU-6050 working.