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.

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.

tinyCopter is ALIVE! (sorta)

Progress! This is exciting. After struggling with a pesky compiler issue, I managed to get an LED blinking on my tinyCopter control board. Yes, I managed to get a 32MHz microcontroller with 256K of flash and 16K of RAM to blink an LED. Good use of resources there folks.

Anyway, the issue that I have been having – and it is still there, trust me – is in the creation of a custom board definition for Xmegaduino for my specific setup. Xmegaduino comes with a couple of options for boards, but all of them use the xmega A1. I have a xmega A3. I didn’t think that there would be any issues because the devices in the A series all have the same basic peripherals, just different pin-counts. The problem, however would soon show up.

I got the board definition finished and just copied the pins_arduino header file from a Sparkfun variant just to see if my variant would compile. Cue the obscure compile error! I looked at the error and it said ‘TCF1’ undeclared. What?! The blink sketch I tried compiled just fine for the Sparkfun board, why won’t it work for mine?!  I went back and took a look at the only thing that I changed in my board defintion from the Sparkfun one. It was the MCU type, obviously. I had changed it to atxmega256a3, because that is the device that I am using. When I changed it back to atxmega128a1, which is what the Sparkfun board has, the code compiled perfectly. Then I went digging through the avrdude header files for various devices and found the one for my xmega a3. I searched ‘TCF1’ and it was RIGHT THERE! I don’t know what the issue is, so if anyone else does, please let me know.

You probably read that and though that I never got anything to work. The issue is still there,  so what I did was set the board in Xmegaduino to the Sparkfun one, found the compiled .hex file, and burned it to my chip using AVR Studio. It’s a pain in the butt, but if I can’t get the ‘TCF1’ undeclared issue sorted out, this will have to do.

The point of this post is to say that now I can work on the code for my quadcopter.