When Red Cat tries to buy my Blackbox logs, it smells fishy

Out of nowhere a company, RedCat, jumps with a super duper web page that allows you to analyze your blackbox log with something that apparently is based on Blackbox Explorer and Plasmatree PID Analyzer, puts blockchain, artificial intelligence, law regulations into the mix and on top of that, almost offers to pay you for that. I say what?? This just does not adds up. RISC-V, blockchains, commercial drones…. too much in one product…

This is why YOU SHOULD use only 8 channels in Betaflight!

When two weeks ago I said that you should only 8 channels when using FrSky SBUS I meant it and you just had to take my word for it. Today a small proof how Betaflight 3.5 feedforward component looks on the Blackbox with 16 channels and 8 channels. Of course, in both cases, RC smoothing type FILTERING was chosen.

Get your Blackbox logs from SD Card with a USB cable – Betaflight MSC

SD cards are cool: cheap, reliable, a lot of space and you can remove them from the drone and read on a PC. But sometimes, it's really hard to take them out. Either SD slot is in a strange place, or FC is oriented in a strange way or an FC designer has put an SD slot in a most stupid place of them all…

You can use Betaflight 3.4 as an SD card reader (MSC standard compatible) and either use it do get your blackbox logs via USB cable or use it, if you really want to, as a pendrive. With drag and drop and all that stuff. All you have to do is to go to CLI and type "msc" and hit enter. That's all! It's not perfect, but works!

Crossbow LRS: this one did not went well…

Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. This time I've lost. Not by much, but always. During testing of my DIY LoRa RC link, radio caught a glitch during a flip few meters above a ground. It was not even a failsafe situation. Link recovered a few milliseconds later, but it was too late and quadcopter crashed into the ground.

During a roll, while being behind a tree, RX antenna got hidden behind a carbon fuselage and both antennas were at 90 deg. That was enough.
Damage is not severe, nothing I can not 3D print in one evening. It's more like a discredited honor or something.

Crashed GPS Racer, 6 inch experimental quadcopter

Crashed GPS Racer, 6 inch experimental quadcopter

The glitch was so short that is was not even recorded in blackbox log. RSSI was fine, no locked rcData. Quadcopter just kept 90deg attitude for too long.

There is a slight chance it was not faulted in software or hardware. Maybe there was a strong rouge TX polluting the aether. Why? I've caught a failsafe on a different quad (2.4GHz FrSky link) while being only a few meters away and a friend caught a failsafe on a TBS Crossfire. So maybe it's not entirely my fault after all.

If not HC-SR04 then what? US-100 maybe….

A week ago I wrote that HC-SR04 ultrasonic rangefinder is crap and it is still true. Only around 1m useful range and very jumpy behavior above are at least problematic…

There is a better solution. US-100 ultrasonic rangefinder. Comparing to HC-SR04, it has at least twice the useful range. My preliminary tests gave solid readout over concrete up to 2 meters and something. Let's call it 2 meters. But what more important, US-100 was reporting out-of-range state instead of some random values when being out of range! Huge step forward comparing to HC-SR04.

us-100 is much better than HC-sr04

Unfortunately, better does not mean good. US-100 also has some problems.

us-100 is much better than HC-sr04  ut still not good

Readouts becomes "jumpy" at the edge of useful range and they are far far away from declared. But OK, declared always means "perfect conditions". Still, trust me on this, comparing to this, HC-SR04 is crap…

HC-SR04 is crap and there is nothing you can do about it…

Only few days ago I mentioned that I started to reintroduce sonar support to INAV. When DigitalEntity told me that popular HC-SR04 is crap I did not belived him. I expected that “official” 4m range on a noise-machine aka quadcopter is unrealistic, but data I recorded today clearly shows: HC-SR04 is crap and is absolutely not suited for quadcopters and probably other UAVs. Why? Because it goes nuts and starts to pick background noise instead of surface.

Let’s take a look here:

Bottom trace shows pseudo Signal-to-Noise-Ratio (SNR) while top one shows raw HC-SR04 altitude and INAV position estimator altitude (GPS, barometer and accelerometer combined). As you can see, it’s not that bad. There is a correlation between both of altitudes and SNR is pretty low.

Same thing is happening here. Quadcopter descended to land, both altitudes went down to finally meet at zero. SNR is low too. Nice.

But, very bad things starts to happen as soon as altitude crosses 1.5m. Not only SNR goes up, but HC-SR04 starts to report completely unreliable data! If it was reporting out-of-range state, it would be fine. But no, it keeps reporting something between 1 and 2 meters while real altitude is much higher. Total crap.

Conclusion is simple: HC-SR04 can be used on multirotors but only on very low altitudes. Something like 0.75m over concrete. Or 0.5m above short grass. Or even less over long grass. Definitely not good enough for terrain following flight mode.

Next week I will test US-100 ultrasonic rangefinder. It is supposed to give much better results. I hope so…

Flight Controller Soft Mount – is it worth it?

Is it worth to soft mount flight controller? Are gyro pads I recommended here better than rubber standoffs? I feel that they are better, but I do not have any solid data to prove it. So I can only tell, that I find them better and that is all. But, I can answer the question is it worth to soft mount flight controller at all. The answer is YES and here is a proof…

The problem of twitching motors

After I updated my 5" racer to stronger motors (EMAX RS2205S 2300KV over RS2205 2300KV) I noticed something very very irritating: twitching motors. When the throttle was in more less middle position or after rapid throttle change, twitching from motors was very audible. Quad was flyable, but performance was very low. I had to reduce yaw P gain by more than 50% not to see those twitches in FPV footage!

Blackbox log revealed the truth: from time to time, the strong vibration was getting into yaw gyro traces. I also localized the source of those twitches: stronger motors with more torque and higher radial acceleration were able to shake the whole machine when the frequency was close to the resonance frequency of the frame.

hard mount twitch example

Continue reading Flight Controller Soft Mount – is it worth it?