And the most popular flight controller for INAV is…

Did you ever wondered what is the most popular flight controller? Hardware I mean. I can tell you 🙂 OK, maybe it will not be a full truth, since I have data only from INAV, but assuming that distribution for Betaflight and Cleanflight is similar, we might know what is happening…

Important, this is not the number of boards flashed with INAV, but rather number of times a board was connected to Configurator!

This counts TARGET software name, not retail name. For example, all clones of Naze32 will be counted as Naze32

Data was taken in June 2017, multiple connections during single user session are stored as single entry. Continue reading “And the most popular flight controller for INAV is…” »

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FC Soft Mount With Adhesive Pads FTW!

I will not try to proof if you should soft mount a flight controller on a racing drone. I will only say, that few months ago I was against it, but lately I changed my mind. Stronger motors, stronger magnets, more torque, more speed and out of nowhere, incredible amount of noise can be fed into gyro signal. Sure, this is not required, but motors, ESCs and battery will thank you when you soft mount flight controller. Less, noise, less restrictive filtering required, lower signal delay, better flight performance.

In most places over internet you can find either a rubber standoff or double sided tape solution. Sure, that works, but there is something better. Dedicated, double sided adhesive, vibration dampening pads. There are many sources, and many names. I'm using Sekisui brand. Check ebay, Amazon, HobbyKing. Look for gyro pads, vibration pads, vibration dampening. I do not want to advertise any particular seller, so you are on your own here.

Sekisui adhesive gyro pads

Continue reading “FC Soft Mount With Adhesive Pads FTW!” »

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Cleanflight is still dead…

When week ago Dominic Clifton replaced all Cleanflight source code with Betaflight, I’ve written than Cleanflight is dead. Few people agreed, few (including Dominic himself) stated that it was a good idea. Main argument was that Cleanflight needed F4/F7, Dshot, CMS support and so on. Yes, CF needed that. This is true. In theory, with that one move Cleanflight got everything what it need. But also lost all it’s uniqueness. Further narration wast that all those things that only CF had will be readded on top of Betaflight code.

One week later I repeat: that was a bad move and here are my arguments:

  • All Open Source projects exists only thanks to The Community. The bigger the community, the better. I did not participated in Cleanflight development much. Only few really minor pull request. I joined the hobby too late. Many developers worked on CF code for months, maybe even years. Not only Dominic. If someones arbitrary decission would just “erase” my contribution (in both code and know-how) I would be pretty pissed off. Really, there was a reason all those people participated in CF. Now, all their work that was not present in Betaflight, is gone. That is not encouraging.
  • The same goes for 3rd party apps like EZ-GUI. All of them lost CF compatibility over the night. Will they be willing to adopt to the changes?
  • I’m really not sure is reimplementation of Cleanflight specific features on top new code will be simple enough to be done in reasonable period of time
  • The biggest programming problem I see are resources. Betaflight is in very comfortable situation: it, more less, can ignore the fact that servo and motor outputs can not share the same timers. After all, who uses servos on mini quads? And CF is (was) not only about mini quads. What about airplanes? Are resources ready to handle servos and motors at the same time and prevent all potential clashes? I doubt it
  • Changing codebase maybe looked like a best solution to get F4, Dshot and so on. But was not the only way. Somehow INAV got it after all. And Betaflight got it. How? Thanks to The Community

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Cleanflight is dead…

Only 5 weeks ago I’ve written that Cleanflight has a problem. Looks like, the problem was much bigger than I expected. Today in the morning, Dominic Clifton aka. Hydra essentially killed the project by resetting GitHub repository to Betaflight 3.1.

It was announced on Facebook:

Cleanflight v2.0.0-RC1 is out now, with all the new features from Betaflight v3.1 – please share this post!

Thanks to the hard-working betaflight developers especially Boris B, Jason Blackman and Martin Budden who have been doing fantastic work for us all!

Also, all GitHub Issues and Pull Requests were deleted.

What does that means? More less the following:

  1. Cleanflight lost all it’s uniqueness and is Betaflight under different name
  2. Pilots that were using Cleanflight on airplanes or big multirotors are left alone. Betaflight aims on mini-quads, not airplanes!
  3. Why anyone would want to use CF when BF is there and this moment it offers better community support?

The way I see it, it was a nice ride, but now it is over and Cleanflight is dead. Too bad, since it had a huge impact on multirotor community over last few year…

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How to connect APM Power Meter to Cleanflight and INAV

This topic was eluding me for some time now. It’s time fix the problem and finally present a short tutorial how to connect 90A APM Power Meter for flight controller boards like Naza32, SP Racing F3 or any other running Cleanflight / Betaflight / INAV software and equipped with Current Meter ADC input.

I will not show where to connect APM Power Meter to flight controller, since this differs from board to board. Some boards have dedicated pins, on some boards PWM input pins are used for Current Meter ADC. You have to refer FC documentation and / or flight controller software documentation.

Continue reading “How to connect APM Power Meter to Cleanflight and INAV” »

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Cleanflight, what is up with you?

Those are my personal thought on the topic. If you do not aggree, it is fine, I will not argue or discuss. You have a right you your oppinion, I have a right to mine…

When I entered multirotor hobby about 2 years ago, Cleanflight was The Flight Controller software to get. OpenPilot was about to die, just like BaseFlight. Or maybe even BaseFlight was already dead… never mind.

Bottom line was that Cleanflight was it: fast realease cycle, great support, great community. Everything was just better there.

Then, somewhere in second half of 2015 it started to change. You do not remember what happened in the second part of 2015? It is more less the time when both Betaflight and INAV (both are forks of Cleanflight just like Cleanflight was the fork of BaseFlight) started to appear. I remember narration behind both of those projects: we will rewrite some code, make it fly better with racers (Betaflight) and handle GPS better (INAV) and when this is done, it will be merged back to Cleanflight. Continue reading “Cleanflight, what is up with you?” »

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PID looptime: why it is not only about frequency

Last 18 months was an extremely good period of time for all mini-quad enthusiasts. Progress, hardware and software both, was just incredible. Who could have guessed that in less than 2 years mini-quads will evolve into main group of drones with such excellent flight characteristics. Just take a look at looptime. When I entered the hobby, standard looptime was 3500us (285Hz). Then, someone noticed that mini-quads fly much better when looptime is lowered and it started. Right now, standard looptime is 2000us (500Hz), while Betaflight starts with 1000us (1kHz) or even 500us (2kHz) in case of faster flight controllers.

Just by looking at numbers one might come to a conclusion, that looptime should be kept as low as possible and higher control loop frequency is better. Hey, 2kHz should be twice as good as 1kHz, right? One might even thing that it’s really about frequency. Well, this is both false and true: sometimes it is not about frequency, sometimes it is about frequency after all.

Continue reading “PID looptime: why it is not only about frequency” »

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Preview: cheap APM Power Module for Cleanflight

Recently I’ve got my hands on a pair of cheap APM Power Modules from eBay with integrated 5V BEC and current meter (90A max). Although they are APM designed and will not work stright away with STM32 flight controllers like Naze/CC3D/SPRacingF3 (or rather would work only once since they are 5V scaled and those flight controllers require max 3.3V input) I have an intention to make them work!

So far, I’ve concluded that:

  • current measurement is done with Texas Instruments INA169 and 0.5Ohm shunt resistor
  • analog current out is 5V scaled, so probably 90A current flow results in 5V on meter output
  • voltage sensor output has 1/2 voltage divider. We can ignore it, most SMT32 flight controllers have voltage dividers (CC3D does not, but 1/2 is not enough in this case)
  • It more less works with a 1/2 voltage divider between current sensor and flight controller. Requires some tweaking, but something is measured. Will require scaling!
  • Integrated BEC works, and this is all I can tell about it I’m affraid

cheap apm power module for cleanflight

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