GPS Racer: worklog #9 – double rangefinder setup

My GPS Racer is less and less fun project. For last few weeks it acts as sensor platform for my attempts to bring rangefinders and terrain following modes back to INAV. This time in a way that will work.

Two weeks ago it was carrying HC-SR04 sonar (crappy device). Week ago it was carrying US-100 (much better device). This week it is carrying both US-100 sonar and VL53L0X lidar!

INAV with US-100 Sonar and VL53L0X Lidar

DigitalEntity apparently had too much spare time and he finally wrote (ported) a driver for VL53L0X and starting from version 1.8 (probably) INAV will be able to use this cheap lidar.

INAV with VL53L0X Lidar

Yes, VL53L0X is cheap and that means it's not state-of-the art device. First of all, it has limited range. 2m is all it can do in a room. No idea how it will behave in sunlight. Hard to guess, but I'm afraid that 1m will be all it will able to do in real life conditions… But we will see in a next few days.

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GPS Racer: worklog #8 – sonar test platform

I honestly admit, that my 6″ quad (codename GPS Racer) was never very pretty. It was just ugly with that GPS tower on the front. Today it got even uglier: I’ve equipped it with HC-SR04 sonar connected via I2C bus (ATtiny85 to the rescue).

Why, you might ask, have I done something so useless? Answer is simple: to make it less useless. There are at least few problems with sonar and modern flight controllers. First of all, most new boards does not have connections for it. Second of all, it does not work reliably.

HC-SR04 test platform for INAV

It just don’t. It was no unreliable that INAV, for example, disabled it for some time completely. Right now it is back, but used only during landing on multirotors. No terrain following or anything like that. Continue reading “GPS Racer: worklog #8 – sonar test platform” »

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GPS Racer: worklog #7 – flying at night

Like promised, I took GPS Racer equipped with night vision camera RunCam Night Eagle and IR projectors for a night flight. And it worked. Not as good as I expected, but worked.

  1. RunCam Night Eagle is sensitive enough to fly at night. Just like that. As long as there is at least some light, you can fly. In my case, full moon and some residual light was fully enough
  2. IR projectors (3W in total) are underpowered. They help, but up to 3-4 meters. Not any further
  3. Propellers flooded with IR are no bright… I will have to look for some black props…
  4. OSD started to flicker out of the blue. I suspect new BEC for IR projectors introduces some noise. I will have to fix it somehow…

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GPS Racer: worklog #6

I have to admit, I have a talent for building ugly looking quadcopters and airplanes. But this is a step forward. This is the ugliest quadcopter I've ever seen… just look at it… So ugly, that almost beautiful…

GPS Racer with RunCam Night Eagle and IR projectors

Those two "eyes" are IR projectors and that almost not visible FPV camera is RunCam Night Eagle… First flight this weekend!

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GPS Racer: worklog #5

I've finally decided to make a decent use of my GPS Racer quadcopter. Until now, I mainly used it to test new things for INAV and that is more less all. RunCam Owl Plus FPV camera turned out to be non-flyable in the night, so I've decided to go one step further…

RunCam Night Eagle

Runcam Night Eagle - night vision FPV camera 2

Yes, RunCam Night Eagle. I've seen couple of video reviews of this camera on YouTube and decided that this is what I really need: a good night vision camera. Not a camera that can see after sundown. A camera that can see in the night!
Continue reading “GPS Racer: worklog #5” »

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GPS Racer: worklog #4

Yesterday I finally maidened my GPS Racer in full FPV configuration. RunCam Owl Plus and VTX finally arrived, it was not raining, so I took recording gear after sunset and went flying.

To be precise, it was not "night". But it was pretty dark. Too dark for my RunCam Swift. Owl Plus was sensitive enough to fly. It was not perfect, but doable. Next step: not IR blocked lens and IR emitter for real night flying. Both have been ordered.

Plus, thanks to GPS and OSD I finally saw the speed this thing can do. 92km/h recorded, but that was not the limit on those 6030 props. I do not think I've opened throttle to max…

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GPS Racer: worklog #2

I'm once again realizing, that doing multiple things at once is not a way to work. Something like that happened to my GPS Racer project. According do original plans, week ago I was only supposed to wait for FPV camera.

Instead of that, only yesterday I finished ESC and motor assembly. But OK, it was a little trickier than I expected originally:

  1. Since I wanted to reuse onboard current meter of Airbot Omnibus F4 (v2) Pro and use Matek XT60 PDB at the same time, I had to do some creative wiring between XT60 plug and PDB. Instead of directly connecting XT60 plug to PDB, + first goes to current meter on Omnibus F4 Pro and then goes back to PDB. Not pretty, but works. I still have to design some kind for power plug holder, but this topic can wait. I still have no FPV camera
  2. I had some problems with ESCs. Not only I've destroyed Motor1 soldering pad, but failed to flash FVT Littlebee 30A with latest BLHelli. Bootloader survived, but BLHeli was gone. I have to connect ESC to other FC and then reflash. I wonder if it was hardware or software issue…
    Right now, apart from FPV gear, FrSky receiver, GPS mount, SmartPort inverter and final assembly GPS Racer is few steps closer to being finished. With upcoming Easter, it should be functional in April. Can't wait…

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Project “GPS Racer” – worklog #1

I know that I should not start new project when old one are still in progress. I really, really know that. But since I’ve somehow lost my interest in Project Dualcopter and I have a real need for a new quadcopter, Project “GPS Racer” has finally started.

What is GPS Racer? During my work as INAV developer, I’ve realized that I do not have a good platform for it. The only GPS enabled multirotor I own is Sparrow Hawk. And it has a gimbal, weight 2kg and is hard to transport. When Sparrow Hawk crashes, there is always something broken.

So, to be able to test navigation related features of INAV, and not have to rebuild every single crash, I’ve decided to build dedicated UAV. For most elements I will be using parts that I already have. I only had to order frame, propellers and GPS module. Continue reading “Project “GPS Racer” – worklog #1” »

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