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.

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Programming ESP8266 with Arduino IDE

One of the best things about ESP8266 ESP-01 WiFi modules is that they can be programmed
using popular and well known Arduino IDE and act as stand alone board with WiFi
capabilities. Thanks to ESP8266 group process of integrating ESP8266 and Arduino IDE
is pretty simple.

First step is to add http://arduino.esp8266.com/stable/package_esp8266com_index.json to Additional Boards Manager URLs in Configuration in Arduino IDE.

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Using PCA9685 with INAV

One of the hardware limitations of flight controllers that usually multirotor users ignores is a number of PWM outputs. To fly a quadcopter you need “only” 4 PWM outputs. Since most FCs have 6 outputs and 90% of multirotors are quadcopters, there is no problem.

In case of airplanes, this is not that simple. 6 PWM outputs is an absolute minimum to fly a classic airplane using MultiWii and derivatives (Baseflight, Cleanflight, INAV): 2 outputs reserved for motors, 2 ailerons, elevator, rudded. Suddenly, 6 outputs barely meets the requirements. If you want flaps, gas engine, pan & tilt or anything else, you are missing some outputs.

For some time INAV tries to address this issue by supporting external PWM driver: PCA9685.

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INAV: Launch mode video tutorial

One of the best new features of INAV 1.4 was Launch assistant mode (NAV LAUNCH). It greatly simplified the process of hand launching a fixed wing. All you had to do was to throw it into the air. INAV detected the throw, engaged motor(s) and stabilized flight and kept constant climb rate in the initial flight phase. INAV 1.5 will make it even better: it will also allow swing launch!

Since INAV 1.5 should be release in next 2 days, and there is very little info on INAV Launch mode, I’ve decided to create a short video showing how to do it.

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INAV: how to setup asynchronous gyro

Together with version 1.4, INAV introduced asynchronous gyroscope processing. What is async gyro and why it is useful to have it, you can read here. In short worlds: data from gyroscope is read and filtered faster than PID controller updates motor and servo output.

When it is worth to enable asynchronous processing

In general, async gyro can be enabled when:

  • Flight controller does not ave enough processing power to run control loop faster than 2000us (500Hz mode). This is the case for all SMT32F1 boards like Naze32, Flip32 or CC3D
  • Flight controller is powerful enough to process PID control loop faster than ESC protocol (PWM, Oneshot125, Multishot) transfer commands to ESC and servos. This is usually true in case of all STM32F4 boards
  • INAV is setup on a “racer” machine that requires the best gyro signal possible

Async gyro should not be enabled when gyro and control loop frequency are the same. For example, 1kHz gyro and 1kHz control loop would give worse results than 1kHz synchronous processing. Continue reading “INAV: how to setup asynchronous gyro” »

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INAV Advanced Accelerometer Calibration: why and how

One of the most often forgotten tasks required to bring the most of INAV, is good accelerometer calibration. Why? While flight controller software like Cleanfligth and Betaflight use accelerometer only to compute UAV’s body inclination (Angle and Horizon modes as well as artificial horizon), INAV uses it also for position estimation.

Cleanfligt has to only know where “down” is. For this, simple accelerometer calibration is fully enough: place UAV on a level surface and hit “Calibrate accelerometer” button. Few seconds and done.

INAV not only has to know where bottom is. It also has to know where all other directions are, and how fast UAV is accelerating in those directions to be able to estimate its position. For this, advanced, or 6 point accelerometer calibration is required.

How to perform Advanced Accelerometer Calibration [AAC]

During AAC, each side of flight controller has to be positioned “down” during calibration. Order is not important with one exception: during first step, top of flight controller has to positioned up. This is impotrant: we are calibrating accelerometer, not whole UAV. Even is FC is mounted upside-down, during first step, FC has to to positioned upwards.

  1. Prepare stable surface that will allow to keep FC stable in all required positions. Angles does not have to be super precise, even few degrees should be enough, but flight controller has to be motionless during calibration
  2. Plug-in USB and connect to INAV Configurator
  3. Position flight controller facing up and hit “Calibrate acccelerometer” button. Wait for success message
  4. Rotate FC 180 degrees so it is bottoms-up and hit “Calibrate acccelerometer” button. Wait for success message
  5. Rotate FC so its rear edge is facing down and hit “Calibrate acccelerometer” button. Wait for success message
  6. Rotate FC so its right edge is facing down and hit “Calibrate acccelerometer” button. Wait for success message
  7. Rotate FC so its front edge is facing down and hit “Calibrate acccelerometer” button. Wait for success message
  8. Rotate FC so its left edge is facing down and hit “Calibrate acccelerometer” button. Wait for success message
  9. Disconnet and power down
  10. Advanced accelerometer calibration is done. If is succeeded, acczero_x, acczero_y and acczero_z should different than 0, while accgain_x, accgain_y and accgain_z should be different than 4096

Advanced accelerometer calibration

Worth remembering: calibration values can be restored via CLI when flight controller firmware is updated. It is hardware, not software dependent. Calibration should be executed when new hardware is used.

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How to install and configure Betaflight 3

Latest Betaflight 3.0 is a new quality for flight controller software. It brings many new, cool, features comparing to previous versions. If you fly mini-quad or micro-quad, you have to check what Betaflight 3 has to offer.

This tutorial will show how to install Betaflight 3 and how to configure it so mini-quad can go into the air in under 20 minutes.

To play with Betaflight 3.0 you will need latest Betaflight Configurator! Install or update to latest version.

Flashing

Open Betaflight Configurator

Betaflight Configurator

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