Welcome to the gluonpilot blog!
A quick update:
'Kempo' has put together a great manual on how to use Gluonpilot for geomapping. You can find it here.
Some people seem to be unaware that the GP2 manual is located here.
Since Google Code doesn't allow any more updates, I have moved the latest beta to Google Drive. You can find it here.
- Relative coordinates stay relative. At GPS lock, the module will send it's home coordinate to the groundstation. This means relative coordinates are no longer being translated to absolute ones!
- Bug fix that caused the telemetry in the GCS to stall
- Added a status bar
- Moved around the tab pages in gluonconfig in order of importance
- Fixed telemetry download speed
- Autosync feature fixed
- Move marker bug fixed
There appears to be an issue with the firmware upgrade tool. This is fixed in GluonCS 0.10 Beta 3, where the bootloader programmer has been updated to the latest version.
This version of GluonCS can be used together with firmware 0.10 beta 2!
See download section.
New release: version 0.10 BETA 2.
Google maps has a changed API so we needed an urgent update to support this! (Thanks for bringing this up Alex!)
Also added: smooth turns. The maximum roll rate is now limited to 45°/s. This means soft turns when going from waypoint to waypoint!
Download from the download section!
Dear fellow enthousiasts,
Version 0.10 Beta has just been released! You can download it from: https://code.google.com/p/gluonpilot/downloads/list
Please stick to the standard upgrade routine:
- Using the old version: Gluonconfig -> Advanced config -> Read and safe to file
- Upgrade the Gluon Control Station
- Upgrade the firmware
- Relead factory settings on the module and load your previously saved configuration
New features include:
- New navigation command "Arm trigger": "shake" your plane in autopilot mode in order to start the engine! Easy takeoff without remote control!
- Camera tool for easier tuning survey parameters. See Helpers -> Survey -> Camera
- Removed roll & pitch output on servo channel 5 & 6 so they become available from camera triggering
- Flight statistics screen on OSD (visible on landing - speed = 0)
- Detect invalid configuration on startup. Load default configuration in this case.
- Several fixes (PWM camera distance trigger)
- Aileron differential has been replaced with Pitch From Roll. The plane should pitch up to compensate the loss of lift when flying at a certain roll angle. Please check your configuration if you were using aileron differential. A value of 10% should be plenty.
- Minimum speed: We need more engine power when flying upwind to make sure we still keep some speed. In auto-throttle mode, the throttle will increase when ground speed drops below the cruise speed. On minimum, speed, the throttle will have reached its maximum. Make sure you properly configure "cruise speed" and "maximum speed" when using auto-throttle!!!
The GP2 is sold out, but already a new batch is being manufactured as we speak. Tested & Assembled units will be available again mid-June.
For those who can't wait or those who live in North-America: our distributor Jim will be very happy to supply you at GluonpilotUSA.
To celebrate the first day of really good weather here, we released stable version 0.9!
This is the first non-beta release for GP2, so all the owners of the new cutting-edge GP2 hardware are encouraged to upgrade. Owners of GP1 can also upgrade, but are encouraged to do rigorous ground testing because from this release on, the firmware won't be tested anymore on GP1 hardware. It should be compatible, it should work, but no guarantees!
Some changes compared to beta 2 you'll notice:
- New and improved OSD (videos to come later!), see gluonconfig for the options
- Smoother waypoint navigation
- New boot messages, looking cleaner
Another big step has been taken since v0.8. This stable release allows us to start working on a lot of new features. Planned changes are:
- Wind calculation on the module instead of on the GCS. This will allow us to do a lot of cool stuff:
- Wind information on the OSD
- Gain scheduling according to the airspeed: better navigation in winds
- Improve auto-throttle: minimum speed, maximum speed
- Disable OSD to save battery for those who don't use it
Have a neat idea? Let me know!
- Some people are having problems upgrading to the latest version with an older version of the GCS. If you are experiencing these issues (using a 0.9 beta x release), first upgrade to the latest GCS, and then upgrade the firmware.
- The best way to upgrade:
- Read configuration
- Save configuration to file
- Upgrade firmware
- Reset to factory setting + calibrate
- Load configuration from file
- Optionally re-calibrate
Version 0.9 Beta 2 is out! It fixes some problems that urgently needed fixing.
- OSD that suddenly stops working has been fixed
- The GP2 can now be installed at any 90° angle! (0°, 90°, 180°, 270°). See the settings in GluonConfig under "Advanced configuration -> Sensors"
- Install GP2 at a different pitch angle. Your module's pitch angle will never be perfectly zero. This setting allows you to change that. It is advised not to use this option to install the GP2 at a large pitch angle.
- Configure Maximum Range: New navigation command that lets your UAV return when the distance to home exceeds a certain threshold
Available in the download section!
Due to quality issues at TI, the next batch of GP2 modules is delayed by a few weeks. Please be patient.
In the meantime we have time to implement new features! :-)
Due to the demand, Gluonpilot 2 was sold out before I received the units :-) Mostly faithful users buying their second or third unit!
The new batch is underway, and is expected by the end of next month (December). If you want a unit, make sure to pre-order: contact me for more information.
The first software & firmware release for GP2 is available in the download section. Still in beta, so please us with care. The new version is still compatible with GP1 as well!
After a long period of waiting, we are ready to introduce to you: gluonpilot 2!
The previous hardware iterations gave us the experience we needed to design this new best-in-class autopilot system. Some of the key features are:
- Small! Slightly above 4 x 5cm
- Integrated: All needed sensors (including the switched power supply) are on the main board
- Easy to use: an on-board USB connector will make you feel very familiar
- 2 voltage inputs for batteries
- 1 current sensor input
- Extendable: all pins are available on the extension board (I2C, SPI, GPS, ...)
- Rewritten OSD firmware with unique features: wind indicator, current navigation block name
- Future proof: Your gluonpilot won't be outdated after 1 or 2 years: our firmware and ground control station is still backwards compatible with gluonpilot 0.1 (2009!)
For techy lovers:
- MPU-6000 based
- High-Efficiency switched voltage regulator at 2.5Mhz which gives it us even better efficiency and a very small footprint
- Top quality components for optimum performance: X7R capacitors & 1% resistors
- Enough solder jumpers & in- & output ports to customize it to your needs
The new hardware will be available by the end of this month (October). The first batch is almost completely sold out, so we encourage you to pre-order!
After long testing, we finally released version 0.8 of the firmware and Ground Control Station.
Most of the people have been using the Beta versions (also quite stable), so nobody will be surprised about the new features. Nevertheless, here's a wrap-up of new features:
What's new in version 0.8?
Quite often people ask my why I don't switch to a 32-bit microcontroller. 16bit at 40MIPS looks so ancient!
That's true, but people often forget that twice as fast is still slow! Efficient coding is more important here. The new trace features in FreeRTOS 7.0 allowed me to do some measurements. People familiar with the firmware will know that gluonpilot uses 7 threads (called tasks):
- Control: highest priority
- Sensors / Kalman
- GPS input & navigation/script
- Gluon control station input
- Gluon control station output (telemetry)
You can clearly see our control & kalman thread running at 50Hz, with the control thread having higher priority than Kalman (the latter one is interrupted sometimes). Other interesting things to notice are the huge overhead due to the telemetry being outputted by printf() and the synchronous output. This is an area that can use optimization!
Even I was surprised to see how little CPU cycles the firmware is using!
I'm sure most of you have seen those thrilling "above the clouds" FPV videos on youtube. Very exciting... how about safety? What if the video link stops working? What if your RC-link stops working? What if you can't find your way back? Gluonpilot to the rescue :-)
First we need a plane which can climb fast enough & has enough endurance. An autopilot can control the plane much more efficiently than a human does, which means an "average" performance plane should do. I used my trusty 1 meter wing with a 1600mAh battery.
We also need a script to fly our route. Make sure to use the SetBatteryAlarm command to let the plane return home automatically in case the battery is empty. You just can never fully depend on a wireless link!
Safety first! Despite this being a controversial topic, I prefer to show how to do it as safe as possible instead of simply ignoring it.
Airliners fly at about 10.000 meters, which is a lot higher than we will fly. Still, don't take any risks:
- Check if you're not in an approach route of an airfield. On these approach routes, the planes descent and start their route towards the airfield.
- Useful are ADS-B receivers. These receivers allow you to receive basic telemetry data of every "large" plane. Are there any planes approaching your flying field? What altitude are they at? Critical information! As an alternative you can use a virtual radar such as RadarVirtual.
- Use a low impact plane. Don't do this with a 2kg plane with a large engine. Use a small foam plane with a rear-mounted engine. This will minimize the impact energy. My foam wing is about 450grams, which is less than a pigeon! Airplanes are designed to survive such an impact.
- Temperature drops about 7°C per 1000 meters. We don't want to fly through icy clouds, we don't want ice on our wings. Calculate your maximum altitude depending on the ground temperature. Zero degrees or lower are a no-go.
- Winds are stronger at a high altitude. Find a website where you can find information on this. Personally I use this one. Don't fly when winds exceed one third of your flying speed (which is the horizontal (GPS) speed when climbing in this situation).
- Don't fly in densely populated areas.
- Monitor your flight from beginning to end. Keep your finger on the standby button to abort your mission. Use a spotter to visually keep track of the plane. You should be able to see it until about 1km altitude.
- Use a bright color. A small plane is a lot easier to spot from above than from the ground.
- Keep flying along a predetermined path. A small, fixed circle will limit to area you fly over. Also, on visual contact it will be a lot easier to predict the path the plane will follow.
(set quality to HD)
I must admit, flying above the clouds is magic!
You may have noticed that most products in the webshop are out of stock. Due to some components being end-if-life, a major redesign was required. The redesign is finished now, and we hope to receive the first prototypes soon.
The new gluonpilot will be better:
- 20% smaller
- Integrated switched power supply on the main board
- Ready for current sensors
- The connectors are moved to the board's edge for a more rigid structure when paired with the extension board
I have been a fan of Björn's Lighthouse missions every since his very first one almost 5 years ago!
This year he replaced his stable plane with a fast funjet. And a gluonpilot in it! The fastest lighthouse mission so far, the best images so far, and the first with take-off and landing on autopilot.
A big applause for Björn!
Enjoy his beautiful video (enable 720p/HD):
A small note on the upcoming 0.8 release: The beta's keep coming, but there's one reason for this: BAD WEATHER! I managed to do 3 testflights in the last 4 weeks. It just keeps raining... But it is nearly finished, and there will be a LOT of new features in it!
I've made this video some weeks ago, but being buried deep into the documention almost nobody watched it. To get some more attention, here it is :-)
Any cool other stuff you'd like to see: just let me know!!!
The latest development code (due in release 0.8) contains a lot of new features!
In my opinion, the simulation (hardware-in-the-loop) is the most exciting one. It allows you to test out all kinds of navigation routines without having to test them out at the field. AND it allows me to develop new navigation stuff without having to do a lot of flight testing before getting it right. All this is very easy in the current autumn days with very little flying opportunities.
This picture explains how it all works:
Actually there aren't a lot more screen shots to show: from the Gluon Control Station it looks as if it is a real flight :-)
More documentation on the simulation page.
The auto-throttle feature makes it really easy to test the maximum flight time of you UAV. In the upcoming new release, a "Battery alarm" feature will be available too. This will allow you to configure "warning-levels" and "panic-levels". When, the panel level is reached, the autopilot automatically jumps to a configured navigation line (landing in my case). Very safe and easy!
My old funjet managed to fly 33minutes before deciding to land. A new wing that I'm building should fly at least 45minutes! Can't wait until the build is finished :-)
A video of the automatic spot landing of yesterday's endurance flight:
Somebody asked if I could shoot a video of the gluonpilot auto takeoff and landing. As you can see, I still have a lot to learn about video tutorials. I even failed at getting a nice video of the automatic landing :-) It's hard to aim on a small plane in the air!
The result is a video of the gluonpilot taking off automatically after an awful throw. After that some basic explanations on how I prepare for auto-landing: