Saturday, March 19, 2011

Creamers Field Flight

 Today I finally figured it out.  The EasyStar is a 3 channel plane, meaning that it has no ailerons.  Because of this the rudder acts as the ailerons, turning and banking the plane.  Since the rudder creates the same movement as the ailerons it is common to put the rudder on the aileron channel to make flying it easier and more like 4+ channel planes.  I had done this by plugging in the aileron channel (channel 1) into the rudder input on the APM board.  This made it fly great in manual mode (as well as in the HIL simulator because that plane had ailerons).  The rudder servo was plugged into the rudder channel on the APM (kinda common sense, i guess...), what I didn't figure out was that the APM program relies on the ailerons, not the rudder, to control most of the movement of the plane.  I had gotten the plane to fly somewhat straight in auto modes twice before but could not duplicate the results.  This was because when I selected the auto mode the plane happened to be flying in the right direction and decided it only needed rudder to correct its course.  When it was not pointing in the right direction it would try to fly the plane with only the rudder (thinking it had ailerons) and go into the high speed circle mentioned earlier.
I changed the wiring by putting the rudder servo on the aileron output of the APM board, reset it, reprogrammed it and uploaded a flight plan.  When I got to creamers field I got it all set up and sent it up, flew it quite aways off, set it to RTL and to my excitement it slowly turned around and returned, then circled above.  After uploading a new flight plan I got it to fly its course.  So I brought it back, attached the camera and uploaded another plan and took these photos.

Dad and I next to my truck

Creamers Field barn

Tree I almost hit

Clay's old house

Residential area of Fairbanks

I did have a close call and it is not at 100% but today was a big improvement over the circles.  When flying over the barn the plane stared to loose altitude and came very close to a tree.  It was so far away I could hardly see it and luckily RTL brought it back.  I did crash on landing breaking the camera "skid plate" and tarnishing the otherwise great flight, but that was my fault.
I also think that it's descent was because I didn't check all the altitudes or there was a conflict in the route that caused  it to dive, either way it can be fixed with better flight plans.
I will also be much more comfortable when the plane has its FPV (first person video- live camera that transmits to the ground giving you a point of view from the "cockpit" of the plane) camera so I can really see where it is going.

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