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› Oberserve EB Micropilot Install
12-02-2007 02:08 AM  9 years agoPost 1
ErichF

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Sutton, NH

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We are just about ready for the first test flight of our first UAV conversion of a Bergen Observer EB. We used the Micropilot MP2128heli autopilot with electronic compass, Ublox GPS, and Sonic Altimeter. Connection is by Microhard MHX910A 900mhz radio modem.

The system is pretty versatile, but not incredibly user-friendly to setup. Physical installation was pretty straight forward, though.

This system will allow completely autonomous take off, waypoint navigation, position holding, and landings. It also has built in support of camera gimbals and controls.

All for a modest $9000.

Enjoy the pics.

BTW, this Fast Photo via ZIP is a really cool feature, Kudos, Mark!

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12-02-2007 03:57 AM  9 years agoPost 2
Raptor3DPilot

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North Las Vegas, NV

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Amazing Technology!

Can't wait for the video...

Remember when flying inverted that down is up and up is EXPENSIVE!

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12-02-2007 07:03 AM  9 years agoPost 3
andrei

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Clovis,NM-USA

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Good luck with the maiden flight.I hope it's a scuccess.

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12-02-2007 02:49 PM  9 years agoPost 4
okiefarmr

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USA

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Keep us updated. Been looking at that system for awhile. Let us know if it works as good as they say. If you have the time give a full review of it. For the money, if it does everything as it is suppose to, it's not a bad price. How hard was the software to program. Do you need to be some kind of computer programmer to set it up. Sorry about all the questions. Just really interested in your setup.

Mike

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12-02-2007 04:11 PM  9 years agoPost 5
Perry Kavros

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San Jose, CA

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Hey Erich,
What two flight modes are you going to use for your initial flight tests (manual, cic arcade or cic autonomous) and do you plan on the initial engagement on the ground or in flight. It appears in addition to the foam padding in the avionics enclosure you've also put the IMU on cylindrical gel mounts, I would be interested to see if this works out adequate for the gas machines. Have you completed the magnetometer calibration yet? I hope everything goes well.

Perry Kavros

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12-02-2007 11:15 PM  9 years agoPost 6
ErichF

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Sutton, NH

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The software is a bit of a chore at first. You really need to study the manual(s) to figure it out. The hardest part was setting up the throttle and pitch curves. It's bad enough they use 8 points (no real center or 1/4 points), but you have to set the pitch curve in the AP. The AP doesn't use a pitch input from the RC receiver, only throttle. So, you have to setup your radio's throttle to be linear, 100%ATV, and 0-100%. Then, you fill in a look-up table for the autopilot to create the pitch curve values, based on the throttle input. After that, you create another look-up table for the throttle curve. The values used are fine servo values, which are numbers from -32767 to +32767. So you have to do some math to figure out what numbers to use for given throttle and pitch positions. Like I said, it's a chore.

Also, flightplans start out as "fly" files, that dictate certain actions the AP will do and when, as well as waypoint orders. They also tell the AP what to do given certain failures, such as loss of Modem link, RC failure, etc. These files have to be typed up in command line format, which for a operator/tech like me, requires a learning curve. Here's an example of such a file:

imperial

takeoff
climb 100
waitClimb 100
wait 100
flyTo (0,300)
wait 100
flyTo (-300,300)
wait 100
circuit (0, 0)
wait 100
repeat -1

definepattern=gcsFailed
wait 20
climb 300
flyto [home]
wait 30
climb 100
circuit [home]

You can create a flightplan of waypoints on the map through the GUI, and apply the plan to a fly file, which inserts the waypoint lines into the file for you. That's one good thing. Also, you can drag and edit waypoints while flying in real time without redefining the fly file and uploading it. It still requires more typing than I would prefer.

So, it's not ideal, but it does make it quite versatile.

Perry, we didn't use gel mounts on anything yet. What you see are nylon standoffs. The IMU as you called it is actually the AGL transducer (sonic altimeter board). The IMU and gyros are all mounted to the main 2128 board. We have yet to do vibration tests, and will accomplish that prior to flying with the AP in control.

The magnetometer is what's wrapped in blue tape mounted to the tailboom. It calibrated easily and is very accurate. It's a three axis magnetometer. The calibration process is two rotations upright, then two rotations with the heli on it's side. This type of magnetometer isn't prone as much to typical magnetic turning errors common with single axis units.

The initial flight test cards from the manual have you start in RCPIC mode and CIC Attitude Arcade mode. Once the low level gains are set, then you use CIC attitude arcade as a backup, and adjust position CIC arcade mode, then move through the various modes, ultimately flying in Attitude Arcade to CIC fully auto. It's not until that point do you attempt an autonomous takeoff, flight, and landing.

My gripe with these arcade modes, as they call them, is that you have to keep the machine within range of the RC transmitter for any kind of semi-autonomous manual flying. Another system we are testing allows you to turn off the RC transmitter after takeoff, send the aircraft downrange under auto nav mode, and switch to manual directed flight via PC gamepad at any time and range. You have full control with the gamepad, left right cyclic, heading with rudder, and altitude with collective. Let go of the gamepad sticks, and it holds altitude, position, and heading until you reactivate the flightplan. If the Micropilot could do that, it'd be a really nice system I think. While Micropilot has an RPV Mode, it's not tested in helicopters yet, and isn't really full control. The gamepad can only adjust heading, airspeed, and altitude. Not enough for a heli, as it totally ignores cyclic control needs.

Whew, that was a long post Hope I answered your questions in all that.

We fly this on Wednesday and Thursday, wish us luck

Erich

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12-03-2007 02:40 AM  9 years agoPost 7
Perry Kavros

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San Jose, CA

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Hey Erich, thanks for the info. I spent some time at Micro Pilot and understand all the details to get everything up to speed. The nice thing is all the ground station development that has been accomplished from there fixed wing experience. I was referring earlier to the 2128 board, I think you'll find the challenge is to isolate that board as well as you can, from my experience looking at the pictures you may find this necessary. Good luck, I hope you have a great experience and if you ever get a chance to meet the group at Micro Pilot there great people. Let me know how things go.

Perry Kavros

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12-03-2007 03:00 AM  9 years agoPost 8
ErichF

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Sutton, NH

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I tried to talk my PM into sending me to MP to get some one on one with their techs and see a real, working installation. I was swamped with other trips, at the time though.

The GCS is up to ver 3.4 now, although I think I will stick with 3.3 for now. The GCS does seem to have come a long way. I downloaded the earlier versions before deciding to buy. I wasn't too thrilled with it, but figured we could overcome its limitations.

While the newer versions are much improved, it still is not up to par with helicopter operations. Namely, the RPV mode needs addressing.

So far, my favorite GCS is Virtual Cockpit from Procerus. I have experience with Cloud Cap's OI (newer version looks promising), and a system from SWRI on the Buster SUAS from Mission Technologies, and of course the various Falconview plug ins for Aerovironment systems. Virtual Cockpit is by far the most intuitive and user-friendly. I wish Procerus had a rotor-wing version of the Kestrel.

What a great industry! Nobody does anything the same in their GCSs. It's been like learning 5 languages for me.

Erich

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12-03-2007 06:46 PM  9 years agoPost 9
wxyz

rrApprentice

calif*, U know where

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Whew. It's not much better than buying a computer and getting a bag of silicon. My magnetometer is super unstable. Suppose U need to do crazy things like initialize pointing south and tabulating magnetic declinations for all positions.

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12-05-2007 07:28 PM  9 years agoPost 10
Flint325

rrApprentice

xxx.xxx

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A little help.

ErichF,

I was searching for an autopilot for a Bergen trubine industrial. If you have the time can you give me a number to contact you to go over some points about the autopilot.

Dan

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12-06-2007 01:17 AM  9 years agoPost 11
ErichF

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Sutton, NH

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Flint, check your PM in the next couple days...

We took the Observer out for it's first test flights today. The results were a bit disappointing. First, we had to make sure that the autopilot controlled throttle and pitch curves were good. We cranked up and hovered the Observer in manual (RCPIC) mode, and the headspeed locked in at around 1535rpm, which is close to what we target (1560).

Then we setup for the first test in the manual, the CIC attitude hold PID settings. We didn't get that far, since as soon as the engine is started, the X-axis sensor fails and the autopilot loses reference. We believe we have to make better accomodations for vibration isolation of the sensor board.

On top of that, however, we lost link with the onboard modem at only 200 foot range. GPS was also very degraded, and kept dropping out numerous times. It seems we are experiencing EMI issues from the engine's ignition system, despite the fact that the datalink modem and GPS antennas are extended well away from the engine.

So, we go back to the drawing board tomorrow to work on better vibration isolation of the electronics (gel mounts), and to understand why we lost link and GPS so easily. We suspect that we may have to construct a ground plane for the GPS antenna, and possibly shield the serial line from the modem to the processor board.

More to come...

Erich

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12-06-2007 09:05 PM  9 years agoPost 12
Flint325

rrApprentice

xxx.xxx

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Autopilot

10-4 we are going about it in a different way. It may cost as much but most of the systems are stand alone. I'll let you know. btw what area of the us are you located.

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02-09-2008 06:23 PM  9 years agoPost 13
furyphoto

rrNovice

Great White North

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EDIT

I'm done here, now hanging out in friendlier AP forums.

-A

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06-29-2008 12:16 AM  9 years agoPost 14
helicampro

rrNovice

Milan, Italy

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Micropilot MP2128heli

Hi everybody I unfortunately buy a MP2128heli in July 2007 and I received on November 2007, I think It is the first one they sell.
Are past 8 month and we can’t fly at all, we have got the same problem Erich has, we have complete resolve the vibration issue after many month of test, night at the phone with micropilot for gps issue and a lot of other things,
Is like a infinity story.
There is anyone have experience with these system?
Erich have you got success whit these system, if you remember us why write you in private.
I ask to micropilot I Oder client can fly with these system, and they told me, one client can fly with a Berghen Observer are you?
Sorry for me English.
By Steven

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07-12-2008 04:52 PM  9 years agoPost 15
rido

rrNovice

Taichung,Taiwan

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Vibration Isolation

Hi Steven,
Can you show photos how do you install autopilot on your helicopter?
Maybe vibration isolation is needed!

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12-14-2009 03:14 PM  7 years agoPost 16
baby_zyklon

rrElite Veteran

Singapore

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Sorry for digging up an old post.

I am attempting to run a micropilot 2028 in a plane. However, I am facing a throttle issue in RVP mode. All channels work perfectly fine in the RVP mode, but my throttle just refuses to go beyond 70.2% on the horizon software screen. I have tried redoing the initial servos and r/c system setup but it is still doing the same thing. Does anyone know what am I doing wrongly? In the UAV mode, the throttle goes all the way and the motor does indeed run at full rpm, but in the RVP mode, the max throttle on my TX throttle stick doesn't correspond to the full throttle. I have tried increasing and decreasing the end point on both my tx and the software, but nothing seems to change.

Any idea?

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01-05-2010 03:49 PM  7 years agoPost 17
ginnz

rrApprentice

MB,Canada

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cool stuff.....

btw- i do contract work for MicroPilot here in Canada, i build heli's for them, and do test flying for them at their facility! im there "failsafe" pilot!

Howard Loewen (owner of Micropilot) is a very good guy to deal with, and an all around good guy!

im hoping they will develop a full line of turn key heli's for the UAV market, and ill build them for them....

as a matter of fact, i have a JR Vigor, and Airstar International Evolution (Gasser) (Vario) im working on right now for them....

it a good gig!

ginnz.

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01-05-2010 03:59 PM  7 years agoPost 18
ErichF

rrElite Veteran

Sutton, NH

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Due to the age of this info, and the likelihood of it being outdated, I am closing this thread.

Thanks,
Erich

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