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HomeRC & Power✈️Aircraft🚁HelicopterFlybarless Rotor Head SystemsAlign 3G › Align 3GX version 4.0 Software -- FIXED by VERSION 5.0
09-15-2013 02:40 AM  6 years ago
knightofcarnage

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chicago

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Overrated
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09-15-2013 05:07 AM  6 years ago
dkshema

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Cedar Rapids, IA

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The 250/450 use "small" helicopter mode, the 500 uses "large helicopter mode".-----
Dave

* Making the World Better -- One Helicopter at a time! *

Team Heliproz
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09-15-2013 02:18 PM  6 years ago
Dr.Ben

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Dave is one of the most level headed and experienced people on this forum and is about as likely to post poorly substantiated info as I am. If Dino or Jeff are following this, it would be worth a phone call to Dave asap to further study the problem. If there were ever a customer to have as an asset and tool for investigation of a problem, Dave would be one of them.

Ben Minor
Peak Aircraft/Team Minicopter Team Futaba Team Kontronik USA
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09-15-2013 04:30 PM  6 years ago
coolice

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Northamptonshire, England

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Hi Dave.

It sounds like you're expecting V3.1 settings to work just as well with V4 as they did for you on V3.1 and this will not be the case. It all depends on the model type, size and setup, as some will fly as before and others will require tweaking to make fly as well as before.

I'd like to not confuse a crazy/erratic behaviour caused by an actual software problem, with an issue possibly brought about in this case by a settings problem.
You need to try lowering the lock gain to test if this cures your problem, from here you can answer if you have found a glitch in the firmware or not.
If you approached Align without trying these things, their response will be the same.

As you know V3.1 built on past firmware's and improved performance of the 3GX, so much so the current draw went up due to the 3GX now reacting/updating the servos position information more.
V4 has upped the improvements again, with changes made to the tail gyro settings which will probably command a change of settings depending on what model and setup you are using.
From past experience of the 3GX I knew the cyclic gain of the elevator tracked slightly lower than the aileron gain, with V4 this is no longer the case with both pots now needing to be the same as one another.

Going back to your tail stepping, it definitely sounds like a lock gain issue to me, as the higher the lock gain the less likely the tail rotor is to move from it's current position.
Also in stops from a pirouette, a higher lock can show itself up to cause a bounce back on the tail rotor once the yaw command has been stopped.

I would like to know what tail servo arm length you are running along with tail servo being used? As these are also factors that can effect tail performance.
As mentioned already, as you're smaller models are the only ones experiencing this issue, it further highlights a possible settings issue rather than an all out firmware problem.

Let's also remember, Align do have Masters class pilots on the testing program and tail rotor issues will be spotted quite quickly. The new wave of factory sponsored pilots are able to perform piro reversal manoeuvres and so can test tail gyro performance in very demanding flying.

I was part of the UK team, taking a model making changes to it's setup and making notes of the current firmware's ability’s and have compiled a list of findings that have been emailed to Align for use in the next firmware release. I had Duncan Osbourn on the sticks for his level of flying and then me (when I could wrestle the transmitter out of his hands) for my style.

An issue I spotted yesterday, installing a 3GX on a Goblin 500 with the Bert Kammerer servo's is that these servos do not like the Hz rate the 3GX gives out. The servos became very gritty/notchy in their movement and twitching when left stationary. Another FBL unit proved to be much smoother in moving the servos.
A club member yesterday spotted a similar twitch on a new build 450L with V4.
.
Ian Contessa
Team Robbe SchluterUK
Midland Helicopters
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09-15-2013 10:20 PM  6 years ago
dkshema

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Cedar Rapids, IA

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Coolice,

Your discussion is greatly appreciated. I am by no means a world-class pilot, nor a barnstorming 3D or smack pilot. For the most part I can describe myself as a sport flyer who is always working to learn to do something new and challenging. As an old dog who's been around the RC heli world since the DuBro 505, I may well be beyond learning new tricks.

My first FBL heli was a Trex 550e with the original 3G system. That actually worked pretty well, but in its third season, began doing some really weird, uncommanded stuff. Primarily, having the heli do a quick uncommanded 90-degree heading change mometarily in straight, normal flight, was unnerving. When that behavior worsened to the point where this happened more than three times during a flight, the 3G was summarily retired. But not before I checked out the mechanics, the servo (even changing out the servo for a different brand), my radio, and determined the fault lay within the 3G system itself. I bought a 3GX unit at that time, installed it, and was back to controlled, uneventful 550e flying.

In spite of all the bad press the 3G system had been getting, and the bad press the 3GX system seemed to have inherited, I chose to go with the 3GX. I don't recall offhand what version of software I had at the time, I suspect it was V2 or perhaps something earlier.

The cool thing was, it worked, and for my skills and style of flying, was more than satisfactory. I upgraded software as it was announced, and after going through all the setup steps, found the new software to have a better feel in the air, and allowed me to make a handful of adjustments without having to go into great detail requiring intimate knowledge of the control loops used in the software to make things fly well.

When I installed V3.1, I found my helis to be quite flyable, and very well behaved. By then, I had begun converting my fleet from flybar to flybarless. Fortunately, do the to "bad" press that the 3GX unit had received (and in some circles, continues to receive) I found that I could buy 3GX controllers NEW OR USED in the RR Classified sections for next to nothing. I had already thought I had scored some good deals when I bought a couple from Grand RC on a Black Friday sale for something like $139, and even one from Hobby Hut for $150. Such a deal.

I turned to the RR Classifieds and found I could buy NIB units (and even used units) for $60 to $75 on a regular basis. I began buying them up, and converting my fleet.

To date, I have eight installations. 700N, 600N, NX4, 550, 500DFC, 450DFC, a 250 with the older Align "3G" style head, and a 250 DFC. All of these are conversions of existing, older helis (with the exception of the NX4, which was born as a FBL heli.

I have two additional 3GX units waiting for their turn, and just bought an additional two here in the RR classifieds. When those arrive, I should be close to having enough units to take care of my current operational fleet.

-----

Prior to my acquisition of the NX4, my experience with the 3GX unit was quite pleasant. Install them, run through the simple DIR setup and subsequent steps, go through the rudder servo setup and voila, go fly. Very little further adjustment was required.

I did have a minor problem with my 600N, it was solved simply by reducing the aileron and elevator gains to kill unwanted oscillation and wobbles of the heli. Having started out with the gain pots at 12 o'clock, I think I ended up with them about the 10 o'clock position.

MY 500DFC conversion required that I go in and make some adjustment to the collective to rudder pitch precompensation setting. I have been flying the pants off the 500 since then, and it had become a favorite out of my gaggle of helis.

-----

The NX4 presented a challenge, as it simply wouldn't behave. I made massive adjustments to the gain pots to achieve a simple, stable hover that didn't go nuts when I added a cyclic input. I had been all over the map with the collective to rudder pitch precompensation setting, and the heli would simply not behave at higher headspeeds.

I finally ended up remounting the 3GX. Initially, I had used a thin piece of mounting tape found in the Gaui kit, the metal damping plate, and a layer of 3M 4011 gray tape to mount the 3GX. I got rid of the Gaui layer, and replaced it with two layers of the 3M 4011 gray tape. With that change, the Gaui became manageable and has flown well ever since.

This was also my first installation to use Spektrum satellites exclusively as the receivers, and to use a 6.6V LiFe as my power source.

-----

Fast forward to seeing the announcement that 3GX V4.0 SW was available. Having read there were numerous improvements in overall behavior, I figured it was worth it to download and install it. In retrospect, I should have installed it in one or two models before upgrading all eight installations. I think that was a mistake.

-----

I loaded up my Subaru, and headed off to flying site land, and as luck would have it, the plankers were absent, giving me plenty of opportunity to get some test flights in. Each installation began with the settings I had been using with the V3.1 SW. It was either that (which I knew worked well), or start all over with factory defaults and go from there.

My 500, having been my "favorite" heli, came out first. My overall impression of the new SW was favorable. I noted the elevator and aileron cyclic was more aggressive, and the roll and flip rates were quicker. Things went well until the stall turn with a 540 piro at the top. When I let go of the stick to stop the piro, instead of stopping, the heli continued for nearly an additional 180 degrees, but then snapped back to where it should have stopped. I ended the flight, deciding to check the mechanics later when I got home.

-----

I flew my 550, did not see the odd rudder behavior. I don't think I actually pressed my luck to see if the behavior of the 550 was the same as the 500. What I DID notice is in straight forward flight, my 550 seemed to have picked up an annoying habit of a slow tail wag, perhaps coupled with a slight roll-axis wobble. I do see an occasional shot of left rudder which was not present with the V3.1 installation. I flew this heli yesterday, with 4.0 still installed, and it just feels a bit odd, as if I don't have full control of the rudder. Just an uneasy feeling at present.

-----

I was a bit apprehensive when I flew the NX4, having had all sorts of trouble in its initial setup with V3.1. To my delight, I did not have any problems with the gain, or with unwanted oscillations. I do see somewhat of a slow fishtail as I fly.

-----

My 600N needed to have its gains turned down just a bit more than with V3.1, but flies OK, although it, too, wants to do a slow fishtail in forward flight.

-----

My 700N was a real trip. Getting airborne in normal mode, the heli behaved well. I switched to idle up 1, a bit higher headspeed, and the heli was still well behaved. When I switched to idle up 2, the heli began to violently pitch fore and aft, as well as wobble side to side. I switched back to normal mode, landed, and reduced the aileron and elevator gains way down. This helped, but did no produce a flyable heli. Using my lessons learned from my NX4 experience, I remounted the 3GX unit using two layers of 3M #4011 gray tape, a metal gyro mounting plate borrowed from an old Inertia 860 gyro I have laying around, and a single layer of 3M gray #4011 tape. This produced a 700N that again behaved well (my gains are still turned down, I need to bump them back up). I do notice a tendency for a slow fishtail movement in forward flight.

-----

I have already detailed the behavior of my 450DFC under V4.0. The rudder seems to be wholly unresponsive to rudder command. Left rudder acts as if I have a huge amount of expo -- no response until I get quite a distance away from center, then a sudden nose left movement. When I release the stick, the nose remains pointed where I left it. Right rudder just the opposite. It behaves as if there is NO expo, and moves immediately to the stick command. However, when I release the stick, instead of maintaining the new commanded position, the nose snaps back to its previous position. Truly unflyable in this manner.

My 250DFC conversion behaves in a similar manner.

-----

I have, at this point, removed V4.0 from the 250DFC, my second 250 FBL setup, my 500, and my 600N, and my 450DFC conversion. The 250DFC conversion is again well behaved. My 600N is again, well behaved. The 250 with the older 3G FBL head behaves well. I had reverted the 450DFC conversion back to V3.1 and test flew it, it was quite happy with the V3.1 back in its life. Unfortunately, soon after takeoff yesterday at a local fun fly, I had a brain fart and dumb thumbed it into the ground. I'll have to assess the damage, get some replacement parts from Ron's Heliproz South, and won't be able to continue my experiments on it till later this week.

-----

I will take your advice under consideration. I would expect some behavior differences with the new software revision. What I see with respect to rudder, however, is behavior in a heading hold gyro which I have not yet seen to date. That is unnerving.

I did read the notice prior to downloading the V4.0 SW that installation would set the unit back to factory default settings. If the new factory default settings (which are the old factory default settings, it appears) leave one with a heli with erratic behavior, perhaps the factory settings should be changed to something benign.

I will continue to give the V4.0 the benefit of a doubt, and look forward to perhaps a refined V4.1 in the near future.
-----
Dave

* Making the World Better -- One Helicopter at a time! *

Team Heliproz
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09-15-2013 10:23 PM  6 years ago
dkshema

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Cedar Rapids, IA

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Dr. Ben -- thank you for the vote of confidence. I rarely go off on a post with an alarming nature of this sort. When I do, I try to be level headed, and not just run around yelling the sky is falling.

I have confidence that the 3GX SW will eventually offer a positive flying experience and perhaps gain back some respect.
-----
Dave

* Making the World Better -- One Helicopter at a time! *

Team Heliproz
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09-15-2013 10:44 PM  6 years ago
Climax

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West London, United Kingdom

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Dave,

Just out of interest how do you set up your tail pitch with the 3GX?

The manual recommends that you arrange for the pitch slider to be in the centre of the shaft with the servo at neutral (horn 90 degrees to its body). However, my friend found that this didn't work and he needed to set the tail pitch with the usual 5 degrees (or so) offset, i.e. to get a hands off hover in rate mode with no piro etc.

Before he did this he found that the tail would overshoot in one direction and bounce badly in the other. Sure, he fiddled about with gains which helped a bit, but adding the offset provided the better solution.

Also before he did the above to his 450 it had the "rudder expo" feel that you described although in the other direction it didn't snap back. I also flew it and it didn't feel right... Adding the offset did seem to fix it.

If the weather improves in the UK (rain and strong winds at the moment) and we get a change to fly it I'll try pushing it a bit harder to see if it can be further provoked!
Electronics, Physics, Helicopters, Fixing Things...
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09-16-2013 12:34 AM  6 years ago
dkshema

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Cedar Rapids, IA

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Climax --

When setting up the tail on my 500, I center the pitch slider, as recommended in the build manual. At this point my servo is centered. Using a Futaba S9257 for the tail, and the distance from servo shaft center to center of the ball link is approximatelyl 8.4 mm.

With this setup, at rudder neutral, the tail rotor blades are at zero degrees pitch, as evidenced by the accompanying photos.

This setup has worked flawlessly with the original tail rotor gyro -- an Inertia 850, and the 3GX FBL controller, up until I switched to V4.0.

-----
Dave

* Making the World Better -- One Helicopter at a time! *

Team Heliproz
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09-16-2013 02:08 PM  6 years ago
Climax

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Hi Dave,

It's interesting to think about how the neutral position of the tail pitch should be setup. Many would argue that it doesn't matter and that the gyro will simply command the tail servo to hold in the required amount of pitch at any given time. For many gyros this is true, however it will depend on how the gyro's control loop actually functions and for some approaches this does matter.

I've learnt this the hard way, party by playing with many commercial gyros but also by having spent an embarrassing amount of time building home-made tail gyros. This has proved to be very challenging, much more so than I ever expected. I take my hat off to the individuals behind the successful commercial designs!

I personally think that a "good" tail gyro should be able to cope with any type of mechanical setup, but in practice this is very hard to achieve!! Especially when you take into account all of the different types of helicopter out there and the infinity of different options, head speeds, tail slider geometries, servo speeds/torques, blade sizes and designs etc. etc.

As an example consider a hypothetical design that uses a rate mode component to "damp" an angular speed or bearing based heading hold term. In such a case the rate mode component would need to be correctly balanced so as not to bias the operation of the overall algorithm. i.e. If the rate mode component taken by itself would cause a pirouette at the servo neutral possition, then this would most likely upset the overall HH algorithm when combined with the other speed/bearing based terms.

Now I'm not suggesting that this how the v4 software works! I simply don't know, but it might be a factor in their latest update. It was certainly the case that when my friend experienced the issue on his 450, that this crossed his mind (we work together on our home made gyros) which lead him to try introducing a rate mode tail offset.

Another thing that we noticed with the v4 software (haven't studied the v3 or earlier) was that on the bench the tail servo often returns to "neural" as a result of largish and quick rudder commands. Note that it may not do this in the air! However, if it does then imagine the following scenario. You're doing your stall turn and holding over the rudder stick, you then bring it back to centre. The gyro commands the tail servo (for what ever reason) to return to its neural position, which in your case gives 0 degrees of pitch on the tail. The helicopter will now start to pirouette (which you don't want) but the gyro will quickly notice and take corrective action (as it's tracking either bearing or speed as part of it's HH algorithm). If this correction takes time you may well end up with a partial pirouette that then snaps back to the correct position, or if it's quick to react you'll just get a bounce of some sort. Please note this is all conjecture!! However, it's stuff that we have experienced with our own designs during development, so can happen...

Whatever the outcome of this problem turns out to be, it's probably the case that Align need to either try a bit harder to make their gyro better behaved in typical setups, and if necessary to update their documentation if a new setup procedure is recommended.

I used the word recommended as it may not always be required. On some helicopters the centre position of the pitch slider on the tail shaft actually generates the approximate rate mode pitch offset on the tail blades so in my hypothetical scenario this would work correctly.

There could well be a bug, or some other yet unknown issue. It would be interesting if you were able to try one of your misbehaving 3GX units with a "rate mode" tail setup.

Sorry for the long ramble, but I quite enjoy trying to figure out how other peoples gyros work... It's also a welcome distraction from the mind numbingly boring piece of work I'm currently failing to do!!

Max
Electronics, Physics, Helicopters, Fixing Things...
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09-16-2013 02:34 PM  6 years ago
dkshema

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Cedar Rapids, IA

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It is always refreshing to see some real constructive dialog on a topic, instead of the usual "it sucks and buy Brand B" banter.

What it boils down to, however, is that at this point, Align isn't new to the party when it comes to gyros and their operation. They've had their 780, 790, 900, 3G, and now several iterations of the 3GX. Some of the early stuff was not all that well received, but the older 3G and all previous iterations of the 3GX have behaved. Maybe for some it would blow out in high speed inverse hurricanes, but overall, the ability to find and hold position has not been a problem. Further, the behavior of the gyro simply at hover with stick commands is problematic. Simply not following the stick and not ending up at the commanded heading isn't acceptable.

I was one of those who would recommend that as part of gyro setup, the step to get a zero yaw rate while operating in rate mode at hover was necessary. I understand the argument well.

It worked as it should up to V4.0. Something has gone awry.
-----
Dave

* Making the World Better -- One Helicopter at a time! *

Team Heliproz
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09-16-2013 02:46 PM  6 years ago
Climax

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I agree something clearly has changed, I just wonder how much?

Is the new v4 update a rewrite with respect to the tail gyro and as such still needs to be fully debugged? We all know how hard it is to write 100% bug free software! Or to be kinder, software that doesn't have any unexpected side-effects!! Time will tell...

I notice that Align have now released a new tail gyro that's been enclosed in the 3GX case. This is probably an extraction of the v4 3GX tail gyro, or vice versa, but is it a new design? Or perhaps a simple refinement of the v3 gyro or something in between? At this stage the only thing that we can be certain about is that the actual sensor is the same, well at least in the 3GX.

It's a shame that in the RC industry we don't get proper release notes!!
Electronics, Physics, Helicopters, Fixing Things...
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09-16-2013 02:59 PM  6 years ago
MAYHEM

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Motorcity

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I have to say, I agree with Dave here...
I too was seeing the same results and I DID have it set up in rate mode. I have since gone back to 3.1 and the tail stops with authority now...I also lowered the locking gain, that COULD have something I do with it. I'm going to enjoy it the way it is for a few flights, the go bak to 4.0 with the lower locking gain and see what I get...
Marshall
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09-16-2013 03:02 PM  6 years ago
Climax

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Thanks, that's interesting to know!

It fixed the issue for us, but it would seem that there is more to this...
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09-16-2013 04:25 PM  6 years ago
VANHELI

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Omaha,Nebraska

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I am having the same issue with mine. I did go back and set up the tail in rate mode so there was no drift and it did not change anything. I am going to play with the gain one more time before I go to 3.1
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09-16-2013 04:49 PM  6 years ago
Dino Spadaccini

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USA

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i am in and watching this and in contact with Jamie thanks to Climax for helping out

Dino
RIP Roman JR
Capt USA Align Factory Team Align - Conquer Your heart
Team Futaba
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09-16-2013 05:27 PM  6 years ago
Climax

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Interestingly another friend had his maiden flight on his newly built 700E Pro DFC using the 3GX with v4 software (with a "rate mode" tail setup).

Needless to say his machine got a good thrashing and flew faultlessly. As you guys say in the US, go figure!
Electronics, Physics, Helicopters, Fixing Things...
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09-16-2013 06:42 PM  6 years ago
dkshema

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Cedar Rapids, IA

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Dino replied to my PM from the other day, where I made him, and AlignUSA aware of my findings.

Dino reports that this problem IS being seen by others, not just me, and that the problem is being actively pursued and a fix will be available when it has been resolved.
-----
Dave

* Making the World Better -- One Helicopter at a time! *

Team Heliproz
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09-16-2013 06:44 PM  6 years ago
Climax

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West London, United Kingdom

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Good stuff!Electronics, Physics, Helicopters, Fixing Things...
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09-16-2013 06:48 PM  6 years ago
dkshema

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Cedar Rapids, IA

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I notice that Align have now released a new tail gyro that's been enclosed in the 3GX case.
That's the GP900, been out for quite awhile. A single axis, tail rotor gyro. You can plug satellite receivers into the darn thing, plug in your servos, and go fly.
-----
Dave

* Making the World Better -- One Helicopter at a time! *

Team Heliproz
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09-16-2013 06:55 PM  6 years ago
Climax

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I guess it's for people with flybars!!Electronics, Physics, Helicopters, Fixing Things...
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HomeRC & Power✈️Aircraft🚁HelicopterFlybarless Rotor Head SystemsAlign 3G › Align 3GX version 4.0 Software -- FIXED by VERSION 5.0
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