Using a Mini Maestro to control a quadricopter

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Using a Mini Maestro to control a quadricopter

Postby jbitoniau » Mon Sep 09, 2013 7:09 am

Hi everyone,

I thought I'd talk a little bit here about my (crazy?) project of controlling a quadricopter using, amongst other things, a Maestro module.

It's all explained here: http://bitoniau.blogspot.fr/2013/05/usi ... ssion.html

I basically replaced the standard RC transmission system with a home-made one based on WiFi:
  • on the ground, I use a WiFi-equipped PC with a joystick to send commands to the Quadricopter
  • in the air, the Quadricopter is equipped with a Raspberry Pi (http://www.raspberrypi.org) with WiFi and a Pololu Maestro module. When the PI receives commands, it converts them into PWM signals thanks to the Maestro. The PWM signals then drive a regular RC flight controller (a KK board in my case, something along these lines: http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/stor ... 8_PA_.html).

This seems pretty overkill, but it opens the door to a lot of interesting things, like for example dual-commands: http://bitoniau.blogspot.fr/2013/07/qua ... chool.html which works surprisingly well!

Anyway, thanks Pololu for the Maestro, it's pretty awesome to use.

By the way, I've written a cross-platform C++ lib (for Windows, Linux and Mac) to control the Maestro using the serial interface. It's here for everyone to use: https://code.google.com/p/polstro/ and the article that goes with it: http://bitoniau.blogspot.fr/2012/12/con ... puter.html

Enjoy!

Jacques
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Re: Using a Mini Maestro to control a quadricopter

Postby JonathanKosh » Mon Sep 09, 2013 2:22 pm

Hello, Jacques.

Wow! That's a really cool project! The dual control feature seems useful for training others to fly. We plan to make your code available on our Maestro web pages as a Recommend Link. When it is posted, you can find it under the Resources tab of any of our Maestro product pages. For example:

http://www.pololu.com/catalog/product/1354/resources

We also plan to share this on our blog soon.

-Jon
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Re: Using a Mini Maestro to control a quadricopter

Postby jbitoniau » Tue Sep 10, 2013 2:24 am

Hi Jon,
Glad you like it!
Feel free to link my blog articles and code anywhere on the Pololu site.
I hope it helps anyone interested!
Thanks!
Jacques
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Re: Using a Mini Maestro to control a quadricopter

Postby chrisptx » Tue Sep 10, 2013 5:24 pm

jbitoniau wrote:[*]in the air, the Quadricopter is equipped with a Raspberry Pi (http://www.raspberrypi.org) with WiFi and a Pololu Maestro module.

What kind of battery pack are you using, and what is the maximum flight times you're getting?
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Re: Using a Mini Maestro to control a quadricopter

Postby jbitoniau » Wed Sep 11, 2013 12:53 am

I've got two power sources onboard. One for the quadricopter itself (motors, an controller) and one for the Raspberry Pi (with wifi and maestro).

The quadricopter can fly about 10/12 minutes on a 3-cell Lipo battery (typically 2200 MAh) like this one: http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/stor ... &aff=61689

The Raspberry Pi can last I would say about 2 hours on a 2-cell Lipo (1000mAh). I haven't measured that precisely and it depends what the Pi is doing, but it last a long time for sure.

To provide proper 5V input to the Pi, I use an UBEC like this one http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/stor ... ction.html

Eventually I'm planning to only have one power source on the quadricopter. It'll make it lighter. But for now it's quite convenient to change the main power source without having to restart the Pi.
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