AutoQuad winter 2014 new products used in X8

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AutoQuad winter 2014 new products used in X8

Postby joebar.rc » Sun Dec 07, 2014 3:31 pm

New addition to the fleet – AutoQuad X8 multirotor

AutoQuad has a number of products in prototype: a new ESC32, the v3, a power distribution board the PDB although that is a understatement of the capabilities and the AutoQuad 7. The latter is a study and unsure of it will go in production given the new M4 is already a very spectacular flightcontroler.

Anyway, i wanted to build a light X8 with the new products to be used as a showcase and simply fun to build.
As a frame some simple GFK plates are used, cut with a dremel powertool and painted in AutoQuad red.

Between the centerplates the AutoQuad PDB is placed.
2014-10-04 10.25.14AutoQuad-X8-1.jpg
Frame plates 1

2014-10-12 10.21.33AutoQuad-X8-4.jpg
Frame plates 2

The white wire is the CAN bus connection to the AutoQuad FC

The AutoQuad PDB
This is a new beauty Bill designed: The PDB.
A motherboard with 150A+ power distribution, 16 CAN ports, 14 PWM ports, high power LED ports, OSD, 150A current sensor, 3 serial ports, 2 video switches, audio out, 2 x I2C and all connected via dual CAN ports to the AutoQuad FC’s.
Basically you attached everything you have to the PDB and only the CAN wire / power goes to the FC, very very clean.
It also makes swapping between FC's very easy if needed, connect a AQ6 with CAN, or connect the M4, 1S power from the PDB and CAN thats it.

The PDB can use up to 40V input and has an Xbee mount on the bottom.
I placed a XBee bluetooth module on it and made a virtual comport redirection from the FC to the Xbee so telemetry / mavlink is available though the FC-CAN-PDB virtual comport channel.

2014-11-08 14.17.00AutoQuad-X8-5.jpg

2014-11-08 14.17.24AutoQuad-X8-6.jpg
Xbee 2

2014-10-04 10.25.47AutoQuad-X8-2.jpg

AutoQuad ESC32 v3
The next version of the ESC32 is simply called v3. It brings up to 40V input and has a switching regulator for the logics so it can be powered from the mains without loss or heat.
As with the v2, the logics can also be powered from an 5V channel, as I have done using the CAN connector on the PDB that carries GND/5V/CAN-l/CAN-H.
It has an microUSB port, CAN, I2C, PWM and a powerful STM32F307 mcu.
Freewheeling / regenerative breaking, voice output through the motor wiring (how cool is that). etc etc.
it is unbelievable fast in response, the change in RPM response is very noticeable compared to the v2.


Wiring of the PDB, bottom layer with the first 4 ESC32's.


An X8 is basically a dual QUAD in coax mode. Rotors on top and bottom. It will provide basic redundancy so a part of the thrust may be lost. ie an motor, prop etc but not two on the same arm.
Most X8 configurations can loose one propulsion but more will require intervention from the flightcontroller.
The flightcontroller will need to know which of the arms is losing thrust so it can adapt. AutoQuad using ESC32 will now the status of the ESC/motor/prop 400 times per second and the Quatos adaptive controller algoritms can adapt to it. Well, that is the idea anyway.

All esc32′s are connected on the CAN bus through the PDB. Both the PDB and Flightcontroller will have the telemetry information from the ESC32′s.

AutoQuad 7
The X8 is intended to use the nano size M4 but that is currently occupied in another frame so I installed the AutoQuad 7 FC that is still in development study. I dont use all of its new features because a lot of it is done by the PDB. The only connection between the PDB and the AutoQuad 7 is done with the CAN bus. The AutoQuad 7 fc is only using power, can bus and the direct connection from the (Graupner HoTT) receiver. The HoTT Telemetry is also run on the PDB.

AutoQuad 7_1

Not a lot of connections:) power, radio and CAN bus only.
AutoQuad 7_2

HoTT telemetry
I ported the HoTT telemetry to the PDB fw, not all because I still need to develop a efficient method of retrieving/pushing the params and waypoints through CAN but all other data is available. The OSD was already pulling some telemetry and that was extended to all that HoTT needs.
The PDB features an 150A current sensor, that is now used instead of the external sensor.

HoTT telemetry, ESC32 v3 detected

The PDB firmware is enhanced to accept CAN messages for the signaling, the ESC32′s telemetry and pwm signal passthrough. That is needed so the flight controller can use the CAN bus to control LEDS and the gimbal tilt/pitch/roll.
The Quatos adaptive controller is using the custom profile from this X8 so it nows its inertia momentum and geometric configuration. A lot of tuning wend into it but after that is is only an 4 param dial instead of the numerous possibilities of an PID controller.

For the motormounts I made a PCB with Leds. The LEDS are connected via the PDB to the CAN bus. The AutoQuad signaling code is now controlling them via CAN commands.

Building it all up


All upweight as pictures 2342gram, so just within the hobby limits of the 2.5kg Quatos license

Before changing the gimbal to a larger gimbal for compact cams I wanted to test the redundancy and the firmware was temporary changed to allow shutdown motors in flight.

As gimbal a RCTimer gimbal was bought in a flashsale, couldn't resist the $80. It turned out a very nice gimbal indeed.
The basecame controller was already for the GoPro and OlliW had a new project, the STorM32. That looked very nice and very very cheap ($35). Ordered and received.

I needed to see how the vibrations would turn out, using the new gimbal and a compacts cam with a slightly zoomed in lens to avoid the props. So a small wood adapter plate was needed :)

It was clear that needed to be improved, a new plate was made from GFK where the gimbal is now applying pressure on the anti vibration balls.


With larger gimbal and compact cam All weight up flying 2774 gram / 14min flighttime
Last edited by joebar.rc on Mon Dec 08, 2014 5:58 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: AutoQuad winter 2014 new products used in X8

Postby joebar.rc » Sun Dec 07, 2014 3:37 pm

Great!, just great!





And a very small clip how the compact cam is doing on this new platform. I'm very pleased, even when zoomed in to 105mm most of the vibration is absent although some micro shakes are still visible. Mind you, this is directly form the cam, I'm sure post processing would eliminate them.
The STorM32 controller was only using the simple 1 point calibration but after days of snow and rain I had to go out and test. The 6 point calibration will no doubt bring further improvements.
Turn the volume up at the start of the clib so you can hear the ESC32 say armed/disarmed

The project is a success, I used all the new AutoQuad gadgets, made new fw for CAN messages, only 6 wires! to the FC (CAN, power, radio signal and GND). It is redundant and I can quickly swap between a good compact cam and the much lighter gopro within minutes.

Last edited by joebar.rc on Mon Dec 08, 2014 6:00 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: AutoQuad winter 2014 new products used in X8

Postby kinderkram » Sun Dec 07, 2014 6:45 pm

Woah - great build!

And all the upcoming AQ goodies on one copter - gives a good outlook of what´s coming up in 2015. 8-)
A pity the second version isn´t within the 2.5kg boundaries for the Quatos hobby license. Do you see a chance to get the AUW lower?

The Storm is also looking nice, though not perfect in some situations - but unrivaled for that price.
Hopefully your participation on Olli´s project will lead into Storm v2 with CAN Bus! ;)
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Re: AutoQuad winter 2014 new products used in X8

Postby Max » Sun Dec 07, 2014 7:34 pm

Hi Menno, nice rig! Lots of goodies :)

How did you get the motors leveled and parallel to each other? I always hate that part with the round arm/clamp & coax setup.

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Re: AutoQuad winter 2014 new products used in X8

Postby bn999 » Sun Dec 07, 2014 8:17 pm

I'm glad to see someone is pulling everything together. Great work.
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Re: AutoQuad winter 2014 new products used in X8

Postby Luxar » Sun Dec 07, 2014 8:32 pm

Really great !!!
Greetings from Germany - Ralf
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Re: AutoQuad winter 2014 new products used in X8

Postby chschmid » Sun Dec 07, 2014 11:01 pm

Very nice. Congrats.

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Re: AutoQuad winter 2014 new products used in X8

Postby joebar.rc » Mon Dec 08, 2014 6:19 am

Thanks guys.

I only done the simple 1 point imu calibration on the STorM32 controller, it had finally stopped raining/snow so I had to rush out. I'll do the 6 points now and that will solve the slight horizontal drift. For the rest it is a great piece of software Olli build and I hope we can convince him to add a CAN bus. But he is right, there is hardly a protocol standard so that can be a challenge.

The weight below 2.5Kg, I think that it would be possible, it all adds up so it requires some carefully selecting products.
Target: -300gram.
M4 instead of AQ7/AQ6 - 20 grams
Carbon motor mounts instead of pcb's - 8 x 3 grams
16mm arm 1mm wall instead of 16mm 1.5mm wall - 4 x 10 grams
Carbon props instead of graupner e-props - 8 x 10 grams
Alu boom blocks 16mm - 16 x 1.5 grams

The gimbal itself is aluminium so a carbon version would be lighter. A big weight saver would be the gimbal motors. they are oversized for a compact cam and would get you another 2 x 25 gram less.
Almost there.. The camera is 324 grams, there are lighter versions that can do the same footage
As final touch replacing the steel bolts by titanium (very expensive) but that would save 32 x 2 grams.

Or frames like Rosewite builds, he is a master in light constructions and his x8 tamara will stay within the limits.

yeah.. I know, I mad two wooden rods with holes on the end that fit the prop mounts. So one on top and try to get the one on the bottom by adjusting the angles.

@Bill, yes that was the idea and it worked out very very good. I only have trouble getting the OSD to work, the task is called, render data is created but no output. Thats on my list for now.
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Re: AutoQuad winter 2014 new products used in X8

Postby sandmen » Mon Dec 08, 2014 6:44 am

Did you check the MAX chip?
Was the wrong solderd on all prototypes.
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Re: AutoQuad winter 2014 new products used in X8

Postby aBUGSworstnightmare » Mon Dec 08, 2014 7:19 am

Hi Menno,

a wonderful piece of art! Congrats and thumbs up!

How did you you the signaling over CAN bus? Is there a Controller with CAN on the Motormounts? Would ease wiring to use CAN instead of Neopixels (WS2812B).

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