M4 - what is it, what can it do?

Info and discussion about the autonomous Micro FC, suitable for nanos, micros and mini multirotors

Re: M4 - what is it, what can it do?

Postby Jdmagoo » Sat Aug 02, 2014 12:07 am

JussiH wrote:Short answer: The M4 is a full Autoquad capable flight controller in NanoQuad package. It can either be a pocket-sized nanoquad with advanced nav capability or be the main flight controller in a full featured Autoquad with up to 16 motors and quatos adaptive control.

Here is what it looks like in rendering:
M4_demo.jpg

And IRL next to the AQ6....to give you an idea of size.

DSC02051.JPG

Dimensions are in the PDF below. Mounting holes are 2mm diameter.

aqm4v1r2 dim preliminary.pdf


So, what can it do...?
It runs the same code as its bigger siblings. But it is also equipped with 4 onboard motor drivers for small coreless brushed DC motors, so that you can build a pocket sized Autoquad by just adding 4 coreless motors and a small frame. It is a direct fit to a Ladybird frame and can be combined with a number of other pocket-quad parts from Hubsan, CrazyFlie, Walkera, WLtoys, e-flite and many others.

Here is a few examples of pocket quads:

Walkera Ladybird frame, circa 45 grams with battery:

DSC02049.JPG

CrazyFlie motors and mounts, directly on the PCB arms - around 20-25 grams, depending on battery choice.

DSC02050.JPG

Foam/CF frame with Hubsan X4 shroud. Circa 45 grams with battery:

DSC02048.JPG


The M4 board is fully equipped with CAN bus, Ublox GPS and a 9-axis Digital IMU with altimeter. In addition there is an onboard Deltang DSM2 receiver, USB connection with 1s battery charging, pushbutton on/off switch and expansion headers containing GPIOs, SPI, UART, SD-card, I2C and power.

Expand it
The expansion headers makes it possible for the M4 controller to be very versatile and offer the same functions as a full AQ controller board with up to 9 PWM channels (including the 4 internal channels), logging and wireless telemetry just like its bigger counterparts. And with CAN and ESC32, you dont need to worry about PWM channels, but can control up to 16 CAN ESC´s directly from the M4 and fly your big rig with it too.

The expander below adds MicroSD card, UART (connected to a Bluetooth module) and a 3.3V stepup/down for powering the BT module or other peripherals. In addition this expander makes 4 PWM channels available to drive 4 PWM ESC´s or servos.

DSC02053.JPG


And here is an example of a M4 beeing used to control a full size quad from Kisssys using that same expansion board with CAN ESC´s


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=79B1EN5Y_3U

For those that need a little bit more functions and ESCs, there is also a "AQ Motherboard" in progress:

DSC02058.JPG

The motherboard can be connected to any AutoQuad main board via CAN bus. So it works with AQ6 with DIMU and it works with the M4. It adds the following features:

Power distribution for 8 motors. Max 150A/35V.
Full OSD overlay with Altimeter, variometer, attitude, heading, velocity, current, direction/distance to home and messages.
2 switchable input video channels
2 audio out channels for synthesized audio messages that can be transmitted over FPV link.
Voltage and current measuring
2 Opto-isolated camera powersupplies, 5V/1A
12 PWM channels with 5V and GND, JST 0.1" 3pin servo connectors
12 CAN connectors with 5V and GND (JST-SH, 4 pin) Up to 16 CAN ESCs is possible at the moment.
2 CAN buses
3 UARTS, one is an Xbee socket
2 I2C Buses
2 LED drivers
Onboard STM32F4 processor with 1MB flash. Lots of CPU time available to play with.

So an M4 together with this Motherboard and a SD-card expansion will make you able to build a 12 or 16 motor multi with a very full featureset while eliminating a lot of wiring.

Of course the icing on the cake would be the Upcoming V3 ESC32. Its a complete redesign both hardware and software. It supports 10S input, high currents, CAN, USB and Active freewheeling which improves stability and efficiency by braking props on deceleration and collecting the braking energy back into the power harness.

Quatos adaptive control
The Autoquad M4 will come with a license included for the Quatos Adaptive attitude controller for hobby use in crafts up to 1kg. There will be an affordable upgrade path for beyond 1kg and for commercial crafts too.

The Quatos controller is adaptive instead of proportional like the PID controller. That translates into a much more stable and smooth flight and further increased wind and gust resistance.

Once set up, its also a lot simpler to tune than the PID attitude controllers. However, it requires to build a virtual model of the craft that describes the crafts mass and thrust distribution.

You also need to have a ESC32 in Closed loop mode, and you have to do a RPM vs Thrust measurement with your particular motor and propellor or use a known combination. We are working on building a DB with known motors, props and frames.

The team is working on documentation and tools for both the M4 and the quatos controller. But at the moment its very "beta". There is no graphical tool for Quatos mass distribution, so the mass distribution is defined in a XML file that is used to calculate moment of inertia terms and motor mixing parameters. Its not hard, but involves using command line tools available both on Windows, Linux and OSX.

And the big one....WHEN?
We expect to unleash a limited public beta of the M4 medio august with ready configurations for pocket-quads and thrust data for a number of known motor/prop combinations. The hardware is built and working, but we need a bit of time to get the tools tested, documented and released. A limited number of bare controllers, Kits and BNFs will be made available. A public announcement will be made in good time before they become available.

ESC32 V3 and the Motherboard is in internal testing with promising results. Fullscale production will begin during the late summer/early fall, provided no bugs or problems is identified in the internal testing now beeing done.


Awesome work guys!!

Can't wait for all of this, count me in on the AQ motherboard and perhaps the M4. Having an OSD is what the AQ is missing that's for sure. Any other capabilities planned for the motherboard?

Also, what type of GPS is the ublox on the M4?

Finally, will the esc32v3 have mounting holes built into the circuit board, or is the intent to keep them as small as possible?

Excellent work guys, can't wait for all of this!
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Re: M4 - what is it, what can it do?

Postby kinderkram » Sat Aug 02, 2014 8:05 pm

Here's a video of this year's Maker Faire in Hannover, Germany.

Featuring the new M4 MicroController:

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Re: M4 - what is it, what can it do?

Postby bcdebusk » Sun Aug 03, 2014 11:18 pm

I may have missed this already, but is this an open source project?
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Re: M4 - what is it, what can it do?

Postby TheBone » Mon Aug 04, 2014 12:52 pm

Hi Guys,

This is a very impressive work! Is it possible to get a Pre-Version of the motherboard? I would really like to use this one for my study project. If necessarily i'd take a used one in a very early version.

Greetings
TheBone
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Re: M4 - what is it, what can it do?

Postby JussiH » Mon Aug 04, 2014 12:56 pm

M4 is not a replacement...its an entirely new approach and the first step towards a new generation of AQ HW that is powrful, affordable and versatile. But its all in very early stages of Beta and it will take a while for M4 and the other stuff to become available in general retail.

So currently V6 is the standard board and the M4 should be considered very "Beta" at the moment.

Ublox module is a MAX-7W currently. We are investigating into 8-series Ublox modules, but they only recently became available in the MAX footprint.

ESC32v3 has the same dimensions as the V2, but other than that there is not many similarities. I will publish details about it seperately, when its ready. No mounting holes.

Our HW designs and the Quatos adaptive controller are not Open source, but the main Autoquad and ESC32v2 source code is published under GPL3.
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Re: M4 - what is it, what can it do?

Postby JussiH » Mon Aug 04, 2014 1:00 pm

The motherboard is still in internal testing, so I cant help there, sry. It will take some months before we can offer them to the public.
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Re: M4 - what is it, what can it do?

Postby HeliHenkie » Tue Aug 05, 2014 8:32 pm

Hi all,

About four months ago I sold my AQ board, but I'm thinking about giving the AQ project another go.
I've been following the developments around the M4 and I'm wondering what will be my best choice.
Wait for the M4 to become available, or buy another AQ board with DIMU?

To be honest I don't see why someone would buy another AQ board when the M4 can do anything.....
What type of use are both boards targeted to?
I could use some advice how fo spend my money wisely ;) .

Best regards,

Jan Willem
The Netherlands
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Re: M4 - what is it, what can it do?

Postby Max » Wed Aug 06, 2014 12:13 am

AQ6 still has the advantage of having multiple motor/pwm outputs right on the board. With M4 you can get 4 PWM outputs but you need to tap into the expander pads (J1/J2), so anything larger than a quad would require CAN ESCs or an adapter like the AQ "motherboard." Or if you want a brushless quad with gimbal/passthrough outputs. AQ6 also has SD card onboard (M4 requires an expander board for that), and 2 serial ports (vs. USB and one serial). AQ6 has a much larger input voltage range. AQ6 with DIMU is incredibly stable, and now very simple to calibrate as well.

The M4 is an unbeatable value though, and I enjoy my micro quad tremendously! It flies much like a full-sized one yet can take off from my desk (remember to unplug USB first! ;) ) and land in my hand w/out danger of losing fingers. With a simple .4g home-made dipole GPS antenna I get full autonomous capabilities as well. At that size/weight crashes are no big deal, and the frame/motors cost peanuts. It's fun, and a great development/testing and flight practice tool. The fact that it could also be used on any size MR is of course a major bonus, but if you're building something larger in the first place, the AQ6 might be more practical in some ways.

That's my current personal take on it, anyway.

-Max
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Re: M4 - what is it, what can it do?

Postby aBUGSworstnightmare » Wed Aug 06, 2014 6:24 am

Max wrote:AQ6 still has the advantage of having multiple motor/pwm outputs right on the board. With M4 you can get 4 PWM outputs but you need to tap into the expander pads (J1/J2), so anything larger than a quad would require CAN ESCs or an adapter like the AQ "motherboard." Or if you want a brushless quad with gimbal/passthrough outputs. AQ6 also has SD card onboard (M4 requires an expander board for that), and 2 serial ports (vs. USB and one serial). AQ6 has a much larger input voltage range. AQ6 with DIMU is incredibly stable, and now very simple to calibrate as well.

The M4 is an unbeatable value though, and I enjoy my micro quad tremendously! It flies much like a full-sized one yet can take off from my desk (remember to unplug USB first! ;) ) and land in my hand w/out danger of losing fingers. With a simple .4g home-made dipole GPS antenna I get full autonomous capabilities as well. At that size/weight crashes are no big deal, and the frame/motors cost peanuts. It's fun, and a great development/testing and flight practice tool. The fact that it could also be used on any size MR is of course a major bonus, but if you're building something larger in the first place, the AQ6 might be more practical in some ways.

That's my current personal take on it, anyway.

-Max


Hi,
Max mentioned everything! As he already mentioned it is possible to use the M4 in larger crafts --> that's what I will use the M4 for--> I'm currently designing a small expansion board for mounting the M4.
I will publish more details when the boards were here and tested.

large_i-top.png
4 uSD+RF expansion - top

large_i_bot.png
M4 uSD+RF expansion - bottom


Rgds
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Re: M4 - what is it, what can it do?

Postby JussiH » Wed Aug 06, 2014 8:58 am

And here is another example of what can be done: A 76 gram fully shrouded octo...



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VqtgMCuTiNA
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