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  1. #1
    New Recruit ott's Avatar
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    Learn to fly quadcopter with simulator and DX7s

    Learn to fly quadcopter with simulator and DX7s

    If you've never flown before, it's a good idea to learn on a simulator first. Otherwise, you may wind up bending your shiny new Cyclone pretty quickly. Click image for larger version. 

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    Also, using a simulator is a good way to get some practice with your RC TX, and figure out some important settings.

    There is a nice free simulator available, to which you can add an assortment of multicopter models. You can get a special cable to connect your TX to your PC's USB port, so you can practice with the simulator using exactly the same TX you'll use to fly your real quadcopter.

    There are fancier solutions, but they cost more. This one, available from the Aeroquad store, looks very nice:
    http://www.aeroquadstore.com/category_s/46.htm
    But I haven't tried it. The rest of this article will focus on a very lost cost solution.

    Detailed steps follow below. I assume you have
    a) A computer running Windows XP Professional SP3
    b) a Spektrum DX7s
    http://spektrumrc.com/Products/Defau...ProdId=SPM7800
    c) This handy cable I bought for $5 from HobbyKing
    http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/s...dProduct=13597
    1. Create a new model on your TX
    This step is actually optional. I recommend it though, because you may find that you'll have
    to reverse some of the RC channels, and those settings may be different for your simulated
    quadcopter and your real quadcopter.

    Turn on your DX7s, and press "CLEAR" and "BACK" at the same time. Choose an unused
    model from the list.

    From "System Setup->Model Type", choose "Airplane" (not "Helicopter") for your model type.
    "Helicopter" model type seems intended for single rotor helicopters, and winds up making at
    least some RC channel outputs dependent on one another. I think it is possible to defeat that
    behaviour, but using "Airplane" neatly sidesteps the issue.

    For now, just use default settings for your model. Later, you'll want to adjust some parameters
    (D/R and Expo settings), but it is helpful to start with the default values, then see the difference
    non-default values make.

    The rest of this article also assumes you've set up your TX to be Mode 2. It's the default, but you can check/set it via
    "System Setup->System Settings->Mode"
    If you use a different mode, the sticks on your TX will behave differently than I assume below.

    You can (should?) turn off your TX now.
    2. Install FMS
    You can find FMS here:
    I installed FMS 2.0 Beta 8.5 because there were some notes about USB support on Windows XP.
    Non-beta versions may work too though, I haven't tried them.

    Don't launch FMS just yet, you'll want to do the next two steps first.
    3. Install quadcopter model
    You can find a quadcopter FMS model here:
    There are also some other types of multicopters in the same location (octocopter, hex).
    These models are stored in .zip files. The readme.txt file has instructions, but basically you just
    extract all the files to "C:\Program Files\FMS\Model".
    4. Plug your TX into your PC
    Your TX can (should?) be turned off.

    Move your left stick to its lowest position.

    Plug the USB end of your HobbyKing cable into a spare USB port on your PC. Windows
    should automatically find the drivers it needs, and tell you when the port is ready to use.

    Plug the mono connector end of your HobbyKing cable into the Trainer port on the back
    of your DX7s. Your DX7s should power on automatically, and display "SLAVE" on the top line.

    Double check that you've selected the model you created in step 1.
    5. Start FMS, calibrate controls
    Start FMS in Windows
    "Start->All Programs->Flying Model Simulator->FMS 2.0 Alpha 8.5"

    FMS will probably start up with a default airplane model. Select the quadcopter model
    "Model->Load->Quadro.par"

    You should see a model of a quadcopter sitting on the ground. Its props should be spinning,
    and you'll hear some corresponding sound effects if you have sound enabled.

    Now calibrate the controls
    "Control->Analog Control->Joystick Interface->Mapping/Calibration->Calibrate"
    The calibration screen will show 8 channels, the DX7s supports 7, but I could only get 5 of them
    to respond. I got the sticks showing up as channels 1,2,4, and 5, and Aux2 showing up as 3.
    Oh well, you only need the sticks to fly.


    By now you should be back in the "Mapping/Calibration" window. You need to map the channels to their respective functions. Given which sticks controlled which channels, I used this mapping:
    Rudder 4
    Elevator 2
    Aileron 1
    Throttle 5
    Tail 4
    Nick 2
    Roll 1
    Pitch 5

    I found that every channel also had to be reversed (there's a helpful checkbox next to each channel mapping to do that). Otherwise, the copter would tilt backward when I moved stick 2 up, I'd get full throttle when stick 1 was pulled all the way back, etc.

    When you're happy with the changes you've made, make sure your left stick is in it's lowest position, then click OK in the "Mapping/Calibration" window, then click OK in the "Control" window.

    6. Try flying!
    To begin with, your left stick should be in its lowest position.

    Slowly push the left stick forward, try not to move it to one side or the other.

    When you get to your left stick's midpoint, you should see your quadcopter take off.

    Move the right stick around to tilt the quadcopter front/back left/right.

    Move the left stick left/right to rotate left/right.
    7. Adjust D/R and Expo settings.
    Do you find that the right stick controls are awfully sensitive?
    Do you have trouble hovering over a fixed location?
    Adjusting the Expo settings for Aileron and Elevator will probably help a lot. They make the right stick less sensitive in the middle of its range. So, close to the centre position, a small motion in the stick will have a very small effect on the quadcopter.

    Do you find yourself regretting that you pushed your right stick to far?
    You may also want to adjust D/R settings for Aileron and Elevator. You can use these to reduce the maximums sent on Aileron and Elevator channels; they also reduce the overall sensitivity for those channels. So if you set these to a value less than 100 (the default), the right stick won't be as sensitive, and you'll reduce the maximum rate you can tilt front/back left/right.

    Turn on your DX7s, and ensure that the model you created in step 1 is selected.

    Make sure the following switches are all in position 0:
    Ail D/R
    Elev D/R
    Rudd D/R
    Press the roller to bring up the "Function List" mention. Scroll to "DR and Expo", and
    press the roller.

    Here are some D/R and Expo settings to experiment with:
    Channel D/R Expo
    Aileron 80 35
    Elevator 80 35
    Rudder 100 35

    Play around and see what values suit you. As your skill and confidence increase, you may
    want to revisit these settings again.

    You can set up two different sets of D/R and Expo values for Aileron, Elevator,
    and Rudder. By default, the "Ail D/R" switch selects the D/R and Expo values for
    the Aileron, the "Elev D/R" switch selects D/R and Expo values for the Elevator, and the
    "Rudd D/R" switch selects D/R and Expo values for the Rudder. However, you can assign
    which switch will select D/R and Expo for which channels. I assigned the "Ail D/R" to
    select D/R and Expo for both Aileron and Elevator. Under "Function List->DR and Expo",
    change "Chan" to "Elevator" then change "Sw" to "Aile D/R". Now, when I change the
    "Ail D/R" switch, I toggle D/R and Expo settings for both Aileron and Elevator, and I can
    see the effect of the different values on the fly.

    Note: If you aren't using a Spektrum DX7s, check your owner's manual for appropriate values.
    I expect Spektrum TXs are all the same, but I've read that Futaba uses the opposite sign
    for Expo values, so you'd need to specify a negative number to reduce sensitivity
    Also Note: When you calibrate your TX in Aeroquad Configurator, be sure to have D/R and Expo
    settings at their defaults.
    8. Acknowledgements
    Much of the information above was gleaned from various postings in the Aeroquad forums,
    notably from wooden and xtrmtrk. Thanks!
    ott

    Quad+, AeroQuad v2.1, Arduino Mega 2560, Cyclone v2, Turnigy Plush 25A ESC, Turnigy 2217 16T 1050Kv, APC 10x4.7, Zippy Flightmax 4000 mAh 3S1P 20C

  2. #2
    Moderator AeroQuad Documentation Team p0lar's Avatar
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    Awesome info. Sims really do help
    p0lar == the aeroquadist formerly known as dpackham...

  3. #3
    Senior Pilot MikeD's Avatar
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    @mikro, sticky please.
    @ott, excellent post.

  4. #4
    Moderator AeroQuad Core Software Developer kha's Avatar
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    This is what I use for dongle... (it also comes with pirated SW DVD:s - no I'm not proposing anyone to use them further than maybe testing if the soft is good or not)

    http://www.dealextreme.com/p/usb-2-0...r-dongle-51480

    And if you have a RX that can output cPPM signal (e.g. FrSky with cppm fw) you can hook that to the dongle and you have a wireless simulator.
    Last edited by kha; 06-22-2012 at 07:43 AM.

  5. #5
    Senior Pilot xtrmtrk's Avatar
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    I don't want to be a total jerk, but when you're using that pirated simulator please think about the guy who poured his time and soul into creating that. Think of the work and care he put into it. Think about when you've worked on some project you really loved.
    Now think about reaching into his wallet and taking out the 40$ or so you just stole from him.
    2013 Carnage (so far!): 26 propellers, 1 frame, 5 arms, 1 motor mount, 2 motors, 2 ESCs, 1 GPS

  6. #6
    Moderator AeroQuad Core Software Developer kha's Avatar
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    @xtmtrk: I'm not using any pirated software, nor I'm proposing anyone to use them, that was merely a remark. Still the adapter is pretty handy as it comes with adapter cables and simulates PhoenixRC, AeroFly, Realflight G4/G5 and XTR dongle.

  7. #7
    Senior Pilot xtrmtrk's Avatar
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    Cool!
    2013 Carnage (so far!): 26 propellers, 1 frame, 5 arms, 1 motor mount, 2 motors, 2 ESCs, 1 GPS

  8. #8
    Moderator AeroQuad Core Software Developer kha's Avatar
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    My wireless dongle:
    http://db.tt/oQcH7k2R
    quad(X)1: AQ + mega + v2 shield (with baro) + turnigy plush 30A + Turnigy 2217 + APC 12x3.8 (camera onboard)
    quad(X)2: AQ32 at Baloo / DJI F450 / A2212-12 / 30A ESC:s / 10x4.5 (camera onboard)
    quad(X)3: Naze32 / DJI F330 / RCTimer 2212-9 / Aeolian 20A / 8x4.5
    Generic: Turnigy 9x with telemetry mods with FrSky 2Way, GoPro Hero HD, 1.3 & 5.8 vTx

  9. #9
    Senior Pilot Trebhill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kha View Post
    This is what I use for dongle... (it also comes with pirated SW DVD:s - no I'm not proposing anyone to use them further than maybe testing if the soft is good or not)

    http://www.dealextreme.com/p/usb-2-0...r-dongle-51480

    And if you have a RX that can output cPPM signal (e.g. FrSky with cppm fw) you can hook that to the dongle and you have a wireless simulator.
    Awesome, order placed! I have RealFlight Gsomething (maybe G2) in a box somewhere and the dongle was a controller with sticks like a transmitter. You could plug your regular transmitter in to that if you wanted to use it. Somewhere along the line the controller disappeared and I've been dead in the water since. This will allow me to use it again.

    Gonna try this free one too ^^, sounds like it's not too bad either.

    T.

  10. #10
    Senior Pilot Nikotine's Avatar
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    I paid for Phoenix, and I love it. Granted it's not that great for multirotors (I didn't need one actually), it's what kept my Bixler from crashing during my maiden.
    Discoquad: Arduino Mega 2560 R3 - Shield 2.0.7 - Turnigy Plush 30 - Turnigy 2217-16 - Zippy 20C 4000 mAh - Spektrum DX7 - GoPro Hero HD - OSD MAX7456 - Flytron GPS module - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LuuLBAxKgFE
    http://www.niek.be


 
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