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.
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:
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 have1. 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.2. Install FMS
You can (should?) turn off your TX now.
You can find FMS here:
I installed FMS 2.0 Beta 8.5 because there were some notes about USB support on Windows XP.3. Install quadcopter model
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.
You can find a quadcopter FMS model here:
There are also some other types of multicopters in the same location (octocopter, hex).4. Plug your TX into your PC
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".
Your TX can (should?) be turned off.5. Start FMS, calibrate controls
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.
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
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:
6. Try flying!
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.
To begin with, your left stick should be in its lowest position.7. Adjust D/R and Expo settings.
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.
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:
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:
Play around and see what values suit you. As your skill and confidence increase, you may8. Acknowledgements
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.
Much of the information above was gleaned from various postings in the Aeroquad forums,
notably from wooden and xtrmtrk. Thanks!