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AeroQuad 3.x Configurator Manual

This page is a chapter in 'AeroQuad Manual'

What is it?

The purpose of this tool is to allow the user to setup the AeroQuad before its first flight and to quickly adjust settings for desired flight characteristics. The user will be able to graphically observe correct operation of the sensors, transmitter commands and motor control of the multicopter. Additionally there are user programmable values such as PID control loop values and the Transmitter Factor that can be adjusted and stored to the AeroQuad's EEPROM.

It is highly recommended to first checkout the AeroQuad without motors or props connected (or powered on) with the Configurator.

Where can I download the Configurator?

For more information on where to get the Configurator visit this page.

Alternative Configuration Method

An alternative way to configure the AeroQuad is to use the Arduino IDE's Serial Monitor. To do this, simply connect the flight controller board to your serial port and click the Serial Monitor button on the toolbar. In the lower left hand side of the IDE, you will see a pull down to allow you to set the serial link's baud rate. Select 115200 for the baud rate (default value) or whatever baud rate you defined in the code. The AeroQuad responds to single character commands which can be entered into the text field in the lower right hand side of the IDE. When ready, press the Send button to transmit the command to the AeroQuad. Follow this link for a complete description of the AeroQuad serial commands.

Connect to the AeroQuad

You must be using Flight Software version 3.0 or newer to use the new 3.x configurator. The default baud rate is 115200.

The general layout of the 3.x Configurator is that the left hand side of the screen will show you Context aware information depending on the options you have selected in the middle pull-down menu. the right hand side columns will allow you to tune-able items like PID settings that allow you to fine tune the flight options and for user configuration of the AeroQuad.

Use row at the bottom of the screen to connect to the AeroQuad by either using a USB connection or through a wireless connection such as XBee or Bluetooth. Select the COM port to use. If you don't see the COM port of the connection method you'd like to use, select "Refresh" in the “Com Port” pull down control. Next choose an appropriate "Boot Delay" value - AeroQuad32 users choose a value of 0, all others should use a value between 3 and 10. After that click on the “Connect” button.

If connecting fails, please take a look at our Troubleshooting Guide to get further help.


Uploading the flight software

Before connecting to the AeroQuad Configurator for the first time, the first step is to upload the flight software to the flight controller board. Hit the "Upload AeroQuad Flight Software" (Arduino boards) or "Upload AeroQuad 32 Flight Software" (AeroQuad32 board) button on the left side and follow the steps displayed in the up-coming window. For more information about this process take a look at this page.

Initial Setup Screen

If this is the first time connecting to the AeroQuad with the 3.x Configurator, you will need to go to the "Initial Setup" screen that can be found on the left "Information Display" pull down menu. Be sure to go through all initialization buttons before your first flight. These initialization steps can be done in any order.
Initialize EEPROM
The first recommended step is to hit the "Initialize EEPROM" button. This will store and update the default 3.x flight software values in the AeroQuad's on-board memory. Things like transmitter control won't work until this is done.
Transmitter Calibration

The next step is to perform a transmitter calibration. By hitting the "Transmitter Calibration" button, you will be shown the Transmitter controls screen where you can see the transmitter input received by the AeroQuad. It is important to follow all on-screen directions, in particular to set all settings to its default state. If any channels appear reversed, use your transmitter's channel reversing function to correct it. After completing the calibration, verify that all sticks and switches move between 1000 - 2000 microseconds. The transmitter calibration can be re-run as many times as required. After successfully completion and clicking OK all calibration data gets stored to the AeroQuad.
Sensor Calibration

When performing the initial setup you will be shown separate calibration buttons on the left hand side of the screen which allow you perform the gyro, accelerometer and magnetometer calibrations.

Before you start the gyroscope calibration insure that the AeroQuad is kept still (no motion during calibration). When calibrating the accelerometer make sure to hold your AeroQuad in the depicted positions and to follow the instructions in the Configurator. To calibrate the magnetometer rotate your AeroQuad around all three axes a few times.
ESC Calibration

Performing the Electronic Speed Controller Calibration step will setup the Electronic Speed Controller or ESCs to utilize the full throttle range available. It will also insure that all motors produce an even amount of output power for each ESC command sent to it. If this step is done improperly, it is possible to make all the motors go full throttle. To prevent this, follow each calibration step exactly. Most importantly insure that there is no battery power applied to the motors/ESCs at the start of calibration, and also TAKE OFF YOUR PROPELLERS! Do NOT attempt the ESC calibration with propellers attached as the craft may go full throttle and cause damage to your belongings or you!

3D View Screen

The "3D View" screen will use the gyro and accelerometer data to calculate the attitude of the AeroQuad using a Complementary Filter. This 3D indicator is will represent how your AeroQuad is positioned in 3D space letting you confirm roll/pitch/yaw directions graphically.

Vehicle Status Screen

The "Vehicle Status" screen allows the user to see basic telemetry coming from the AeroQuad. When the transmitter controls and ESCs are calibrated, you can also verify correct operation of the motor output and your transmitter. This is a great tool to use to make sure the AeroQuad is flight ready when performing the Pre-flight Checkout.

Mission Planner Screen

The "Mission Planner" screen allows the users to track the position of your AeroQuad in real-time and to plan GPS-assisted missions by managing way-points (latitude/longitude/altitude). Creating way-points is done by either clicking onto the map or loading them from a previously created file. Afterwards they can be directly send to your AeroQuad.

Motor Commands Screen

After the calibration has been performed, you can select the "Motor Commands" from the "Information Display" pull-down menu. Use this to individually spin up each motor to make sure they are working properly. Also when they are all set to the same output level, verify that they all spin up at the same rate. Be sure to check that the motors are spinning in the proper clockwise/counterclockwise direction that corresponds to the frame setup that you have selected.

Serial Monitor

The "Serial Monitor" screen is similar to the serial monitor found in the Arduino IDE. It is provided here for those users who have setup custom commands and telemetry in the source code file (SerialCom.h). This screen will provide the capability to send direct serial commands to the AeroQuad and view the raw ASCII string responses. A description of the serial commands and telemetry can be found here.

Vehicle Attitude Screen

The "Vehicle Attitude" screen plots the output of our kinematics algorithm which represents the attitude of your AeroQuad.

Sensor Data Screen

The "Sensor Data" screen shows most of the sensor data centered around zero, but with no filtering applied. Plots can be hidden by unselecting each check mark. The look of each plot can be modified by left clicking on the plot line that represents the signal of interest in the legend found in the left hand side of this screen. If the user would like to change the scale of this plot, simply uncheck the "Auto Scale" option on the bottom left of the screen. For more information about sensor orientation and the corresponding raw sensor data visit our dedicated page.

Transmitter Data Screen

The "Transmitter Data" screen shows all transmitter values received by your flight controller board. The look of each plot can be modified by left clicking on the plot line that represents the signal of interest in the legend found in the left hand side of this screen. If the user would like to change the scale of this plot, simply uncheck the "Auto Scale" option on the bottom left of the screen.

Communication Log

The communication debug logger gives you an overview on what data gets sent and read back from your AeroQuad. Each message will be timestamped and has either a --> beside it to indicate a message is being set out or a <-- to indicate a message is being read. You can find this by going to View->Communication Log. You have the option to save the output to a file for future review.

Adding custom plots

With Configurator version 3.x users are able to define their own plots in the Configurator. Open up your "AeroQuadConfigurator.ini" file located where the "AeroQuadConfigurator.exe" is found. A plot is defined like described below:

[XXX]XXX = name of the tab in the Configurator's fly-out
Type = Plotidentifies to the Configurator this is a plot definition
Format = XXXfor future use, want to setup for either text or binary (just put Text for now)
Telemetry = XX = telemetry command in "SerialCom.h" that will be sent, the response will be plotted
f(x) = XXXif this is found, any equation notation here will scale the output as desired
Plot 1 = XXXfor each value received, plot it accordingly (Plot 1, Plot 2,...), where XXX stands for the displayed plot name

For example a custom plot could like this:

[My super special plot]
Type = Plot
Format = Text
Telemetry = r
f(x) = x * 57.2957795
Plot 1 = Roll <--- Note: 'r' returns three values, so there should be 3 plots defined
Plot 2 = Pitch
Plot 3 = Yaw

Which produces the following plot in the Configurator:

Additional information

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