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Erle-Copter Ubuntu Core special

edition

Operation Manual (version 1.0)


May 21, 2015

Contents

1 Introducing Erle-Copter 3
1.1 A marketplace for drone apps . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3

2 Parts 4

3 Safety and failsafes 6

4 Learn to y 9
4.1 Flying modes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12

5 First ight 14
5.1 Attaching propellers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
5.2 Connecting to Erle-Brain . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
5.3 Steps to ight save . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14

6 Store 16
6.1 Snappy Ubuntu Core . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
6.1.1 Software architecture . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
6.2 Installing an app (snap) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
6.3 Creating a drone app . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
6.3.1 Building the app . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
6.3.2 Installing the app . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
6.3.3 Running the application . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
6.3.4 Sources . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20

A Erle-Brain 21

B ROS 22

C Specication 23

D Resources 23

E License 24

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1 INTRODUCING ERLE-COPTER
Erle-Copter is a Linux-based drone that uses robotic frameworks such as ROS (the Robot Oper-
ating System) and the award winning APM software autopilot to achieve different ight modes.

Its ideal for outdoor operations and it has been designed for an extended ight time with a
takeoff weight of up to 2 kilograms.

Erle-Copter is the rst smart drone that ies with Snappy Ubuntu Core and includes
ROS as the SDK for drone app development.

1.1 A MARKETPLACE FOR DRONE APPS


Together with Canonical and the Open Source Robotics Foundation, we are pushing a new mar-
ketplace for robot and drone applications. An open platform that attracts innovators and ex-
perts to collaborate and compete in the future marketplace of drone and robot applications.

More at ubuntu.com/things.

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2 PARTS
Below the parts that Erle-Copter contains are described. Do not hesitate and ask questions in
our forum.

Radio controller

The Power Module incorporates both a way to power


your autopilot, accessories and report battery voltage
and current to Erle-Brain.

Erle-Copter makes use of rechargeable Lithium Poly-


mer (LiPo) batteries. More about batteries and charg-
ers here.

Provides WIFI connection to Erle-Brain

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Provides high gain WIFI connection to Erle-Brain

4 x Electronic speed controller (ESC).

4 x Brushless motors.

GPS + Compass

Radio communicatios in 2.4Ghz band

Telemetry 915MHz or 433MHz

Propellers 104.5

Propellers 104.5 (self-tightening)

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3 SAFETY AND FAILSAFES


Always turn on the Remote Controller prior to turning on Erle-Copter

Toggle all switches to the top

Be sure there are no distractions when you are ying.

Fly in very large open area void of obstacles and away from trafc and people. Be aware
of surroundings.

Be sure you have calibrated the IMUs and the compass and you hace GPS x (Slow con-
tinuous blue ashing).

When in doubt, pull down on the throttle stick and land.

Erle-Copter will not avoid obstacles on its own unless it has been programmed for
it. As the operator, it is your job to recognize and avoid obstructions while ying.
Always y in an open area away from people and buildings; do not attempt to y
indoors or in a conned space.

Erle-Copter has powerful motors and high-speed propellers. Never place your
hands near the propellers while Erle-Copter is armed.

All unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) operators should abide by all regulations from such
organizations as the ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) and their own na-
tional airspace regulations.

FRAME 1: SAFETY
Environmental factors, such as wind and GPS irregularities, can cause instability in ight.
Erle-Copter will attempt to compensate for these factors by triggering a failsafe if it de-
tects an unsafe ying condition due to loss of controller signal, loss of GPS signal, or low
battery (see below for details). If you observe any inconsistent behavior, land, and con-
sult our team at forum.erlerobotics.com.

RADIO FAILSAFE
Always use the controller as a primary or backup control system when ying. Ensure that the
controller is turned on any time Erle-Copter is powered. If this failsafe is enabled it will get
triggered under the following circumstances:

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The pilot turns off the RC transmitter

The vehicle travels outside of RC range (usually at around 500m 700m)

The receiver loses power (unlikely)

The wires connecting the receiver to the ight controller are broken (unlikely).

Producing the following behavior:

Nothing if the vehicle is already disarmed

Motors will be immediately disarmed if the vehicle is landed OR in stabilize or acro mode
and the pilots throttle is at zero

Return-to-Launch (RTL) if the vehicle has a GPS lock and is more than 2 meters from the
home position.

LAND if the vehicle has:

no GPS lock OR
is within 2 meters of home OR
the FS_THR_ENABLE parameter is set to Enabled Always Land

Continue with the mission if the vehicle is in AUTO mode and the FS_THR_ENABLE pa-
rameter is set to Enabled Continue with Mission in Auto Mode.

More about radio failsafe here and here

LOSS OF GPS SIGNAL


Erle-Copter requires an active GPS signal before takeoff. If Erle-Copter loses GPS signal in
ight, it will trigger a GPS failsafe indicated with a high-high-high-low tone, and automatically
switch to manual control (standard - altitude hold mode). Always be prepared to regain manual
control of Erle-Copter at any time while ying and choose an unobstructed ying area to im-
prove GPS signal strength. When ying a mission, we recommended changing the GPS failsafe
behavior to land.

The GPS Failsafe is enabled by default but you can enable or disable it on the Mis-
sion Planners Standard Parameter List, by set the FS_GPS_ENABLE parameter to
0 (Disable) or 1 (Land) or 2 (switch to AltHold). It is highly recommended to leave it
enabled and no known reason why it should ever be disabled.

If you lose GPS lock or experience a GPS Glitch for 5 seconds while in a mode that
requires the GPS (Auto, Guided, Loiter, RTL, Circle, Position or Drift) mode it will
initiate a Land (or AltHold if FS_GPS_ENABLE is set to 2).

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More about GPS failsafe here.

LOW BATTERY
When the battery reaches a low state (voltage under certain value), Erle-Copter will land with
a quick repeating tone. If Erle-Copter reaches the low battery limit during a mission, it will re-
turn to the launch point before landing.

This failsafe permits to you to minimize the risks of having a sudden death of Erle-Copter
and enables a better use of your LiPo batteries.
More about low failsafe battery here.

EKF CHECK & FAILSAFE


The EKF check runs on Erle-Brain and will trigger when the EKFs compass and velocity vari-
ance are higher than 0.8 (congurable with EKF_CHECK_THRESH parameter) for one second.
This variance increases as the estimates become untrustworthy. 0 = very trustworthy, >1.0 =
very untrustworthy. If both variances climb above the EKF_CHECK_THRESH parameter (de-
fault is 0.8) the EKF/Inav failsafe triggers.

When the failsafe triggers, Erle-Brains tone-alarm will sound. If telemetry is attached
EKF variance will appear on the HUD. And EKF/DCM error will be written to the
dataash logs.

If ying in a ight mode that does not require GPS nothing further will happen but
you will be unable to switch into an autopilot ight mode (Loiter, PosHold, RTL, Guided,
Auto) until the failure clears. If ying in a mode that requires GPS (Loiter, PosHold, RTL,
Guided, Auto) the vehicle will switch to pilot controlled LAND. Meaning the pilot will
have control of the roll and pitch angle but the vehicle will descend, land and nally
disarm its motors. The pilot can, like always switch into a manual ight mode including
Stabilize or AltHold to bring the vehicle home.

The EKF check and failsafe can be disabled by setting the EKF_CHECK_THRESH to 0 through
the Ground Control Stations Cong/Tuning Full Parameter List. Alternatively it can be made
less sensitive by increasing this parameter from 0.8 to 0.9 or 1.0. The downside of increasing
this parameters value is that during a yaway caused by a bad compass or GPS glitching, the
vehicle will y further away before the vehicle is automatically switched to LAND mode.

More about EKF failsafe here.

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4 LEARN TO FLY

THROTTLE

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YAW

Flight Tip
When adjusting orientation, move the left stick horizontally without changing its vertical
position.

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PITCH AND ROLL

Flight Tip
Erle-Copter moves according to its orientation. The yellow arms face forward, and the
black arms face backward. Before using the right stick, use yaw to keep Erle-Copter fac-
ing in outward orientation so that the black arms face towards you and the yellow arms
face away from you.

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4.1 FLYING MODES

STABILIZE
Stabilize mode allows you to y your vehicle manually, but self-levels the roll and pitch axes.

ALT HOLD
In altitude hold mode, the copter maintains
a consistent altitude using the internal pres-
Note
sure sensors while allowing roll, pitch, and
In order to maintain the altitude in this
yaw to be controlled normally.
mode the throttle stick should be in the
middle (40% to 60%).
Altitude hold mode is used as the basis of au-
tonomous modes such as LOITER, AUTO, etc.

LOITER
Loiter mode automatically attempts to maintain the current location, heading and altitude us-
ing GPS. The pilot may y the copter in Loiter mode as if it were in manual. Releasing the sticks
will continue to hold position.

Note
Good GPS position, low magnetic interference on the compass and low vibrations are all
important in achieving good loiter performance.

RTL
RTL stands for Return to Launch and when activated, Erle-Copter navigates from its current
position to hover above the home position. The home positioned is set as the point where the
copter was armed.

The copter will rst rise to RTL_ALT before returning home or maintain the current altitude
if the current altitude is higher than RTL_ALT. The default value for RTL_ALT is 15m.

GUIDED
Guided mode is not a traditional ight mode that would be assigned to a mode switch like other
ight modes. The guided mode capability is enabled using a ground station application and
telemetry radio. This capability allows you to interactively command the copter to travel to a

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target location by clicking on a point on the Ground Station Flight Data map. Once the location
is reached, the copter will hover at that location, waiting for the next target.

FOLLOW ME
The follow me mode makes it possible for you to have your copter follow you as you move, using
a telemetry radio and a ground station. its easiest to use a phone or tablet as your Follow Me
ground station . Follow Me mode uses dynamic waypoint feature.

AUTO
In Auto mode Erle-Copter will follow a pre-programmed mission script stored in the brain which
is made up of navigation commands (i.e. waypoints) and do commands (i.e. commands that
do not affect the location of the copter including triggering a camera shutter).

Note
Auto mode incorporates the altitude control from altitude hold mode and position con-
trol from Loiter mode and should not be attempted before these modes are ying well.
All the same requirements apply including ensuring that vibration levels and compass in-
terference levels are acceptable and that the GPS is functioning well including returning
an HDOP of under 2.0.

AUTOTUNE
AutoTune attempts to tune the stabilization algorithm to provide the highest response without
signicant overshoot. It does this by twitching the copter in the roll and pitch access which
means that the copter needs to be basically yable in AltHold mode before attempting to use
AutoTune.

FRAME 2: NOTE
This mode is just to optimize copters ight, Erle-Robotics will deliver vehicles parame-
ters list to the customers.

More modes and information at Erle-Copter gitbook.

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5 FIRST FLIGHT

5.1 ATTACHING PROPELLERS


Erle-Copter uses four propellers. Propellers generally come in pairs and there are classied by
the color of each central nut. One should turn in clockwise direction and the other in the oppo-
site. Clockwise propellers are also known as pusher kind propellers and are marked with an
R (sometimes its a P). Each propeller has locking and unlocking direction symbols. To at-
tach, spin the propeller in the direction of the locking symbol. The propellers will automatically
tighten onto the motors when you arm Erle-Copter before takeoff.

Propeller

Lock: Tighten the propeller Lock: Tighten the propeller


Fastening/
in this direction. in this direction.

Unlock: Remove the pro- Unlock: Remove the pro-


Un-fastening
peller in this direction. peller in this direction.

FRAME 3: FLIGHT TIME


Damaged propellers should be replaced by purchasing new ones if necessary.

5.2 CONNECTING TO ERLE-BRAIN

FRAME 4: USING A WIFI DONGLE (5 GHZ FREQUENCY)


Make sure that your laptop/phone/tablet/... has 5 GHz support. You should look for
802.11 ac support. Erle-Copter creates a network called erle-copter. The password
for the network is holaerle.

5.3 STEPS TO FLIGHT SAVE

Note
Ensure that the controller is always turned on while Erle-Copter is powered.

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Connect the battery

To activate the motors, hold the left stick down-right


until the motors spin. Now youre ready for takeoff!

Take off and gain altitude by raising the left stick


slightly above center.

Rotate counter-clockwise and clockwise by mov-


ing the left stick left and right.

Fly forward, backward, left, or right by moving the


right stick in the direction you want to y.

Release the right stick to level.

Lower the left stick below center to descend.

After landing, hold the left stick down-left until the


motors stop spinning.

Disconnect the battery

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6 STORE
This section will describe the app store for robots (drones) that Erle Robotics is pushing through
its partnership with Canonical to support the next generation of drones that will be connected
to the internet, update automatically and will have access to an app store for drones. Following
up with our passion for bringing Linux-based drones to the market we are happy to share that
the rst apps are starting to show up in the store and are freely available.

6.1 SNAPPY UBUNTU CORE


Snappy Ubuntu Core is the new version of Ubuntu that includes transactional updates - a min-
imal server image with the same libraries as todays Ubuntu, but applications are provided
through a simpler mechanism. The snappy approach is faster, more reliable, and lets us pro-
vide stronger security guarantees for apps and users.

Weve partnered with Canonical to deliver the next generation of robots connected to the
internet and having access to automatic security upgrades, applications and developer tools.

6.1.1 SOFTWARE ARCHITECTURE

There are four layers that make up a snappy machine: the hardware layer, provided by the
device manufacturer or Canonical, the system layer, provided by Canonical, a layer of frame-
works that extend the base system produced by vendors in collaboration with Canonical, and a
set of snappy applications, provided directly by vendors. Updating any piece just means using
the new version of a read-only image, reverting to a previous version is just as easy.

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6.2 INSTALLING AN APP (SNAP)


Installing apps (aka snaps) with Snappy is super easy, just put any of the IP addresses of the
device in your browser and port 4200 (e.g.: http://192.168.7.2:4200):

Now just select one of the available apps in the store:

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Clicking install the installation process will begin:

Once the process has nished, youll get a screen like the following:

All done! Now you have hello world app installed and run the app with:

echo.hello-world.canonical

obtaining:

Hello World

6.3 CREATING A DRONE APP


This section covers how to develop a simple drone application (snap) with Snappy Ubuntu Core
using Erle-Brain.

The following code will help us understand how to create a simple drone application that
will print in the standart output the date in the drone.

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FRAME 5: STRUCTURE
meta
erle-small.png
package.yaml
readme.md
src
script.sh

A snap needs at the very least:

a meta folder

a meta/package.yaml describing the app

a meta/readme.md with at least two lines describing the app.

source code (we put this into the src folder)

Lets take a look at each one of these les:

FRAME 6: META/PACKAGE.YAML
name: erle-date.erle
vendor: Erle Robotics
icon: meta/erle-small.png
version: 1.0
architecture: armhf
binaries:
- name: src/script.sh
maintainer: Erle Robotics

FRAME 7: META/README.MD
Erle Robotics date snap example

This snap outputs the date.


(contact@erlerobotics.com)

FRAME 8: SRC/SCRIPT.SH
#!/bin/bash

#date >> /home/ubuntu/date.txt


echo "date: $(date)"

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6.3.1 BUILDING THE APP

From the root directory of the app we proceed using the following command:

snappy build .

This will create a le called erle-date.erle_1.0_armhf.snap that can be installed or uploaded


to the app store.

6.3.2 INSTALLING THE APP

In order to install the app, run:

sudo snappy install erle-date.erle_1.0_armhf.snap

6.3.3 RUNNING THE APPLICATION

After having installed the app, you should be able to run it through:

erle-date.erle.script.sh

which will produce:

date: Mon Feb 23 15:22:20 UTC 2015

6.3.4 SOURCES

Source code of erle-date app

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A ERLE-BRAIN
Erle-brain is an open hardware and open source Linux-based autopilot to make drones. It con-
sists of a BeagleBone Black and a PixHawk Fire Cape and comes with a Debian image ashed,
ROS preinstalled and the latest ready to y code.

We ship Erle-brain with the following characteristics:

Ubuntu Snappy Core

ROS Indigo Igloo

APM

Cortex-A8 @ 1 GHz 4 GB eMMC and microSD card capable - 512 MB RAM

9 PWM outputs

RC Input using either PPM-SUM or S.Bus

1 USB Host, 1 UART, 3 I2C, Buzzer connector, Failsafe connector.

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B ROS
ROS (Robot Operating System) is a BSD-licensed system for controlling robotic components
from a PC. A ROS system is comprised of a number of independent nodes, each of which com-
municates with the other nodes using a publish/subscribe messaging model. For example, a
particular sensors driver might be implemented as a node, which publishes sensor data in a
stream of messages. These messages could be consumed by any number of other nodes, in-
cluding lters, loggers, and also higher-level systems such as guidance, pathnding, etc.

Note that nodes in ROS do not have to be on the same system (multiple computers) or even
of the same architecture. You could have a Arduino publishing messages, a laptop subscribing
to them, and an Android phone driving motors. This makes ROS really exible and adaptable
to the needs of the user. ROS is also open source, maintained by many people.

More at http://wiki.ros.org/ or Gitbook

ROS Answers is a crowd-sourced resource for everything ROS.

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C SPECIFICATION

Autopilot Erle-Brain
Firmware ArduCopter
GPS uBlox GPS with Compass
Telemetry radio Radio Telemetry (915 MHz or 433 MHz)
Motors 950 kV
Frame type X
Propellers PROPELLERS 104.5 counterclockwise (PAIR)
PROPELLERS 104.5 clockwise (PAIR)
Low battery voltage 10.5V
High battery voltage 12.6V
Battery cell limits 4S
Radio range up to 1 Km
Flight time 15-20 minutes*

FRAME 9: FLIGHT TIME


Flight time depends on wind conditions, elevation, payload, temperature, humidity, y-
ing mode and pilot skill.

D RESOURCES

Hardware https://erlerobotics.com/blog/erle-copter/
Store https://erlerobotics.com/blog/tienda
Forum forum.erlerobotics.com
Online doc Erle-Copter gitbook

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E LICENSE
Unless specied, this content is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonComercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License. To view
a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/ or send a letter to Creative Commons, 171 Second Street, Suite
300, San Francisco, California, 94105, USA.

If you plan on using this material for commercial purposes get in touch with us at contact@erlerobot.com

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