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Betaflight 3.2 and F7 Flight Controllers

As of Jul 31, 2017, 2:26 PM PDT, Betaflight 3.2 is in the Release Candidate stage and with this release, F7 flight controllers have arrived. While an F7 MCU is not entirely necessary, not yet anyway, having a very fast and very capable MCU is future proof. I expect some of the most exciting new performance features in Betaflight will target the F7 MCU. This article is an overview of the current F7 landscape.

That is a photo of an early OmnibusF7 prototype with 2, user selectable, gyros: MPU6000...

Converting a Soldering Station from 220v to 110v

I recently received a Soldering Station, mine is labeled Huayu 898D+.

It has a nice digital display for PID temperature controller.

Of course, I took it apart.

The only problem is that I got the 220v version, which is quite inconvenient here in the USA where 110v is the norm. I tried it out without modification and it sort of worked. The iron wouldn't go above 250 degrees C and the hot air was also quite under powered.

Unfortunately, there is no switch to easily change between 220v and...

Asguard AIO

The Asguard flight controller is an OmnibusF4 with an integrated 4-in-1 ESC. This is a build guide showing how to build an Asguard based quadcopter.

The frame kit and the Asguard flight controller are from Airbot.

The motors I'm using are 1806, but you'll notice the ones in the photo above are orange and I've built the quad with black ones. This is because the wires on the orange ones are too short. 2204, 2205 or 2206 motors might be a better choice if you're planning on running 3 or 4 blade...

Cleaning up the Ubuntu boot volume

If you've been using an apt update && apt upgrade-ing a linux system for a while, at some you've probably seen this error:

Purging configuration files for linux-image-extra-3.13.0-96-generic (3.13.0-96.143) ...
(Reading database ... 520779 files and directories currently installed.)
Preparing to unpack .../linux-image-3.13.0-117-generic_3.13.0-117.164_amd64.deb ...
Done.
Unpacking linux-image-3.13.0-117-generic (3.13.0-117.164) ...
dpkg: error processing archive /var/cache/apt/archives/linux-image...

Orange Pi Zero Google Cloud Print Server

This guide will show you how to turn an Orange Pi Zero into a Google Cloud Print server.

Orange Pi Zero Setup

Download Debian Jesse from Armbian.

Download Etcher, use it to write the Armbian image to the SDCard. A 4gb card turned out to be the perfect size.

Power the Orange Pi via micro USB and connect the serial port via a CP2012, or your favorite USB/Serial adapter.

On a Mac (or linux) you can use this screen command to connect to the serial terminal. Use your favorite Windows terminal...

STM32CubeMX Makefile project

STM32CubeMX is a cool little code generation tool from STM that helps you choose the pinout for you microcontroller project given the pin assignment constraints of a given CPU. The only problem is that it doesn't allow you to generate a Makefile project for use with the arm-none-eabi- toolchain.

I'll show you how to do this.

STM32CubeMX Overview

If you've never used STM32CubeMX before, checkout this great overview video first:

By the way, STM32CubeMX now runs on Mac OSX.

Generate the...

BetaFlight Micro Brushless Aurora 100

The Aurora 100 is a micro brushless quadcopter from Eachine, similar to the Falcon120. It's no less powerful than the Falcon 120, however it's lighter and therefore more nimble.

Here's some flight video. I flew both line of sight and FPV. This little 100mm quad feels like a 250mm, but without the expense of a larger quad or any of the risks of 5" props. You'll notice the horizon moves the wrong way when I turn. More on this later.

This video was shot on the Eachine VR D2 Pro goggles

Unlocking STM32 Chips

If you run into weird issues flashing your board, it might be because the board is locked.

First check for

  • Ground loops: Are you powering the board from a different power supply than the OpenOCD or J-Link programmer? Try to power the board from the programmer.

Via SWD

While pressing the boot button or shorting the boot pads, open OpenOCD, connect the SWD port and run:

  • For F4 and F7 devices, run:
> stm32f2x unlock 0
stm32f2x unlocked.
INFO: a reset or power cycle is required for the new...

Taranis Q X7 Review, Teardown and Setup

The Taranis Q X7 is an awesome new radio from FrSky that is budget priced, just over $100 and stocked full of premium features like a backlight screen, audio output, an SDCard for tons and tons of models and not to mention, ever switch is 3-position.

This is a huge upgrade from my FlySky 9x and probably the best value radio on the market today. Not only is the FrSky protocol the best among many manufacturers, but the radio quality and features are outstanding.

That said, I pre-ordered as early...

DJI Mavic Pro

I just got my first DJI drone, the Mavic Pro. Coming from the miniquad scene, the features on the Mavic are amazing. This article will walk through the unboxing and setup. I hope that an absolute beginner can use this as an easy walk through to get everything needed to setup and get flying.

Unboxing

Once you get it unboxed, go out and capture some awesome footage!

What's Included

I bought just the Mavic Pro, not the "Fly More" combo which costs a cool $299 extra. In the box with...

Falcon 120

The Falcon 120 is a micro, brushless x-configuration quadcopter. This is a review and setup guide.

The Eachine Falcon 120 is similar to the BeeRotor 160, but ready to fly.

Parts

When ordering the Falcon 120, you'll have a choice of what flight controller to order with it. I got the SPRacing F3 flight controller. To run BetaFlight, you'll want at least an F3 flight controller. The SPRacing F3 is not quite as nice as the OmnibusF4, but it'll do the job.

You'll also need a battery. I also ordered...

Easy 3D Printer Upgrades

I recently made some improvements to my Geeetech Prusa i3 3D Printer. These quick and easy upgrades provide a massive improvement in build ease and quality.

PEI Plastic Build Platform

By far, the biggest, single ~$20 improvement you can make to your machine is switching from the included aluminum print bed to a PEI sheet.

Since the aluminum plate deforms as it heats, to get that perfectly flat print surface, you'll also want to get a glass plate as well.

If your PEI sheet didn't come with...

FPV All the things!

It's cold outside. It's winter and days with flying weather are few and far between. However, that doesn't mean we need to pack up our goggles and wait for spring.

Here's how I put FPV cameras on all the things!

Vortex 1/18th Scale Truck

This little truck is super fast and super fun. It works great out of the box, so there's not much to say. Let's take it apart.

Turns out that the whole electronics bay is epoxied, which makes it waterproof, but really hard to add a camera.

It comes...

The Taranis Q X7 is Real

The Taranis Q X7 has hit the FCC Database. It's real and from the features below, it looks awesome!

From the manual, there are a plethora of 3 position switches:

Features include speech output, logging (via SDCard) and nice gimbals (at least on paper):

Here is the SDcard port, along with a smart port and USB port:

There is an integrated XJT module, which can be turned off in software so an external module can be used:

According to the documentation, there will be three models:

...

Running Ardupilot Mission Planner with Mono on Mac OSX

This is a guide to running Ardupilot's Mission Planner on Mac without a virutal machine. We'll use Mono instead.

Setup Steps

  • Download both the latest Mission Planner (zip file) as well as the Mono installer.

  • Install Mono

  • Create the required directories and set the permissions by running the following in a terminal:

sudo mkdir /usr/share/Mission\ Planner
sudo chown `whoami` /usr/share/Mission\ Planner
  • Unzip the Mission Planner zip file you downloaded and in your terminal cd into this directory...

SiFive Risc-V Development Setup

Risc-v is the new hotness and the SiFive FE310 is the first open source risc-v hardware SOC. This is a guide to start developing for this chip or FPGA.

Ubuntu Build

I'm using 16.04

Install the dependencies

sudo apt install -y build-essential texinfo gawk bison libmpc-dev libtool automake libusb-1.0-0-dev

Make it

Mac Build

Note, building on OSX is not supported yet. I tried anyway, but couldn't get it to build

On a mac, you'll want homebrew and then install the dependencies:

brew install...

RunCam Owl Plus Teardown

This is an unboxing and tear down of the RunCam Owl Plus.

Unboxing

It comes in this nice box. Looks like RunCam is trying to prevent clones with this "Scratch and Check" the authenticity sticker.

Two back-plates for the camera case are included along the appropriate brackets and standard AV cables.

Teardown

Looks like it uses a Nexchip NVP-2040 chip as the main processor.

Here is the front of the camera.

And the sensor, if anybody has tips on identifying this, I'm all ears.

Flash BLHELI_S with DSHOT using BlHeli-Configurator

The BlHeli configurator by @diehertz is here! And so is the beta version of DSHOT for BLHELI_S. In this guide I'll tell you a little bit about what I've learned from diehertz about BLHELI_S and how to flash your own ESCs.

What is BLHELI_S? DSHOT?

The BLHELI_S description basically says that it's meant to be an easy to use version of BLHELI, however that's not why I'm really interested in it. I'm interested, because Steffen, the creator of BlHeli, has been working on DSHOT support! beta hex...