Is 0.1% accelerometer error good enough?

I spent a fair proportion of today and yesterday tweaking and tuning the offsets out of the accelerometer and gyro. Gyro was a doddle as expected, and I’ve now got a process to reduce the accelerometer tune to a hour rather than a day, though it does start early in the morning before the sun rises. I suspect it won’t work well in a mid-summer heatwave where the temperature doesn’t drop much at night.

All I do it move Phoebe outdoors to the coldest spot I can find (the garage) and leave her for a while to cool down. While that’s going on, I move indoors and spend the time making the test platform as horizontal as possible – I even bought a super-spirit level a while back just for this job. When all’s ready, I whisk her indoors, power her up, and run her calibration code which reads the accelerometer, gyro and temperature sensors, writing the output to file. How often I do this depends on how rapidly the temperature rises – every few seconds at first, increasing to perhaps every 1/2 hour at the end, aiming for 0.5┬░C rise per sample. I’m aiming for an even spread as this will give me the most accurate trendline to use in the code. Phoebe is powered from the micro-USB port rather than the battery as this leaves the ESCs / motors unpowered and so noise is minimized.

Net result 0.001g accuracy in all 3 accelerometer axes, i.e. instead of reading (0, 0, 1)g, they read (0.001, 0.001, 1.001)g or roughly (0.01, 0.01, 10.01)ms-2. Previously the raw sensor output was more like (0.04, 0.036, 1.06)g so a 40 – 60-fold improvement. ┬áVertically, that’s probably OK, but horizontally, I’m less confident. Over 10s that 0.001g equates to 0.5m horizontal drift, which is not good enough for my ultimate goal of a 1 minute flight with drift < 10cm – i.e. demo’s in schools and Jams.

Still, I’ll give it a shot tomorrow to see if my unpowered tuning holds up in powered testing. Only time will tell.

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