Cotswold Raspberry Jam

So there I was this morning on the bus heading to Cheltenham to co-host the Cotswold Raspberry Jam, gazing at the beautiful Cotswold countryside, and my mind began to wander – well actually it was unleashed from the constraints of dealing with details it couldn’t fix while on a bus.  And out came a better idea about where to go for the next step to autonomy.

What’s been bugging me is the difference between magnetic and GPS North.  The ‘bus’ solution is to ignore magnetic north completely.  The compass still has a role to play maintaining zero yaw throughout a long flight, but it plays no part in the direction of flight – in fact, this is mandatory for the rest of the plan to work.

Instead, the autopilot translates between GPS north, south, east and west coordinate system and Hermione’s forward, backwards, right and left coordinate.  The autopilot only speaks to Hermione in her own coordinates when telling her where to go.  The autopilot learns Hermione’s coordinate system at the start of each flight by asking her to fly forwards a meter or so, and comparing that to the GPS vector change it gets.  This rough translation is refined continuously throughout the flight.  Hermione can start a flight pointing in any direction compared to the target GPS point, and the autopilot will get her to fly towards the GPS target regardless of the way she’s pointing.

Sadly now, I’m back from today’s Jam, and the details confront me once more, but the bus ride did yield a great view of where to go next.


P.S. As always, the jam was great; over 100 parents and kids, lots of cool things for them to see and do, including a visit this time by 2 members of local BBC micro:bit clubs.  Next one is 30th September.

Reference Frames and Rotation Matrices

As background, here’s my current matrix which is flawed

|eax| = | cos(pitch), sin(roll), -sin(pitch)         | |qax|
|eay| = | sin(pitch), cos(roll), -sin(roll)          | |qay|
|eaz| = | sin(pitch), sin(roll), cos(pitch).cos(roll)| |qaz|

To make sense of what’s below, please go and read this PDF, particularly section 1.2 describing the frames of reference of a quadcopter.  As a quick summary…

  • Inertial frame  (ƒi) – this doesn’t move – it’s axes (in Phoebe’s case) are North, West and Down (gravity). This then converts to the…
  • Vehicle Frame (ƒv) – the axes remain the same as above (North, West and Down, so the quad could be skew against this axis, but centred on the quad center of gravity. This then converts via yaw angle psi (ψ) to the…
  • Vehicle 1 Frame (ƒv1) – this aligns the frame with the quad’s fore-aft pitch axis. This then converts via pitch angle theta (θ) to the…
  • Vehicle 2 Frame (ƒv2) – this aligns the frame with the quad’s left-right roll axis. This then converts via roll angle phi (φ)  to the…
  • Body Frame (ƒb)- the frame whose axis align with the quad’s sensors.

I don’t have a compass (magnetometer) sensor, so will not be using the Inertial Frame as my starting point.

In addition, yaw measurement should really use the compass as the other option of integrating the gyro Z axis is only accurate short term. I might try it though when I’m next stuck for something to do.

So I’ll be starting from Vehicle Frame 1 but may, once this is working, add yaw and start from Vehicle Frame.

Here’s the matrix pretty much copied straight from Beard.

| 1    0     0    | | cos θ  0 -sin θ | | cos ψ  sin ψ  0 |
| 0  cos φ  sin φ | |   0    1    0   | |-sin ψ  cos ψ  0 |
| 0 -sin φ  cos φ | | sin θ  0  cos θ | |   0      0    1 |

If we then throw away yaw (ψ = 0), and collapse we get

| 1    0     0    | | cos θ  0 -sin θ | | 1  0  0 |
| 0  cos φ  sin φ | |   0    1    0   | | 0  1  0 |
| 0 -sin φ  cos φ | | sin θ  0  cos θ | | 0  0  1 |

Multiply these three together gives:

|    cos θ          0        -sin θ     |
| sin φ * sin θ   cos φ   sin φ * cos θ |
| cos φ * sin θ  -sin φ   cos φ * cos θ |

There’s a passing resemblance to my flawed matrix up at the top which gives me a level of confidence I hadn’t completely cocked it up, and that the updated matrix won’t have a disastrous effect on the flight, but should make them much more accurate flights.

I’ve updated the code and will test fly it tomorrow.

Calibration of and Orientation with an Accelerometer

Although I’m using a digital gyroscope, accelerometer and thermometer combined for SkySpy, in rummaging around on the internet looking at other accelerometers I found this fantastic guide on accelerometer calibration and orientation detection.  Although published by Analogue Devices for their ADXL335, everything is just as applicable for my choice – the InvenSense MPU-6050.  While non of it is rocket science, it’s great to find it written down by experts, rather than second-guess by noobs (me!).  Some of it even matches post-it notes and code I’ve spent many an hour thinking about!  My advice, save your brain power and use this version!