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Designing Purpose-Built Drones for Ardupilot Pixhawk 2.1

Book Description

Design and build land, air, and sea drones using Ardupilot with Pixhawk 2.1

About This Book

  • Explore the best practices used by the top industry professionals that will not only help you build drones in time, but also build effective solutions to cater to.
  • Navigate through the complexities of Ardupilot to put together a complete functional UAV and assemble your drone
  • Learn through practical examples that help you build robust UAV flight and ground control components

Who This Book Is For

The primary audience for this book is anyone (enthusiasts and hobbyists) who dream of building their own drones. It will also help those who are trying to build UAVs for commercial purposes. Some prior experience with microcontrollers and electronics would be useful.

What You Will Learn

  • Kitbash "dumb" objects into smart ones
  • Program Pixhawk for your drones
  • Fabricate your own parts out of different materials
  • Integrate Pixhawk into different types of drones
  • Build and understand the significant difference between land, sea, and air drones
  • Adapt old Pixhawk sensors to the new Pixhawk 2.1 plugs
  • Become familiar with procedures for testing your new drones

In Detail

The Ardupilot platform is an application ecosystem that encompasses various OS projects for drone programming, flight control, and advanced functionalities.The Ardupilot platform supports many Comms and APIs, such as DroneKit, ROS, and MAVLink. It unites OS drone projects to provide a common codebase. With the help of this book, you will have the satisfaction of building a drone from scratch and exploring its many recreational uses (aerial photography, playing, aerial surveillance, and so on). This book helps individuals and communities build powerful UAVs for both personal and commercial purposes. You will learn to unleash the Ardupilot technology for building, monitoring, and controlling your drones.This is a step-by-step guide covering practical examples and instructions for assembling a drone, building ground control unit using microcontrollers, QgroundControl, and MissionPlanner.

You can further build robotic applications on your drone utilizing critical software libraries and tools from the ROS framework. With the help of DroneKit and MAVLink (for reliable communication), you can customize applications via cloud and mobile to interact with your UAV.

Style and approach

Step-by-step instructions to help assemble your first drone with the Ardupilot platform.

Downloading the example code for this book You can download the example code files for all Packt books you have purchased from your account at http://www.PacktPub.com. If you purchased this book elsewhere, you can visit http://www.PacktPub.com/support and register to have the files e-mailed directly to you.

Table of Contents

  1. Preface
    1. What this book covers
    2. What you need for this book
    3. Who this book is for
    4. Conventions
    5. Reader feedback
    6. Customer support
      1. Downloading the color images of this book
      2. Errata
      3. Piracy
      4. Questions
  2. Drones 101
    1. Introduction to drones
    2. Purposes for drones
      1. Types of drones
        1. USV drones
          1. Rovers
          2. Submersibles
        2. UAV drones
          1. Multirotors
          2. Fixed-wing drones – airplanes
          3. Hybrid drones – VTOL
          4. Helicopter drones
          5. Dirigible drones – Blimps
    3. Ardupilot 101 – A quick overview of Pixhawk 2.1
    4. Safety and best practices
    5. Summary
  3. Your First Drone - An Autonomous RC Car
    1. Our rover
    2. Kitbashing
    3. Rustler VXL
    4. Planning and limitations
      1. Identifying the components
      2. Planning the placement of Pixhawk
      3. 3D modeling, printing, and silicone molding
        1. Measure five times, print once
        2. Model it in 3D
        3. Print it in 3D
        4. Preparing for molding
        5. Pouring the mould
        6. Demolding and curing
    5. Hooking up your Pixhawk
      1. Global Positioning System (GPS)
      2. Radio telemetry
      3. RC receiver
      4. Connecting the brain to the body
    6. Programming the Pixhawk for our (basic) rover
      1. The wizard
      2. More calibration...
    7. Testing and driving
      1. Setting waypoints
    8. Summary
  4. A Drone for Hunters – Autonomous Duck Decoy
    1. Spawning a marketable deal
    2. Outlining the scope before you design
    3. Choosing the kitbash boat
    4. Designing the duck body for 3D printing
      1. The basics of 3D modeling
      2. Modeling with subdivs
      3. Box modeling 101
        1. Knifing polygons
        2. Extruding and shifting
        3. Making the duck hollow
        4. Freezing curves into polygons – subdividing
        5. Booleans
      4. Printing large 3D models
    5. Testing for water-tightness
    6. Installing the propulsion system
    7. Steering and electronics
    8. Hooking everything up!
    9. Summary
  5. A Drone for Golfers
    1. The design
    2. Using tank locomotion
      1. Adapting Pixhawk for skid-steering
    3. Using Bluetooth to control Pixhawk with a phone
    4. Using LIDAR to avoid obstacles
      1. LIDAR 101
      2. Making LIDAR work
        1. Mounting the module
        2. Configuring LIDAR with Mission Planner
    5. Summary
  6. Introduction to UAVs
    1. Safety concerns
      1. Propellers - flying cuisinarts
    2. Designing for air versus ground
      1. Weight
      2. Power/lift
      3. Fuel - battery
      4. Learning some physics
        1. Designing a multicopter airframe
          1. Symmetry
          2. Even numbers
          3. Blade clearance
        2. Designing a fixed wing - airplane
          1. Wing design
    3. Summary
  7. A Simple Multicopter Drone
    1. What is 360 VR video, and why make a drone for it?
    2. Spec-ing out the parts
      1. Starting with the payload
      2. Choosing the gimbal
      3. Landing gear
      4. A first-person view – FPV system
      5. The actual aerial platform – drone
      6. Batteries
    3. Running the numbers
    4. Assembling the drone
      1. Too many freakin' wires!
      2. GPS on a stick
      3. Rails are awesome
      4. Anything loose? Tuck it away and tie it down
      5. Hooking up the ESCs to Pixhawk
    5. Configuring Pixhawk and Mission Planner
      1. The initial configuration of Pixhawk
      2. Configuring the ground station
        1. Using joysticks to control a drone
        2. Setting up video
    6. Final configuration before test flights
    7. Summary
  8. The Holy Grail - A Fixed Wing Drone
    1. Why this particular airplane kit?
    2. The assembly
      1. Placing the Pixhawk
      2. Placing the components
    3. Tuning a fixed wing aircraft with mission planner
      1. Configuring the pitot tube
      2. Setting up the LIDAR range finder
    4. Setting up for tuning
      1. Fixed wing flight modes
      2. Setting flight modes
      3. Autotune level
    5. The tuning process
      1. Your maiden flight
      2. AUTOTUNE flight
        1. Taking off and getting ready to tune
        2. Entering AUTOTUNE
        3. How to fly in AUTOTUNE
        4. Testing AUTOTUNE
        5. Autopilot tune
          1. Setting up the mission
          2. Flying the tuning mission
        6. Auto-landing tuning
          1. TECS tuning
          2. Testing and fine tuning TECS
          3. Auto-landing setup and parameters
          4. The testing
    6. Summary
  9. The Principles of VTOL with Pixhawk
    1. The types of VTOL
      1. The hybrid VTOL
      2. Thrust vectored VTOL
    2. Designing your first VTOL
      1. The challenge
      2. The simple gets more complex
      3. The (re-imagined) airframe
      4. Creating our shopping list
      5. The final plan
    3. Implementing Pixhawk
      1. Test and tune before making the leap
      2. Setting up the firmware
      3. Quadplane flight modes
    4. Transitioning from VTOL to airplane
    5. Recommended VTOL RTL procedure
    6. Notes before attempting any transitions
    7. Summary
  10. Programming Ardupilot
    1. The Flight Data interface
    2. The Flight Plan Screen
    3. The Initial Setup screen
      1. Wizard
      2. Mandatory hardware
      3. Optional hardware
    4. Config/Tuning screen
      1. Planner
      2. Flight Modes
      3. Basic Tuning
      4. Standard Params
      5. Advanced Params
      6. Full Parameter List
      7. Full Parameter Tree
    5. The Simulation Screen
    6. Mission Planner terminal
    7. Summary