Author: Christian Elsen

Quadcopter flight training for beginners

These beginner flight training tips will prepare you for your first flight with a quadcopter such as IRIS and give ideas on how to improve your flying skills. Most likely you will break something during your many upcoming quadcopter flights. Let’s try to keep this damage down to the vehicle itself and not any people or property around, by practicing how to fly.

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Enabling Extended Kalman filter (EKF) on IRIS+

IRIS+ runs the opens-oruce flight control software APM:Copter. With version 3.2 – which was released on November 7th, 2014 – an interesting new feature was introduced: Extended Kalman filter (EKF).

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Advanced charger for IRIS+

You will quickly reach the point, where you want to replace the standard charger that comes with a 3DR IRIS+. This charger not only takes a long time to charge your Lipos, but it also doesn’t provide you any feedback on the amount of energy you put back into the Lipo.

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FPV Ground Station

In my FPV setup for IRIS article, I left out details about my FPV ground station part. The reason is that gound station and air segment should be separate of each other. In other words you should be able to use the air segment of a good FPV setup with e.g. goggles or a monitor as ground station. At the same time you should be able to use the same ground station with multiple aircraft.

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eCalc xcopterCalc settings for IRIS and IRIS+

eCalc xcopterCalc is a great online Multicoper Calculator, which supports you in choosing an adequate motor setup – along with propellers and ESC – for your electric RC Multicopter.

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Improving lift on IRIS+ with other propellers

The all new IRIS+ comes with an upgraded motor as well as propellers versus the previous IRIS. While the new 920 kV motor along with the 5100 mAh 3S Lipo provides added lift of IRIS+ over the 850 kV motor of IRIS, this benefit is actually mitigated by the now shorter 9.5×4.5″ propellers. This means that while IRIS+ features a longer flight time than IRIS, the hover throttle (percent of throttle required to hover) is pretty much the same.

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Battery Failsafe on IRIS+

In the IRIS forums at DIYDronres, Ardupilot, and the IRIS Facebook group often the question comes up after the “best” or “right” battery failsafe setting for IRIS. After ruining one of my Multistar 3S 5200mAh Lipo packs over the weekend, I had a closer look at the various settings that influence what happens on a Battery Failsafe event. Therefore let’s have a look.

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Offline maps with DroidPlanner / 3DR Tower

A Nexus 7 tablet is an excellent choice as the Ground Control Station (GCS) with DroidPlanner2 or 3DR Tower for your IRIS or other quadcopter. But in order to keep costs in a reasonable manner, using the Wifi-only model makes a lot of sense. Yet, doing so one wants to still use maps in DroidPlanner2 while being out in the field.

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FPV setup for IRIS

Unfortunately 3DR does not offer a dedicated FPV kit for IRIS and the FPV kits available from 3rd parties do not include an On-Screen-Display (OSD). Therefore here the instruction on how to assemble your own FPV kit – no soldering required.

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Mounting the IRIS Telemetry antenna differently

In a previous post I already wrote about the problem with the the default antenna mount position of IRIS. If you actually look carefully, you’ll notice three problems:

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High HDOP values when flying IRIS

In the IRIS forums at DIYDronres, Ardupilot, and the IRIS Facebook group I have seen reports from various users who have complained about low HDOP (Horizontal Dilution of precision) reported by their IRIS when trying to arm in Loiter or Auto mode (Both are GPS assisted modes). In these cases the HDOP value determined and reported by Arducopter is higher than 2.0 after powering up IRIS. This value is higher than the default value of 2.0 for the GPS_HDOP_GOOD paramter value. As a result the pre-arm checks fail and IRIS is not able to arm in a GPS-assisted flight mode.

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Using Region of Interest (ROI) with DroidPlanner2

The waypoint type Region of Interest (ROI) points the nose of the vehicle and camera gimbal at the “region of interest”. Let’s have a look at how to use it with DroidPlanner2.

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Protecting the IRIS Telemetry antenna against damage

On pictures of 3DR’s IRIS you always see the telemetry antenna in the back of IRIS pointing straight up (See Figure 1).

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Copper shield for IRIS’ GPS module

Various folks in the IRIS forums at DIYDronres, Ardupilot, and the IRIS Facebook group have complained about poor GPS performance on their IRIS. Others (including myself) weren’t quite sure if there was something wrong with their GPS module, but weren’t quite stunned with the performance either. So I decide to shield my GPS module with a piece of copper shield and find out what difference it makes.

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3DR IRIS with 4S batteries

Due to the rather poor flight performance of the 3DR IRIS with Gimbal and long legs on 3S batteries, I was looking into flying with 4S batteries, along with reducing the weight of the quad. In this post I want to share my interim results.

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LiPo for 3DR IRIS R/C transmitter

IRIS pilots will quickly get tired of buying Alkaline AA batteries for the R/C transmitter and will also realize that this can turn into a costly part of our hobby. Time to replace these batteries with a Lipo.

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Get rid of Jello with the Tarot T-2D gimbal

Have you noticed Jello in your video while using the Tarot T-2D gimbal. Here the Jello is not coming from vibrations due to the motors or props, but the gimbal itself. Even with IRIS on the ground and motors turned off, you can sometimes see the vibrations of the camera and the resulting Jello in the video footage. In this article I will show you how to fix this.

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Angled Mini-USB adapter for GoPro in Tarot Gimbal

I would like to keep the GoPro camera in the Tarot Gimbal all the time. Even for charging or downloading the images the videos and images via USB. But so far I always had to take the camera off the Gimbal as it was impossible to connect the USB cable. The reason is that the Tarot Gimbal blocks access to the USB port on the GoPro. This is very annoying.

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Longer “short” legs for 3DR IRIS

With the current short legs IRIS hangs just a few millimeter above the ground. When taking off from or landing in (wet) grass – such as on a Baseball field – the lower body sits in the grass and gets wet. Also the rotors often touch or rather mow through longer grass with IRIS so close to the ground. Last but not least, you actually cannot open the battery door and slide in a battery while IRIS is sitting on the ground. You have to pick up the quad instead.

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Tablet mount for IRIS radio

I use a Google Nexus 7 as Ground Control Station (GCS) together with my 3DR IRIS R/C radio transmitter. Initially I placed the tablet on the ground next to me while flying and solely listened to the voice commands. This was not a desirable setup as I prefer to look at the screen while flying. In this post I’ll show you how to solve this challenge and mount the Nexus 7 table to the R/C radio transmitter.

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3DR IRIS with Gimbal and tall legs is too heavy to fly safely?

In the IRIS forums at DIYDronres, Ardupilot, and the IRIS Facebook group I have seen reports from various users who have either complained about poor flight performance of their IRIS, or had crashes due to performance loss towards the end of a flight. All these issues happened while flying IRIS with tall legs and gimbal. As I just wanted to start flying with this combination, I wanted to find out what could be the reason for these issues and crashes. In the end I don’t want my IRIS to crash.

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