3D Robotics X8 Tutorial

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The following is a tutorial on copter modification and calibration. In this example, we will take a 3D Robotics RTF X8 copter from the state it comes in the mail to true flight readiness for Ecosynth applications.


Unboxing and Customization


Open the box and remove the X8 copter. Set aside all loose components and documentation inside of the box. Remove all padding from the copter, except for the large foam coverings on the motors. The foam motor covers should stay until later, to protect the motor screws.


Remove the two bolts in the holes circled in orange, and snip the zip ties indicated by the orange arrows. Be careful not to nick the ESCs.


Remove the BEC (shown above). The BEC supplies 5 volt power to a copter gimbal or FPV system, but if you are using neither then the BEC should b removed. It can also be saved for later to bind the Spektrum Receiver.


Measure and drill holes in the camera case corresponding to the holes circled in green (above) on the X8 copter. Thee holes will be used to mount the camera case to the copter.


Install the mounts for the camera case. First secure a rubber damper in each mounting hole with a locknut. Second, screw a plastic standoff into each damper. Third, install a damper on top of each plastic standoff. You should have four mounts coming off of the copter's surface, each of which is a damper-standoff-damper sandwich.


Mount the camera case to the mounts using four bolts as shown. Secure them only snugly, do not over-tighten them as this will cause the camera case to sit at an angle.


Install a bolt and spacer in the area circled in blue. This is to replace the two up front which were removed. Secure the ESCs back in place with zip ties, as indicated by the blue arrows.


Deploy the legs to the flight position as shown in the 3D Robotics X8 User Manual.

Spektrum Equipment and Other Flight Eqipment


If you are not programming the controller yourself, download configuration file and load it into the DX7S transmitter via SD card. Consult the DX7S manual for instructions on loading configuration files from SD. This is the recommended method, because all Ecosynth copters can fly using this configuration.


Bind the receiver as detailed in the Spektrum binding tutorial.

Attach the receiver to the X8 copter as shown using velcro. Insert the connector into the port on the Pixhawk labelled SPKT/DSM.


If using a Garmin Astro dog tracker, attach it as shown using zip ties. The dog tracker should be able to be slipped out of the zip ties for charging, but must be secure enough that it will not fall out during flight.


If using a battery beeper, velcro it as shown for easy access to the LiPo's balance taps.

Copter Calibration


Connect to the copter via the 3DR Radio. Power the coper with a LiPo battery and connect from Mission Planner. See the Arducopter wiki for instructions for Mission Planner.


Under Initial Setup >> Mandatory Hardware >> Frame Type, ensure that the X configuration is selected.


Under Initial Setup >> Mandatory Hardware >> Flight Modes, select the modes shown above and click save.


Under Initial Setup >> Mandatory Hardware >> Failsafe, make the selections shown above. Far ranged missions will sometimes exceed the transmitter's max distance, so keeping it set to continue mission will ensure complete scans. Battery failsafe is not used, because Ecosynth missions are carefully calculated to stay within battery limitations, and the pilot monitors the battery level in flight.


Under Initial Setup >> Optional Hardware >> Battery Monitor, set the battery capacity according to the LiPo in use. In this case, a 11000mAh battery.


Under Config/Tuning >> Extended Tuning, change the WPNav Speed setting to 800.


Under Config/Tuning >> Geofence, uncheck the Enable box. This feature can be re-enabled later at the user's discretion, but it is not generally useful for autonomous flight.

Further Calibration via Arducopter Wiki

Calibrate the accelerometer according to the methods described on the Arducopter wiki.

Calibrate the radio control according to the methods described on the Arducopter wiki. Make sure to flip the flap, gear, and Aux 2 switches through their full range of motion.

Calibrate the compass according to the methods described on the Arducopter wiki.

Attach the propellers as described in the 3D Robotics X8 User Manual.

This concludes the tutorial on uboxing to copter calibration. The next step is test flying the copter.