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Category: Tutorial

Walkera Devo 7e Modding

Walkera Devo 7e Modding

Bitcraze did a great job when they implemented the Crazyflie system. With a Crazyflie and Crazyradio, a PC, and a game controller, anyone can get a mini-quadcopter flying. It’s an extensible system made of ubiquitous pieces. For what it’s worth, flying with a game controller is pretty good. Control is comfortable and easy to learn and the fidelity is high. But… What does a Crazyflier do when she wants more control or less system overhead or both? The answer is the Devo7e remote transmitter from Walkera! If you want to know more about the Devo7e and modability, check out the primer thread at the RC Groups forum. The following is a journal, if you’re just looking for the steps needed to mod your Devo 7e for use with the Crazyflie, check out my project on Hackster.io. If you’d rather have more color, read on….

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Stable Flight with an iPhone

Stable Flight with an iPhone

Some Crazyfliers seem to have trouble learning how to fly with the iPhone mobile client. I hope this entry can ease the learning curve for those people just new to the Crazyflie 2 who are using only a mobile client. This guide is written for iPhone (because that’s what I have and use) but most of it is probably applicable to Android as well.

If you find it a little hard to learn how to control your Crazyflie 2 with the Crazyflie iPhone client, read on…

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Reflashing the Bootloader

Reflashing the Bootloader

When I first set-up Eclipse on Mac to allow me to do some debugging on my Crazyflie 2.0, I built and flashed a debug version of the firmware for the first time. The “debug” target in Eclipse creates a build with the parameter “CLOAD=0.” This means that the debug firmware is flashed at the start of the Crazyflie 2.0’s STM32 flash memory. This where the radio bootloader is normally written so, if one existed before flashing debug firmware, it doesn’t exist after it. In any case, I spent a while scratching my head months later when, while trying to update my Crazyflie 2.0 firmware over-the-air (OTA), I found the Crazyradio couldn’t connect to the bootloader! Of course! There wasn’t one there any longer.

For a moment I panicked, thinking I’d smashed something important when I built my debug firmware, then I remembered an obscure thing I’d read on the wiki about DFU

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Set Up Eclipse for Debugging on Mac OS X

Set Up Eclipse for Debugging on Mac OS X

I recently got an ST-LINK/V2 JTAG debugger from Mouser.com so I can play around with hardware debugging on Crazyflie 2.0. To do this more easily, I figured I’d use the Eclipse IDE like the guys at Bitcraze do. Of course, I could use the <a href=”http://files.bitcraze.se/dl/Bitcraze_VM_0.6.ova” title=”Bitcraze 0.6 VM” rel=”nofollow” target=_blank”>Bitcraze 0.6 VM and all would be well and good… But, if you’ve followed this blog, you know I’d much rather do it all in Mac OS X. So, I set out to get things set-up on Yosemite (Mac OS X 10.10). What follows is what I did to get a working Eclipse installation. Most of this was taken from what I discovered in the Eclipse setup on the 0.6 VM that the Bitcraze bunch so kindly created for us…

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Expanding the Bitcraze VM 0.5 Main Partition

Expanding the Bitcraze VM 0.5 Main Partition

I had been meaning to post a tutorial on how I expanded the main partition on the Bitcraze 0.5 virtual machine. A few months back I had to do it myself since I’d wanted to upgrade the VM to a newer version of Ubuntu. As it is, the VM drive doesn’t have enough space to do the upgrade. On July 17, 2014, Ubuntu officially dropped support for Ubuntu 13.10 (the version that the Bitcraze Xubuntu VM is based on) and with the end-of-life so goes the supportability (ie. no more security updates). For most it’s probably not a big deal. The VM will run just fine even if Ubuntu isn’t offering regular updates. For others however, staying up-to-date is important so it’s nice to have an upgrade potential.

You can resize that virtual disk in a virtual machine manager (like VirtualBox or VMWare) but that’s not enough to expand the main partition. The situation is complicated a bit by the fact the swap partiton is separating the linux partiton from all the juicy unallocated space that gets created when you resize the virtual disk. It’s possible, just not entirely straight forward, to fix the situation, so I’ve created this tutorial post in an effort to assist would be drive expanders.

This tutorial is about how to expand the hard drive if you’re using VMWare Fusion on Mac. The portions about GParted and moving partitions around will apply to other virtual machine managers as well.

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Assembly: Battery Centering

Assembly: Battery Centering

The final step in the assembly of my Crazyflie was mounting the battery. It’s a simple thing, the battery mount, a square of double-sided mounting tape, a small 170mAh LiPo battery and a short two-wire connector. Easy as pie. But… The battery needs to be centered for a perfectly balanced airframe. The question is, how to go about achieving that quickly and simply? I thought I’d found an answer, but maybe it was just a pipe dream.

In my “vision” I pictured a device capable of allowing me to center the battery just right and achieve exceptional balance. In my reality I created a contraption that seemingly worked, but it may have just been dumb luck. Who was I to question results?

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Assembly: Soldering Leads

Assembly: Soldering Leads

The time had come for the moment of truth. This is where the rubber meats the road, as the old adage goes. It was time to solder the motor leads. Soldering is a skill I acquired in my youth. My father and grandfather both worked with electronics and as a result, I had many opportunities to solder as a child. The problem was, it has been at least 20 years since I last soldered. I was seriously out of practice and worse still, I’ve never had to work on such micro-electronics before. There’s so much packed onto that tiny crazyflie printed circuit board (PCB). I had only ever soldered things I could actually see with my naked eye!! This was going to be an adventure.

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Assembly: Motor Mounts

Assembly: Motor Mounts

I didn’t have much time to work on my new crazyflie today but I had to make some progress somehow. I decided to mount the motors in the motor mounts since I could do it sitting on the couch with minimal tools and preparation. A twist on the motors’ wire pairs would make the motor installation cleaner and more tidy, so it was with that in mind that I embarked on this task. The process was pretty simple, though the thin wires took a delicate touch and feeding them through the motor mounts took patience and finesse.

I grabbed the stripped end of the black and white wires on each of the motors with a pair of tweezers. Then, I slowly started twisting the wires between my thumb and forefinger starting as close to the motor as I could. I twisted tightly (but gently) until I neared the stripped ends in the tweezers. In the image, the motor with the tightly twisted wires is finished and the one on the right is in process.

Once the wires were as twisted as I wanted them, I slowly fed them through the channel in the bottom of the motor mounts. Once through, I carefully seated the motors into the buckets, making sure the wires did not get pinched once the motor was fully installed. It took a little time and an eye for detail but the finished product came out just as I had hoped. It was an easy task for the end of a busy day.

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Assembly: Propeller Balancing

Assembly: Propeller Balancing

In an aircraft as small as the crazyflie, the biggest enemy of great performance is vibration. The engineers at bitcraze realized this and thus gave some optimization tips for maximizing performance in the tips and tricks section of their wiki. It is with this in mind that I began the assembly of my crazyflie.

The first order of business was to get organized. My plan was to use one of the five motors to test the balance of the propellers and group them accordingly. Naturally, I needed to find the motor with the least vibration and then the propellers (both clockwise and counterclockwise since there is a distinction) with the best balance. I needed a AA battery (an Apple NiMH rechargeable fit the bill), some paper, a pen, and a little bit of tape. I drew a grid on some paper to help me organize the task.

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