AR Drone

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AR Drone is a quadcopter and is controlled primarily by an Apple iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad units. An open API allows for development of applications.

The control system is based on an ARM prosessor and Linux operating system. Control signals go through a 802.11b/g/n wireless IP connection. Two cameras provide a live video stream to the display on the remote. The AR.FreeFlight app can be downloaded from the App Store.

My setup

2010-10-23

  • AR Drone - purchased end of September 2010
    • AR Drone hw v11.0 - Firmware v1.1.3
    • Inertial hw v6.0 - Firmware v4.55
    • Motors 1-4 type: 1.1 - hw v3.0 - firmware 1.7
  • iPhone 3GS 32GB
    • AR.FreeFlight v1.1.3 - remote control software v1.4

2011-01-13 - New motherboard

After a small (quite huge) crash, I had to get a new mainboard.

Settings

Here is my current favorite indoor settings for the FreeFlight app.

  • iPhone
    • Control level: Beginner
    • iPhone tilt: 12.43°
  • AR Drone
    • SSID: ardrone_ivc
    • Altitude limited: On
    • Outdoor shell: Off
    • Outdoor flight: Off
    • Yaw speed: 125.35mm/°
    • Vertical speed: 608.37mm/s
    • Tilt: 17.06°
    • Trim select: Auto

Tips

  • Use medium viscosity silicone oil to grease the blades shaft and gear, and low viscosity Tri-flow oil on the bushings, disassemble entirely to apply
  • Replace the Tamiya power connector with Deans to improve the contact surface area and longevity
  • To fix erratic and wobbly flight while using the indoor hull, pad the front neck to get a firm fit between base and hull

Remote access

The ARDrone system provides telnet access via the wireless connection. Full system permission is provide and works much line any other Linux environment.

  1. Connect to the ARDrone ad-hoc wireless connection
  2. Open a terminal/command-prompt and type "telnet 192.168.1.1"
  3. Try a few commands like "ls -lh /" and "ps xa"

Downgrade firmware

If you need to downgrade the firmware for some reason, for instance to use ArduDrone, use these steps.

  1. Charge the battery fully and download the firmware you want to downgrade, see next section
  2. Power on the ARDrone and connect the computer to the wireless ARDrone ad-hoc connection
  3. Open Terminal or a Command-prompt and type "telnet 192.168.1.1"
  4. Reset the version file by typing "echo 0.0.0 > /update/version.txt" and "echo 0.0.0 > /firmware/version.txt"
  5. Next, get a FTP client, like FileZilla for Windows or Mac OS, and open a FTP session to IP 192.168.1.1 and port 5551
  6. Rename the firmware to ardrone_update.plf and upload file to the FTP server, this is also described here
  7. Turn off the power to the ARDrone and power up, let the update process complete, approx. 10 minutes
  8. Once the LEDs turn green, the update process is done
  9. Verify the firmware by starting the FreeFlight app on an iOS device

Firmware

To use the firmware image, rename it to "ardrone_update.plf" and follow the steps in the section above.

Also check Ardrone Apps page for mirrors.

References