Getting Started

Reading through the pages in this user guide in order should provide you with the information you need to get a vehicle flying with ROSflight. The following is a summary of the steps you'll need to follow to get your vehicle set up, with links to the corresponding documentation pages:

  1. Set up your hardware (fixed-wing or multirotor platform, autopilot, and onboard computer)
  2. Flash your autopilot with the latest ROSflight firmware
  3. Set up your RC transmitter
  4. Set up ROS on your onboard computer
  5. Configure the autopilot for your setup. The configuration checklists below should help guide you through this process.
  6. Run through your preflight checks
  7. Tune the attitude controller gains (multirotors only)
  8. Set up autonomous flight via offboard control (optional)

Configuration Checklist

The following checklists should help you get a new vehicle set up for the first time. This checklist assumes that your hardware is already set up correctly.

General setup

  1. Set the FIXED_WING parameter (1 if a fixed-wing, 0 if a multirotor)
  2. Set the MIXER parameter to the appropriate value described in the Hardware Setup page
  3. Set the MOTOR_PWM_UPDATE parameter (typically 490 for SimonK ESCs, 50 for standard servos)
  4. Make sure your RC transmitter is set up correctly
  5. Set up your RC switches
    • If you want to arm/disarm using a switch, set the ARM_CHANNEL parameter to the appropriate channel (0-indexed)
    • If you want to use a switch to enable RC override, set the RC_ATT_OVRD_CHN and RC_THR_OVRD_CHN parameters to the appropriate channel(s) (0-indexed). If you want complete control (attitude and throttle) when you flip the switch, set both these parameters to the same channel.
  6. Calibrate your IMU: start rosflight_io, then run rosservice call /calibrate_imu
  7. Complete the multirotor-specific or fixed-wing-specific checklist below
  8. Save the parameters (rosservice call /param_write)
  9. You'll probably want to save a backup of your parameters (call rosservice call /param_save_to_file /path/to/file.yml)
  10. Make sure you run through the Preflight Checklist before flying

Warning

IMPORTANT: Remove all props from the vehicle when calibrating ESCs!!!

  1. Calibrate ESCs

    1. Make sure MOTOR_MIN_PWM and MOTOR_MAX_PWM are correct (usually 1000 and 2000)
    2. Set MIXER param to 0 (ESC calibration mixer)
    3. Set ARM_SPIN_MOTORS to 0
    4. Perform ESC calibration. For standard ESCs:

      1. With power disconnected from the motors, arm the flight controller
      2. Set throttle to maximum
      3. Connect power to the motors
      4. Drop the throttle to minimum
    5. Set the MIXER parameter back to the appropriate value for your vehicle (see the Hardware Setup page)

    6. Set ARM_SPIN_MOTORS back to 1
  2. The ARM_SPIN_MOTORS parameter should be set to 1 so the motors spin slowly when armed. The idle throttle setting can be adjusted with the MOTOR_IDLE_THR parameter.

  3. You'll most likely want to set the CAL_GYRO_ARM param to 1 to enable calibrating gyros before arming
  4. Set the RC_ATT_MODE parameter to set RC control mode (0 for rate mode, 1 for angle mode [default])
  5. Set torque offsets as described in the RC trim calculation section of the Improving Performance page
  6. Tune the controller gains as described in the Multirotor gain tuning section of the Improving Performance page

Fixed-wing-specific setup

  1. Reverse servo directions if necessary using the AIL_REV, ELEVATOR_REV, and RUDDER_REV parameters (1 to reverse, 0 to keep current direction)
  2. You'll most likely want to set the ARM_SPIN_MOTORS parameter to 0 so that the prop doesn't spin at a minimum throttle setting when you arm, especially if you'll be doing hand launching