I've been doing research into my projects and have come across some problems I'm now facing regarding my UAV projects (MEHA and SEPA) however I've covered the main parts in my recent post for SEPA. It's going to further delay doing flight tests, but does not mean that the project can't progress as there is still work to be done.
Also in light of the problems that I'm having currently, I've decided that the best action I can take to solve these problems is getting a new RC Transmitter and Receiver. The good news is, the one I plan to get (Turnigy 9X) is pretty cheap and I do believe it works with the receivers I have currently, but doesn't solve the problem I have with the transmitter and the RC flying clubs. However after another modification, it will solve that problem.
The Transmitter can have the radio modules changed easily without issue which actually brings on better news, as the radio module is fairly cheap although it will not work with my old receivers (but I'll still have the equipment to use the old receivers) and the newer receivers are a little more expensive but have more features. Lastly, the transmitter selected has had 3rd party/open source firmware actively developed for it which makes the transmitter a lot more useful, but I've thought that it could be better for my purposes if the microcontroller had more pins and was a different architecture.
So I'm announcing yet another project that I will be doing in the future, the Turnigy 9X replacement board based around the ST Micro STM32F205 Cortex-M3 microcontroller running at 120MHz. It's being planned to allow more integration with the radio I'm planning to use later, and also allow for the use of an XBee Pro 900 module inside the transmitter as a telemetry link to a UAV's onboard computer. I'll also be designing to allow:
- for the DIY LED backlight (which is actually available from HobbyKing) to be plugged in directly to the main board and be controlled in software
- for the transmitter to be able to be connected to a PC to allow the computer to control the flight if user wants that, or for the computer to log data
- a microSD card to be inserted into the board so model data, settings and also data logging can be stored on it
- a GPS module to be installed to allow for the transmitter to act as a base station for the UAV
- higher resolution of the pots (although this could also be a problem due to noise) used for the sticks, potentially allowing for better/smoother control with a better transmitter module
- potentially the ability to connect a single cell LiPo or LiFe/A123 battery to the transmitter and allow it to charge via USB/charge jack while also monitoring the voltage levels correctly and safely, although this feature may not be needed due to the cheap nature of some of the batteries available that work with the Turnigy 9X
The last sort of announcement I have to make is that I'm planning to get another plane in the near future which should be easier to fly than the plane bought for SEPA and will allow me to learn how to fly without risking my main project airplane. It means spending more money (USD$100 approx), but I believe it's a worthwhile investment. It also means that if something goes wrong, I'll have a backup plane to work with until I can repair/replace the plane I'm working with for SEPA.