Drones help us perform various complex tasks easily. But there are certain tasks that we want to perform automatically rather than manually – without much effort.
To achieve this, she decided to make a smart drone that could be programmed with instructions and coordinates, allowing herself to fly to her destination without any human effort.
Note: – Pre-programmed missions with drones and drones are strictly prohibited in some regions/countries. Please obtain confirmation policies and regulations for flying drones in that area before proceeding with the project.
The following project is for educational purposes only.
UAV components assembly
For this project, a QAV250 drone frame is used because it is small, lightweight and easy to control. However, you can use a larger drone frame like the F450 to haul loads like packages.
The frame of the QAV250 drone consists of:
- Base plate x 2
- Engine arm x 4
- Top plate x 1
- Landing gear x 4
Place all four motor arms between the two base plates and screw them tight. Next, assemble the landing gears into the arms and fit the top plate onto the base plate. Now the frame is ready to be fitted with components (see figure below)
Next, connect the ESC wires to the power distribution board with the XT60 plug (as shown in the picture below). Place the power distribution board in the center of the QAV450 frame. Attach the ESC to each arm of the Quad 250 frame as shown in the photo below. Next, screw all 200kv A2212 motors onto the drone frame.
Attach the motor and ESC on the frame of the drone
Place the motors on each arm of the drone frame and then place the ESC on the drone frame. Next, set the flight controller.
Setting the battery of the flight controller and GPS unit for the frame of the drone
Place the LiPo battery in the center of the drone frame and mount the flight controller on top of it (next to the u-blox GPS unit) using a mounting rod. Next, attach the radio receiver to the frame of the drone as shown below:
The ArduPilot Mega (APM) has, on one side, several pins for the motor and servo outputs, and the radio receivers on the other side. At the top, it has a series of USB pins for connecting various sensors and accessories to the drones such as optical flow sensors, LiDARs, etc.
The APM flight controller also has a GPS port plug.
As shown in the image below, connect the radio receiver channel pin to the APM radio inputs. Next, connect the pins of the 3-wire ESC servo motor to the output pins, keeping in mind that the ESC signal pin has to go to the APM signal pin (the APM signal pin is marked in my case to keep the pin on the top side as shown in Picture).
Next, plug the Ublox Neo 7M GPS unit into the GPS port on the APM. The GPS unit has two plugs with wires: one for GPS and power and one for compass.
APM Preparation for Drones
APM can be prepared using many different programs. One of the most common is the task planner. Download the latest version of the program and install it on your computer.
Next, update the APM flight controller with the latest firmware. To do this, open Mission Planner and connect USB to APM and PC.
Noticeable:- For a first time setup, don’t click on the Connect option (located in the right corner of the screen) because it will link the task planner to the APM at that moment. Since the board is empty and without firmware, first do the initial setup, that is, load the relevant firmware.
Next, select the UAV you want to create (here, a quad type x is created so that it is selected). The task planner now starts uploading the firmware to APM.
After a successful firmware update, we can now connect the task outline using the connect button located in the right corner of the screen.
After connecting the APM to the Mission Planner, select the vehicle type: x or tri (the type x quad is used here, so this is selected).
To set up the device, first calibrate the ACC. For this, go to Accelerometer and select Live Calibrate Now. Then put the plane left and right, nose down, nose up and back.
To calibrate the compass, select “Compass” and then go to “Live Calibration”. Here, an external compass is used, so remove the jumper from the APM next to the GPS.
Next, move and rotate the drone in all directions to connect the path in the mission planner GUI. After all the paths and points are connected, the compass is calibrated.
Next, go to Radio Calibration and select Live Calibration Now. Move the remote control lines and channels to the maximum and minimum positions. Click Done to finish the APM calibration.
Adjust flight modes
Here we can adjust any flight modes to our liking. Since we are using task planning software, we will set and then save the AUO, Loiter Alti Hold, and Position Hold.
In the Mission Planner window, select “Plan.” It will display the live location of the drone.
To plan a specific mission, simply create points/paths for the drone, select them, save and then run.
Set the flight mode to automatic and select the route in Mission Planner. Next, arm the drone with a remote control to test features like automatic flight and the ability to return after completing a mission. This system is effective for spraying or scanning purposes with drones.
Now your drone/drone mission planning is ready.