Servers by jDrones

Nervous: First ArduPilot Experience

I just picked up my SV Journey V2700 today… I’ve been reading and studying up on ArduPilot and I’m pretty computer-tech savvy to boot with a few years of RC fixed wing gas flying experience via my grandfather when I was 10-14 years of age… however I attempted a series of manual test flights with the V2700 in my somewhat dense residential neighborhood this evening only to end in near disaster…

Wind conditions were calm: 1-3 MPH steady with gusts up to 5-8 MPH.

The drone, however appeared to lose connection at a distance of roughly 15-25 feet at which point it would just drift with the wind until it ran into a tree or my neighbor’s house. I’m not exactly sure of the causality yet and I did not have a MicroSD onboard to log data. Does anyone know what may have caused this? I referenced being in my backyard because there may be some decent 2.4 GHz interference from neighbor’s houses - I can check with a spectrum analyzer tomorrow - but I highly suspect that is the case due to poor performance on my 2.4 GHz WiFi within my own house.

I’ve managed to get the drone and Mission Planner to chat it up using an external high-gain 2.4 GHz WiFi NIC with both directional and omni-directional antenna. I still need to set one of the buttons to set the drone to auto mode - I’m thinking the Stunt button will do nicely as that feature doesn’t appeal to me or my purposes. Is there anything else that I’m missing?

I plan to perform a manual and an ArduPilot test flight at a municipal sports park which is drone friendly and a few minutes away from the house in the coming days. Once I get my confidence I’ll travel the 35 minutes to my “local” RC flying field for more advanced proving. However, I am concerned that I’ll be chasing the drone across several football fields if it goes dead stick like it did tonight…

My concern is loss of signal on the drone: Provided I give the drone an “out and back” flight plan, should it do fine leaving the range of the transmitter? From what I’ve read, ArduPilot should handle this scenario just fine but I’m worried about any customization to the firmware SV may have loaded to make it go dead stick like I saw tonight. That’s my major concern.

That all being said, what advice do you have for me?

Additionally: I keep seeing programmable controllers being a thing (they weren’t really a thing 20+ years ago), in particular the Taranis… What should I look for in a programmable? I’m looking to expand my RC hangar to more rotary and fixed wing airframes for outdoor flying.

Today I went to said park for a test flight. Winds were borderline high (8-10 MPH). I was able to load the aircraft with a flight plan after some tinkering and troubleshooting and reconfigured the stunt button. I was able to get the aircraft to start the mission but the wind was too much. As it climbed to about 20 meters AGL Q ground control on my phone called out a crash detection and the aircraft attempted to land. I’ll pull logs when I get home and see if there is anything of value.


  • The drift-away doesn’t sound like loss of RC link, it sounds more like a case of horribly low rates being used outdoors where they’re not appropriate.
  • Pull the parameter list in MissionPlanner and you’ll see what the RC/GCS failsafe behaviors are set to. Likely RTH or RTL.

Check the parameters, check the rates. Ensure you have let it sit outdoors on a table for 5-10min at least once to let the GPS get the almanac. Perform all the calibrations they list in the manual.

Programmable Tx:
I chose FlySky over FrSky for a number of reasons, and given their recent behavior I’m glad I have, though RTF/BNF support for FlySky isn’t the same as it is for FrSky, though it gets better by the day. I’d get anything that can run OpenTx that’s in your price range. People love the Jumper Tx units. I rather like my FlySky FS-i6 with the open-source community mod firmware.

Logs will be very good to have.

As an aside, don’t let the experience of a toy-grade brushed RTF miniquad that was liquidated for $40 at Target color your perception of ArduPilot (not disparaging the SkyViper units, they’re freaking phenomenal for the money and quite literally the only entry-level RTF kit I’ve ever seen running something as sophisticated as ArduPilot with a full set of sensors… Like a little brushed Solo. Just nuts).

ArduPilot is more than capable, you’ve nothing to be nervous about. Post the logs and the parameters and we’ll get you sorted.

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Thanks for the reply. I purchased this after having read about ArduPilot first. I purchased it because it came with ArduPilot and so I could get some hands on experience with the flight control platform as a whole without a large investment. This experience will give me much insight into what hardware to purchase in the future.

I’ll get logs upon my next flight… it seems the SD wasn’t formatted properly… I pulled it from the aircraft after today’s flight and put it into my computer which detected the file system as RAW… I had preformatted it to FAT32 before putting it into the drone. It could be a bad SD card (this one is pretty old) so I’ve replaced it with another card I have. I’ll verify the drone is recording to it before my next launch.

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My path was similar, though I started with the Solo and have so far stayed with it.

Despite being a toy-grade, the SkyViper is an incredibly complex piece of kit with a myriad of sensors… RTFM at least once.

Let’s start with the basics:
Did you do the two calibration dances? Does the manual even ask you for that?

SD Card:
Card going RAW after being written to isn’t a good sign. Could be bad host controller in the SkyViper (not likely), or bad/old card, as you’ve intimated. Toss that thing.

Do you have a “shielded” area wherein you could do a hover test after letting it sit idle for a few minutes to get a solid lock? By shielded I mean not exposed to direct wind at or around ground level… Treed in yard?

As for a hover test, you want to be out of ground-effect which will make it wobble in the dirty air from propwash… So try to hover at 6ft AGL or higher without going out of your “shielded” location. Try to stay away from buildings, canyon walls, etc. as that will cause GPS multipathing. Try to have a clear line of sight from the top of the SkyViper to the sky, so not under any overhangs.

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I had a prearm fail asking for compass calibration today - I ran through both of them via the WebApp before flight today.

It’s going to be windy here over the next few days with precipitation. I will try the hover test in said shielded area at my next opportunity which will be my backyard. I’ve also located another park which is smaller with better and thicker trees surrounding it which should give me better wind break than I saw today. I’m hoping to get out there sometime this weekend. It’s in the same municipality so it will be drone friendly… Today’s park would have been ideal for a small fixed wing.

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I ran a hover test this morning. Wind speeds were idle to 3 MPH. I gave the drone a simple waypoint, 6 minute loiter at 5 meter AGL, and land. It definitely did the toilet bowl loiter… just held around the waypoint in roughly a 2ish meter radius and went around in circles… otherwise all went well.

I want to do another 6 axis recalibration later and run it again. My confidence has definitely been boosted though. Thanks for the advice to get me to this point.

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That toilet-bowling sounds like bad compass, still.

How/where’d you do it?

I get very strict with mine… Stay away from rocks and metal in the environment.

Remove all metal from your person when calibrating (watch, keys, cellphone, rings, belt, etc).

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I performed all of this in my backyard in my fairly dense neighborhood. I’m sure there is plenty of interference from the environment here. I’ll have to wait until I go to the local park sometime this weekend.

Good advice on the removing objects that could interfere with the calibration from my person - I hadn’t really thought of that.

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I’ve managed to get the aircraft well-calibrated and I have confidence in its abilities to fly a set of waypoints accurately.

Is there any way to have the aircraft automatically start recording video to the SD card upon launch or start up? I’m finding the “video” button on the controller either isn’t reliable or effective. I’d much rather just have a waypoint that triggers the camera to start recording video to the onboard SD card and be done with it.

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