3DR Solo Battery charging adapter and diagnostics tool.

Buy Solo Battery Tool ($45)

Firmware Ver 1.4 is out ! , see below. ¬† ūüôā

3DR Solo battery packs have lots of information that the average user will never see, they are also very nicely calibrated for voltage (cells and pack) as well as current.

Some of the information, like capacity, cell voltages, cycles, past low voltage condition, cell voltage difference  and manufacture date may be very useful.

Health data is very useful as well.

Below: two devices, one as delivered, the other with an XT60 connector for charging.

It’s easy to solder on XT60, charger cables, or other connectors right on the main connector. The XT60 is there just for illustration purposes, it’s easy to solder on most of the typical connectors (XT60, EC3) directly, the rest can be soldered on with wires.

The device is not doing any calculations on it’s own, data is read from the battery, and presented.

 

Values and information details:

Pack Voltage
Charge level in %
Remaining capacity
Internal temperature.
Charging current. (Negative value indicate discharging current)

 

Cell voltages for cell 1…4 – should be self-explaining, any healthy pack will have very similar voltages after a flight.
Design capacity is what the pack was designed to be.
Actual capacity is shows the actual capacity as the pack ages.
Relative charge level is based on actual capacity of the pack.
Absolute charge level is based on design capacity of the pack.

 

Manufacturing date in Y-M-D format.
Made by BMTPOW
Device name is MA03, serial number follows (not the same as barcode on the pack)
TTF: Time To Full , if not charging, will display “-1”
Cycles: how many times have this pack been used. This is increased when discharged_capacity_since_last_increase > design_capacity.

Status word is bitmapped at least two bits we know are used, one indicating charging/discharging , the other tell if the factory calibration data is OK.

Should factory calibration data ever be corrupted, then you can never know if a reported voltage/current (used for capacity calculation !) is correct, and it’s dangerous to fly with such pack. A very clear warning will be displayed.

There is also a warning for internal resistance deviation.
There is a “Cell Change” warning, I do not know what can cause it, or what exactly it means – both warnings above are for illustration purposes, I have no packs with such condition.

Status is expected to be 128(charging) or 192(discharging)  , 16608 is a fully charged battery. (Thanks to Bob that found that).
Health is 18 for all good packs (I do not have one that is bad) , but there are 16bit of data that can indicate quite a lot…

I’ll update this page based on user reports.

Lowest voltage record.
– Displays eight last low voltage records, some values are initialized as 3.5v , but it is the lowest values that indicate if the battery have ever been close to deep-discharge.

 

If battery pack is connected, but not charging – after 180seconds, the DONE message will show, two minutes later the battery will switch off.

Serial output:

This dataset is output to the same FTDI interface:

Data is output on the serial interface at 115200baud, at 1hz.

This allows for nice graphing of charging/discharging, and full monitoring using Dataexplorer¬†with the plugin I’ve made:¬†Solo_Batt_Tool.xml

Of course, you are free to do whatever logging you wish, the format is basically semicolon delimited, and temperature, cell voltages are multiplied with 100/1000 so you don’t need to parse thru commas.

The format is:

$1;state(charging/discharging);time(ms);voltage;current;rel_cap;abs_cap;rem_cap;temp_c;c1;c2;c3;c4;ser1;ser2;ser3;ttf;cycles;dummy_checksum(LF)

example:

$1 ;1 ;20988; 1550; 0; 52; 52;2724;2445;3874;3874;3875;3876;105;26;76;-1;8;0

 

 

How-To:

Plug into battery , switch on battery.
or:
Plug into battery , and provide charging current.  You can use any standard charger, select Li-Po 4cell program with no balancing (the smart battery does the rest)

 

Firmware upgrade:

There is an custom bootloader on the device, so if the community or I figure out more about the battery, it’s possibly to upgrade it using a standard FTDI cable and the avrdude tool (for Linux,Mac,Windows).

FTDI cable, with extra pin header.

 

Insert pin header into FTDI cable, the protruding, short pins will fit into the SoloBatt_OLED’s ¬†six pins on the edge of the PCB. ¬† You will need to cut away, or puncture a little bit of shrink-wrap to access the edge.

The upper & lower  of the six pins on PCB, are marked BLK (black) and GRN(green)  Рmake sure that matches the orientation of the FTDI cable. (reversing does no damage)

Observe that there are two files in the firmware package:

“VG” is for displays with pin order: “VCC, GND, SCL, SDA”¬†
“GV” is for displays with pin order: “GND, VCC, SCK, SDA”

To write the new firmware you will  need avrdude application.

On Linux, it’s installed by: ¬†“sudo apt install avrdude”

The firmware upload command is:

avrdude -patmega328p -carduino -P /dev/ttyUSB0 -b115200 -D -Uflash:w:SoloBatt_OLED.1.1.hex :i

/dev/ttyUSB0 is most likely correct, the number will be higher if you have more than one USB serial device

If you are using windows, replace /dev/ttyUSBx o COMx ¬†, also, in windows you’ll need some FTDI drivers.

Please note that the programming protocol is arduino compatible just enough to make it work with avrdude,¬†but it’s not really arduino.

Firmware 1.1

  • Longer auto-off delay (was 2min , now 4min)
  • Longer time per screen 3s->6s
  • Serial output using FTDI cable at 115200 baud

 

Firmware 1.2

  • Warning if battery has detected uneven internal resistance.
  • Warning named “change cell” (not sure when that is supposed to kick in)
  • Low voltage records.
  • Three digits in cell voltages.
  • Fahrenheit & Celsius temperature.

Firmware 1.3

  • Serial logging for Dataexplorer plugin (and any other data collection).
  • Shorter splashscreen timeout.
  • Cosmetic fix for long status numbers on OLED display.
  • manual page flip. lets user skip forward to a certain page, and stops automatic rotation. ¬†(connect momentary switch between pin8 and pin9 – or – if you are using a microcontroller , just pull pin9 low.)

Download: SoloBatt_OLED_v1.3

Firmware 1.4

  • Pressing the power button on the Solo battery jumps to next screen, pressing button loads next screen, and disables the default time based change. (you can watch one as long you want).
  • Manual page change disables auto-off.
  • Displayed data is updated at 0.5Hz

Download: SoloBatt_OLED.1.4

Sony QX1 Focus/Trigger control for drone use.

 RC, PWM control for QX1.

Buy QX1 modification service ($150)

Sony ILCE-QX1 has great specifications at low weight, which makes it good for UAV photogrammetry use. ¬†It can be configured using WiFi , then retain the configuration. (so it’s not necessary to even enable wifi for each operation.

About the modification:

The pop-up flash assembly is removed, an microcontroller replaces the flash assembly, it’s interfacing the motherboard indirectly, via FPC. The flash cover is slightly cut to make space for the servo (PWM input) ¬† and logic level output that indicates shutter operation.

Can reliably do manual-focus shoot every 700ms. (no drops)

The camera will continue to function normally as before when the PWM interface is not supplied with power, except for the flash.

The modification requires micro-soldering; most narrow are three points within 1mm distance. Naturally, it voids camera warranty. (so test camera well before getting it modified.)

Features of the modification:

  • Camera will not shut down when inactive..
  • 3-wire servo connector (PWM input)
  • 1-wire logic output (high on shutter) -allows precise GPS positioning of each photo, and confirmation to the AP that photo is taken.
  • Command “Shoot” (just trigger a photo, for preset/manual focus)
  • Command “autofocus for 500ms, then shoot”
  • Command “autofocus for 1s, then shoot”

 

Suggested ArduPilot setup:

CAM_DURATION = 1
CAM_FEEDBACK_PIN (set to correct input)
CAM_FEEDBACK_POL = 1
CAM_MIN_INTERVAL = 300
CAM_SERVO_ON = 1000
CAM_SERVO_OFF = 1500
CAM_TRIGG_TYPE = 0

 

PWM Commands:

990us … 1400us = Shoot instantly (manual focus)
1401us … 1600us = Idle
1601us … 1800us = autofocus 0.5s , shoot
1801us … 2200us =autofocus 1s , shoot

I can convert your camera, or buy+modify one.

Contact for more information.

Mavlink to HoTT adapter – telemetry to Graupner HoTT, and LED control

ArduPlane , ArduCopter (and similar Ardupilot projects) use Mavlink for telemetry, while Graupner has a very useful telemetry system HoTT.

This device provides all the data Graupner’s¬†EAM(Electric Air Module),GAM(General Air Module),GPS,Vario modules offer.

Data that Ardupilot does not provide in it’s telemetry stream: (distance and direction to home, 1s,3s,10s vario-data and battery cell voltage/min/max voltage) are calculated in the device.

ArduCopter and ArduPlane are detected automatically, and correct mode-names will be displayed.

The GPS position format is converted from DD (degrees,decimals) transported by mavlink, to the DM (degrees, minutes.decimals) as expected by HoTT, direction and distance to home is also calculated, (it’s not provided by AP).

Note the “DIS.noGPS …” = Disarmed, no GPS Fix, mode is Stabilize.

20150310_194526

This is the inverting/flashing voltage background, (also audible warning) for¬† “Battery Low”.

20150310_195643

Arduplane & Arducopter modes are visible as text.  Future/unknown modes as number.
20150310_194732 20150310_19475620150310_194916 20150310_194940 20150310_195124 20150310_195201 20150310_19521620150310_19525620150310_194847

Real status messages: label_new_blue

The device enables HoTT to display actual Ardupilot system messages, longer messages are split and displayed as two interchanging parts. like this:

DSC_0005    DSC_0004

Bootup messages:

_20160425_225845

Should a prearm check, or arming check prevent you from arming, you will know exactly what the problem is.

DSC_0015   DSC_0011

For a quick overview over all messages you may see, here is a dump of messages found in ardupilot source code

This method is superior to FrSky telemetry, which at best, tries to recognize, and encode the messages, then a .lua script in the transmitter is supposed to display a corresponding/equivalent message. ¬†That method works only for known messages (depending on firmware), and things can get “lost in translation”.

This device, however, just display text as-is, and thus can display new and future messages as well as composite messages that may contain variables or debugging info.

Firmware upgrades label_new_blue

The device can be user-updated using an inexpensive FTDI cable (same cable as used to update MinimOSD)

Instructions and firmware will be posted on this site.

 

Low battery and critical battery alarms;

  • 3s ¬†Warning 10.8v , Critical ¬†10.2v
  • 4s ¬†Warning 14.2v , Critical ¬†13.6v
  • 5s ¬†Warning 18.0v , Critical ¬†17.0v
  • 6s ¬†Warning 21.5v , Critical¬† 20.4v

Warning inverts/flashes the part of the display that contains battery information, and give relaxed audible warning.  The LEDs, if connected, are blinking diagonally (only warning/critical state does that)

Critical battery level does the same, but the audible warning is more intense, and rapid,  LEDs are flashing diagonally very fast.

Detected cell count can be seen as number of displayed cell-voltages (which is calculated from initial battery voltage)

20150310_195643

most useful information at a glance, by using just heading, and flying so it gets equal to gearing to home – you can fly home even without seeing the model.

Mavlink mode-controlled LED controller.

There is no need for HoTT telemetry to be sent, only read the Mavlink protocol input, for the LED controller to work.

For ArduCopter, there are four outputs for leds/strips (non-amplified, so you¬†will need a transistor if you wish to use them with more than a few LED’s)

The blinking patterns are different for each mode, but follow this system:

  • Stabilize = solid on
  • Alt-hold = short off-time on rear leds
  • Autopilot modes does not have solid front light, indicating that AP is on
  • Diagonal blinking patterns are used for errors, noGPS fix, low battery, and anything else that may be reported over 3DR radio/mavlink as an critical state.
  • Warning/Critical blinking ignores LED Switch function.

The outputs are on pin 7(RearLeft),8(RearRight),9(FrontRight),10(FrontLeft)  .   Рthey will flash diagonally in case of critical events, and different patterns depending on mode/situation , GPS fix and so on.

LED Switch function: if pin2 gets a PWM betwen 900…1200¬Ķs , the LEDS goes dark except if critical condition, or a battery warning – in case of which, the PWM will be ignored, and LEDs will flash anyway.

Safety:

The device does only read mavlink, (it’s connected to telemetry TX pin) , fed with power from receiver or telemetry port,¬† and so it is unable to influence the operation of the autopilot in any way.

Connecting:

  • Voltage: GND and +5v goes to Pixhawk/APM or Receiver.
  • Connect RX pin to your 57600 baud telemetry TX pin on Pixhawk/APM
  • Connect Pad5 to your HoTT receiver‚Äôs telemetry input.

If you wish to power it from Pixhawk, It’s ok. This would be the connections then:

  1. Telemetry connector(of your choice),  Pin1 (red wire) Рgoes to VCC on the device
  2. Telemetry connector Pin2 goes to device’s RX pin
  3. Telemetry connector Pin6 (last one) foes to device’s GND
  4. Pad5 on the device, is connected to you HoTT RX’s “T” input.

This is an example of a possible connection:  Usually, people connect it in paralell to another Mavlink device, like OSD or radio, so there is no need to purchase a DF13 connector.

note that the device comes without wires, I assume most people do have a old servo cable, and are better off installing the length actually needed.

MavHottAdapter

 Troubleshooting:

  • If HoTT display (in the¬† mode that display text) says NO MAVLINK … check mavlink
  • If you only see mode, no other info –¬† check the parameters below, used to tell Ardupilot how often to send the different messages as suggested below:
  • SRx_EXT_STAT =2 ¬† ¬†=2Hz battery voltage, current and capacity GPS,fix .RAW GPS position, velocity, altitude
    SRx_RAW_SENS = 2  gives 2Hz pressure, and temperature.
    SRx_POSITION =2  position mixed with accelerometer & barometer data
    SRx_EXTRA2=2  heading, baro altitude, climb/descent rate

Buy Mavlink>HoTT interface ($60)
Shipping :

(Cart will appear below)

 

PWM>FLIR: Control FLIR TAU, TAU2, Quark using PWM (RC Radio)

 

A quick demo, switching between 8 modes using a servo-tester. The TAU640 in this video is set for outdoor use, and does not show the full advantage of Ice&Fire modes inside.

 

 

What you get:

  • A microcontroller on a small PCB (18x33x3mm) with soldering pads. Preprogrammed with 8 different modes as in this video, or up to 10 custom modes (as ordered).
  • The circuit works on 5v, uses less than 10mA.¬† You can connect it using 3 wires,¬† just like a servo)
  • The modes are selected using a knob on your transmitter, PWM decide mode, just like a servo position.
  • Serial data, is sent from the device to your FLIR device using one wire – (assuming you have common ground)
  • The common modes in this test video shows 8 modes I’ve found very useful.

What you need:

  • FLIR TAU ,TAU2, or QUARK thermal core.
  • For TAU,¬† “Wearsaver” helps a lot.¬† – It offers big soldering pads for connecting to the Hirose 50p connector. RX(pin2)
  • For Quark , you need to connect the serial signal to pin 15 of the Samtec 60 pin – connector. or to the breakout board, if you that.

Connection instructions:

Connect PWM (white wire) from your receiver to pad9 on PWM>FLIR device
Connect “-” (black wire) from your receiver to GND on the PWM>FLIR device
Connect “+” (red wire) from your receiver to VCC on the PWM>FLIR device

Connect pad8 on the device to your RX pad on wear saver, thats solder pad with green ring in the picture below.
Connect ground and +5v to TAU (black and red pads in picture below)

Finally, for information only:composite video out is on the yellow pad, and video ground on the blue pad on the TAU wearsaver.

TAU Wearsaver connection

Default mode configuration is:

1, white hot, no zoom , spatial threshold gain 34d.
2 white hot, 2x zoom, spatial threshold gain 34d.
3 Black Hot, no zoom , spatial threshold gain 34d.
4 Black Hot, 2x zoom, Spatial threshold = 9d
5 Fusion,no zoom, spatial threshold gain 34d.
6 ICE & Fire, no zoom, spatial threshold gain 34d.
7 Rainbow, no zoom, Spatial threshold, Gain = 34d
8 ICE & Fire, no zoom , Spatial threshold 17d

You can output a PWM from an autopilot, controlled by GCS, having any GUI you prefer.¬† – Or , if¬† you are will be controlling the PWM directly from a RC radio, you¬† do not need a rotary knob with steps, it’s perfectly easy to hit desired mode even with smooth knob due to the quick visual change, and equal “distance” between modes.

Buy PWM>FLIR interface ($160)

(Cart will appear below)

CryptoTelemetry – Secure firmware to prevent drone hijacking.

The CryptoTelemetry firmware:

Due to the proven vulnerability of current telemetry modules, I’ve developed something significantly stronger.

The source is not open, because it’s not real strong, certificate-based encryption, that allows end-user to replace, create new certificates. One advantage of doing it this way, is that you can purchase more radios and add them without having to reprogram all.

The secrets are permanently stored inside, and opening the source would give glues of possible attack vectors.  I intended this to be a long time viable, secure solution.

Still – the owner have the option to get more radios that will work with his private network.

Features:

  • 433,470,863,915Mhz support.
  • Fully compatible with all ground station configuration tools.¬† All the common AT commands and parameters are there, there’s even a NetID that will let you make different networks within your encrypted network – should you wish.¬† Example, if you have 4 CryptoTelemetry radios,¬† you can have 3 in different UAV’s , all have the same network ID, and will speak to the same GCS, typical use is “one at a time”. Or you can set two radios with NetID different than the others, and use two GCS and two UAV simultaneously. – Note that no non-CryptoTelemetry radios will be able to communicate with these radios.
  • Locked down firmware, even if one malicious customer purchased it for analysis, it would be hard to learn anything from it.¬† – Then it would take some time to find your encryption key.
  • Personal encryption key.¬† (most tend to be 11digits) Only the customer will have the key, it is NOT stored here. To order more radios for the same network, it’s essential to provide the key so a properly encrypted firmware for your radio can be generated.
  • Your radios will operate in your network, no one else will be able to see the data, or encrypt without some extensive cryptanalysis and hacking.
  • Encryption can be disabled by disabling ECC – radios enter then a transparent mode, which is 2x the usual ECC data rate.
  • Efficient; the data rate is the the same as ECC,¬† (half of the non-ECC speed.)
  • ECC (Golay24) is still active, for every 12bit , up to 3 bit errors can be corrected.
  • Delivered on standard, authentic, genuine 3DR telemetry radios.
  • If customer provides radios, it can be flashed onto a several other/compatible radios.
  • Reversible – should this method be obsolete one day, it is fully possible to convert these radios to run official 3DR provided firmware.

I am using this firmware for all my commercial operations as well as hobby flights, it is well tested.

Get your radio reprogrammed with CryptoTelemetry ($85):

Buy new original 3DR Radio with CryptoTelemetry ($135):