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PHANTOM UAV – Autopilot Flight Preparation

 

Autopilot Flight Preparation

    Set Planner Parameters

    Flight Plan Page Features

        Prefetch Maps

        Display the Waypoint List

        Home Point

        Flight Plan Page Information

        Topological Data

    Create a Flight Plan

        Waypoint Command

        Other Command Types

        Editing a Plan

        Elevation Graph

        Flight Plan – Transfer To & From APM

        Flight Plan – Save & Load

    Geofence – Set Up

        Set Return Location

        Set Boundary Points

        Save & Load

        Enable & Disable

        Action On Geofence Breach

 

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Next Page – Flight Checklist

 

Autopilot Flight Preparation

This is a description of creating a flight plan in Mission Planner version 1.3.3.

Set Planner Parameters

On the ‘Config/Tuning ‘ page, select Planner.

 

 

Set the distance units. I have chosen ‘meters.

Set the speed units. I have chosen ‘meters/second/. (1 m/s = 3.6 k/h)

 

Flight Plan Page Features

Prefetch Maps

It is convenient to have a copy of the maps of the flight area in your PC instead of downloading them each time you plan a flight. If you have a portable PC, you can create flight plans in the field even without internet access.

On the ‘Flight Plan’ page of Mission Planner, select the type of map you plan to use.

 

 

Next, zoom in and display the area you wish to fly in. With the Alt key held down, press and drag the left mouse button to create a rectangle around the area you wish to prefetch.

Then right click anywhere on the map to display a menu. Select ‘Map Tool’, then ‘Prefetch’.. You may be given a selection of zoom levels. The higher the number, the more detail and hence larger the file.

Display the Waypoint List

On the ‘Flight Plan’ page of Mission Planner, press the chevron symbol at the right of the green bar beneath the map to display the waypoint list. This is really a list of commands and a waypoint is just one type of command. The list of commands is called the flight plan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Home Point

If you want to set the home point to your current location, then click on ‘Home Location’. The latitude and longitude will be copied from the APM GPS and the absolute altitude (height above sea level) will be taken from the map.

 

If you are not on location, drag the home point to the area where you will create the flight plan. Later, when you take the aircraft on location, the home point will be set to the place you power up the aircraft.

Flight Plan Page Information

In the top left corner of the map is some useful information.

 

Distance : This is the total length of the flight path.

Prev : This is the distance between the cursor and the last waypoint in the list.

Home : This is the distance between the cursor and the home point.

Topological Data

In the top right corner of the page is the map topological data. This is the latitude, longitude and altitude of the location of the cursor on the map.

Create a Flight Plan

The types of commands that can be written into the flight plan are described here.

Waypoint Command

You can create waypoints by left clicking on the map or right clicking anywhere on the map and selecting from the menu. When you do, a command is added to the command list.

 

 

Each waypoint command has latitude, longitude and altitude.

The default altitude is used whenever a waypoint command is written. Change this value as required.

The latitude, longitude and altitude of a waypoint command can be edited when it is in the list.

Note that the altitude of the command  is always relative to the altitude of the aircraft when it is powered up. When an aircraft is powered up, the APM sets its altitude to zero.

 

 

If the ‘Verify Height’ box is checked, the topology data on the map is used to adjust the waypoint altitude depending on the height of the ground beneath the waypoint relative to the home point. For example, if the default altitude is 100m and the height of the ground at waypoint 1 is 15m above the home point altitude, then the waypoint 1 altitude will be set to 115m. During the flight, the aircraft will be 100m above the ground at each waypoint.

 

Further information is also displayed for each waypoint in the command line.

Gradient : This is a measure of the steepness of the climb or descent from the previous waypoint. A positive gradient means ascent from the previous waypoint, a negative gradient means descent.

Distance : this is the distance from the last waypoint to this waypoint.

Azimuth : This is the bearing (in degrees) the aircraft will take from the last waypoint to this waypoint. (eg. 0 degrees is due North).

 

Waypoint Radius

 

This applies to all waypoints in the list.

During the flight, as soon as the aircraft is within the waypoint radius, it will then start to navigate to the next waypoint.

Edit the waypoint radius as required.

Loiter Radius

This applies to all loiter commands in the list. When the aircraft is doing a loiter command, it flies in a circle with radius equal to the loiter radius with the loiter point in the centre.

Edit the loiter radius as required.

Other Command Types

A new command can be inserted in the command list by first selecting the number of the command below which you wish to add the new one. The selected command is highlighted in blue. Click the ‘Add Below’ button and a new command is added. Change the command type by selecting from the command pull down menu. Edit the parameters according to the command type.

A new command can also be added to the end of the command list by right clicking on the map and selecting from the menu.

Editing a Plan

To move a way point, click on it and drag it.

To delete a command, click the ‘X’ button in the command line.

To swap a command with the command above it, click the up arrow in the command line.

To swap a command with the command below it, click the down arrow in the command line.

Elevation Graph

An elevation graph is useful to check the aircraft’s height above the ground during the planned flight.

Right click on the map and from the menu select ‘Map Tool’, then ‘elevation Graph’.

 

 

Note that the height of the aircraft is shown as well as the height of the ground beneath the aircraft. Both graphs show heights above sea level. The aircraft in this example takes off from the altitude of the home location which is 38m above sea level and flies 100m above the home location altitude through waypoints 2, 3, 4 and 5 which are 138m above sea level.

Flight Plan – Transfer To & From APM

To transfer a flight plan from the APM to Mission Planner, click ‘Read WPs’.

 

To transfer a flight plan from Mission Planner to the APM, click ‘Write WPs’.

Flight Plan – Save & Load

To transfer a flight plan from a file to Mission Planner, click ‘Load WP File’.

 

To transfer a flight plan from Mission Planner to a file, click ‘Save WP File’.

Geofence – Set Up

Set Return Location

On the map, right click and select from the menu ‘Geo-Fence’ and then ‘Set Return Location’. A red return location is placed on the map. Cilck and drag it to the required location.

Set Boundary Points

On the map, right click and select from the menu ‘Draw Polygon’ and then ‘Add Polygon Point’.

Left click to add further points. Click and drag each point as required.

 

When all the points are completed, on the map right click and select ‘Geo-Fence’ then ‘Upload’. Enter the minimum and maximum altitudes and when the geofence has been transferred to the APM, the geofence is displayed like this.

 

 

Upload & Download

To transfer a geofence from Mission Planner to the APM, on the map click and select ‘Geo-Fence’ and then ‘Upload’.

Before transfer, you are required to enter the geofence minimum and maximum altitudes.

To transfer a geofence from the APM to Mission Planner, on the map click and select ‘Geo-Fence’ and then ‘Download’.

Save & Load

To transfer a geofence from Mission Planner to a file, on the map right click and select ‘Geo-Fence’ and then ‘Save to File’.

To transfer a geofence from a file to Mission Planner, on the map right click and select ‘Geo-Fence’ and then ‘Load from File’.

Enable & Disable

The geofence is automatically enabled and disabled if the parameter FENCE_AUTOENABLE is enable.

In ‘Auto’ mode, the geofence is disabled on the ground before takeoff, automatically enabled after an auto takeoff and automatically disabled at the beginning of an auto landing

VALUE

ACTION

0

Auto-enable geofence disabled

1

Auto-enable geofence enabled.

This parameter FENCE_AUTOENABLE is set = 0.

 

The ‘AUX2’ switch is the geofence enable / disable switch. The ‘GEAR’ switch is the geofence reset switch.

The geofence is enabled when the ‘AUX2’ switch is in position 1, disabled in position 0. The ‘GEAR’ switch in position1 resets a geofence breach.

After a fence breach, the APM mode is set to ‘Guided’ mode. The mode is returned to the mode it was in previously when the aircraft is inside the geofence and the ‘GEAR’ switch is set to position 1 to reset the geofence breach or the ‘AUX2’ switch turns off the geofence.

Action on a Geofence Breach

The action taken on a geofence breach is determined by the FENCE_ACTION parameter.

VALUE

ACTION

0

None

1

Set mode to ‘Guided’, throttle control by APM.

2

Report breach to ground station only

3

Set mode to ‘Guided’ with pilot control of throttle.

This parameter FENCE_ACTION is set = 1.

 

The return point after a fence breach is determined by the FENCE_RET_RALLY parameter.

VALUE

ACTION

0

Return to fence return point.

1

Return to nearest rally point if defined, otherwise return to home point.

This parameter FENCE_RET_RALLY is set = 0.

 

The altitude after a geofence breach is determined by the parameter FENCE_RET_ALT. Its units are metres.

If FENCE_RET_ALT > 0, then the value of FENCE_RET_ALT is used

If FENCE_RET_ALT <= 0, then the midpoint between FENCE_MIN_ALT and FENCE_MAX_ALT is used.

If FENCE_RET_ALT <= 0 and FENCE_MAX_ALT < FENCE_MIN_ALT, then ALT_HOLD_ALT is used.

This parameter FENCE_RET_ALT is set = 50m.

 

 

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