48 SERVO 10.2016
models organized in memory is important though, so you can
always load the setup for the right model on the first try.
Installing the ground station software was
straightforward. It only runs on Windows 7/8/10. For my
setup, I used a Surface Pro running Windows 10. First, you
install the SimpleIDE (integrated development environment)
to Flash the firmware onto the flight controller, then you
download the firmware to Flash, and finally install the
ground side software.
Flashing the firmware is a very easy task. There is
hardware on the board to allow you to just plug in a micro
B USB cable, open the firmware in SimpleIDE, and press the
“Load EEPROM & Run” button (Figure
11). No FTDI adapter board, programming
cable, or other fuss needed. Big thumbs
up on clear instructions for this step.
I have worked with the Propeller
microcontroller on other projects and am
looking forward to playing with the code
to add in extra sensors and functionality.
The code is all very well documented and
Next, we fire up the ground station
software and check out the settings for
the radio link. Here, we test the range of
motion and see which channels need to
be inverted (Figure 12). It is particularly
important to make sure that you have an
accessory switch configured as “Gear.”
On my Turnigy radio, I had to use the
menu system on the radio to assign a
switch to this channel. Refer to the
instructions on your radio for specific
directions. This switch will be used as a
flight mode selector for the ELEV- 8.
Section 7 — Configure the ESCs
Calibrating the ESCs is very easy with the ground
control software. You simply follow the instructions that tell
you when to connect and disconnect the battery, and the
software does the rest! Lots of beeping happens during this
process, but Parallax even has a sound file so you can hear
what a successful calibration sequence sounds like.
We also need to check the spin directions of the
motors to make sure everything is going in the correct
direction. The spin directions are silkscreened on the top
plate (again, beautiful attention to detail). There is
a button in the ground station software to spin up
one motor at a time. I used a tape flag to help me
see which direction they were spinning. On the
build, luck wasn’t in my favor as I had to reverse
three out of the four motor directions.
Now that everything is hooked up correctly,
we can zip tie the ESCs down and clean up any
final routing details.
Section 8 — Final Testing
In the final testing section, we install the
propellers and check the range of the radio setup.
Again, remember that with the propellers
installed, the quad can be quite dangerous — test
and fly safely. Make sure you are putting the
correct rotation direction propellers on the correct
motors! Not doing so will result in a spinning and
Figure 11. Uploading the firmware is quite easy with the SimpleIDE. Just open
the main program and click the “Load EEPROM & Run” button.
Figure 12. These are the ground station software settings that worked
for my Turnigy radio setup. Your setup may vary depending on the
radio and hookup used.