First a little background
I am in the IT industry and love working with technology. I fly planes, helis and scratch built tricopters. I have done some FPV but nothing long range etc. I really want to get deeper into FPV and want to start exploring aerial video/photography. Some for my own creativity and some for possibly a little extra $. So, that is where the Mikrokopter (MK) comes in. It really has a lot of potential and comes with all the features I am looking for such as; * Altitude and GPS hold
- Very stable platform for video/photography
- Hands off return to home.
- Waypoint programmability
- On the fly, in the air communication via wireless and a PC interface.
There are a lot more features that make this a great platform, but these are what really piqued my interest. Now, one thing that was immediately clear about the MK is that the build/operational info is abysmal! This is a German product and while most of the basics have been translated to English and a few other languages, there is ALOT left to be desired. From what I can tell it isn't that the translation is lacking, the info in general on the hardware/software is lacking. Fortunately, there are a couple very active forums that will help you figure out what you can't figure out in the WIKI or in the documentation. When I refer to the "knowledge-base" I am referring to all info out there on the MK to include the WIKI, MK website, Forums etc. Here are the main caveats with the lack of documentation
- Lost in translation - Some things that are translated are not correct. This is especially an issue when you are using something like Google Translate or Babelfish to read one of the German pages.
- There are a lot of "assumed" concepts in the knowledge-base. This is wide ranging, from simple terms to pretty in-depth technical concepts. For example, the MK gets its signal from the RX via a PPM signal. Now I have never had any need to explore this concept as all my current craft use traditional one servo connector per channel that connects to its own spot on the receiver. With the MK you have one PPM connection from your RX to the MK board that carries one PPM signal that is for all channels needed by the MK. On top of that, some receivers do have an accessible PPM signal and some don't. My Futaba FASST system for example does not and needs a $40 adapter. Not a big deal, but you need to know this when considering/designing your build.
- Parts compatibility. There are some things that are very proprietary with the MK. For example the ESC's seem to have to be very specific. From what I understand there are 3 options. the esc's that come with the MK, another compatible ESC designed specifically for the MK, and hacking an off the shelf ESC. Fortunately the ESC's are not overly expensive but when you are buying 4, 6 or 8 of them, it does add up.
- Building/wiring and parts changes. as you look through the knowledge-base you will see some images/instructions that don't make sense. That is because there are several versions of hardware out there and what you have may not have the same connections etc as the one in the instructions. Also, different people refer to different parts by different names etc.
- Programming/software. The MK is configures via the Mikrokopter-Tool. there are a lot of parameters you can tweak/control in this tool and figuring out what is possible, how to get to that field and how to adjust the field is quite challenging.
- The amount of "hidden" information. For example, the main MK thread on RCG is ALMOST 12000 posts long. As you know in forums the info is not in any consistent order. The info you are looking for may be in several posts spread over thousands of pages. Yes you can search but for example while trying to figure out what the USB connection was for on the MK Navi board, the search term returned almost 75 results. None of which directly answered the question. It was later found that it is used to access the GPS information and nothing else. This connection is shown in the WIKI page for the Navi board but its use is not mentioned. Asking this type of question in the forum could get you an answer, be completely ignored or as in my case, get you chastised for not using the search function. Anyway, that is an overview of my entrance into the MK world. I am hoping that my documenting of my build will help others with answers they can't seem to find. Fortunately, it seems that the recent popularity of one of the demonstration videos has drawn a lot of new people to the MK. I think this is pushing the developers to provide more comprehend-able information.
Now, on to the technical info:
- The MK has the following basic components;
- Flight board (Flight-Ctrl V2.0 ME): This is what the ESC's, Battery and RX connect to. It has the gyros for roll, nick and yaw built in and can also have a barometric pressure sensor attached that allows for automatic height hold.
- Navigation Board (Navi-Ctrl V1.1): This allows for the connection of a GPS receiver (MK-GPS) and electronic compass (MK3MAG) so that position/gps hold can be used. FYI, there are 2 versions of the compass. The version called MK3Mag - Compass Module with ACC allows connection to other devices, mainly for use with robotic systems from what I understand. From what I have been able to find out, there is no additional advantage to this version for use on an MK.
- ESC's and motors: The esc's need to be of a special design and are limited to the ones that come with the MK, or the ones listed here
http://www.1hoch4.net/shop/product_i...products_id=35 or modify an existing esc like shown here http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showt...conversion+i2c The motors are nothing exotic and many are using Turnigy motors etc.
Additional Components of note:
USB connector (MK USB (USB<-->TTL): This allows you to communicate with the MK via your PC and the MK-Tool. This is for updating firmware, diagnostics, Setting waypoints etc.
- 5v Regulator (DC/DC - regulator R-785.0-1.0 SIP3): This needs to be soldered to the Flightboard if you want to connect additional servos to the Flightboard for things such as pan and tilt camera servos. Thats right, even though there are servo connections on the Flightboard, they are NOT POWERED unless you buy this and install this!
- Bluetooth Adapter (SET: Bluetooth-Modul F2M03GXA + BT-Adapter): You can use this to communicate wirelessly with the MK via your PC and MKTool. you can do everything with this that you can do with the MK connected via a USB connection although doing firmware updates wirelessly is not recommended. There are reports of great range with these but the next item, the XBee is said to be a much better solution.
- XBee wireless communication device: This is not developed by MK but many users report this is the way to go. Basically you connect one of these to your USB port on your PC and hard wire the other to your MK and you have a wireless link and your MK is connected as if it was with a USB connection. User have reported rock solid connections with these all the way our to the limits of their FPV and RX range. These work in the 900MHZ range and user have reported that they have been using these along side 900MHZ video transmitters and have NOT experienced any interference between the two. Here are the parts needed;
To Be Continued...Maybe...
Well I finally received my Hex and have gotten off to a good start. Here we go...