M27 in Color – 2015 vs 2005

September 2nd, 2015

These are two color images of M27 the Dumbbell Nebula. The first was taken Thursday August 20th over a 3 hour period with my 10″ SCT and is made up of LRGB images shot at 5 minutes per image at -10 degrees centigrade. There were between 3 and 5 images taken per color and it was combined with Nebulosity 4 and Photoshop CS 2015. I have taken this before in monochrome and in color (2nd picture in 2005) on my old camera, and I can see that the color separation filters that I’m using now is giving much closer color to the greenish blue color that should be in the center. The image has come a long way since my first tries in 2005 with the same telescope.

This object is another exploded star collapsed into a white dwarf which lights up the gas causing the colors.. This is in an extremely dense region of the Milky Way with many older stars. The sky was somewhat hazy last night and the wind picked up making guiding impossible, otherwise I would have combined more images. The dumbell goes form lower left to upper right and the wispy sections at the top and bottom require longer exposures than my guiding would have supported previously. I’m extremely pleased with my new camera, filters, color filter wheel and mount/scope.



Arducopter 3.0.1 Software Is Really Good – Good Enough For FPV

August 9th, 2013

Sequence 01_1I’ve been flying various incarnations of software on my almost 3 year old Arducopter and never felt comfortable enough to trust flying it by video signal alone – until now. The inertial positioning in horizontal and vertical is really good and feels rock solid under fpv. The “return home feature – rtl” is also very reliable now and I trust if I loose video signal, I can get home. I flew 12 flights  totally under fpv the weekend of 7/13/2013 and had great success.  I invoked multiple rtls – at least one every flight and a total of 15 or so over the weekend. I was also using a beta iPhone app to watch flight values and battery condition with voice warnings of low battery etc. Here is video of one of the flights at my in-law’s farm:

Ardustation 2 2.0.18 Released – Adds Low Aircraft Battery Voltage Warning

April 4th, 2013

I’ve been working on the Ardustation 2 software since August 2011 and I’ve finally gotten around to adding a feature that has been asked for more than once: a buzzer warning when the received Mavlink aircraft battery voltage has dropped at or below a set value.  The buzzer is sounded  ( at LCD screen updates – 1 Hz) when the voltage is at or below the set warning value while the “flight data” screen is displayed (see below).


Switching to another screen will silence the buzzer until the flight data screen is brought back up. I wanted a way to silence the buzzer if necessary and this mechanism turned out to be the simplest way to implement it – given the need for an interrupt driven buzzer timer. All other features of version 2.0.17 are intact (antenna tracking, parameter update).


I had a chance to test fly 2.9.1 on my Arducopter over the Easter weekend and this worked pretty well to keep my 4000 mah 3S Lipos from exceeding  the use of 80%  of the batteries capacity. Using a HobbyKing 3S voltage warning was killing the life of my batteries. After 12 flights trying to slowly increase the flight times vs battery remaining capacity, I settled at a  warning at 10.6 volts (my quad’s current drawn is about 20 amps at a hover) and that is the default in the software. I have another 2 minutes of flight time to land after the buzzer continously sounds and I’m happy that I’m not puffing my Lipos anymore.  This can be easily changed to other values in the source code before loading into the Ardustation.


My Ardustation has served me well over the last 2 years and I don’t anticipate adding any other features since RAM and screen real estate is very tight. Thanks to everyone who has downloaded the software and provided feature requests and comments and to the code contributors who have worked on Ardustation 2.

As always, the software is available at this link. Be sure to test this with your aircraft on the ground to verify that you understand the behavior and its limitation. I’ve only tested the voltage monitor with my quad – although it should work with airplanes also.

Compile this code only with the library contained within the zip file. The libraries provided with APM or ACM source code have changes that will cause compilation errors. This code can be compiled with Arduino 1.0.1 or 1.0.3.

New Version of Ardustation 2 – 2.0.17 Compatible with Arducopter 2.9.1

March 5th, 2013

This release is for Mavlink changes in ACM 2.9.1. The message location of the number of GPS satellites has been changed for ACM. Ardustation II 2.0.16 will display 0 GPS satellites with 2.9.1.

I’ve also added an additional antenna range/bearing as suggested by James Masterman. He reported antenna pointing issues at long ranges at his location in Australia. This algorithm seemed to fix his problem. I’ve tested both algorithms using a simulation and the results seem to be very close. I’ve left the default algorithm originally provided by 3DR but you can select the alternate algorithm by pressing the center button on the pad while on the antenna range/bearing display. The display will show ALG 1 for the new algorithm and ALG 0 for the old.

I’ve tested the software with my quad on ACM 2.9.1 and an APM 2.5. I have not tested this software with Arduplane 2.7, but I expect it to still work and appreciate any reports of problems by users.

The software is available at the usual spot:

Ardustation II Google Code Repository

Please be sure to download the zip file to a empty folder and to only use the library folder contained in the distribution. Do not merge this library folder with either the ACM or APM library folders. This software should be compiled with Arduino 1.0.3 or Arduino 1.0.1. Do not use the earlier versions as indicated in the Ardustation wiki.


Updated Mavlink 1.0 to Remzibi OSD Converter Software

October 22nd, 2012

I’ve been continuing to use my Remzibi OSD with my Arductoper quad and ACM version 2.7.3. I haven’t released this software in a while for the few who may still be wanting to use Remzibi OSD so I’m attaching the software to this post. This is the source code for the converter and needs to be compiled with Arduino 1.0.1.

Here is a link to the original article. Mavlink to Remzibi Howto


New Ardustation 2 2.0.15 Mavlink 1.0 Support

June 5th, 2012

I’ve just uploaded the latest Ardustation 2 release – 2.0.15 which adds Mavlink 1.0 support. This is to support the upcoming releases of ACM and APM with Mavlink 1.0. You can still use this release with Mavlink 0.9 by commenting out the “#define MAVLINK10” statement in the main ardustation2.pde file.
This version will also warn you if it detects the wrong Mavlink heartbeat being transmitted. Ardustation 2.0.15 will display an error message on the LCD when it detects the wrong heartbeat and direct you recompile with the opposite state of the #define MAVLINK10 statement. The start up message displayed on the LCD will indicate if you have compiled for Mavlink 1.0 or Mavlink 0.9.
I’ve have tested Mavlink 1.0 with ACM 2.6 Gamma, APM 2.4 (with Mavlnk 1.0 enabled) and with the Mavlink 1.0 version of the Mission Planner.
As always, please let me kinow if you have any issues with this release.

and is also available in my git clone here:
and you will need a git client to pull the clone down.

Modified Ardustation 2 Software Now Available

April 3rd, 2012


has my updated blog post.


I’ve updated the Ardustation 2  source code to allow compilation with Arduino 1.0 Relax and the latest libraries for ACM 2.5.3 and APM 2.3.0. This update also includes a modification of parameter names for PID editing that match ACM and APM. The updated version is 2.0.12.


The download zip file also includes the libraries used to verify compilation of the software. The software has been lightly tested with ACM and 2.5.3 and has not been tested with APM 2.3.0.  If you find any issues feel free to comment here or post an issue at the Ardustation 2 Google


The software is available here:


Download 2.0.12 for ACM 2.5.3 or APM 2.3.0 – compile with Arduino 1.0 Relax

Download 2.0.11 for ACM 2.0.48 or APM 2.24 – compile with Arduino 0022 Relax


My EEWeb (Electrical Engineering Community) Featured Engineer Interview

October 4th, 2011

Thanks to EEWeb for posting my featured engineer interview.

Heino’s EEWeb interview

EEWeb – Electrical Engineering Web Community – Site of the Day

September 26th, 2011

I was listed as site of the day on www.eeweb.com.  Here is the link:
My site of the day post
Some FPV video from my quad and fixed wing EasyStar
(volume is a bit loud on both videos)

Quadcopter FPV video with on screen video symbology and a little flip at the end

EasyStar FPV video with a crash at the end

Thanks EEWEB!

Using the DIYDrones Ardustation with a Tilt/Pan Video Antenna, Mavlink, Parameter Editing, and the Arducopter/ArduPlane

July 30th, 2011

Arducopter, Ardustation, and readymaderc.com Tilt/Pan Antenna

My Arducopter has a 1.280 Ghz video transmitter and camera for sending live video down to a groundstation. Initially I used a fixed ground antenna to match an onboard dipole transmitter antenna and found that multipath was a severe problem  when flying in an area with many structures. The ground antenna is a high gain patch and isolates the multipath if it is pointed directly at the Arducopter in flight. Having seen tilt/pan antennas for FPV and UAVs on the Internet, I started looking for a inexpensive solution that could use the datalink transmitted GPS location information to point my high gain patch at the quad during flight. My search led me to an inexpensive tilt/pan antenna system from readymaderc.com:

Antenna Pan/Tilt for EagleEyes Antenna Tracker

This tilt/pan assembly comes by default with Hitec HS-485HB servos which have enough torque to operate my patch antenna and video receiver. Once installed, the servos are geared to operate from 0 to 90 degrees in tilt and 360 degrees of pan. One disadvantage is that the assembly must rotate a full 360 degrees when exceeding the stop in either direction although this happens very quickly in my experience.

To operate the  Tilt/Pan assembly, I have modified Phillip Anthony Smith’s Mavlink Ardustation software to include tilt/pan commands driven by received Mavlink GPS position. RAM is very tight in the code and is focused on APM, but I manged to add a few new screens to output tilt/pan info and set/display home information for the antenna location. I had to remove APM pid modification screens to make my changes fit in RAM. This is problematic if you want a complete replacement for a ground station, but it was not a problem for me since I also use a second Xbee with a notebook to monitor the Arducopter. I just use the Ardustation for antenna positioning. I’ve also added code to position the location of the pan stop to the least obtrusive position at the flying site.  The following video shows the readmaderc.com antenna tracker in operation and some tips for using the software. The software can be downloaded here for others to modify or use as they see fit.


Note: The libraries distributed with versions of Arducopter 2.0.40 and later will get compilation errors due to changes in the Mavlink headers within the library. You can compile with the library contained in the Arducopter 2.0.36 source code distribution and the Ardustation software will still work with Arducopter 2.0.40 to 2.0.46. I’m working on source code changes to allow compilation with the modified Mavlink libraries.

A new version has been released that fully supports Arducopter and ArduPlane, parameter editing, antenna tracking, and autodetection of which platform is connected. This version also compiles with the latest libraries in ArduPlane 2.24 and Arducopter 2.0.48/49. The latest Ardustation 2 software  is 2.0.11.

New development and fixes for source here
Original ArdustationPSTilt/Pan Arduino Source

Demo Video