AeroDrone MR4 Mk4 - Operation’s Manual

1.Introduction

Welcome to the AeroDrone MR4 Mk4 Getting Started Guide. Here you’ll be able to find out everything you need to know in order to fly your system safely.

Although this system is easy to use, it does have a number of advanced features that require your complete understanding to operate the vehicle safely and within regulations. We encourage you to read through this entire guide before trying to fly, so that you have a solid understanding of these features and their operation. It’s also a good idea to download or print this guide and have it with you when flying, in case you need to refer to it at any stage.

Reading this Guide

When reading through this document you’ll notice different coloured callouts that provide additional information;

NOTE or REFERENCE

These provide additional information that will be useful to read or point you to a section of the document that is relevant to what you’re reading.

HINTS and TIPS

These are worth reading to understand a topic further, and maybe even save some time.

IMPORTANT MESSAGE

Please read and understand each of these messages before moving on. If there’s something you don’t understand please contact us for clarification.

WARNING

Warnings are vitally important to your safety and the safety of others. Please read and follow them carefully before completing any steps associated with them.

Downloading/Printing this Guide
  • You can download and print a copy of this guide by clicking the download PDF icon at the top of the page.
If you download or print this guide, please remember to regularly check back to this online guide to make sure there hasn’t been any updates or changes made since you downloaded/printed the guide.

2.Regulations

Most countries have regulations in place that govern the safe use of drones. These regulations are in place to not only ensure your safety, but the safety of other; aircraft, people, and property on the ground. It’s very important that you understand your countries local laws and regulations regarding the use of drones.

Australia

In Australia, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) is the organisation empowered by the Civil Aviation Act to develop and enforce these safety rules and regulations. Most people find the regulations difficult to read and interpret. As a result, CASA have released an eLearning Guide that helps determine what rules apply to you and explains the regulations in plain English.

There are many different names or terminology for drones. CASA uses Remotely Piloted Aircraft, or RPA for short. So wherever you see the term RPA, you know they’re just talking about drones.

For further information on the Australian rules and regulations around drones you can visit the CASA RPA website.

There is also a range of other great resources available about flying safely, following regulations and being a responsible pilot. The Australian Association of Unmanned Systems (AAUS) website is great and has some really useful information about all of these topics.

3.Preparing the Aircraft

3.1.Batteries

3.1.1.Battery Safety

LiPo batteries can be dangerous and care must be taken when charging and handling.

For further information, please download these two documents:

3.1.2.Battery Charging

The E4CUBE charger is very simple to setup and easy to use. To charge your battery simply plug the included AC cable into the back of the charger and then into a 240v power point.

Wait for the blue LED indicator lights on the top of the charger to flash alternatively. Then connect the battery’s balance terminal into the correct port on the front of the E4CUBE charger. You should have either a 3S or 4S battery (3-cell or 4-cell) so the 2S port will never be used. The battery balance connector will only fit into one of the charge ports and it will also only go in one way, so do not force the plug into the charge port otherwise you may cause damage to both the battery and charger.

When you’ve plugged the battery into the correct charge port, the blue LED indicator lights on the top of the charger will show the charge progress of the battery. Once the battery is fully charged the blue LED indicator lights will all remain on solid.

When using a LiPo battery for the first time you may not get the full rated capacity (and therefore flightime) that you expect. New LiPo batteries need to be cycled several times before reaching their full capacity potential.

3.2.Folding and Unfolding

The first thing you’ll notice is that the aircraft comes with the arms folded, for easy storage and transportation.

Unfolding

To unfold the aircraft, simply follow these steps;

  1. Remove the main cover by unclipping each of the four black o-rings holding it down to the arms.
  2. Partially loosen the eight white thumb screws (four on top and four underneath the aircraft) so that the washer underneath the thumbscrew clears the plate. There’s no need to undo the thumbscrews all the way as unfolding will occur without them being completely removed.
  3. Once the washer is clear of the plate, fold each arm outwards by 45 degrees so that the aircraft now forms an “X” shape.
  4. Tighten each thumb screw again, being careful to ensure the washer fits down into the circular cutout in the plate. Once tight, the washer and thumb screw ensures the arm will not fold inwards during flight.

Folding

To fold the aircraft for storage or transport simply reverse the steps you completed to unfold the aircraft.

3.3.Installing Antennas

Before powering the aircraft you need to install the telemetry antennas.

Powering the aircraft without antennas can cause damage to the telemetry module.

To install the antennas simply screw each antenna on to the bulkhead connector on the bottom of the drone.

To achieve the best performance (ie. range) from the telemetry system, one antenna should be as horizontal as possible and the other should be as vertical as possible. This is also known as horizontal and vertical polarisation.

 

3.4.Propellers

The aircraft comes with folding propellers. They’re simple to use and easy to fold for storage or transport.

The propellers need to be loose enough to swing into place when the motor turns. Do NOT overtighten!

Video

4.Operating the Aircraft

4.1.Remote Controller

The Remote Controller (also known as RC Controller or RC Transmitter) is the most direct way to control your aircraft. Even though it’s possible to fly the aircraft without using the Remote Controller, we always recommend you have it close by, ready to use should the need occur.

Below is a diagram of the Remote Controller stick and switch functions;

Spectrum DXe

 

Fr Sky Qx7

 

 

Power Switch

The power switch simply allows you to power up the Remote Controller when you’re ready to begin flying. For the Spectrum DXe controller, simply slide the switch up, whilst for the Fr Sky Qx7 controller press and hold until the display screen shows the Bask Aerospace logo.

There’s also a battery status indicator on the front of the Spectrum DXe controller. When the batteries are low, the battery status indicator will go red. When this happens, all flying should be ceased immediately and the batteries should be replaced/recharged.

The Fr Sky Qx7 controller will show the battery status of the controller on the display screen during operation. An alert will be given when the battery is nearing depletion and all flying should be ceased immediately and the batteries should be replaced/recharged.

Throttle/Yaw stick

The Throttle and Yaw stick is a two-axis joystick. The throttle is controlled with the up/down movement of the stick and the yaw is controlled with the left/right movement of the stick. You’ll notice that the yaw movement is spring loaded, causing it to always spring back to the center. The throttle however, is not. This allows you to set the throttle at different positions and remove your finger without the throttle changing. This is mostly useful in automated/assisted flight modes.

WHAT IS THROTTLE?

The throttle is what controls the altitude of the aircraft or speed of the motors. It’s the primary control that allows the aircraft to move up and down in the air.

WHAT IS YAW?

Yaw is the rotation of an aircraft about its yaw-axis that causes a change in heading. This can be thought of as the direction the front of the aircraft is pointing.

Pitch/Roll stick

The Pitch and Roll stick is also a two-axis joystick. It controls both the pitch (up/down movement) and roll (left/right movement) of the aircraft. You’ll notice both sticks are spring loaded, causing them to always spring back to the center.

WHAT IS PITCH?

Pitch is the angle of an aircraft about its pitch-axis that causes a forward/back change in the position of the aircraft. This can be thought of as moving the aircraft forwards and backwards, just like a car.

WHAT IS ROLL?

Roll is the angle of an aircraft about its roll-axis that causes a left/right change in the position of the aircraft.

Flight Mode Switch

The flight mode switch allows you to command the aircraft to change between different modes. The switch has three possible positions and is setup as follows;

  • Position 1 (Back) – Altitude Hold Mode
  • Position 2 (Middle) – Loiter Mode
  • Position 3 (Forward) – Auto Mode

The flight mode switch will be identifiable by either a yellow or green indicator over the switch stem.

RTL (Return Home) Switch

The RTL switch allows you to activate the RTL (“return to home”) feature of the system. The switch has two positions and is setup as follows;

  • Position 1 (Back) – RTL Off
  • Position 2 (Forward) – RTL On

The RTL switch will be identifiable by a red indicator over the switch stem.

Camera Tilt Switch

The camera tilt switch allows you to set the camera to different angles. By default the camera should point forward. The switch has three possible positions and is setup as follows;

  • Position 1 (Up) – Face Forward (0 deg)
  • Position 2 (Middle) – Oblique (45 deg)
  • Position 3 (Down) – Face Down (90 deg)

Position 1 and 2 are good for filming or capturing still images. Position 3 is best suited to mapping applications.
Trim Tabs

The trim tabs should never be used and should always be centered. If they’re not centered you risk crashing the aircraft.

4.2.Flight Modes

For safe and normal operation, it’s important to understand that each flight mode requires all the aircraft’s sensors and electronics to be working correctly. It’s imperative that you follow all the steps set out in this guide to ensure the system is working correctly before flying.

This is especially true for the GPS, which has no redundancy and can be affected by a number of different factors. Most of the flight modes will NOT work correctly if you have a bad GPS signal.
Altitude Hold Mode

Altitude Hold Mode means the aircraft will hold altitude without any pilot input and can be thought of as an “assisted-manual” flight mode. With the throttle joystick centred in the “deadzone” the aircraft will maintain altitude using the onboard barometer. However, as this mode is not GPS dependent the aircraft is not fixed in position and is able to “drift” when both joysticks are centred.

It is recommended that the operator is able to fly the aircraft confidently in this mode in case of an emergency that requires you to take manual control.

Moving the throttle stick up/down from the center “deadzone”, commands the aircraft to ascend/descend at a rate proportional to the position of the stick from center. This means the more you raise the throttle stick above center the faster the aircraft will climb, and conversely the more you lower the stick from center the faster the aircraft will descend. The climb and descent rate is limited in this mode by the climb and descent speed settings, which can be changed using your Ground Control Software. Moving the throttle back into the central “deadzone” at anytime will cause the aircraft to maintain it’s current altitude.

Loiter Mode

Loiter Mode means the aircraft will hold altitude, position and heading automatically without any pilot input. Both joysticks need to be centred for this to occur.

Moving the throttle stick up/down from the center “deadzone”, commands the aircraft to ascend/descend at a rate proportional to the position of the stick from center. This means the more you raise the throttle stick above center the faster the aircraft will climb, and conversely the more you lower the stick from center the faster the aircraft will descend. The climb and descent rate is limited in this mode by the climb and descent speed settings, which can be changed using your Ground Control Software. Moving the throttle back into the central “deadzone” at anytime will cause the aircraft to maintain it’s current altitude.

  • This mode automatically attempts to maintain the current altitude, position and heading.
  • The aircraft’s horizontal position can be manually adjusted using the pitch/roll stick.
  • When the pitch/roll stick is released, the aircraft will slow to a stop and hold it’s position.
  • The altitude is controlled using the throttle stick.
  • The heading is controlled using the yaw stick.
This is a GPS-dependent mode, so it is essential that good GPS signal is acquired on the ground before attempting to use this mode in flight.
Auto Mode

Auto Mode means the aircraft will run the current mission that has been uploaded to the aircraft. If a takeoff command has been included in the mission then the aircraft will automatically takeoff from the ground. Similarly, if a land or RTL command has been included in the mission the aircraft will automatically land (either at the land command location or at the home location).

To understand how to plan a mission, please refer to the “Ground Control Software” Section.

This is a GPS-dependent mode, so it is essential that good GPS signal is acquired on the ground before attempting to use this mode in flight.
Return to Launch (RTL) MODE

Once activated the aircraft will attempt to return to the home location automatically. This is very useful if you lose orientation or the aircraft isn’t flying the mission you’d expected.

Home Location

The home location is set automatically by the aircraft based on the GPS location it’s at when you arm it. This is the location that the aircraft will return to should RTL mode be activated. Remember, RTL mode can be activated manually by the pilot, automatically by a system fail-safe or, in a mission using the RTL mission command.

It’s important to ensure the home location is at the center of an area that is at least 5m x 5m in size with no overhanging trees or other obstructions.

There are no obstacle avoidance systems onboard this aircraft. When RTL mode is activated, the aircraft will fly a straight path back to the home location from wherever it is. If there are obstacles along this straight path the aircraft will crash into them.
If the aircraft malfunctions or loses GPS signal, RTL mode will NOT help. This is why we recommend being able to fly the aircraft in stabilize mode. That way, should something go wrong, you have the opportunity to try and land the aircraft as safely as possible.
By default the aircraft will first rise to at least 15 metres before returning home, or it will maintain the current altitude if it is higher.

This is a GPS-dependent mode, so it is essential that good GPS signal is acquired on the ground before attempting to use this mode in flight.

4.3.Failsafe Systems

4.3.1.Remote Controller Failsafe

If the connection is lost between the remote controller and the aircraft, the RC fail-safe is triggered. Once triggered the aircraft will initiate RTL mode, returning to the home location and landing automatically.

Even if the remote controller and the aircraft regain connection, the aircraft will remain in RTL mode unless the pilot overrides this. To override the RTL command, simply toggle the RTL Switch on the remote controller ON and then OFF again.

4.3.2.Battery Failsafe

The battery fail-safe helps protect you from a scenario where the aircraft runs out of battery power while still flying. It’s also used to help ensure the battery is not damaged by discharging it too much.

The battery fail-safe will trigger based on two limits. In both cases, the aircraft will initiate RTL mode, returning to the home location and landing automatically.

Low Voltage Limit

When the battery voltage reaches the predetermined minimum voltage. This should be set to the minimum voltage of your battery based on its number of “cells”. Below is a table showing number of cells and minimum voltages;

 

Min. Battery Voltage
3 Cell10.2V
4 Cell13.6V
5 Cell17.0V
6 Cell20.4V
Low Capacity Limit

When the remaining capacity in the battery reaches a predetermined minimum. Usually this is set to allow at least 20% remaining battery capacity when the fail-safe triggers but can be set higher or lower if needed.

For example; if your battery has a capacity of 5000mAh, you would set the low capacity limit to 1000 (which is 20% of 5000).

When setting this parameter it’s important to think about what sort of flying you’re doing and when the fail-safe could be triggered. Remembering that the percentage you allow for with this parameter is how much battery capacity the aircraft will have to return back to the Home Location.

Whenever you disconnect and reconnect a battery to the aircraft, it will assume the connected battery is fully charged (even if it’s the battery you just disconnected). If this happens with a battery that has been used previously, the Low Capacity Limit will fail to work correctly. For this reason, it’s good practice to always connect a fully charged battery.

4.4.Status LED

The status LED located on the back of the aircraft gives you a simple and easy to see indication of the health/state of the aircraft.

Some of the LED indications also have associated sound/tones patterns as well. Below is a table of all of the different possibilities LED meanings;

LED/SoundColourSoundMeaning
 Flashing Red and Blue –Initializing gyroscopes. Hold the vehicle still and level while it initializes the sensors.
 Flashing Blue –Disarmed, no GPS lock found. Autopilot, loiter and return-to-launch modes require GPS lock.
 Solid Blue –Armed with no GPS lock
 Flashing GreenQuick double tone when disarming from the armed state.Disarmed (ready to arm), GPS lock acquired.
 Fast Flashing Green –Same as above but GPS is using SBAS (so should have better position estimate).
  Solid GreenSingle long tone at time of armingArmed, GPS lock acquired. Ready to fly!
  Double Flashing Yellow –Failing pre-arm checks (system refuses to arm).
 Single Flashing Yellow –Radio failsafe activated
  Flashing YellowQuick beeping toneBattery failsafe activated
   Flashing Yellow and BlueHigh-high-high-low tone sequence (dah-dah-dah-doh)GPS glitch or GPS failsafe activated
   Flashing Red and Yellow Rising tone EKF or Inertial Nav failure
   Flashing Purple and Yellow – Barometer glitch
 Solid Red – Error
   Solid Red “SOS” tone sequence SD Card missing (or other SD error like bad format etc.)

To listen to the different sounds that will be emitted, please visit the ArduPilot Pixhawk Sounds Directory.

4.5.Ground Control Software

Ground Control Software allows you to setup, change and control your aircraft using a laptop. We currently recommend using QGroundControl which is both free and open-source.

For full instructions on installing and using QGroundControl, please read through the QGroundControl Documentation.
NOTE: Please DO NOT use any of the features in the “Setup” menu of QGroundControl to change parameters of the drone without prior approval.

5.Flying the Aircraft

5.1.Pre-flight

5.1.1.Powering the Aircraft

Before connecting the battery, ensure the remote controller is turned ON and the throttle stick is all the way down.

To turn on the remote controller, refer to the “Remote Controller” Section.

Place the aircraft on the ground with the back facing you (as shown below). Try to place the aircraft in a position that allows it to be as level as possible.

It’s not a good idea to start on sloping ground or an uneven surface as you may have difficulty taking off.

Now slide the battery in from the right hand side. You should feel some friction and then a slight “click” as the battery locks into place. The aircraft will immediately power up and begin initialisation of the sensors.

Don’t touch or move the aircraft for 10 seconds while the status LED flashes red and blue and the sensors are calibrated.

Video

5.1.2.Arming the Aircraft

Arming is the process of readying the aircraft for flight. This process helps maximise safety and reduce accidents by ensuring a pilot doesn’t spin up the motors unintentionally.

Before arming the aircraft, ensure the throttle is at zero (ie. all the way down) and the status LED is flashing green.
If the status LED is not flashing green, refer to the “Status LED” Section to understand what’s going on.

This system has a two-factor arming process. The first is a physical button known as the “arming switch”, and the second is an arming gesture performed on the remote controller.

The Arming Switch

When you’re ready to arm the aircraft, you’ll first need to push and hold the arming switch for two seconds. It’s located just underneath and behind the status LED at the back of the aircraft.

The arming switch blinks red when not activated and stays solid red when activated.
The Arming Gesture

Now that you’ve activated the arming switch the aircraft is ready to be armed. The last step is to perform the arming gesture on the remote controller.

Once you complete the next step the motors will begin to spin at idle. Although the aircraft won’t go anywhere it’s vital you ensure that both you and anyone around are well clear of the propellers.

To do this, push and hold the throttle stick to the bottom right-hand corner for roughly five seconds. This will command the aircraft to arm. The status LED should go solid green and a long tone will be emitted indicating the aircraft is now ARMED.

If this is the first time you’re arming the aircraft since connecting the battery, you will notice the status LED runs through a flashing red and blue stage before going to solid green. This is normal and should be expected.
Do not hold the stick to the right for more than 10 seconds otherwise you may activate a calibration mode.

For safety reasons, the drone will automatically DISARM after 15 seconds of inactivity(ie. no pilot inputs) while on the ground.

5.2.Post-flight

5.2.1.Disarming the Aircraft

To disarm the aircraft, move the throttle stick to bottom left-hand side (ie. stick all the way down and to the left) and hold it there for 2-4 seconds. The motors will stop spinning, a short tone will be emitted and the status LED will flash green again. The aircraft is now DISARMED.

6.Maintaining the Aircraft

The AeroDrone MR4 Mk4 requires very little maintenance to keep the aircraft flying safely, as long as it has been operated correctly for each flight.

Below is a list of maintenance items you need to keep in mind and check on regularly;

Screws

The most important and regular maintenance you need to perform on your aircraft is to check that all screws remain tight and securely fastened.

The screws attaching each motor to an arm have been fastened with a thread locking compound (as shown below). We recommend using Loctite 246 as this is what we use during manufacturing of the system.

Motors

The maintenance required for the AeroDrone MR4 Mk4 motors is very minimal. After every 10 hours of run time, we recommend adding a little Singer Sewing Machine Oil to each bearing.

Propellers

It’s important to keep a check on the deterioration of the propellers (if any). If you find any cracks or delamination of the carbon fiber, we recommend you replace the propeller immediately. To check for delamination simply try to flex the propeller along it’s length. If it’s very easy to bend or it bends a long way down/up, replace it immediately before flying.

Most of the time delamination is not visible to the eye. Performing a visual inspection won’t be enough to recognise it.
Suggest Edit