Tag Archives: FrSky D8R-II Plus

HK Pilot32 – The Pixhawk "clone" arrived

Last week HobbyKing released the HK Pilot32, a controller for Copters, Planes and Rovers, based on the open source project PX4. I mentioned in my last post that I ordered one for me.

Update 21.04.2015: This one looks the same package as the one from HobbyKing, but the price is much better.

And today I received my package from HobbyKing, only 6 days after I made the order 🙂 The shipping time with DHL Express to Germany was just amazing!

Here are some photos from the HK Pilot32 and my first impressions with this flight controller:

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On the label you can see that the hardware version is as the Pixhawk from 3DRobotics – PX4 2.4.3.

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Overall the quality of the case is good and it doesn’t look cheep. Screws are on top of the case, which is not a bad idea. I miss that there are no holes in the bottom of the case, so I could mount it with screws on my SG Adventure carbon frame. Now I must use the mounting foam.

There are the HKPilot Mega 10s Power Module, Buzzer, Safety switch button, I2C Splitter module, 4GB SD Card (in the HK Pilot32), SD Card reader, Micro USB cable and other tiny cables as well.

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I wanted to see the quality of the production, so opened the plastic case by unscrewing the bolts. The solder connections look fine. I don’t know why, but some of the chip labels were slightly erased. Hope these are new, and not used before.

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And here one last photo of the case itself. There is some foam on the down size. This is were the barometer on the board is, so you don’t need to do this yourself, as for the Crius or APM board.

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Then I connected the board to my computer and the drivers were automatically installed on Windows 7.

Opened Mission Planner, connected the PX4 and there came a message, that a new firmware for the board is available. The HK Pilot32 came preloaded with the open source ArduCopter 3.1.3. The latest stable (not beta) version is at the moment ArduCopter 3.1.5. Downloaded and installed it without a problem, just as on the “original” Pixhawk.

So far everything is fine. Later I will test it on my carbon quadcopter and post how it works. Overall I am very happy going to the next 32bit level 🙂

Update 12.08.2014: Yesterday I replaced my  HK MegaPirate AIO board and FrSky D8R-II Plus receiver with the newly arrived HK Pilot32 and the smaller FrSky D4R-II receiver (It was flashed with the new 27ms CPPM firmware exact as I did it with the D8R-II Plus).

HK MegaPirate AIO = 15 grams; FrSky D8R-II Plus = 13 grams. HK Pilot32 = 33 grams with case; FrSky D4R-II = 5 grams. Overall 10g more of weight.

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Connected the motors as shown on the 3DRobotics site and calibrated the ESCs. I also did some small adjustments on my GPS-cable to fit in the HK Pilot32. Calibrating the flight controller and configuring the settings in the Mission Planner was an easy job. What took me a bit more time is to realize, that the new 32bit controller can not be used without the safety switch (Update: Here is how to disable it). With the actual 3.1.5 firmware of ArduCopter if you don’t connect the safety switch, you can arm it, but the motors don’t spin. So Google helped me finding that fact out. Connected the safety switch, hold it for about 3 seconds (until solid red) and then armed the copter. I tested it a bit at home and it was perfect, but the real tests outside are coming 🙂 So here two more photos of my carbon quad before and after.

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FrSky CPPM firmware update with Arduino

I have an FrSky D8R-II Plus receiver on my “SG Adventure” quad. I read on the DIY Drones site, that it is possible to update this receiver with the firmware for the FrSky D8R-XP, so I could use with CPPM signal. With CPPM you only use one wire for all the channels and not separate wires for every channel.

You can easily buy this FrSky Update Cable or you can save a bit money and time by updating/flashing the receiver with Arduino, which has an FTDI chip on board. I have an Arduino Uno, but my revision of the board doesn’t have an FTDI chip. So I decided to simply use my actual flight controller – the Multiwii Megapirate AIO board. You can use any Arduino based board with FTDI chip.

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First you need to download the 27ms CPPM firmware from the FrSky website. This firmware is actually for the D8R-XP receiver as mentioned, but it works with the D8R-II Plus too. Please keep in mind, that is officially not supported for the D8R-II Plus and I am not responsible for any damages on your hardware by doing this too. If you agree keep reading 🙂

Download the official FTDI Prog.  – EEPROM Programming Utility and install it on your computer.

There is a jumper on the side of your receiver. Take it out and place the jumper on the signal pins for channel 7 and 8, so these are bridged. This will then take the receiver into update mode.

Then connect the TX, RX and GND pins from your Arduino board to the TX, RX and GND pins on the side of your D8R-II Plus receiver. Important: Do not reverse the TX and RX as usual by Arduino. Connect TX to TX and RX to RX. To power your receiver: you can use a 5V battery or connect it as usual to the flight controller.

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To use the Arduino board for this we only need the FTDI chip, so we will suppress the Atmega chip by a constant press on the reset button. After the reset button is pressed, connect your board to the USB port of your computer. It could possibly install some drivers, so give it some time. Keep pressing the reset button 🙂

Open the FTDI Prog. Scan for FTDI Devices. Then invert the TX and RX as shown on the screenshots below and click on the flash icon. In the new opened window click “Program”. (Tipp: Remember to undone this procedure after flashing your receiver.)

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Keep pressing the reset button 🙂 Now go to the folder, where you downloaded the firmware file from the FrSky website, extract it and start the .exe file.

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Chose the right COM port in the dropdown menu, chose the firmware file from the same folder by clicking on “File”. If everything is fine, you should see the UID number in the bottom of window. If so, just click “Download” to upload the firmware. (For more info about these last steps, there is a pdf-manual in the folder, where the .exe file is. At the end you should have a working CPPM FrSky D8R-II Plus receiver. Now you can release the reset button of your Arduino or Multiwii Megapirate AIO board. I hope I have helped you, save some time and money with this method.

p.s. To use your receiver in CPPM mode after flashing, place the jumper on signal pins CH3 and CH4, so these are bridged. The CPPM signal will be on CH1 pin.

Update 12.08.2014: I updated the same way my new FrSky D4R-II receiver. It is smaller than the D8R-II Plus, weights only 5 gram and with the CPPM 27ms firmware has 8 Channels and the exact same functionality as the D8R-II Plus. Check how my SG Adventure carbon frame look now with the Pixhawk and the D4R-II receiver here.