Drone Course - Part 0 - an introduction

Drone Course - Part 0 - an introduction

It’s 5th anniversary of me working with drones this summer. In short:

  • I spent 2 years working on Bachelor’s and Master theses in drone field
  • Did two 1 month internships in companies where I was helping with drone projects
  • Worked over 2 years at SkyCircuits where I helped develop ground control station software for autopilots
  • Worked for the past 8 months at Terabee where among other things I’m testing rangefinders and positioning systems on drones

All of this wouldn’t be possible without the enormous help of communities (big shout out to diydrones members and every contributor to Arducopter or Px4 projects). This series will be a way to ‘give back’ to community and hopefully help people to get into drones.

Here is a rough list of what this series will cover:

Syllabus v0.1

  • Getting started with drone flying on the budget
  • Transmitters (particularly FRSky)
  • Principles of flight for multirotors, helicopters and fixed wings
  • Advantages and disadvantages of different platforms
  • Aviation terminology in UAV context
  • Control modes
  • Autopilot sensors
  • Autopilot architecture - the basics
  • Introduction to open source autopilots - key differences
  • Multirotor mixers
  • Swashplate setup for helicopters
  • Setting up your first multirotor
  • Batteries
  • Safety - I’ll cover this topic extensively but surely I will dedicate at least one piece just for it
  • Autonomous navigation
  • External sensor integration for pixhawk driven multirotors
  • Introduction to mavlink
  • Using Robot Operating System for multirotors
  • Software In The Loop (SITL) with Pixhawk
  • Introduction to the concept of Hardware In The Loop (HITL)
  • Troubleshooting common problems with autopilot setup

What you need to know

I will not ask you to have any specific knowledge. Basic math should do. For the parts of the tutorial that cover interfacing to Pixhawk you might need some knowledge in programming and a computer running Linux.

My vision for those who will finish all the tutorials

My goal is for you to be able to:

  • Fly selected platform type safely for yourself and your surroundings
  • When piloting knowing what to do when things go south
  • Have basic understanding of autopilots and to know when to use different flight modes
  • Have a feel for flight principles for different aircraft
  • Know what information to look for when working with custom drones
  • If you know C++ or Python: interface with Pixhawk and send custom commands to it

Only input from people like you can make this course good

I’ll try to take as fresh look at drones as I possibly can however your job is to keep me in line. If you don’t understand something then it means I’m failing and the tutorial is not doing it’s job. If that happens please let me know and I’ll do my best to make it better.

I want to stress that your input is highly valued. You can use disqus to comment on every entry or you can get in touch with me on twitter or linkedin.

Mateusz Sadowski

Mateusz Sadowski
Mechatronics software developer interested in drones and robotics

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