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Here you'll find all the source code and many notes used in Vicacopter, the 1st English language source code for a fully functional helicopter autopilot that you can download without paying for. Today there are many prefabricated, cheap autopilots based on VicaCopter while VicaCopter has focused mainly on the most exotic & cheapest control methods for specific aircraft.
We have never had enough money to sell prefabricated parts. You need to be an expert in PIC assembly, electronics, & the VicaCopter source code to actually get it to work, but this is actual source code flying our autonomous VTOL aircraft, not an incomplete stage which can't hover. If you ever succeeded in downloading the source code & building your own VicaCopter, you still probably wouldn't know half of what she can do. There is no support or warranty.
Vicacopter uses a ground computer for flight control. An 8 bit airborne microcontroller handles rate damping, PWM, & sensor capturing. The ground computer handles navigation & provides a simple instrument panel. This was the cheapest & most flexible way to fly. The system can be converted to a completely airborne autopilot very simply.
Airframe #1 was a Corona 120. That flew for 1 year & is no longer manufactured, so it was replaced by a flybarless T-Rex 450. That flew for 1 year & got too expensive. Then came a quad rotor, but it was tricky to balance the yaw force, the counter rotating propellers were expensive, & motor shafts always bent. The latest airframe is a tri rotor & it is the cheapest & easiest route into the air of all. The servo ended up being lighter than a 4th motor & less prone to breakage.
VicaCopter can fly in many configurations:
3 gyros & a sonar transducer for the minimal indoor autopilot.
3 gyros, barometer, & GPS for a minimal outdoor autopilot
6 DOF IMU, magnetometer, barometer, GPS for the full autopilot
Today VicaCopter flies exclusively as a minimal outdoor autopilot. The minimal configuration has been the most reliable & cheapest. In the future, VicaCopter would like to move to monocopters & vision based navigation if funding allowed.
Some things VicaCopter can do:
Can fly with under $100 of parts, not including the airframe.
Automated landing & takeoff
Sonar position sensing for indoor flight
GPS position sensing for outdoor flight
Ground station instrument panel
Untethered communication from pilot to ground station
Fully autonomous missions written in picoC scripting language
Manual altitude & position changes from stick commands
Curved or linear paths
Turning towards a point
(C) 2010 Unemployed programmers