Header Overview

Before your first flight, please read through the complete First steps section and follow the recommendations. Choose a day with good flight weather (no rain, bright light conditions, no wind), prepare your flight system carefully, find a proper flight area and do the pre-flight checks.

The easiest way of flying your AscTec UAV is with the assistance of the position and height control algorithms in the GPS Mode. Please note, that the GPS is not a 100% reliable service. It helps a lot controlling your UAV, but you cannot always count on it. Therefore it is mandatory to also practice flying in the Height Mode to be able to land the flight system safely if the GPS reception is lost. Since it is quite unusual to loose GPS signal if you are on a big open field with clear view to the sky, we recommend to do your first flights in the GPS Mode. In the next steps of practicing the Height or Manual Mode, the GPS Mode can help you if you loose control of your UAV.

In all flight modes it helps a lot if the nose of the flight system is pointing exactly away from the pilot. In this case, the pilot can operate the flight system very intuitively (e.g. if he wants the UAV to fly to the right, he just needs to put the control stick to the right). When ever the nose of the flight system is not pointing exactly away from the pilot, the operation gets more difficult. If the nose is e.g. exactly pointing towards the pilot and he wants the UAV to fly to the right, he needs to put the control stick to the left. Therefore the pilot should adjust the yaw angle, that the nose is always pointing exactly away from him.

Now, when your AscTec UAV is fully checked, you can try your first flight.

Flying in GPS Mode

  1. Put your AscTec UAV on the starting spot.
  2. Insert and connect a full battery.
  3. Switch on your UAV without moving it and check for warnings. If none occur, you are ready to continue, if not go to the troubleshooting section.

  4. Switch on your R/C.
  5. Make sure that the serial interface is deactivated (black switch on the right hand side of the R/C is pushed away from you).
  6. Wait for a valid GPS lock (LED 4 stops blinking red). This can sometimes take a few minutes.
  7. Choose your position in a distance of approx. 4m from the UAV and that the nose of your flight system is exactly pointing away from you.
  8. Switch to the GPS Mode by pulling the red switch (on the left hand side of the R/C) completely towards you.
  9. Start the motors by pushing the left control stick to the lower left corner for 2 seconds (minimum thrust + full yaw command).
  10. Give the take-off command by pushing the left stick completely upwards (full thrust). -> Now the UAV will take-off and starts climbing.
  11. When you are in a safety height of approx. 5m, bring back the thrust stick to the exact center position that the UAV keeps its actual height. -> Now the flight system keeps its position, height and orientation all by itself.
  12. Start with practicing the control of the position with only the right control stick. This moves the UAV in the horizontal plane (as long as the thrust stick is in the center position). When the pilot takes his hands off the right stick, the UAV will hold its position. Do not fly far away, to make sure you can see the reaction of the UAV.
  13. If you are flying sideways for a few meters, the nose of the flight system will not point exactly away from you anymore. Correct that by using the yaw command (move left control stick only horizontally).
  14. After a flight time of approx. 10 minutes (or when the battery warning occurs) you should land. Start the landing procedure by flying above your landing spot (equal to the starting spot).
  15. Let the UAV balance itself and hold the position for a few seconds.
  16. Then pull the thrust stick approx. half way towards you (approx. 25% of the stick way). -> UAV starts sinking slowly.
  17. As soon as the UAV touches the ground, pull the thrust stick completely towards you and hold it there.
  18. When the UAV is standing still, switch off the motors (minimum thrust + full yaw command).
  19. Now you can switch off the flight system and the R/C.

After exchanging the battery against a full one, you can keep on practicing. After a few flights, when you feel secure with handling the UAV in the GPS Mode, you should start practicing the Height Mode.

Practicing the Height Mode

In this mode, the position control algorithm is deactivated. This means the pilot needs to control the position of the UAV manually. The reaction of the AscTec UAV to the commands of the right control stick changes! In the Height Mode, the right stick commands absolute pitch and roll angles of the flight system. In comparison to the GPS Mode you only need to move the right stick very little.

Do not give full pitch and roll stick commands in the Height or Manual Mode if you are not an experienced pilot.

The easiest way to learn the Height Mode is, when the UAV is already in the air. Hence you should take-off in the GPS Mode and first switch to the Height Mode during the flight. Landing in the Height Mode should also first be tried, when the pilot is able to keep the UAV within a radius of approx. 2m around the requested position.

The minimum goal of practicing the Height Mode should be that the pilot is able to keep the UAV at the same position with only a small drift. To practice that, follow the next instructions:

  1. Take-off in the GPS Mode and climb up to a height of approx. 5m above the ground.
  2. Put your thrust stick in center position, that the UAV keeps this height by itself.
  3. Now switch to Height Mode by putting the red flight mode switch in the middle position.

    Be careful not to push it completely away from you, because then you would switch to the Manual Mode.

     -> The UAV will start drifting sideways with the wind.

  4. Observe the drifting of the UAV and react to it with the right control stick. Try to give constant commands with only little deflections (no hectic or strong movements of the stick). E.g. when the UAV is drifting to the right, give a small and constant command to the left until the drifting stops). Stay with the UAV as close as possible to your own position. Also adjust the direction of the nose if it is not pointing exactly away from you anymore.
  5. If you somehow loose the control over the UAV or the distance gets too big, immediately switch back to the GPS Mode that the UAV slows down and keeps its position by itself. Then bring back the UAV close to your own position and try again.
  6. When you are done with practicing or your flight time is over, switch back to the GPS Mode and land in GPS Mode.
  7. Get a new battery and keep on practicing for a few flights until you are able to keep the UAV within a radius of approx. 2m around the same position in the Height Mode.

When you are able to keep the position of the flight system accurately, you can try to land the UAV in the Height Mode. While you are keeping the position of the UAV over the landing area, just pull the thrust stick half way towards you. -> The UAV starts sinking slowly. Just keep on holding the position until the flight system is on the ground. As soon as it touches the ground, pull the thrust stick completely towards you.

Practicing the Manual Mode

When you are able to master the UAV in the Height Mode, you can try the Manual Mode. In this flight mode, the height control is also deactivated. Hence the pilot has to control the position and the height of the UAV. This is quite difficult at the beginning, because it´s hard to distinguish visually if the UAV is moving horizontally or vertically (e.g. it looks quite similar if the UAV is flying downwards or away from the pilot). Therefore we recommend to test the Manual Mode while the UAV is in a close distance to you (approx. 10m away and 10m up) to guarantee a good view on the UAV movements. Follow the next steps for your first Manual Mode experiences:

  1. Take-off in GPS or Height Mode.
  2. Position the UAV in a distance of approx. 10m up and away from you (nose pointing away).
  3. Switch to the Height Mode and keep the position and height as accurate as possible.
  4. Now switch to the Manual Mode. -> Depending on your payload, the UAV will start climbing or sinking slowly.
  5. While keeping the position with the right control stick, adjust the thrust stick with small and constant movements until the UAV stops sinking/climbing.

    Do not give any hectic or strong commands!
  6. If you somehow loose the control over the UAV, immediately switch to the GPS Mode that the system slows down and keeps its position by itself. After that bring back the system close to your position and try again.
  7. After practicing a while, you will be able to keep both the position and the height of the UAV all by yourself. The more accurate you can do that, the smaller will be your needed space for flying.

Exercise program

As a pilot training you can use the following flight exercises to improve your pilot abilities:

Try all these exercises first in the GPS Mode. If you master them in the GPS Mode, try them in the Height Mode.

Learning to control the position: Keep the height and fly an eight-figure in front of you.

Learning to keep the orientation of the UAV (nose always pointing away from the pilot): Keep the height and fly a circle in a constant radius (approx. 10m) around yourself, while the nose of the UAV is always pointing away from you.

Learning to get back control if the UAV accidentally flies behind the pilot:

  • In GPS Mode: When the UAV is 10m high, 10m away and its nose is pointing away from you fly backwards until the flight system is approx. 10m behind you. Then first turn yourself 180°. Then turn the UAV 180°. Now repeat the figure.
  • In Height Mode: Position the UAV in the direction where the wind is coming from. 10m high, 10m away and its nose is pointing away from you. Put the right stick in center position, that the UAV stays horizontally and drifts with the wind above your head. As soon as it is above your head, turn your self 180°. Then turn the UAV 180°. As soon as the nose is pointing away from you (not earlier) stop the UAV slowly by flying backwards in your direction. Do not give hectic commands and pay attention that you do not give position commands before the nose of the UAV is pointing away from you!