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Bench testing

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No need to hurry! First of all, we will need to verify the correct functioning of the hardware and make ourselves familiar with the module. If you are interested to know what all those IC's and headers on the module are, take a look at the hardware description page.

Powering the module

If you're using an FTDI cable, you don't need to worry about powering the module: it will use the FTDI cable's 5v supply. If you have another kind of serial connection to the module, you will need to apply 5v to the board. Look at the power connection schema to see where you can connect your 5v to.

The gluonpilot configuration tool

Opening the configuration tool

Get the gluonpilot configuration tool aka "Gluonconfig" from the download section or from the SVN server (on Software\Gluonconfig\Gluonpilot\bin\Debug).

Start it up (.NET2 is needed) and click the "Connect" button. Select the COM port you are using to connect to the gluon module. In case you are using the FTDI cable, this is a "virtual COM port". Take a look at your Device Manager (under "Ports") if you don't know the correct COM port. The baudrate we use to communicate is 56700 (115200 on pre-0.6 versions).

Booting the module

Power up the module and connect it to your PC. Most people use the FTDI cable (download the driver here) to power and connect the module. Make sure to connect the GND (black wire) to the FTDI pin on the edge (bottom) of the board. No harm will be done if you mis-connected the FTDI cable, it just won't work :-)

On booting, the module outputs something similar to this:

[09:47:24.31]  Gluonpilot v0.1 [Apr  6 2010 19:58:19, config: 220 bytes, 
logline: 34 bytes, f: 4 bytes, d: 4 bytes]
[09:47:24.33] Loading configuration...done
[09:47:26.98] Opening ppm...timeout... done
[09:47:29.61] Opening GPS...timeout...done
[09:47:29.61] Control task initializing...done
[09:47:29.73] Sensors task initializing...done
[09:47:29.75] Gps task initializing...done
[09:47:29.76] Console input task initializing...done
[09:47:29.79] Datalogger task initializing...done
[09:47:29.79] Telemetry task initializing...done

Take a look at the 3th line: "Opening ppm...timeout... done". My module is configured to use the PPM pulse train from the RC-receiver instead of 5 PWM inputs. Because I didn't connect the RC-receiver, the module times out on initialization.

The same happens on the 4th line: "Opening GPS...timeout...done". The module waits for the GPS, but I didn't connect any. After a few seconds the module times out.

Allright! The modules seems to be alive. Let's move on.

Upgrading the firmware

The gluonpilot comes shipped with a standard/basic version. If you wish to use a more recent/more advanced firmware version, follow the upgrading firmware process.

Connecting the RC-transmitter

First of all: start with a new model configuration on your RC-transmitter. Use all the default settings: no mixing.

There are 2 options to connect the RC-treceiver:

  • PPM. The PPM-pulse train contains every channel your RC-transmitter transmits. This doesn't work for 2.4GHz receivers.
  • PWM pulses. Every PWM input contains 1 channel. The gluon module accepts up to 5 PWM inputs.
PPM pulse train taken from receiver and connected to the gluon module

PPM pulse train

You need to solder a 3 wire servo cable to the correct pin on your receiver. This is only for advanced users! Then you can plug it PPM1 (Connection schema).

Look on the mikrokopter wiki or skymixer wiki or paparazzi wiki for an overview of receivers supporting this.

PWM input

Solder a 3-wire (Ground + 5V + Signal) servo wire to PPM1. This is your first channel input. Solder 4 1-wire servo cables (signal or white pin) to each input of PPM2. See the connection schema. With this setup, you'll have 5 PWM-inputs!


Go to the "RC input" tabpage in the gluon config tool and select "Separate PWM inputs" or "PPM pulse train" input, depending on your choice made above. Write and Burn your settings, and reboot the module.

Verification & RC-transmitter programming

Configuration screen for the RC-transmitter. Notice I am using PPM inputs, and the sticks are controlling the plane to go up and to the left.

Go the tabpage "RC input" in the configuration tool. As you move your sticks, you should the channels changing.

When everything is working, assign which channel is roll, pitch, yaw, motor and used for enabling the AutoPilot mode (don't forget to Write and Burn!).

Now you need to program your RC-transmitter. Program it (by reversing the channels/servos) to make sure it satisfies these conditions:

  • Pitch channel: low values (bar going to the left) means going down
  • Roll channel: low values (bar going to the left) means going left
  • Motor channel: low values (bar going to the left) means no throttle
  • AP channel: low values (bar going to the left) means Autopilot mode. Around 1500 (center) means stabilization mode. Hight values (1700+) means Manual control.

Make sure that the switch/slider/stick that allows you to switch between manual and autopilot/stabilization mode is very easy to access! You will need to use it when you are under stress!


The module is tested with 2 GPS types: Locosys and EB-85

Once the GPS-module has acquired a lock, LED2 will start flashing.


Locosys GPS connection diagram

You will need a 4-wire connector to connect the GPS to the gluon board. Carefully check the datasheet to make sure you connect it properly. On the gluon board you can see the pins: + (3V3), - (GND), I (input), O (output).

The default baudrate of my module was 115200 baud. Some have 4800 baud as default. However, because the module contains a battery it seems to remember that the gluon module changes the baudrate to 115200 on initialization.


Easy connection with the EB-85

The EB-85 GPS uses a specific connector. If your board doesn't have one yes, you can order it at sparkfun. Not all GPS modules come preconfigured with the same output baudrate. You might need to try different settings in the gluon config tool. For some quick experimentation: Open the gps_test/ code and change the input baudrate. My 2 units use 38400 as default baudrate.

When you found the correct input baudrate, you can configure it in the gluon config tool (Config_Gps) and burn it to flash.


The GPS tabpage has 3 options:

  • Acquiring lock (LED2 is burning): the GPS module was found, and it is currently acquiring a lock.
  • Locked (LED2 is blinking): the GPS module was found, and it is locked
  • Not found (LED2 is not burning): no GPS module detected. You probably used a bad start-up baudrate.


No autopilot without servos! The gluon module can handle up to 8 (6 for hardware before 0.1n) servos.

Solder 3-pin headers to the 6 servo-outputs of the gluon module (connection schema). Take a look at the backside of the board: you need to decide whether you want to power the servos using the same 5V that powers the board (electronics & sensors) or not.

  • Short circuit SJ2 & SJ3 if you want to use the same 5V power source. Noise coming from moving servos might affect the stability of the sensors!
  • Keep SJ2 & SJ3 open if you want to use a serperate 5V power source for the servos.

The GND side of the connectors is the pin on the border of the module.

See also here.

Automating your flight!

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