Tag Archives: raspberry pi

Class sensor.py ready!

After some complementary activities (build a new table for next experiments, for example) I finalized the test on the IMU and created this sensor object  that can run in a parallel thread , so I can get last updated sensor information anytime (every 5 -8 ms) while my main quadcopter loop is running.
You can find and download the sensor_test  example.When you run it you can see on the terminal the current roll,pitch and yaw of your IMU.

The available data are: angular position [deg],angular rate[deg/sec], linear acceleration[m/sec]

The main differences respect the IMU_test are:

  • I saw that the  mpu6050 initialization of same parameter can fail.The order on how you set the IMU parameter can affect the setting itself. So I added a function to verify the parameters are in fact what I decide.
  • The accelerometer vector has been normalized, so the lenght ,when not moved is equal to the gravity. this can help if I want to integrate it to extimate the linear speed and the linear movement
  • the class sensor.py  can run in a parallel thread, so anytime I can have the current sensor values.
  • minor adjustments done on the naming of the variables.

Next steps are:

  • Buy some connectors and do some soldering to have a final version of the wiring
  • mount the sensor on the frame and test it with running motors and see if i need more severe filtering.

Tutorial: How to read data from IMU

In the previous post I described how to setup raspberry pi for connection with the IMU.

Now it is time to see how to read some data from the sensor.

First yuo need sw that manage the i2c interface.there are many examples.You can find one called adafruit_i2c.py on github.

Then it is necessary to have the code specific for the sensor,in my case a MPU6050.

I tryied for some days to build my own code, but I encountered problems related to unconsistent results: even if I did not move the sensor, the returned results were always different. I suspect it was a problem on how I formatted the values.

Finally, Thanks to the great job done by Hove in  his blog, I used his code and I’m now able to collect correct data from the sensor.

I did some minor modification and prepare this IMU_test files.

So I started some preliminary tests to verify which is the sensor behaviour.

I fixed the sensor on a bar ,horizontally, than turned the bar by a known angle ( 13 degrees,measured with my smartphone level) then move back to horizontal.


I recorded on a file the sensor data : acceleration along axis (from ACCelerometer) and rotational speed (from GYRO scope). On excel sheet  I calculated the angle around x  respect the ACC and respect the GYRO:

  • rx ACC=DEGREES(ATAN2(accZ+9.8;accY))
  • rx(i) GYRO=wx(i) *dt+wx(i-1)

Below you can see the graph.


I underline in the picture the 2 tipical problems on the IMU :

  • the Gyro drift (you can see an angle of 1  degree while it reality it was 0)
  • the Accelerometer sensibility to noise.

So next  development step is to filter/reduce this 2 problems by combining the 2 sensors results.

IMU Sensor Installation

Since a week ago, I ‘ve been looking into my new IMU: Inertial Measurement Unit.

I bought  from e-bay a MPU6050, a sensor including:

  • a gyroscope that can return the angular speed around the 3  axis x,y,z.
  • an accelerometer  that can return the linear acceleration along the 3  axis x,y,z.

This sensor can communicate trou I2C interface.

Below the electrical drawing:









For the sw installation I fuond a clear tutorial on the Adafruit website ,so I just report here a memo for the necessary steps:

in sudo nano /etc/modules add:

  • i2c-bcm2708
  • i2c-dev

sudo apt-get install python-smbus

sudo apt-get install i2c-tools

in sudo nano /etc/modprobe.d/raspi-blacklist.conf comment:

  • #blacklist spi-bcm2708
  • #blacklist i2c-bcm2708

Now ,running the command sudo i2cdetect -y 1  yuo have to see the address 0x68, corresponding to the default sensor address.

Tutorial:How to control a brushless motor with raspberry pi

UPDATED 2014.06.15 Important Note: I discovered that the usage of the function pwm.setservo() it is not adeguate to control the motor in a loop. Everytime it is called, it sets the pwm to zero than it sets the new value. the result is a loss of speed (and so power ) of the motor. I just start to use the pwm.add_channel_pulse() instead and it solve the problem.See motor.py for the last version of  code.


Last Saturday it was the great day: first brushless moved! And moved with rpi!!!

Right now I prefer not to mix up too much things, so the rpi is powered via usb and the connection is done by ethernet cable.


Those the details for the necessary steps.

  1. Mount the motor firmly. IMPORTANT: Remember it will move,so fix it well!
  2. Connect the motor wires to the esc.my motor has got 3 cables:red,black and yellow.I decided always to connect the black on the middle, and i can invert yellow and red to change rotation side.
  3. Do NOT connect yet the esc power cable to the battery
  4. Connect esc 0v signal (black) to th rpi ground (for example pin 25)
  5. Connent PWM signal(white) on a rpi output.In my example i connect on pin 11 called GPIO17. This value(17) is used in the program.
  6. Connect Ethernet cable
  7. Connect USB to power on rpimotor_test_setup

Let’s see now the software. It is necessary to install on rpi the RPIO library.You an find how to do it in the SW installation post.

  1. Donwload the motor_test folder tha includes motor_test.py and motor.py and copy in  home/python/motor_test on your pc.
  2. On the pc terminal copy the folder on rpi: (it is requred the rpi password):
    scp -r python/motor_test  pi@
    password : raspberry
  3. On the pc terminal run the command to connect to rpi.now the terminal is the rpi terminal.
    ssh pi@
    password : raspberry
  4. Finally run the motor_test program.Important: the startu sequence of an ESC can vary by the model.See the ESC  page for details.
    cd python/motor_test 
    sudo python motor_test.py
  5. Follow the program instruction.


After the first ENTER , the PWM signal is set to the maximun value (a pulse width= 2000us every 20ms).Now you can connect the ESC power cables.If everything goes right (correct voltage, cell number correct) ESC is ready to pilot the motor.PWM signal goes to 1000us,the minimum value.So it is possible to play with the motor speed.My motor starts to move over 5%,it means 1050us.This value depends from motor inertia from friction and from battery charge level.