Four Channel Planes

The most common type of fixed wing plane is a 4 channel plane. As the name implies, it has 4 output channels, and they control the roll, pitch, yaw, and throttle independently.

These are the default outputs for Arduplane as it is such a common setup. It is commonly referred to as an AETR setup.

Warning

Remove the propeller from your aircraft before starting your setup.

Setting Up Your Plane

The most important step to setting up the plane is having the correct inputs, outputs, and reversals. Inputs are covered on the RC input setup page. After the RC inputs are configured, configure the outputs.

Warning

Make sure the AHRS_ORIENT is set correctly for the autopilot. If it is incorrect, this setup will fail, and the plane may crash upon entry into any stabilize mode.

Servo cables can be connected to any output of the autopilot, but using the default channels 1-4 listed below is recommended. Set the SERVOn_FUNCTIONS to the appropriate values.

ParameterValueMeaning
SERVO1_FUNCTION4aileron
SERVO2_FUNCTION19elevator
SERVO3_FUNCTION70throttle
SERVO4_FUNCTION21rudder

Tip

Most 4-channel aircraft utilize a Y-splitter for ailerons. It works well if the servos have equal travel ranges and mirrored movement. If you wish to set the trim, max, or min values for each aileron servo independently, then use another output like channel 5 for the second aileron. Be sure to set that channel’s function correctly (4). This principle applies to any additional servo or motor output.

Servo Function & Reversal

The next step is to correct the servo reversals. Connect the battery (with propeller removed) and turn on the RC transmitter. Switch to FBWA mode using the function switch or a ground station command, and disable the safety switch (if fitted). We use FBWA for setup because it prevents double-reversing inputs and outputs. Double-reversing causes correct manual behavior, but dangerous and destabilizing behavior in other flight modes.

When the plane is level, the servos should be near their trim (neutral) values. Move the plane and leave the transmitter sticks centered while monitoring the control surfaces to determine if the reversals are correct. See the table for the correct control surface response to the movements. In each instance, the plane should move its control surfaces to level itself and coordinate its turns.

MovementAction
Roll Plane RightLeft aileron moves up and right aileron moves down
Roll Plane LeftLeft aileron moves down and right aileron moves up
Pitch plane upElevator moves down
Pitch plane downElevator moves up
Roll Plane RightRudder moves left
Roll Plane LeftRudder moves right

If the any of the control surfaces do not respond correctly, reverse the output by changing the corresponding SERVOn_REVERSED setting (from 0 to 1, or from 1 to 0).

Note

KFF_RDDRMIX mut not be set to 0 for rudder setup. If the plane actually needs 0, then reset it after this setup.

KFF_RDDRMIX should cause the tail surfaces point away from the direction of the lowered aileron. This corrects adverse yaw caused by the additional drag of a lowered aileron.

Confirm RC Transmitter Input

Keep the plane level in FBWA mode and command the following inputs:

InputAction
Roll RightRight aileron moves up and left aileron moves down
Roll LeftLeft aileron moves up and right aileron moves down
Pitch upElevator moves up
Pitch downElevator moves down
Yaw rightRudder moves right
Yaw leftRudder moves left

If the control surfaces do not respond correctly, change the RCn_reversed parameter (from 0 to 1, or from 1 to 0). Double check MANUAL mode for the same inputs. If everything is setup correctly, the plane should be almost ready to fly.

Servo Trim

Switch to MANUAL mode in order to adjust the servo trim values. The servo trim is in the SERVOn_TRIM parameters.

Adjust the trim values so that the servo is centered when the transmitter sticks are centered. If the trim value is not between 1450 and 1550 PWM, mechanical trim adjustment is recommended.

Servo Throw

Finally adjust the servo throws (range of movement for each of the servos).

Check any instructions that came with the plane for suggested throw values. These are often specified in millimeters or inches of movement of the trailing edge of the control surface close to the fuselage. If suggested throw values are not found, then choose a throw that doesn’t cause the servos to “bind” (often indicated by a high pitched sound when servos stall).

To adjust the throw, change the SERVOn_MIN and SERVOn_MAX values. The defaults are 1100 to 1900. On many aircraft, more throw may be desired. Changing throws to 1000 to 2000 or beyond is normal. Make sure that the servos are still moving when nearing the extrememe values.

Final Setup

After completing this guide, move onto the final setup of the aircraft.