Using the IMU BatchSampler

The IMU BatchSampler can be used to record high-frequency data from the IMU sensors onboard an ArduPilot vehicle.

This data can be used in post-flight analysis to characterise vibration issues, most notably through the creation of graphs created from Fast Fourier Transforms of the data.

Enabling Batch Data Collection

The INS_BAT_MASK parameter specifies which IMUs in the system to log high-rate data for. Set this to 255 to collect for all sensors.

IMU RAW sampling must be enabled in your logging bitmask. This is bit 19, so you must either use a GCS which has checkboxes for each bitmask option or add 1048576 to your current bitmask value.

INS_LOG_BAT_OPT must be set to one

Collecting useful Data

It can take some time to transfer the FFT data to the SD card. The data is “dribbled” out to the card to avoid unnecessary system load. This may not combine wellwith short flights and LOG_DISARMED not being set; the log may be closed before the data reaches the card. Fly for longer, or set LOG_DISARMED to 1.

Sensor Rate Logging

Some sensors in ArduPilot have the option of logging data at the same rate it is received from the sensor. For example, InvenSense sensors may give you 8kHz gyro samples and 4kHz accelerometer samples. This data will help you find vibrations at frequencies above what normal (1kHz) batch sampling will allow.

The following two graphs are from the same flight on a PixRacer flight controller. It has one InvenseSense IMU:


Finding the Log Messages

There are two types of dataflash log messages involved in batch sampling, ISBH and ISBD.

ISBH is a batch header; it includes a batch number and metadata about the batch.

ISBD messages contain the actual data for the batch, and reference a header by batch number.

Extracting Information from the log messages

Fast Fourier Analysis

Fast Fourier Analysis transforms data from the time domain into the frequency domain. A frequent feature of such a graph is a rotor’s “blade passage frequency”, the frequency at which the blade crosses the aircraft, causing an acceleration in the aircraft body.


A FFT can not show you frequencies above half your sensor’s sampling rate.

The smallest frequency that can be shown is half your sample size divided by your sample rate.

Several tools can create graphs of the data after it has been FFT’d.

Mission Planner

An option to create Fast Fourier Transforms of DataFlash log files containing BatchSampler data can be found under the Ctrl-f options.


Tuning Data Collection

INS_LOG_BAT_CNT specifies the number of samples which will be collected. Increasing this will yield a more representative idea of problem frequencies. When divided by the sample rate will give the smallest frequency which can be detected, so 1024 samples at 1024kHz sampling will (poorly) pick up 0.5Hz frequencies.

INS_LOG_BAT_MSK can be used to sample just a single sensor. This will increase the number of samples retrieved from a single sensor (e.g. the best on the platform), which may provide better data for analysis.

INS_LOG_BAT_OPT an options bitmask which can be used to change the behaviour of the Batch Sampler, for example to specify sensor-rate-logging

INS_LOG_BAT_LGIN interval between pushing samples to the dataflash log, in ms. Increase this to reduce the time taken to flush data to the dataflash log, reducing cycle time. This will be at the expense of increased system load and possibly choking up the dataflash log for other messages.

INS_LOG_BAT_LGCT Number of samples to push to count every INS_LOG_BAT_LGIN ms. Increase this to push more samples each time they are sent to the dataflash log. Increasing this may cause timing jitter, and possibly choke up the dataflash log for other messages.