Flight

Pilot Handset

Astro ships with Herelink and is compatible with a wide variety of control hardware. Each has unique inputs. See the documentation for the equipment you're using to become familiar with the buttons/switches involved.

Arming and Disarming

Astro's propulsion system has two fundamental states: Disarmed and Armed.
State
Definition
Indication
Disarmed
Safe mode, no spinning propellers
Boom LEDS dim
Armed
Aircraft will spin propellers, ready to fly
Boom LEDs bright (100% or user specified level)
Before arming, ensure people and other obstacles are clear of the propellers. Be prepared for Astro to take off.
Astro can be armed with or without GPS.
Pro Tip: Wait for GPS lock even if you don't plan to use Position Mode because Return Mode relies on GPS.

Normal Procedure

The manual method of transitioning between armed and disarmed state is via the pilot handset throttle stick. (The pilot's handset default configuration is Mode 2.)
State
Input
Arming (Mode 2)
Hold the throttle stick down and right for 2 seconds.
Disarming
When the aircraft has landed, continue holding the throttle stick down for 2 seconds.
It is not possible to disarm via the normal method while in flight.
To disarm during flight, perform an Emergency Stop.
Missions may Arm and Disarm the aircraft automatically. For example, if a mission is started while the aircraft is disarmed on the ground, the aircraft will arm and take off.

Emergency Stop

Emergency Stop halts the motors immediately, even if the aircraft is in flight. This will cause loss of control and a crash.

Emergency Stop - AMC

In AMC Herelink or PC, tap the "Armed" button at top center to display the Emergency Stop dialogue. Hold the Emergency Stop button for 4 seconds. Works on Herelink or PC.

Emergency Stop - Manual Override

In Manual Mode, hold throttle stick down and left for 10 seconds.

Advanced Arming Methods

Method
Input
AMC App, Herelink
Tap the Arm button (top center) and hold to confirm.
Mission
If a mission starts with the takeoff command, and the aircraft is disarmed, the aircraft will arm itself when the mission is initiated.
Arming via the AMC app in Manual Mode is not recommended. In Manual Mode, the aircraft should be armed while the throttle stick is held at the minimum position. This is difficult to achieve while using an app GIU.

Advanced Disarm Methods

Under these conditions, Astro will automatically disarm.
Method
Astro behavior
Ground timeout before taking off
If Astro sits on the ground at idle throttle for 10 seconds, it will automatically disarm.
Land mode
If Astro is in Land Mode, and detects a landing, it will disarm after 2 second. For example, this applies if the last command in a mission is "Land".

Battery Level

The Herelink indicates battery level in the top menu bar.

Flight Modes

Astro offers several flight modes, with various levels of assistance to the pilot.
Flight mode can be changed via the pilot's handset and the AMC app on Herelink or PC. See the documentation for the equipment you're using to become familiar with the buttons/switches involved.
Manual Mode may be necessary to react to emergency situations. Pilots should be proficient in Manual Mode. Position, Altitude, and Return Mode are assistive only and are not a replacement for pilot skill and preparedness.
Always neutralize the control input sticks on the pilot handset when switching between control modes to prevent unexpected aircraft movement.

Position

In Position Mode, when the sticks are centered, the aircraft will maintain its position over a point on the ground and maintain altitude, correcting for disturbances.
In Position Mode, the pitch/roll sticks command ground speed. The further upward the pitch stick, the faster Astro will fly forward. When the pitch stick is pulled downward, Astro will fly backward. Similarly for roll in the left and right directions.
The throttle stick commands vertical speed. The further upward the throttle stick, the faster Astro will climb. Conversely, the lower the throttle stick position, the faster Astro will descend. Deflecting the throttle stick left and right controls yaw rate, with the speed of rotation proportional to stick deflection.
Position Mode requires a strong GPS signal. If a weak signal is present, Astro will not enter Position Mode.
If the signal deteriorates, such as near buildings or under dense tree cover, the aircraft will automatically revert to Altitude mode.
Flight using Position Mode in areas of degraded GPS signal, such as near buildings or under dense tree cover, is not recommended. The automatic reversion to Altitude Mode can cause unexpected, abrupt changes in flight behavior.

Altitude

In Altitude Mode, when the sticks are centered, the aircraft will drift with the wind but will attempt to hold a constant altitude using the barometer and GPS.
In Altitude Mode, the pitch and roll sticks control aircraft angle. The further upward the pitch stick, the further Astro will tilt forward. When the pitch stick is pulled downward, Astro will tilt backward. Similarly for roll in the left and right directions. Lateral speed is not controlled by the autopilot.
The throttle stick commands vertical speed. The further upward the throttle stick, the faster Astro will climb. Conversely, the lower the throttle stick position, the faster Astro will descend. Deflecting the throttle stick left and right controls yaw rate, with the speed of rotation proportional to stick deflection.
The aircraft holds altitude above Mean Sea Level (MSL) by default. It is not aware of terrain height changes or obstacles without additional configuration and equipment.

Return

Return Mode commands Astro to climb to the Return Altitude, fly back to the Home Point in a straight line, and land. Return Mode requires GPS.
Return Altitude is set by the pilot at AMC > Vehicle Setup > Safety. Please note that if Astro is above the Return Altitude when Return Mode is initiated, it will maintain altitude instead of dropping to the return altitude.
The Home Point is set to the GPS coordinates where Astro is armed. Home Point is reset every time Astro is armed.
By default, Return Mode is activated automatically by some Failsafes. Learn more about Failsafes.
Before every flight, think through the path the aircraft will take if Return Mode is activated, and adjust settings to arrange for safe behavior.
For example, activating Return Mode while flying under an obstacle lower than the Return Altitude will cause a collision when the aircraft attempts to climb to Return Altitude. In some cases, it may be possible to set a lower Return Altitude, and in other cases it may not be possible to use Return Mode.
It is possible to change from Return to Position Mode by moving the sticks, except if Return Mode was activated by low battery failsafe. In that case, press another flight mode button to change out of Return Mode.

Manual

In Manual Mode, when the pitch and roll stick is centered, the aircraft will attempt to remain level, and will drift with the wind. The aircraft will require constant throttle adjustment to hold altitude.
In Manual Mode, the pitch and roll stick controls aircraft angle. The further upward the pitch stick, the further Astro will tilt forward. When the pitch stick is pulled downward, Astro will tilt backward. Similarly for roll in the left and right directions. Lateral speed is not controlled by the autopilot.
The throttle stick controls motor speed directly. Deflecting the throttle stick left and right controls yaw rate. The speed of yaw rotation is proportional to stick deflection.

Manual Mode Settings

The hover throttle setting controls how much thrust Astro produces the amount of thrust Astro produces when the throttle stick is centered. The default setting of 34% will hover the aircraft with for zero payload. A setting of approximately 40% will hover with 1500 grams of payload.
Adjust this setting by in AMC Herelink or PC:
    1.
    Enable Advanced Mode (tap logo top left many times)
    2.
    Vehicle Setup > Tuning

Learn Manual Mode

Mission

Mission mode allows Astro to execute a predefined autonomous waypoint missions that have been uploaded to the flight controller via AMC. For more information on all the different options and abilities built into the Mission Mode, see the AMC docs, sections such as:
Moving the sticks will cause a change to Position Mode. This makes it easy for the pilot to take control if needed.
Astro must have a GPS lock before takeoff to set a valid home position in order to start a mission. Mission mode will be unavailable if the aircraft took off before GPS lock was achieved. Operator must land and rearm with GPS lock to enable.

Takeoff

Takeoff Mode arms the aircraft, automatically climbs to the Takeoff Altitude, and enters Hold Mode (a.k.a. loiter or hover).
Takeoff Mode can be engaged via the button in the AMC app Fly view, optionally changing Takeoff Altitude via the slider, then holding/sliding to confirm. Takeoff Mode can also be engaged during a mission, for example as the first command.
Takeoff Mode requires GPS lock.
Moving the sticks while in Hold Mode (i.e. after the aircraft has finished climbing) will cause a change to Position Mode. This makes it easy to take control without pressing the Position Mode button.

Land

Land Mode causes Astro to descend and land directly below the position where Land Mode is engaged. Once on the ground, Astro will disarm.
Land mode can be engaged via the button on the AMC app Fly screen and holding to confirm.
Land Mode is often the last command in a mission. Land Mode can also be engaged by a failsafe, such as low battery level, or loss of signal.
Land Mode requires GPS, when engaged manually.
When Land Mode is engaged by a failsafe, and GPS is not available, the autopilot behavior will be similar to Altitude Mode and the aircraft may drift horizontally as it descends.
Moving the sticks will cause a change to Position Mode, unless Land Mode is engaged by a Failsafe (e.g. critical battery level). See Safety and Failsafes section for more detail.
When activated by a low battery failsafe, Return and Land Mode cannot be overridden by stick movement. They can be overridden by pressing a flight mode button (e.g. Position).

Taking off

Position Mode is best for taking off in most cases, as it offers the most stabilization. However it is certainly possible to take off in Altitude , Manual, and Mission modes as well.
For 5 seconds after takeoff, the maximum pitch and roll angle is reduced to 12 degrees.
After takeoff, promptly climb out of ground effect (i.e. to 3 feet / 12 meters of altitude) to avoid snagging landing gear on the ground.

in Position and Altitude Mode

After arming, allow the throttle stick to return to center. The propellers will remain at idle. When ready to take off, raise the throttle stick. The propellers will spin up and the aircraft will take off.

in Manual Mode

After arming, hold the throttle stick down and centered. When ready to take off, raise the throttle stick slowly. The propellers will accelerate as soon as the throttle stick moves. As the throttle approaches the mid-point of, there will be enough thrust to take off. Continue raising the throttle to achieve a brisk takeoff.

Landing

Position Mode is best for landing in most cases, as it offers the most stabilization. However it is certainly possible to land in Altitude and Manual modes as well. The aircraft behaves a little differently in each mode.
Do not hand catch Astro. The aircraft is designed to be landed on hard flat surfaces. Hand catching can result in serious injury or death.
In Position and Altitude Modes, at altitudes below 7 meters, the maximum vertical speed is reduced to 0.7 m/s (from the normal value of 2 m/s).
Astro will disarm automatically after the autopilot detects a landing. Landing detection brings together input from several sensors to determine when it is safe to disarm.
If landing is not detected (i.e. the props do not stop after touchdown), perform the Emergency Procedure for Landing Detector Failure.

in Position Mode

Bring the aircraft to a hover > 2 meters over the spot where landing is desired. Pull the throttle stick straight down, without pitch, roll, or yaw commands. After touchdown, hold the throttle stick down until Astro disarms and the propellers stop.
At altitudes below 2 meters, maximum pitch/roll angle is reduced to 12 degrees. This prevents abrupt maneuvers that might cause a tipover.
Pitch, Roll, or Yaw commands very near the ground can cause crashes or tip-overs.

in Altitude Mode

Landing in Altitude Mode is different than Position Mode because the pilot is responsible for managing lateral velocity. The autopilot will control the throttle to manage the descent rate.
Bring the aircraft to a hover > 2 meters over the spot where landing is desired. Give minimal pitch and roll commands to minimize both lateral speed and minimize pitch/roll angle. Pull the throttle stick down. After touchdown, hold the throttle stick down until Astro disarms and the propellers stop.
At altitudes below 2 meters, pitch/roll angle limits are reduced to 12 degrees degrees. This reduces likelihood of abrupt maneuvers that might cause a tipover.

in Manual Mode

Landing in Manual Mode is different than Position or Altitude Mode because the pilot is responsible for managing vertical velocity as well as lateral velocity.
Bring the aircraft to a hover > 2 meters over the spot where landing is desired. Give minimal pitch and roll commands necessary to minimize both lateral speed and minimize pitch/roll angle. Reduce throttle to allow the aircraft to descend slowly.
As the aircraft nears the ground and enters ground effect, the pilot will often need to reduce throttle to keep the aircraft descending. Once touchdown is achieved, the operator should reduce throttle to zero promptly so that it settles on the ground instead of possibly bouncing or dragging the gear. Hold the throttle stick down until Astro disarms and the propellers stop.

Missions

The mission workflow includes planning (or selecting a pre-planned mission), uploading the mission to the aircraft, and flying the mission.

Plan

Auterion Mission Control (AMC) Plan view facilitates mission creation and modification. AMC documentation covers the GUI and usage.

Upload

Uploading sends the mission to the aircraft. This is done from AMC Plan view.
The aircraft can have one mission loaded at a time.
After upload completes, verify successful transfer by selecting Download and comparing the downloaded mission to the uploaded mission.

Fly

Start missions from AMC Fly view. When a mission has been uploaded to the aircraft, AMC Fly view will show a prompt to begin the mission. If a prompt is not shown, open the Action Menu and select "Start Mission".
Starting a mission can cause the aircraft to arm itself and takeoff without any further pilot input. Before starting a mission, ensure that the aircraft is clear of obstacles in the propeller arc and flight path.
If a mission is interrupted (for example by the pilot commanding a pause), the Fly view will prompt to resume the mission. If a prompt is not shown, open the Action Menu and select "Resume Mission".
Moving the sticks will cause a change to Position Mode. This makes it easy for the pilot to take control if needed.

Battery Changes

Battery changes require pilot action. Missions have no awareness of battery status. It is the pilot's responsibility to determine the appropriate time for battery change, and ensure the aircraft is on the ground before the batteries are exhausted.
The pilot may activate Return Mode or manually fly the aircraft to a place where a fresh set of batteries can be hotswapped in. To hotswap batteries, remove one discharged pack from the drone and replace it with a charged pack. Enable the pack by pressing the power button twice, then replace the other discharged pack. Enable the second charged pack if it does not show "Hotswap" on the battery display screen.
The pilot may also adjust the Low Battery Failsafe settings to activate Return Mode automatically at a level appropriate for the mission.
Upon landing, AMC will offer an option to "Resume Mission from Waypoint #". This will modify the mission by removing the waypoints already visited.

Tuning

Astro is pretuned by Freefly, and can be flown without changes.
We recommend against changing low-level control parameters. Changes there could cause instability or control issues which could result in a crash.
Loading default parameters or known-good presets will allow you to quickly return Astro to a functional and safe state if there is ever uncertainty about changes to the tuning properties.
Changing low-level parameters requires activating AMC Advanced Mode. Then, navigate to Vehicle Setup > Parameters.

Status Indicator LED

There are 5 total status LEDs on the Astro. The 4 LEDs at the end of each boom show constant lights in most circumstances. By default, the rear two boom LEDs are red, and the front two boom LEDs are green. These LEDs will blink as the battery gets low, and blink quickly if there is an error.
The aircraft status indicator uses a multi-color LED to communicate aircraft status on the ground. It is located on the front-left boom of the aircraft, as pictured below in blue. See the table for complete information.
Color
Meaning
Detail
Solid Blue
Armed, No GPS Lock
Indicates vehicle has been armed and has no position lock from the GPS. Position, Mission and Return flight modes are not available.
Pulsing Blue
Disarmed, No GPS Lock
Indicates vehicle is disarmed and has no position lock from the GPS. Position, Mission and RTL flight modes will not be available until GPS lock is acquired.
Solid Green
Armed, GPS Lock
Indicates vehicle has been armed and has position lock from the GPS. All flight modes are available.
Pulsing Green
Disarmed, GPS Lock
Indicates vehicle is disarmed and has position lock from the GPS. All flight modes will be available.
Solid Purple
Failsafe Mode
Indicates an error has been encountered during flight and the vehicle will activate the Failsafe Action (Return To Launch by default).
Solid Amber
Low Battery Warning
Indicates a battery voltage below threshold.
Flashing Red
Error / Setup Required
Indicates an error, typically an issue with sensor calibration or autopilot configuration.
Last modified 2mo ago