I have been setting up Alien Command for quite some some time
now on various helicopters and it has become clear that most pilots
simply do not understand how to set this system up.
So I thought it was about time I documented
this for all of you out there who would perhaps like to try to
install this fabulous helicopter stabilization system yourself.
Firstly, there are 2 types of Alien Command
available currently, the Standard version and the Advanced
version. The only reason for this is because Alien Command
(AC) was originally designed for helicopters that use mechanical
mixing, such as the Interceptor 400, rather than CCPM mixing,
which is now a far more widely system.
The regular system is of course cheaper, but
it cannot be used on helicopters that have the 120 degree swash
plate connection scheme. For all CCPM helicopters, you
need to get the Advanced version.
Before you even start to fit Alien Command,
you MUST MAKE SURE that you have done a full mechanical
setup of the helicopter. This is crucial, for if you go ahead
and try to configure Alien command on a helicopter that is not
setup mechanically correct. you will have lots of problems.
CLICK HERE to download my tutorial on
performing a good mechanical setup if you have not already do
Fitting the standard system is pretty simple
overall, as you will see from the instructions below.
The real differences are that the standard
version does NOT have the CSM Cyclock CL1 CCPM mixer unit and it
does not have the configuration software.
ALIEN COMMAND ADVANCED
Fitting the advanced system takes a bit more
care and attention, and requires the use of a PC to do the final
set up of the onboard CCPM mixer unit that comes with the
advanced system alone.
The diagram below shows you the full
wiring setup for Alien Command Advanced. If you are only using
the standard version then the CCPM controller is not required.
The diagram above shows the
overall wiring for an AC Advanced setup fairly clearly.
The 2 Brown, Red & Orange wires between
the AC control unit and the CCPM mixer unit (CL1) are supplied
with the AC Advanced unit. The Black, Red & White lead
from the CCPM unit (CL1) goes to the PC when you are ready to
set the CCPM mixing up. The third Brown, Red & Orange wire
goes from the COLL(ective) connection on the CCPM mixer (CL1) to
the AUX1/PITCH connection on your Radio receiver (Rx)
The 3 twisted Black, Red & White wires
from the AC control unit are labelled AIL, ELEV, & CONTR
with the first 2 going to appropriate channels on the radio
receiver (Rx) CH3 & CH4. The CONTR wire is to let you
switch AC ON or OFF if you have a suitable spare channel.
The IR Sensor is fitted to the helicopter in
such a way that it is horizontal to the ground. A good
place for it is under the frame between the rear skids, as it is
protected from boom strikes etc.
WARNING - You need to do a dry
run with these units to decide where to fit them to the
helicopter, as many of the wires are fairly short, meaning that
the units need to be quite close to each other. Equally,
you ideally need to be able to see the LED's on the CL1 unit
with the canopy on so you can check that the sticks are centred
The Setup button with the Read & Black 2
wire connection needs to be positioned where it can be operated
at the same time as you are connecting the Lipo if
possible. (More on this later)
A close up of the wiring on the
CCPM mixer (CL1)
Once you have all this wiring
done, it is time to set up your radio.
Esky Stock radio
This really is not a recommended
radio, but it is "possible" to use it with AC
Advanced. The main and only thing you can do here, and you
must do so, is to use the DIP switches underneath the 3rd
battery to set it up so that it DISABLES any CCPM mixing.
This is because the CL1 unit handle all of this on board the
In most cases this is achieved by
setting SW1 to ON and SW2 to OFF.
In this case they are switched correctly to disable CCPM
Spektrum DX series
There is a lot more to do with
these radios, as you will almost certainly have it set up as a 3
servo, 120 degree swash type.
So, the major changes you MUST
make are as follows (I will use the DX6i menu names, but the DX7
is pretty similar)
||1 SERVO -
90 DEGREE - This DISABLES CCPM MIXING in your radio
to 100% - INH
to 100% in BOTH directions
zero unless you have used them to get servo horns
INH after changing Swash type in SETUP menu
Ok, once that lot is done, you
need to connect it up to the PC and run the configuration
software CYCLOCK.EXE. This is quite obviously a Visual
Basic application, and due to that it has some little quirks you
need to know about.
Make sure that you connect the
CSM adaptor lead to a FAST USB connection, as it is painfully
slow on a SLOW USB.
Make sure that you get the lead
correctly on the pins in the CL1, it is quite easy to miss the
pins as there is an extra gap to one side of them.
Finally, click the button at the
bottom on the left labelled "Connect
to mixer". With luck, you will see a little
"STATUS" slider indicator next to it come alive, and then the fields will
all be filled with the CURRENT values, which are the factory
If you get any little error
messages popping up, check the wiring carefully, make sure you
have the white signal lead on the correct side of the CL1,
and then dismiss the message and try again. Repeat
this until you do get a connection.
Below is the configuration screen
before any connection has been made...
And here is the same screen after
a successful connection, with the data prefilled...
The 2nd screen above shows an
actual finished configuration for a mini titan. You will
notice that many of the values are totally different to the
The first thing that you have to
do is to sort of the servo direction operation. This can
be tricky, as you may also need to switch servo directions in
your radio, as WELL as in the software to get it all correct,
but some playing around will usually get you there.
The three tables identify the
main three servos, and are typically aileron servo on LEFT of
helicopter, Elevator Servo, and Aileron servo on RIGHT of
aircraft. If your aileron connections seem to be reversed,
you can also switch them on your Rx (AIL and AUX/PITCH)
The trick here is to first off
get the collective working as it should, so for example, on a
Belt CP, you want ALL 3 SERVOS lifting the swash plate
evenly. Then check the Aileron and Elevator and make sure
they operate in the correct direction. Use the various
servo reversing options shown on the screens to achieve
this. If you cannot get there, use the reversing switches
on your radio and then try again.
Once you have the servos working
in the correct direction, it is time to sort out the
endpoints/maximum swash plate movement. To do this, you adjust
the values provided as needed. The defaults are
mostly far too low. So my first thing is to increase the
Elevator and Aileron gain to around 85%. I also use the
same values for the Up and Down movement of the swash plate
To make large adjustments, put
the cursor on the button required, and then HOLD THE LEFT BUTTON
DOWN till you get close to the required value. Sometime
the software locks up, and you will see a white and red message
in the "Write Progress"
field telling you that updating failed. Just use the
"Connect to mixer" button to refresh and then do it again.
You need to remember here that
the maximum values you allow here WILL ALSO LIMIT the maximum
swash movement for
your Tx sticks as well, because the CL1 is handling ALL
MIXING. That is why it is a good idea to make these
reasonably high, as you can of course always add further control
in your Tx using endpoints and Expo etc. (assuming you are using
a computerised radio - if not, WHY NOT?)
If you change settings in your
radio, you will not effect the amount of movement that Alien
Command will have available to it to recover the helicopter
whenever you let the cyclic stick centre so that Alien Command
comes into operation.
NB - It is good practise to
ensure that the left and right servo movement settings match so that the
swash has EVEN MOVEMENT IN BOTH DIRECTIONS.
Although it is most unlikely, you
may find that when checking the collective pitch, one servo
moves at a slightly different rte, causing the swash to not
raise and lower evenly. You must correct this, using the
special controls labelled "Interactio
Once all that is done, disconnect
the CL1 unit from the PC, and you can then use your radio to set
up Dual Rates, Expo, and tighter Endpoints if you wish to do so.
There is one last but MOST
IMPORTANT TASK TO BE DONE irrespective of whether you are using
the Std or Advanced versions, and that is to set the DIP
switches on the Alien command control unit to ensure that the
swash plate ALWAYS moves in the correct direction to enable it
to recover the helicopter to a level hover. THIS IS A ONE
TIME TASK ONLY.
This is not
as tricky as it might sound, but it can take a little
while. Check the small gain control
on the AC control unit and ENSURE IT IS FULLY UP.
First thing to grab hold of is a small container of
really hot water (or tea or whatever). This acts as the HOT
horizon for AC to sense.
power up the helicopter WHILE ALSO HOLDING THE RED SET BUTTON
IN. If you get this right, you will see a servo move 3
times to tell you you are now in full setup mode. You must
be in Setup mode to be able to changed the DIP switches,
otherwise they are NOT READ by the controller.
The final thing you MUST REMEMBER
TO DO is to follow the instructions in the main documentation
BEFORE the first flight of each day to let Alien Command
identify its horizon. A good tip here is to have
your heli case or radio case handy, and use that to put the heli
on when you let it centre the swash, so that it is as LEVEL AS
YOU POSSIBLY GET IT.
If you go into setup mode, AC is
actually looking at the PITCH (Elevator sensors) ONLY. These are
the ones with the small arrows on the sensor unit. Select
one of these and place the heat source close to it.
The swash plate SHOULD RISE DIRECTLY UPWARDS AT 45
DEGREES TOWARD THE LENS THAT IS "SEEING" THE HEAT
SOURCE. EG: both the elevator and aileron servos should
If it does
not do so, you have to start experimenting with the DIP switches
to make it do so. There is no sane plan to these, just
experiment with all of them until the swash rises up
correctly. Then do the same for the opposite lens.
Repeat until both ELEVATOR lenses are moving the swash plate
Next press the
setup button ONCE.
switches AC into reading the AILERON lenses input. Repeat
the process above using the other 2 lenses until you get them
raising the swash plate correctly.
For completeness, press the setup button once again to
return to Elevator Sensing (It just toggles between the 2 modes
while in setup mode) and recheck the Elevator Sensors are STILL
YOUR DONE !!!
the lipo, which will save those DIP switch setting
permanently. For a final test, take it outside, go through
the daily setup procedure and then check that the swash is
moving correctly by moving it around in your hand as if it is
If you are totally
happy that it is working correctly, bring it up to a hover, and
let go of the cyclic to see which way it drifts. Adjust
the level hover using the trimmers on the TX until you have a
truly level hover.
that you have to adjust the level hover with trimmers, the less
level the helicopter was when you did the daily set up....
Don't forget that Alien Command does NOT MAINTAIN
ALTITUDE OR RUDDER DIRECTION, that is still down to you, so hang
on to the LEFT HAND STICK AT ALL TIMES.
VERY WELL DONE....................
I really do hope
that this tip helps
you to setup Alien Command on your helicopter