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      Safety - Wire up Alien Command(Std & Advanced) on your helicopter
  
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 this.


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 correctly.

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 aircraft.

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 mixing 

Spektrum DX series computerised radios

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)

SETUP MENU  
SWASH TYPE 1 SERVO - 90 DEGREE - This DISABLES CCPM MIXING in your radio
ADJUST MENU  
D/R&EXPO All set to 100% - INH
TRAVEL ADJUST All Set to 100% in BOTH directions
SUB TRIM All at zero unless you have used them to get servo horns perpendicular
SWASH MIX Should be 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 presets.

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 factory defaults.

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 (Collective).

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.

Now 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 change position.

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 correctly.

Next press the setup button ONCE.

This 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 WORKING CORRECTLY.

If so, YOUR DONE !!!

Disconnect 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 flying.

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.

The more 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 

Please feel free to rate this Tips & Tricks entry to help 
me to ensure these are as good as possible - Thanks!

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