This article will examine the gyroscope and exactly what is the difference in the number of axis. The truth is there are not really 6 axis in a 6 axis gyroscope, it is just 3 axis with 2 types of sensors.
What is a gyro?
A gyro is an electronic device that senses angular velocity. Vibration sensors are used to detect angular velocity from the Coriolis force applied to a vibrating element. They are also known as angular velocity sensors or rate sensors.
The devices that make use of this technology include; aircraft, race cars, motor boats, robots, video games, radio controlled toys, digital cameras and the most common use for the gyro is in your smartphone. These sensors provide stability and direction by sensing motion caused by vibrations. There are many applications of gyro sensors. In navigation systems, it can be used to sense angular velocity produced by the sensor’s movements. These angles are detected through an integration operation by a CPU. You are able to read them using an application. The use of gyros is widespread and even can be applied in athletics to determine a runner’s motion capability. Quadcopters primarily used a 3 axis gyro but the introduction of 6 axis gyros made them more stable.
How gyros work
When your device rotates in a certain direction, the gyro sensors sense the motion on the drive arm. When the gyro rotates, the Coriolis force will act on the drive arm to produce a vertical vibration. This triggers the stationary part to bend making the sensing arm detect motion. The angular velocity is therefore determined by the motion of sensing arms. It is then converted and emitted as an electric signal.
Vibrations caused by external factors can also be sensed by the gyro. It senses the vibrations then transmits the data to a CPU. The vibrations are converted into electric signals that can be read by the computer. The remote operator can correct the orientation or balance of his/her object. This is also used in cameras for correcting shaky footage (electronic image stabilisation) and also is how your quadcopter can counteract wind and other interference.
3 axis Vs 6 axis gyros
The main difference between a 3 axis and 6 axis gyro is that the latter has 3 accelerometers in addition to the three standard orientation sensors. The pitch, yaw and roll sensors will navigate your 3-axis copter well but the added feature makes the 6 axis more resistant to altitude displacement.
The accelerometers compensate for any unwanted acceleration or simply movement in the three dimensions. This ensures the quadcopter can fly freely without interference by wind, going too high or falling to the ground. Any user learning to operate remote aircraft can easily make sharp turns by applying the rudder and roll features in the 6 axis too.
The other advantage of a 6 axis quadcopter is that combining the six sensors can detect both unusual attitude and a fall. By centralising the pitch controls and applying throttle, the 6 axis quad comes to a stable hover. This will help bring it to desired height if it’s flying too high or reposition it to an upright position if it’s flying facing an opposite side like upside down. Even if your quad tumbles while reducing altitude, you just have to increase the throttle before it touches down to make it stable. (I’m sure we have all done that before). I hope this overview has helped your knowledge of the term 6 axis gyro and you now are more informed on a key term and functions of your multirotor.
People have compared the burgeoning drone market to the early days of PCs, comparing it with the Homebrew Computer Club, the Bay Area hobbyist meetup where the Apple I was first unveiled. It may seem an odd comparison—the drone is thought of as military technology and (more recently) luxury plaything, while the Homebrew Computer Club is remembered for its Utopian beliefs about putting technology into the hands of the people. But while Apple's forays into personal computers were ground breaking, the "PC" abbreviation historically referred to its greatest threat, the IBM PC standard, a revolutionary form of computer architecture that was easily licensed and copied, and which shaped the personal computer market for over a decade. Drones do not yet have a "PC standard," but if they did, it might be the tipping point that could catapult drones into the mainstream and unlock their social utility.
We have yet to see what this social utility will be. Militarized drone technology has a well-established place among the many tools of the surveillance state. Looking at the history of the computer's shift from an awkward, heavy, military and commercial engineering project to something we carry in our pockets, one wonders how drones might make a similar transition. Some of the first ideas for non-military drones, such as catching poachers, have some way to go in development before they will actually be useful. So far, one of the best uses for drone technology is in the field of cartography mapping large areas very quickly, and rectify imagery to GPS maps. But drones like these cost thousands of dollars and run proprietary software in order to work so seamlessly. What if drone technology were to be transformed in a similar manner to computers, so that standard architecture and operating systems allowed cheaper, more universal hardware and software?
In the late 1970s, desk-sized computers were typically terminals linked to mainframes where the real processing was done. But with the miniaturization of transistor functions into integrated circuits, desktop computers became possible. These early personal computers were sold as kits, and required a hefty investment as well as technical know-how to assemble and operate. When the Apple II was introduced in 1977, it was one of the first "out of the box" personal computers; BYTE magazine called it the first "appliance computer". But the Apple II was still expensive, and with an operating system and architecture limited to this machine only, all compatible software had to be designed specifically for this system. In 1980, less than 10% of 14 million small businesses in the US had personal computers, and of large corporations, less than 3% used personal computers on a regular basis. Investing in a limited hobby system was not a priority for most companies.
IBM, one of the primary providers of business computers and machines in the 1970s, did not want to be left behind by Apple, Tandy, Atari, and the other hobbyist offerings, and set out to design their own. But rather than simply introduce another competing proprietary system, they produced an open system. They designed an architecture that was larger than necessary, accessible, and easy for the user to understand. They hired Microsoft to develop an operating system that could be licensed independently from the hardware.
Once the news got out that "Big Blue" was making a PC, peripheral and software companies sat up and took notice. Because they could easily reverse-engineer the architecture and license the OS, by the time the IBM PC hit the market, there were software and peripherals ready to be purchased alongside it. It wasn't long until cheaper, compatible clones were sold by other computer manufacturers, for which one could use the exactly same software and parts as for an IBM PC. As businesses began adopting personal computers and figuring out how to use them, they chose IBM PC-compatible systems; this, because they could be assured their investment wouldn't be outdated or isolated from other software and systems.
The IBM PC is a famous story in support of open standards—although IBM lost sales by not preventing cheap clones of their product, they gained the market domination of their design standard, which still enabled them to keep the widest potential customer base among businesses with the budget for large purchases. In addition, the standard allowed smaller companies to take the risk of spending their own development resources on designing software and peripherals. Companies like Lotus and Compaq—let alone Microsoft—would not have developed their own products without this standard to rely on (we can see the benefits of open standards in other technology as well, for example USB and WiFi 802.11 standards; and in the failure of Betamax video technology and HD-DVD, we can see what is at stake with competing proprietary design standards).
In the consumer drone swarm there are, as yet, no standards. The most popular consumer drones are the DJI Phantom line, which comes with a closed operating system and associated software. For more adventurous hobbyists, such as the 3DRobotics company, selling kits using components such as the Pixhawk autopilot, which runs on the PX4 open-source firmware. But while this open-source system is a powerful tool for the hacker-minded drone operator, it isn't exactly accessible to those not familiar with unix-like OS. Even the US military's open standards for drone control have been unevenly adopted. The history of the IBM PC was not a targeted goal, but the combination of several technological factors that managed to come together at the right time.
An "IBM PC for drones" standard would likely make it much easier to self-assemble drones from component pieces—and to fix them if they broke. In the same way that one can pull together a motherboard, a hard drive, a power supply and a video card and have a functional computer, one could plug together a battery, an autopilot, some motors and speed controllers, an RF receiver and a sensor kit and have a functional drone. The open-source kits are moving in this direction, but we are not yet at plug-and-play.
Costs would also drop, as manufacturers would be certain that their newer, cheaper components could easily be subbed into the drone's open-architecture. Specialised software could be developed, certain to run on any drone, making some of the likely drone tasks that much more accessible: precision agriculture software, hobby flying software, aerial mapping software, or cinematic filming software. Currently, single-use drones designed for these specific tasks are sold by companies targeting one particular market. A cheap, standardised "drone clone" could enable a new generation of "drone literate" businesses and households, and from there, who knows what classes of new software would result.
We might remember that word processing and accounting software was hardly an obvious use for home PCs before the IBM PC clone price point made this market possible. Computers could handle text and data, but what this was "good for" was as yet undiscovered. Drones can handle imagery. What happens when you make a flying camera available to every home? Right now, we have drone selfies and mountain biking videos. But drones could provide analysis of home insulation, find the best place for solar panels or a satellite dish, inspect for roof leaks, or figure out how the squirrels are getting into the attic. Super accurate and updated aerial maps of neighbourhoods could track infestations, help with urban gardening, track traffic patterns, map pedestrian and bicycle commuting, among many other data intensive tasks. An Australian company uses camera drones to find methane gas leaks released during fracking operations; demonstrators have used drones to monitor the police (and have sometimes had their drones shot down by officers). To discover what drones are "good for," we must separate them from what they are currently marketed for in closed, proprietary silos, and let people discover their uses themselves.
DJI updated its software to ensure its drones couldn't fly in no-fly area. But that only applies to their drones. Standardised software could enable wide-reaching safety upgrades. Also, a standard architecture could allow new safety components, such as sense-and-avoid technology, the widest possible adoption. And compatibility standards could take security into account, requiring GPS systems to be resistant to spoofing, and drones' data collection to adhere to privacy standards. But of course, there will be downsides. There will be malware, just as there was when PCs became common and networked. There will be unresolved privacy issues, just as there are, still, with computers today.
But drones are not PCs, and a historical model is no guarantee of parallel development. In particular, there is considerable public anxiety about hobbyist drone usage in a way that differs from the reception of the personal computer. A recent Reuters/Ipsos poll found that Americans are much more comfortable with the use of drones by police than by news organisations or private individuals; this may prove to be a bigger barrier to its social utility than any technical standard. Perhaps drones will never be a widespread technology but a limited, specialist tool—more like a mail processing machine or a forklift than a computer, perfect for particular businesses but useless to others. At this point, as the technology continues to evolve, it is difficult to predict. But open standards for drones will put them in the hands of more people for purposes that go beyond law enforcement and surveillance, to help us discover what the capacities of this technology are, and in as many areas as possible.
I began my career as a builder and progressed through to the owner of Mojo NZ Ltd. The first drone I owned is to this day lodged in a tree on the West Coast of the South Island of New Zealand. We now provide drones to all industries from toys to racing drones to professional camera drones. This blog is a look at ourselves and the industry in general.