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Connecting external LED’s to Arducopter

Before I shelled out for the dedicated Aircraft Navigation Lamp Set (install guide here) from HobbyKing I wanted to add some basic LED lighting to the motor arms of my X525 build, I still use these LED’s as one displays the Motor Arm status, the other the GPS Lock, that and the dedicated navigation lights don’t talk to Arducopter.

Update: The voltage of the LED strip has to be 5V. Too low, your strip will burn. Too high and it might not turn on (thanks Wei).

Here’s what you need and how to install it.

What you need

Connecting the LED’s to the APM board

If you went out and bought the 3 LED strip’s mentioned above you can connect the LED servo cable’s directly to the APM board’s analog input’s after a quick change of one of the leads to the JR connector.

We can connect these particular LED strip’s directly to the APM board as the LED’s draw less than the maximum permissible current of the AVR chip on the APM of 40mA per input, the LED strips we’re looking at draw 33mA per input.

Update: The current limit is 40mA per pin or 200mA total. Any higher and you risk damage to the APM (thanks Wei).

By moving the positive lead (red cable) over one spot to occupy the signal line APM can power the LED lights on/off when it chooses, left unchanged the LED strip will be connected to the +5V rail and be always on; which looks cool but is useless.

  1. Using a small sharp knife lift up the tab on the positive lead (aka red cable) of the JR connector that holds the pin in place
  2. Pull on the positive lead while the tab is lifted to remove it from the JR connector
  3. Re-insert the positive lead into the space typically used for the signal line (the next available space) of the JR connector
  4. Make sure the tab is down and the positive lead is secured by giving it a pull



We’re not looking at adding buzzer support today but here you can see where the analog input’s go on the APM 1.6 board.

If you’re using the current release of APM then you’re on AC 3.1.5 (Arducopter 3.1.5) and the following will apply, read further for the AC 3.2 changes which will apply when AC 3.2 is officially released.

AC 3.1.5 (today)

  • A4: AUX led
  • A6: GPS – will flash with no GPS lock, solid with GPS lock
  • A7 through A11: Motor LED’s (always on)

AC 3.2 (future)

  • A4 : Motor LED
  • A6 : GPS – will flash with no GPS lock, solid with GPS lock
  • A7: Arming LED
  • A8 through A11: Motor LED’s (always on)

Note: Need to confirm A8 through A11 for AC 3.2 and above as this is not currently documented on External LEDs from Arducopter Wiki.

Connect your LiPo battery and power up your APM board, lights on, enjoy night flying! When you’re ready consider upgrading to the Aircraft Navigation Lamp Set (install guide here) mentioned earlier as you can then add real-world lighting sequences to your build.

Connecting aircraft navigation lamp set to Arducopter

I got around to connecting the Hobbyking Aircraft Navigation Lamp Set to my APM 1.6 clone board today, here’s a run through of the wiring guide for connecting each LED to the distribution box as well as placement for an X-frame quadcopter. There’s also a guide for controlling the lighting modes with the Turnigy 9XR transmitter and a dummy list of available lighting modes.

What’s included

Included with the Aircraft Navigation Lamp Set is the following:

  • 5 x white LED’s with 2-pin micro moxel connectors
  • 2 x red LED’s with 2-pin micro moxel connectors
  • 1 x green LED with 2-pin micro moxel connector
  • 8 x plastic LED grips for mounting the LED to frames
  • 1 x distribution Unit with micro molex connectors for the LED’s
  • 1 x servo cable with 3-pin micro molex connector for powering and controlling the LED’s

The total draw of the LED lights and distribution unit is less than 100 mAh and is self-powered from the receiver channel it is controlled from.

Available lighting modes

You can choose from the following lighting modes:

  1. Coloured arms always on, strobes and beacon flashing, landing lights fade in/out
  2. Coloured arms, strobes and beacon flashing, landing lights fade in/out
  3. Coloured arms flash twice on each arm
  4. Coloured arms flash twice on each arm at higher frequency
  5. Coloured arms and strobes always on, beacon light is flashing, landing lights fade in/out
  6. All lights flashing at high frequency
  7. All lights flashing at slow frequency
  8. All lights on
  9. All lights off

Guide to connecting LED’s to assigned connectors

See the list below for details on connecting LED to assigned connectors.
  1. Strobe light on front-right arm
  2. Landing light on rear-right arm
  3. Beacon light on front of main frame
  4. Strobe light on front-left arm
  5. Red light on front-left arm
  6. Landing light on rear-left arm
  7. Beacon light on rear of main frame
  8. Green light on front-right arm

Controlling the lighting modes with the Turnigy 9XR transmitter

Ensure you’ve connected the supplied servo cable from the AUX connector on the distribution unit to an available channel on your receiver (I chose channel 8) before proceeding.

  1. Power on the Turnigy 9XR
  2. Hold the Menu button for a second to open the Menu screen
  3. Switch to the Mixer screen on tab 5/11 by pressing the right arrow button
  4. Using the down button only highlight ‘100%’ on the available channel on your receiver that you connected the distribution unit to (I chose channel 8 so went down to CH8)
  5. Hold down the Menu button to display the Edit Mix screen for this channel
  6. Ensure the Source is set to FULL
  7. Press the down button only to highlight the Switch option
  8. Using the left and right buttons only change the value to TRN
  9. Press the Exit button only to return to the previous screen
  10. Press the Exit button repeatedly until you are on the initial status screen

You’re done! Connect the LiPo battery to your quadcopter and flick the TRN switch on the far-right of the Turnigy 9XR controller to switch through the lighting modes.

Hobbyking Predator 650 kit parts

Notice: This parts list is ongoing, if you know the dimensions of a missing part or think this can be better drop a comment below 🙂


  • 44 x M2 x 6mm
  • 46 x M3 x 6mm (button heads)
  • 40 x M3 x 6mm (flat heads)
  • 12 x M3 x 10mm


  • 2 x […]
  • 2 x […]
  • # x M2.5 x 22mm


  • 1 x 23*25*248mm carbon tube
  • 6 x  25mm aluminium blocks
  • 6 x M2.5 x 40mm
  • 6 x M2.5 nuts

Hook and Rod

  • 2 x 10mm tubes for undercarriage (rail mounting system for battery, gimbal, etc.)
  • 4 x […]



Build log


Build Tips


  • Build the motor arms first and mount them to the rear section prior to attaching the rear landing legs to the frame.
  • Do not lose a single screw. A single screw. There are no spares available from the supplier at this time.


Hobbyking Predator 650 equipment list


Control Board


  • Turnigy Multistar 2814-800Kv 123 (HobbyKing didn’t stock the 2814-800Kv so I pulled the trigger on the smaller 2214-800Kv, not ideal as the motor mounts don’t all line up but close enough, in hindsight should have waited for the 2814-800Kv)
  • NTM 28 Carbon Fibre Motor Mount (as above, used the cross mount from this kit to mount the Turnigy motors with holes 16mm & 19mm to the Predator 650 motors mounts with holes 19mm & 25mm, no motor mount screws are provided so used screws scavenged from previous builds to mount the the cross mount to the motor mounts, if you get the 2814-800Kv motors mentioned above you mount directly onto the motor mounts)

Speed Controllers






Fix for DSM 5.0 and 5.1 updates failing on Synology NAS

For the past several months I have been receiving regular e-mail notifications from my DS213+ that a system update is ready to be applied, I’d proceed to open Control Panel > Update & Restore with an Administrator level User account and hit Update. Nothing would happen…

Here’s the fix straight from Synology Support which is not mentioned on any well ranked forums or posts when searching for this error. I’ve pasted the original from Synology Support as well as an English-friendly version.

If you have updated your NAS to DSM 5.0 and above there is no security/malware concern to be worried about. If you are receiving e-mail notifications that a new system update is available but it does not appear on the Update & Restore screen please do the following:

  1. Open Control Panel > Network as an Administrator level User account
  2. Under the DNS options on this screen set the following primary and secondary DNS entriesPrimary:
  3. Click Save Changes
  4. Open Control > Update & Restore and click Update Now

Original response from Synology Support:

If you have managed to update system to DSM 5.0 there has security concern that needs to be worried. On the other hand regarding e-mail you received has a new software for update but no update was available on system, please apply Google DNS or for your DiskStation under Control Panel > Network > General (Preferred DNS Server) for changes to take effect. Then, check if the issue resolves then. – Technical Support, Synology

Update: This post seems relevant for DSM 5.1 users too…

Trends in persistent WordPress Administration notices

I’ve been helping out store owners in maintaining their stores for a little while now and the trend for Plugin and Theme developers to introduce persistent WordPress Administration notices for non-critical site activities or inappropriate site wide notices is becoming too common. I want to bring this to the attention of other WordPress users so that this can be addressed.


A ‘good’ developer will limit persistent notices to critical site activities only (e.g. caching Plugins, major database updates).

In the above case WooThemes Subscription and Envato’s Theme notices are considered critical; subscription sales won’t work and the Theme will be missing core functionality without addressing those notices.

Configuring default options for a CSV exporter or installing a Plugin update helper isn’t a critical activity.

A ‘great’ developer will still add the ability to dismiss these notices even in the case of a critical site activity.

Envato’s Theme and SkyVerge have added a dismiss option with their exporter setup notice but in SkyVerge’s case the notice does not need to be on all screens or considered an error. Dropping the error CSS class and limiting this setup notice to just the Plugins, Dashboard > Updates and own CSV Export screens would be better.

WooThemes don’t offer a dismiss option at all which makes for unnecessary nagging and screen clutter and goes against the WordPress Plugin Guidelines.

It’s fine to put an error message at the top of the admin for special cases, but it should be linked to a way to fix the error and it should be infrequent. Any form of “nagging” is absolutely prohibited.

That’s my rant. I’ll add an option to the next release of Store Toolkit for WooCommerce to hide that persistent notice so this post isn’t all for a lost cause.

Finally a Fix for XAMPP and WordPress Permalinks

Error 500 – Server error!

Fun times with Apache… Recent releases of XAMPP for Windows hide additional Apache overrides outside of the reach of …/apache/conf/httpd.conf. If you’re like me and exhausted all prior Google results to get Permalinks working with XAMPP give this one a go.

  1. Open …/apache/conf/extra/httpd-xampp.conf
  2. Replace all instances of AllowOverride None and AllowOverride AuthConfig with AllowOverride All
  3. Save changes
  4. Open XAMPP Control Panel and restart the Apache service or open the Windows Services dialog and restart the Apache2.4 Service
  5. Breathe and give that Error 500 tab a refresh

Woop! In case this doesn’t work it’s likely you’ve missed one of the basics:

  1. Open …/apache/httpd.conf
  2. Uncomment #LoadModule rewrite_module modules/mod_rewrite.so
  3. Replace all instances of AllowOverride None and AllowOverride AuthConfig with AllowOverride All
  4. Save changes
  5. As above, restart the Apache Service.

Fix for Adobe Flash Player crashing under Chome 31 and above

So you’ve updated Chrome (version 31+) and re-installed Adobe Flash Player (version 11.9 r900+) a countless times yet web pages with Flash still crash? Welcome to my world.

If Chrome has for whatever reason decided to not play nice with Adobe Flash Player ala Shockwave Flash try this trick out, turns out it worked for me and doesn’t leave you simply disabling Flash content like other YouTube fixes…

  1. Via the Chrome Address Bar enter ‘chrome://plugins’ and press enter
  2. From the Plug-ins screen that opens in your browser tab click Details from the top-right corner of the screen
  3. Under ‘Adobe Flash Player’ check if it says ‘2 files’ beside the Plug-in name and version
  4. If it does say 2 files hit Disable for the ‘file’ that has a Type of ‘PPAPI’
  5. Open a web page that has a tonne of Flash content… hooray!

That’s it.

Hidden bbPress Admin menus conflict due to WP e-Commerce

If you have a WordPress site that has previously been using WP e-Commerce (version 3.8.13 and and earlier) upon activating bbPress you will notice, well, no bbPress menus or references. Anywhere.

Update: You may get a “You have insufficient WordPress permissions” notice when activating bbPress, the following steps will fix this conflict with WP e-Commerce.

Earlier releases of WP e-Commerce adjusted the default role capabilities of WordPress User’s which for one reason or another – I am yet to identify the exact cause – results in bbPress not loading it’s welcome script (e.g. creating new default Pages, intro screen, WordPress Admin menu’s, etc.). Here’s the fix.

  1. Install and activate User Role Editor from Plugins > Install within the WordPress Administration
  2. Open Users > User Role Editor
  3. Click Reset
  4. De-activate and re-activate bbPress

That’s it!

Don’t do e-Commerce Plugin releases on Christmas Day or before Holidays

Just don’t do it. Here’s why in 3 concise reasons:

  1. Store owners don’t update their stores during peak season
  2. Limited support staff are around to help store owners
  3. Store owners that have updated their stores, and haven’t done backups, which then run into problems are going to flip out