Setting up an Aura for sport 3D

Setting up an Aura for sport 3D

Setting up an Aura for sport 3D

Electronic Stability Systems (ESS) are becoming less of a novelty and more of just a piece equipment that allows you to get the most out of the airplane. I run Auras in everything I own, simply because the planes fly better and I crash less. Every Aura I own has paid for itself over and over, so to me this makes them essential. You  don't actually need one, but if you fly in a lot of wind or are not a top level professional pilot, you'll get better results with one.

Generally an ESS just stabilizes the plane. A good system can level the playing field between super stable planes and ones that sacrifice a little stability to get agility. For example, a 48" MXS is a great little plane, but it's so agile you have better know what you are doing if you're going to hammer it hard. This kind of goes away with a stability system because that plane becomes an utter pussycat without giving up any agility. On that plane the transformation was mind blowing. 

One odd thing I discovered is that as you go smaller, the ESS makes a bigger difference. On 60" planes the ESS makes the plane smoother and, of course, more stable, but on a 52" the difference is very, very noticeable. On a 48" it's pure utter magic on a biblical scale. My first ESS was on a 52" and I fell in love with it immediately, but on a 48" it was like flipping a light switch. Conversely, on a 74" or 92, the effects are more subtle.

So, the smaller you go, the more improvement you get, to the point size becomes largely irrelevant, at least from a stability standpoint. The beauty here is that on a small plane you get big plane stability without giving up any of the smaller plane's agility.

First we have to get the disclaimers out of the way. People often want my config file, but that is problematic unless you fly Futaba. Also, I  can't put myself in a position of liability, so I am loathe to share them. My formula is so simple you won't have much trouble anyway.

However, my formula for gains and stick priorities work on every system I have tried, so that's what we will focus on.

I fly 48" to 60" planes exclusively, so if you are flying something bigger you might be able to up the gains a little and get away with it. I've tried this formula on friends 74" and 104" plane with good results, but I won't have a definitive formula for bigger planes until I have my own to tinker with, or just a lot of time experimenting with someone else's expensive toy. You don't keep your friends if you crash a lot of their planes, and volunteers are kind of rare, so this could be awhile!

No report is complete without a smokin' video. Here we combined the Velox' smooth precision with nice weather and a great anthem. Make sure you crank it up!


When you go into the Aura config tool, look for file/new Aura Config file Wizard. From there, choose "custom airframe" and the "generic 3D" template. For most people that's a great place to start and you might just be happy with it the way it is.

However, be aware that at high speed and high mode (gain) the plane will shake itself into orbit and pieces will probably start blowing off. If you are good at switch flipping and remember which mode you are on, this won't give you a problem, and it works for most people.

I go a slightly different route in separating my rates, expo and mixes from the Aura  and run those in the TX. That way those are independent from the Aura and work like they normally do. Then I run only an off/high/high Aura setting. Off is off, and the two highs are identical. I trim the plane, turn the gyro on and never think about the Aura ever again. Essentially, we fly the plane just like we always have with a choice of rates on your dual/triple rate switch, and that's it. The gyro gains and stick priorities are the same all the time, and I'm too busy flying the plane to worry about it. It's just one less thing for the pilot to get wrong, and this is especially important for the new guys who are struggling with everything else. 

Simplicity counts.

Get the Aura wired up and everything working. Then you can change servo direction and sub trims in the Aura. If you can get that far, the rest is cake.

Gains are basically the amount of assist you ask from the gyro. Different people want different things, but you do have to be careful not to run too much.

There's a lot to consider here, but we're going to keep it simple. If you run too much gain at speed you get into gyro shake. This looks almost exactly like you would expect from high speed flutter, and it can be catastrophic. If nothing else it can be so violent you lose control and bury the plane, while parts blow off, that is.

You also want to be wary of getting the gains working the right direction, There are clear directions on this in the manual, but in general, if you drop the nose the gyro should add up elevator, raise a wing and that aileron will go up. Yaw is a little more difficult to check because it's visually difficult, but yaw the plane one way and the rudder should go the opposite way. Again, get this right the first time unless you enjoy tearing up a good plane.

On all of my Extreme Flight planes, this is usually not a problem. On the set up page there is a picture of the gyro in the plane in the proper orientation for most Extreme Flight planes, so start with that and everything should be golden, However, make sure you check gyro direction over and over.

Backwards gains is fatal every single time. I think it's even worse than a reversed control. Therefore, the #1 rule for any new installation or after any gyro adjustment is trim the plane with the gyro off, and turn it on with plenty of altitude. You might think you can catch it, but a reversed gain puts the plane in the ground really fast, so probably 200-300' is a good place to start. If the plane is whack, turn the gyro off, land and correct. It's important you put your gyro mode switch where you can find it fast. First time out you may want to have a spotter who can do it for you.

Don't mess around with this. I've tested a few planes with the gains backwards (before I knew much about gyros) and it's the quickest way to trash a plane I can think of. Fortunately I knew where the switch was and turned it off in time to save the plane, but it was always close. After a few installations you know what to look for and it's almost as natural as checking control directions.

If you absolutely have to have a high gyro rate for 3D, the one in the config tool is fine as long as you don't blast off and start flying fast. The high mode gain is not that much higher than what I use full time, so if there's a big benefit, that's outweighed by keeping it all simple.

As such, on all my planes I run the gains of both of my high/high modes the same at 10. This is good and safe and I've never had one shake like this. If you want that last 1% or 2%, you can experiment on your own, but I prefer the simplicity of turning it on and letting it work it's magic in the background where I don't have to think about that instead of flying the plane.

This is either complex or simple, and I only understand it enough to know what I like. Stick priorities adjust how far out in the stick movement the gyro assists you, or when the gyro lets go and gives you no assist. The low mode in the generic 3D template is 40 ailerons/25 elevator/100 rudder.  This works so well that I run that full time on both my high/high modes, though I recently dropped the rudder to 40 so pop tops would be better. On the "generic 3D" template, high mode stick priorities are 100/100/100, which gives you a marvelously stable plane that's useless in tumbles and pop tops. It's great for 3D. but to me it's another complication and my 40/25/40 is still plenty of assist.

So reviewing, it's:

Ailerons         10
Elevator         10
Rudder           10

Stick Priority
Ailerons      40
Elevator      25
Rudder        40

Most guys are pretty tech savvy, and all they need are the gains and stick priorities, but for the new guys, try to keep it simple.

What It Looks Like
First, you have to go into the TX and assign your gear channel to a three position switch or the gyro part won't work. I like the top switch on the left side, but put it wherever you are comfortable with and can find easily. If you ever have to turn it off, you've got to be able to find it quickly.

We will get into the rest of the TX programming a little later. You can either leave all of that in the Aura and it works fine, but to keep it simple, I do it my way, and I think this works best for the new guys.

Let's start with the set up page. Most things here are self explanatory except the on/off switches. Here I turn every thing off. The quick bind and quick trim features don't apply to Futaba, so I turned then off, but they are useful for Spectrum. Now all of my rates and expos are done in the TX like usual, so follow the plane's manual here.

One benefit here is you don't need to take a laptop to the field for simple adjustments. You program it at home, but you can still change rates, and expo in the TX instead of going home. I finally got a lap top so I could work the sub trims and such, but most everything else can be handled in the TX. For changing gains and stick priorities, you will still need a computer, but we already have those figured out.

Here's what it looks like. 
Click to Enlarge For All Photos

Now we go to the mixing page, but it comes turned off, so if you are using my set up, leave it alone, but check it to be sure.

Now we get into setting up your gains and stick priorities in the "control mode" tab, and you can see those below. This is the "low" mode.

As far as the bounce back adjustments, they are already turned off, so I just leave them alone. Feel free to play with them if you want to tinker, but leaving it off is just one more thing that simplifies everything.

You can see all the gains are 10 on all surfaces. You can tinker for that last 1% or 2%, but I prefer the safety margin of the 10 gain. Around 12 or so you get into shake and it's just not worth risking that. I fly really fast, and coming out of hard dives, and shake here would be terminal. Also notice here the stick priorities are at 40a/25e/40r.

Now we get into a bit of an anomaly. There are only three modes, but four pages. The mid rate shows up, but it simply does not exist. When you go into flight mode (which I use to check everything), it's just not there, and it won't show up when you start flipping switches either. I have no explanation other than it's there if you choose 4 modes on the setup page, but the default is three. I usually set this page to be the same as my high/high settings just to be sure, but for the most part you can ignore the medium mode.

Finally there is high mode, which is identical to my low mode.

You will find your end point and sub trim adjustments as well as servo reversing on the servo ports page.

Basically, there were a few things I didn't know what they were, so I left the rest of it alone!

TX Programming
From there, assuming you already set your control directions and sub trim in the Aura, you're done, with the Aura anyway. 

Mostly, programming the TX is like you are used to, except you set your end points to 125%. If you need more, or a fine adjustment, you can use the Aura end points (on the servo ports page). Also, set your sub trims at Zero and adjust those in the Aura.

If you turned off the Aura rates, mixing and expos in the Aura, now you program the TX as the plane's manual suggests and tune from there.

I tried to cover as much as Ii could without being overwhelming. I hope this helps, but if you need more I suggest you try the Extreme Flight EXP Owners Thread on RC Groups.

Also thanks to Rocky at Flex Innovations for great Aura tech support.

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