What is Ruby?
Ruby is a small device that intelligently assists or assumes control of a remote control aircraft.
It also does other helpful things, like record flight data with high detail and time resolution, and perform automated preflight check to tell you whether or not the plane is OK to fly. Additional and improved capabilities will be available by free download.
Ruby was created to transform and improve the experience of remote control flight for expert and beginner pilots.
Who is Ruby for?
Anyone who likes or wants to fly: expert sport, FPV, and recreational pilots, and people who have never flown before.
Our first priority is to make Ruby a practical and easy to use tool for regular, non-technical people.
Nonetheless, for technophiles, there are plenty of extra capabilities and opportunities for customization and experimentation under the hood to explore, with more to come soon.
How does Ruby make flying better?
Better performance with less effort
Ruby can assist or assume control of critical flight parameters such as airspeed or bank angle, even in turbulence. It reduces fatigue and stress, extends your comfort range, and allows you to focus your attention where it's most needed.
Ruby can also record flight data with unprecidented detail to enable you to diagnose and fine tune your aircraft and technique. Not just motor amps and altitude, but dynamics like roll rate, control surface deflection, and wing load, all with fine time resolution so you can determine causes and effects.
Ruby gives you the ability to stay in control of a plane in adverse or tedious circumstances. For instance, if you can no longer make out your plane's orientation or are being tossed by turbulence, you can rest assured that by flipping the gear switch to engage Ruby, pushing throttle all the way forward, centering your elevator stick and holding the aileron 30 degrees to the right, Ruby will maintain your plane at its current altitude, maintain best cruise airspeed, and keep the plane in a 30 degree bank regardless of wind.
Most importantly, Ruby gives you peace of mind knowing that it can quickly assume complete autonomous control and greatly reduce chance of crashing if contact is lost or your abilities are exceeded. Ruby will not just level your wings, it will intelligently manage wing load while pulling out of a dive, bring your airspeed back to cruise speed, and if necessary fly your plane back home, loiter overhead, and perform a targeted landing when the battery gets low.
A kinder, shallower learning curve for beginners:
Like training wheels on a bicycle, Ruby reduces the number of skills that need to be mastered at one time, and it reduces the chance of crashing during (and after) the learning process.
A beginner, even a child (supervised), can immediately assume control of a plane, with Ruby taking care of altitude, throttle, airspeed, pitch, roll, and range while basic visual orientation and left/right steering is mastered.
Learning to land is much easier when you're started at the ideal final approach entry point, and when airspeed, pitch, and roll are managed and all you have to worry about are glideslope and heading.
Fun, fascination, education:
There's nothing like seeing your plane fly and land in thermals and crosswinds intelligently and gracefully, literally with a mind of its own.
Ruby gives hands-on experience with cutting edge airborne robotics and sensors. For those who care to delve, there is the opportunity to experiment with control system parameters, just as they do at big aerospace companies.
With what aircraft can Ruby be used?
Ruby can work with just about any remotely controlled fixed-wing airplane, including acrobatic, sailplane, parkflier, and flying wing.
Ruby has been used extensively with electric and unpowered / glider. If you with have a gas or turbine powered plane, contact firstname.lastname@example.org to see about getting a discount for participating in our beta test program.
We plan to eventually offer support for multicopters and helicopters. This capability will be available as a firmware upgrade to existing Rubys at no extra cost. Our focus is on fixed-wing aircraft for now, however.
We've put a great emphasis on making Ruby as small, light, and flexible as possible so it can be used in competition sailplanes and tiny parkfliers.
While Ruby can be configured and tuned to work with just about any plane, an extra level support including installation tips and fine-tuned configurations is available for a growing list of models.
Does the plane have to be stable?
Not particularly. Ruby can probably fly it if it's humanly flyable, and possibly even if it isn't. Like the "fly by wire" technology used in modern fighters, Ruby might be able to keep an unstable plane in flight, but will perform much better if the plane is a good design, the center of gravity ("CG") is properly tuned and the plane flies well and "feels good" when piloted manually.
How does Ruby work?
Ruby is essentially a robot. Its main components are: a computer chip and an array of advanced sensors. Control input comes from your handheld receiver. Your plane's servos are attached to Ruby.
Ruby embodies thousands of lines of computer code and thousands of hours of development, testing, and refinement to address the details of piloting various types of actual planes in various real world conditions.
What is TruIMUTM?
At the heart of Ruby is TruIMU(TM), a proprietary system which determines pitch, roll, and heading from an array of advanced internal sensors. TruIMU does not require optical sensors. With only a thin airspeed tube projecting outside the airframe, it is able to work below ridgelines and treetops, above any surface and in fog. A sophisticated algorithm uses airspeed and three-dimensional gyro, accelerometer, and magnetometer sensors to provide a reliable attitude and heading measurement even at high airspeeds, in steep turns, and with lost GPS.
How is Ruby installed in my plane?
In addition to the main controller, three small modules need to be installed in your airframe: airspeed /magnetometer, GPS, and power sensor. You may affix all of these to the main controller to form a tidy package, or you may distribute some or all of them throughout your airframe for easiest fit and best performance.
Except for a tiny airspeed pitot tube, everything can be contained within the fuselage or wing of your plane.
Servos are plugged directly into Ruby's main controller. A cable and adapter run from the controller to your off-the-shelf remote control receiver.
See Installation Instructions for more info.
Is a special receiver or transmitter required?
Ruby can be used with just about any transmitter including most Spektrum and Futaba models.
Ruby works with only certain receivers, but these include a number of small, inexpensive, but full range receivers currently on the market. [more info...]
Is the airspeed sensor required?
Currently, airspeed is required by TruIMUTM to reliably determine attitude as the plane banks and accelerates. This requirement might change with future firmware versions, but for now consider it a requirement.
The airspeed sensor can be located separately from the main controller, with just thin wire connecting it to the controller. The sensor is small enough to be embedded completely in the wing of most planes, even the tiny Merlin parkflier. Only a thin tube needs to extend into the airstream.
The airspeed sensor is included at no additional cost in all standard Ruby packages.
Is the GPS sensor required?
GPS is only required for navigation. Ruby can do everything but loiter and land without GPS.
The GPS sensor is so small and light (6.95 grams, 19.5mm square) you'll probably want to install it in all but the smallest and lightest planes.
The GPS sensor is included at no additional cost in all standard Ruby packages.
Will I need to configure or tune Ruby?
For all planes, you'll need to take a few minutes to configure Ruby to your particular receiver and servo channel setup. We provide easy to use software that you can run on your PC to do this.
Ruby's autopilot and aided modes do require tuning to specific airframes, but we're building a free library containing these parameters expertly prepared for a growing number of plane designs. If your specific plane model or one similar is in the library, you can simply download the parameters into your aircraft.
If a reasonably good match is not available, you'll need to be able to manually pilot your plane long enough to accumulate some flight data for some proscribed maneuvers. One or two trips to the field with one or two flights each should usually suffice. Uthere support will be glad to help you with this.
How mature is Ruby?
Ruby embodies several engineer-years of design, development, testing, and refinement.
Ruby's "beta testing" program began in March, 2011, enlisting a large number of testers to prove Ruby in a wide variety of airframes including parkfliers, gliders, acrobatic, trainer, and flying wings. Ruby has performed well in this testing, with little change needed to the original hardware design. In addition to hundreds of hours of in-house flight testing and analysis, Ruby's principal engineer Jim Hall has personally spent hundreds of hours communicating directly with scores of beta testers and reviewing their collected flight data in detail.
Ruby has operated planes airspeeds up to 60 knots, and in conditions ranging from dead calm to winds gusting over 50 knots.
To date, Ruby has principally been tested in electric powered aircraft. More extensive testing in gas-powered planes will be conducted in the future.
Can Ruby save my plane from any predicament?
Ruby can usually do as good or better than a skilled pilot at taking your aircraft from a bad attitude or airspeed to a good one. For instance, it can take most planes quickly from an inverted high speed dive to level flight at cruise airspeed while being careful not to exceed wing loading limits.
Ruby can only do this if:
- The plane is sufficiently far above ground to execute the recovery maneuver.
- It is properly installed and has been flight tested.
- The plane flies reasonably well under manual control.
- Ruby and all critical components in your airframe such as servos and control surfaces are in working order,
- Ruby's automatic preflight test indicated "All OK"
Can I trust large, expensive, cherished aircraft to Ruby?
The chances of losing an aircraft will generally be much less with Ruby installed, provided it is properly installed and tested and instructions have been followed.
While Ruby greatly improves survivability from many of the most common causes of crashes such as lost visual or radio contact, there are still situations such as component faiure which Ruby will obviously not be able to handle. All remote control aircraft, especially large ones, should be operated only over areas where a crash would not endanger people or property..
How far can Ruby fly?
Ruby does not limit flight range when flying under aided or manual control.
If signal is lost or "panic" switch is thrown, Ruby will attempt to autonomously return a plane from any range.
The only range limit present in Ruby is one that prevents it from flying autonomously to waypoints over 1 km away from "home". This limit is hard coded into Ruby at the factory. We can provide modified firmware which makes exceptions to this autonomous flight range limit at specific geographic locations. Contact email@example.com if you need longer range and can provide geographic coordinates for suitable locations.
How fast can Ruby fly?
Ruby imposes no limits on airspeed in manual or aided / fly-by-wire modes, but aided mode has so far only had limited testing up to 60 knots airspeed. We haven't seen indications that there will be problems at much higher speeds, but have not yet had an opportunity to test further.
Autonomous flight is currently factory limited to a maximum of 40 knots airspeed. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if higher autonomous airspeeds are needed.
If you have a large, safe, unpopulated crash-tolerant test range, a small, expendable plane with oversized motor, the competence to safely assume full manual control of your plane at high airspeeds, and a streak of Chuck Yaeger, we invite you to push the limits and share your flight recording with us.
Accurate airspeed is critical for proper functioning of Ruby's IMU. The stock airspeed indicator is accurate up to about 120 knots. (Contact uThere to obtain a sensor that can measure higher airspeed.)
How much wind can Ruby handle?
Ruby has loitered planes in 40+ knot winds [see video], and can probably handle higher. The real considerations are aircraft power and weight, and the degree of wind gustiness / turbulence when attempting to land. Your plane will need to be able to maintain an airspeed at least 1 knots higher than wind speed without losing altitude. The suddenness and magnitude of wind changes at your landing location can't be so great that it will be impossible to land softly enough to avoid airframe damage, or accurately enough to avoid nearby obstacles.
Can I use Ruby outside of the USA?
Yes, Ruby is now available and fully functional outside the USA.
Does Ruby ever get in the way?
Flipping the designated switch on your transmitter to "manual" puts Ruby into a transparent mode which is no different from conventional flying with servos connected directly to receiver. The only time Ruby would step in while the switch is in this position is if radio reception is lost.
What's in the future for Ruby?
Our objective is to offer the best performing, most reliable, and easiest to use system for assisted and autonomous remotely piloted flight, at prices affordable to the average consumer. We also want to make advanced "NASA" type capabilities accessible to non-technical users with limited budgets.
Towards that objective, uThere continues to invest very heavily in refinement and addition of capabilities to Ruby and related products.