Mike Shellim 08 May 2015
Last updated 6 Jan 2021

6/4/2020. Para nuestros amigos hispano-hablantes: traducción al español en formato PDF. Muchas gracias a Jorge Brun.

## A technique for complex models

Cascading (or chaining) is a great technique for complex models. It avoids unnecessary duplication of mixers, simplifies adjustment, and encourages the use of elegant, hierarchical schemas. It's especially useful for F3X sailplanes.

Cascading is very simple to describe: it's when the output of a channel is used as the input to another channel. Here's a trivial example:

CH1 is driven by knob S1, and the output of CH1 is cascaded to CH2:-

CH1

src=S1 wt=80

CH2

src=CH1, wt=25

The output of CH2 varies, as CH1 varies, as S1 varies.

The weights cascade by multiplication, so
CH2 = CH1 x 25% = S1 x 80% x 25% = S1 x 20%.

So, as S1 is rotated between its end stops:

• The output of CH1 will vary between -80 and +80
• The output of CH2 will vary between -20 and +20

### The MULT operator

Though not strictly part of cascading, another feature we'll use is the MULT operator. The MULT operator is used to multiply mixes within the same channel.

CH1

src=RS, wt=100

src=S1, wt=100, multiplex=MULT

In the example, CH1 = (100% x RS) x (100% x S1) = RS x S1

More precisely, the MULT line is multiplied with the result of all the lines above it. For more info on the ADD, MULT and REPL operators, see Key concepts.

## Snapflap example

Okay, so let's see how cascading works in practice. We'll use the example of an elevator to flap mix, also known as 'snapflap'. We'll add 35% of the elevator value to the two flap channels.

### Snapflap the old way

First, here's the 'brute force' approach without cascading:

CH3 (right flap)

Src=Ele, weight=35

...

CH4 (left flap)

Src=Ele, weight=35

...

This works, however there's a drawback: In order to adjust the amount of snapflap, two identical adjustments are needed, one in each channel.

### Snapflap using a cascading mix

Let's modify the code. We'll isolate the snapflap mix in, say, CH10, and cascade its output to the individual flap servos:

CH10 (snapflap)
Src=Ele, wt=35

CH3 (right flap)

Src=CH10, wt=100

CH4 (left flap)

Src=CH10, wt=100

Woohoo! CH10 now provides a single point of adjustment for both flaps.

It's good practice to reset the weights in CH3 and CH4 to 100% (remember that weights are multiplied cumulatively as OpenTx progresses through the cascade).

Linkages are never perfect! To achieve equal deflections on the left and right sides of the model, regardless of mechanical differences, the outputs must be calibrated. A calibrated setup is assumed in this article.

### Extending snapflap to the ailerons

On a 4-servo wing, you'll want snapflap to apply all four surfaces. So let's also cascade the snapflap value (CH10) to the ailerons:

CH10 (snapflap)
Src=Ele, wt=35

CH1 (right aileron)

Src=CH10, wt=100

CH2 (left aileron)

Src=CH10, wt=100

CH3 (right flap)

Src=CH10, wt=100

CH4 (left flap)

Src=CH10, wt=100

This'll work, but there's a problem: CH10 controls both flaps and ailerons without distinction. In practice the linkages for flaps and aileron will have different geometry. To cater for this, we need a separate adjustment for the ailerons. So let's set up a separate high mix in CH11:

CH10 (snapflap -> flaps)
Src=Ele, wt=35

CH11(snapflap -> ailerons)
Src=Ele, wt=15

CH1 (right aileron)

Src=CH11, wt=100

CH2 (left aileron)

Src=CH11, wt=100

CH3 (right flap)

Src=CH10, wt=100

CH4 (left flap)

Src=CH10, wt=100

So now,

• To adjust the flaps, we alter the weight in CH10.
• To adjust the ailerons, we alter the weight in CH11.

We can adjust CH10 and CH11 to achieve the desired relative movement between flaps and ailerons.

Say we want to adjust the overall snapflap whilst flying the model. We can do this by creating a volume control, and applying it to CH10 and CH11.

We start by making a volume control based on knob S1, with range 0% to 100%:

Src=S1, wt=50, offset=50

The output of CH20 varies from 0 to 100% as S1 is rotated clockwise. To use this as a global adjuster, we cascade the output to CH10 and CH11, using the MULT operator:

Src=S1, wt=50, offset=50

CH10 (snapflap->flaps)
Src=Ele, wt=35

MULT: Src=CH20

CH11 (snapflap->ailerons)

Src=Ele, wt=15

MULT: Src=CH20

CH1 (right aileron)

Src=CH11, wt=100

CH2 (left aileron)

Src=CH11, wt=100

CH3 (right flap)

Src=CH10, wt=100

CH4 (left flap)

Src=CH10, wt=100

The MULT operator multiplies the global adjustment (from CH20) with the local adjustments of 35% (flaps) and 15% (ailerons). (Without the MULT operator, the local and global adjustments would be ADDed, which is of course not what we want).

Let's dig a little deeper: taking CH10, which controls the snapflap mix to the flaps:

CH10 = CH20 x Ele x 35% = Ele x S1{0-100%} x 35%.

Rotating the global adjuster varies the snapflap mix between 0% and 35%. Similarly the range for the ailerons is 0-15%.

So now, we use the local adjustments to set the relative travels for aileron and flaps, and the global adjuster S1 to tune both together.

### Floating the MULT upwards

A variation is to move the elevator input to the global adjuster line:

Src=S1, wt=50, offset=50

MULT: Src=Ele, wt=100

CH10 (flaps)
Src=CH20, wt=35

CH11 (ailerons)

Src=CH20, wt=15

CH1 (right aileron)

Src=CH11, wt=100

CH2 (left aileron)

Src=CH11, wt=100

CH3 (right flap)

Src=CH10, wt=100

CH4 (left flap)

Src=CH10, wt=100

The result is exactly the same as before, but isolating the MULT line at the top layer will make it easier when we add extra mixes.

## Extending the mixers

Suppose we want to add a camber mix, controlled by slider LS. Ailerons and flaps will be affected, and we'll have a global adjuster (S2).

We can do this using similar code to snapflap:

Src=S2, wt=50, offset=50

MULT: Src=LS, wt=100

Src=S1, wt=50, offset=50

MULT Src=Ele, wt=100

CH10 (flap mixes)

Src=CH21, wt=20 -- camber
Src=CH20, wt=35 -- snapflap

CH11 (aileron mixes)

Src=CH21, wt=7 -- camber

Src=CH20, wt=15 -- snapflap

CH1 (right aileron)

Src=CH11, wt=100

CH2 (left aileron)

Src=CH11, wt=100

CH3 (right flap)

Src=CH10, wt=100

CH4 (left flap)

Src=CH10, wt=100

So now CH10 aggregates the camber and snapflap mixes. Note the small number of changes needed!

In practice, snapflap and camber will be active in different flight modes. We can achieve this by applying a flight mode filter as follows:

Src=S2, wt=50, offset=50, flightmode='thermal'

MULT: Src=LS, wt=100

Src=S1, wt=50, offset=50, flightmode='speed'

MULT: Src=Ele, wt=100

...

...

It's fairly clear how the above works if thermal mode is selected, but maybe not so clear in other flight modes, so let's break it down...

In flight modes other than thermal, then CH21 is equivalent to:

MULT: Src=LS, wt=100

So we now have the equaivalent of a single MULT mix. MULT mixes are applied to the result of all the mixers above it. In this case there are no mixes above, so the result of all the lines above is zero, and the value of CH21 is therefore zero. So, in modes other than thermal, camber will be zero - which is what we want.

## Combining with GVARs

One final tweak is to put the local adjustments (CH10, CH11) into a GVAR.

...

CH10 (flaps)
Src=CH20, wt=GV1

CH11 (ailerons)

Src=CH20, wt=GV2

...

This offers a couple of benefits:

• GVARs are flight mode aware, so you can have different local adjustments depending on the flight mode - without the need for additional mixer lines.

There are some rules and limitations to observe when cascading.

In CH10 and CH11 above, the camber and snapflap inputs have the same 'directionality': they move control surfaces in a similar way.

Suppose we wanted to combine an aileron function ('flapperon'). Aileron has a different directionality to camber and snapflap, so we cannot simply add it to CH10 and CH11. Instead, we would need to define additional aggregator channels. Another complicating factor is differential - this must be applied at the level of individual servos.

For more insight, I would recommend having a look at my F3X templates, in particular the XLS reference documentation which contains both the schema and annotations.

## Hierarchical design

In the structure which we've developed in this article, you'll note that there three distinct layers:

• Top layer: global adjusters CH20 and CH21. They're cascaded to the ...
• Middle layer: local adjusters CH10, CH11. These affect ailerons and flaps, in pairs. The outputs are cascaded to...
• Servo layer ... CH1,2,3 & 4 , the individual servo channels.

Cascading can be extended to other mixes such as reflex and crow brakes. The result is a hierarchy of mixers, fed by sources and inputs, with a calibration layer to deal with linkage differences. This type of schema is economical with mixers and is ideal for F3X models.

## 7. Summary

Let's summarise what's been achieved by employing cascading mixers.

• We have isolated the common mixer code, reducing duplicate mixers
• Each mix is adjustable via a single menu point, with perfect tracking guaranteed (assuming the servos are calibrated)
• We have made it easy to extend the mixing