Calibrating Jackal’s IMU on Windows


Jackal’s internal IMU is located very close to the motors that drive the wheels. These motors can create strong electro-magnetic fields, which make magnetometer data unreliable. We do not recommend relying on the internal magnetometer for orientation data. If your application requires magnetometer data for absolute orientation estimates we recommend installing an external sensor that can be positioned away from the motors.

This tutorial explains how Jackal’s compass works and how to calibrate it for top performance.

Calibrating Jackal’s magnetometer is a straightforward process. For best performance, it’s recommended to perform this operation on a seasonal basis.

Understanding Compass Calibration

Jackal includes integrated inertial measurement, which allows it to estimate its own orientation in space.

This is achieved using a combination of three sensors: a gyroscope, an accelerometer, and a magnetometer. These measure, respectively: angular motion, acceleration, and magnetic field. The angular motion is integrated to achieve a relative estimate, which is then anchored to two absolute reference points: the gravity vector as supplied by the accelometer, and the magnetic field vector as supplied by the magnetometer.

Unfortunately, although gravity is pretty consistent about pointing down, the magnetic reference vector has an offset due to declination, and is also highly subject to disturbance. There’s little that can be done by a disturbance outside of Jackal (for example, driving by a strong magnetic field), but the effect of magnetic fields onboard Jackal from the battery, motors, sheet metal parts, etc, can be calibrated away.

Running Jackal’s Calibration

To run the calibration routine, connect to Jackal by SSH, and execute:

rosrun jackal_base calibrate_compass.bat

Jackal should rotate slowly in place for 60 seconds, recording magnetometer data.

The output will be:

Started rosbag record, duration 60 seconds, pid [6793]
Started motion commands, pid [6794]
[ INFO] [1417463864.452760841]: Subscribing to /tf
[ INFO] [1417463864.457840117]: Subscribing to /imu/rpy/raw
[ INFO] [1417463864.462399042]: Subscribing to /imu/data_raw
[ INFO] [1417463864.466624735]: Subscribing to /imu/mag
[ INFO] [1417463864.474944762]: Recording to /tmp/calibrate_compass.xxxx/imu_record.bag.
Test underway.
Time remaining: 0
Shutting down motion command publisher.
Waiting for rosbag to shut down.
Computing magnetic calibration.
Calibration generated in /tmp/calibrate_compass.g8oM/mag_config.yaml.
Restart ROS service to begin using saved calibration.