Introduction: 250 Class FPV Drone Under $350
So you want to build a first person view quad copter but don't know where to start? Well since you clicked this instructable I would say sit back get a pencil and paper out for notes and get ready to learn. This is going to be a long instructable, I am going to break down each system, documenting them as I go up through final assembly and flying. The final tuning is trial and error to get the quad to where the operator likes it. I like a little snappier response so my PID values may be a bit more extreme. With the defaults though you will get a flying quad to start tuning to your preferences.
And now for a little background about your author. I have been building and flying Model Aircraft for over 20 years. I started with Glow powered model Airplanes built from boxes of sticks through the rise of the foam ARF and now to Multi Rotors.
We are going to cover a few items and then I will walk you through my step by step build of my personal FPV quad-rotor, Now you can go all out with stupidly expensive components but that would be like entering a Mercedes into a demolition derby, Fun, good looking, however expensive after the first crash.
So let's set the scope of this project. This quad will need to;
- Cost less than $400 total for all systems
- Durable in a crash
- Use inexpensive parts for repairs, off the shelf
The components are going to be all commonly found on regular hobby sites using off the shelf components. Yeah I could custom fabricate something but that would not help the reader that wants to just assemble something and get flying. I don't have a 3D printer and one does not need one to make a quad copter.
I will try to list each tool as needed in the step it is needed along with the consumables used.
Needless to say that it worked properly and using the following steps I was able to build a decent flying quad copter. Now I just need to get my skill up to the point of flying it properly.
First real flight.
And the crash reel to show durability. These happened when I was trying to fly FPV instead of on the ground looking up.
For the Remix Contest. I remixed https://www.instructables.com/id/250-quadcopter-ful... as I wanted a racing 250 quad but unlike that author I do not have access to a laser cutter and my 3D printer is on its way but has not arrived yet so my own take on the full 250 build.
For the Epilog Contest. If I win the laser cutting I will put it to work in a not for profit community workshop/maker space that I am working towards opening. It would provide easy access to makers in the mid Missouri region as while 3D printers are coming on line laser cutters are still out of reach. See the big shop building in the video's above? I am going to use the enclosed bay as a full shop. It has its own 225 amp service separate from the house with 220 and 110v electrical hookups.
For the Survival Contest. A small multi-rotor such as this, is perfect for emergency services to use to assist in search and rescue. I built my first quad after responding to a missing 3 year old who wandered away from his house in the dead of winter wearing only a diaper and a t shirt. luckily we were able to find him before he was hurt. However having an aerial view would have cut down on a lot of bush whacking. While it is not firefighter proof it is extremely durable as witnessed by the crash film above.
As always if you like what I am doing feel free to subscribe and vote any prizes won will go towards the community workshop/makerspace.
Step 1: Safety and US Regulations
This is a FYI and a Safety Briefing.
I am going to repeat what I have heard over and over again. You have control of a flying blender. Anything that gets in the way of the blades can be damaged including loss of body parts and death. lets make that last part clear THESE THINGS CAN KILL YOU!
If you choose to take on this hobby I highly suggest that you join the Academy Of Model Aeronautics. If anything for the liability insurance $2.5 million for full membership and 500k for Park Flyers is worth it just in the off chance that you crash into something or someone.
When working on a model make sure that the propellers are removed when you are not ready to fly. Everyone thinks it can't happen to them but I am going to tell you if you are careless you can be hurt and killed. I was like oh this won't happen to me and got lucky i only had a Trex 250 helicopter fly through a sliding glass door, after the rotor broke my stainless steel watch. I received a heck of a bruise, wounded my pride, and a lightened my wallet. I got off lucky and only broke stuff and didn't hurt myself or others. Learn from my mistake.
My uncle had 2 fingers nearly amputated by a propeller on just a .40 CID glow engine, another guy at the field had a prop break and lodge into his neck. Don't be like us Those are just the 3 incidents I witnessed personally.
- Be aware of propeller arcs and keep all body parts out of the spinning area and away from your face
- Hey those spinning things don't touch those
- Seriously don't touch them while they are spinning.
- A 2.2lb model at 60 MPH has sufficient force to cause injury or death (think fastball made of a blender)
Be cognizant of others around you and learn to fly before you go hey watch this...
FAA has a few things to say about radio control aircraft in the United States. If you are elsewhere look into the laws in your locality I am only going to address the USA.
DON'T SCREW IT UP FOR THE REST OF US!
The FAA has partnered with several industry associations to promote Know Before You Fly, a campaign to educate the public about using unmanned aircraft safely and responsibly. Individuals flying for hobby or recreation are strongly encouraged to follow safety guidelines, which include:
- Fly below 400 feet and remain clear of surrounding obstacles
- Keep the aircraft within visual line of sight at all times
- Remain well clear of and do not interfere with manned aircraft operations
- Don't fly within 5 miles of an airport unless you contact the airport and control tower before flying
- Don't fly near people or stadiums
- Don't fly an aircraft that weighs more than 55 lbs
- Don't be careless or reckless with your unmanned aircraft – you could be fined for endangering people or other aircraft
The statutory parameters of a model aircraft operation are outlined in Section 336 of Public Law 112-95 (the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012) (PDF). Individuals who fly within the scope of these parameters do not require permission to operate their UAS; any flight outside these parameters (including any non-hobby, non-recreational operation) requires FAA authorization. For example, using a UAS to take photos for your personal use is recreational; using the same device to take photographs or videos for compensation or sale to another individual would be considered a non-recreational operation.
And now the FCC
The FCC regs read like the phone book to keep it legal with this setup you can use the Channels 1,2,3,5,&6 in Frequency Range B, with US HAM Technician's Licence. A suggestion for broadcasting your licence number at the start of each flight is to just hold a piece of paper up with their FCC issued callsign Every 10 minutes you are supposed to rebroadcast it. So if one were to put it on a piece of cardboard on the start finish line you would be compliant with that requirement.
With the legal disclaimer out of the way you are ready to start your assembly and testing. You may be wondering how the other manufacturers get around these regulations... Well if they don't have a FHSS signal with a FCC approval for the ISM bands, they are out of compliance and most retailers of FPV gear neglect to mention this one fact. After all we want to race autonomous drones for fun, not pay fines and ruin a hobby.
Now I know as there are no pictures so this may get skipped but the liability is on your butt not mine.
NOW BACK TO THE GOOD PART!
Step 2: Part Selection, or What I Bought and From Where.
Thanks for bearing with me this far, Now we are going to the fun part choosing parts.
I have been Building quadrotors since about 2012 when I was working on Trying to build a firefighter-proof aerial search platform. Then one fateful day in 2012 the FAA killed my dream resulting in me shuttering operations due to a a "Cease and Desist" order. So now I fly strictly for personal use covered in the previous regulations...
In my experience with building multi-rotor drone aircraft, there are 2 things that affect your flight performance more than anything weight and drag. what that means to you our gentle reader is that if you can keep the weight as low as possible and use a clean install with minimal protrusions you will get the most performance in the chosen package.
A 250 class FPV racer needs 4 major components things
- Frame - The air-frame measuring approximately 250mm motor to motor
- First Person View (FPV) Gear - Camera system with something to see the feed on the ground
- Avionics - Transmitter (TX), Receiver (RX) flight controller, 4 motors, Electronic speed controllers, and 5-6 inch propellers
- Power - A charger for your batteries, a power distribution boardand lipo battery packs to power it all.
If you want to go with My exact build list. I chose the following components based on weight and cost. Basically how cheap and Light Can I make it.
Spedix S250 Multirotor Frame Agility Version SPX-2502 $29.95
Spedix Round 12A SimonK Program ESC with Green LED SPX-2013$13.95x2 - $27.90
Spedix Round 12A SimonK Program ESC with Red LED SPX-2012$13.95x2 - $27.90
Spedix Power Distribution Board for 250-300 Multirotors SPX-2014 $8.95
Turnigy 5X 5Ch Mini Transmitter and Receiver (Mode 2) $21.90
Turnigy 1806-2280kv Emax Motor Set Of 4 $44.87
Gemfan 6030 Multirotor ABS Propellers One Pair CW CCW (Black) x2 - $2.74 (use)
Gemfan Glow In The Dark 5030x3 Propeller set CW/CCW Multirotor 2/PC per bag x2 5.44 (skip)
Gemfan 5030 Multirotor Propellers One Pair CW CCW (Yellow) US$1.15 (skip)
Gemfan 5030 Multirotor Propellers One Pair CW CCW (RED) US$1.15 (Skip)
Quanum Complete FPV Bundle Set w/ Goggles, 5.8GHz $94.95
2mm Gold Connectors 10 pairs (20pc) x 2 -$4.34
Turnigy 1600mAh 3S 30C Lipo Pack x2 - $25.5
XT60 connectors (5pcs/bag) $2.09
Turnigy 12v 2-3S Basic Balance Charger $4.68
OK after adding all that up the grand total comes to $325.50 before shipping. I achieved the first goal. Granted the prices used at the time of this writing may have fluctuated up or down since but $350 for something that 2 years ago would have been over $1000 is pretty good IMHO.
In the next step we will go over why I chose what I did. And after we get it all built and tested you may want to only buy one type of propeller but you are going to need several props so lets get it built up.
I am not affiliated with the above stores and there has been no promotional consideration provided. I like the stuff because I like the stuff, you may not like the stuff but that is your prerogative. However one thing to remember with Hobbyking they have inexpensive products and that is about it. Do Not Expect any directions or support for their products after purchase. Hobbyists like myself usually write up what we find out about something if it works for us if it does not we usually toss the spares into a bin and forget about it.
If you follow my directions your quad will work. But I cannot be responsible for what you do with your drone or if you hurt yourself or others, observe any local laws.
Not linked but I also picked up a package of 3mm Nylon standoff hardware. I did not know at the time of ordering that there were no standoffs included. I think I paid $5 on ebay.
Step 3: Why Did He Buy That? (explanation for the Previous Step)
I chose the Spedix Agility 250mm frame. The reason for this particular chassis is that the spedix ESC (electronic speed controllers) mount inside the motor pods. Resulting in all the wiring is encased in the arms so you don't have drag inducing wires and zip ties holding controllers and wires everywhere best of all it looks cleaner IMHO.
http://www.buddyrc.com/spedix-s250-multirotor-fram... If you already have a DSM2 Compatible transmitter (Spektrum/Orange RX I believe) you can get the a Bind and Fly kit for $179 that has all the motors and stuff ready to go. All you have to do is just assemble, add batteries, and FPV gear. But if you don't already have a 4 channel radio you may want to just part it out like the build list.
At this point I would go ahead and pick up a small nano quad to get the basics of flight figured out. Before you start flying the racing quad. That and the Buddy RC order should be here much quicker than the Hobbyking order as They are in the US, HK is in Hong Kong. http://www.buddyrc.com/spedix-s250-bnf-cc3d-versio... $20 as of this writing.
The speed controllers I picked specifically because they were made for the frame. The quality of the components seems to be up there using name brands and if one can get a cleaner build then their drag will go down. Also reviews seem to indicate that they are extremely efficient and do not heat up when pushing 12 amps for the entire flight. I am going to mount the 2 green ones in the forward arms, and the 2 red ones in the rear arms.
Although some may not like them I have always had good luck with Turnigy Motors even before there were dedicated CW and CCW motors. If you go with these motors or something else similar know that you are going to need a 1806 2204 or 2206 sized motor with 2000-3000kv (Revolutions per Volt)
The 1806/2280 kv Motors i chose are identical to the Emax of the same size rating in depth testing found here On RC Groups shows the thrust with the different combinations of propeller sizes and pitches. If you keep the propeller between a 5x3, 5x4.5 5x3 3blade or 6x3 you should be well within the amp ratings of the speed controllers. The Turnigy motors are made by Emax with supposedly better bearings... If you are specced to run 5 inch props and 3 cell batteries then go with the 1806's.
If your local group allows larger 6" 3 blade props and 4 cell batteries the 2204 will produce more thrust due to the higher torque but that is outside the scope of this guide as the calculations for power start getting more wonky and you will see why under batteries and power below. But with the limitations imposed by my local group the 1806's have the best power to weight ratio for 3 cell packs with 5 inch props.
I went with a set of 5x3 pitch 2 bladed props, a set of 5x3 3 bladed props and a set of 6x3 2 bladed props.
5x3 2 bladed props will run the coolest as they move the least amount of air. The three bladed propellers will run similarly to the 6 inch 2 blade prop but may run slightly slower due to the increased mass. The 6x3 props will run the hottest of the three and pull the most current as they push the most air for the given mass. due to the longer length they require more force to push that air. The Solution is to start with the smallest prop, fly it and monitor the heat using a IR thermometer on the motor and ESC. If they get too much higher then 140* F reduce size and pitch.
This one is simple. I wanted a no frills 5 channel radio, There are 2 sticks a dual rate switch on the right and channel 5 on the left. Servo reversing is a physical switch. Why not a computer radio you ask? Well I figured I am going to be flying with a FPV goggle on so the fewer switches knobs and buttons to fuddle with the better. I may change my mind at some other time to which time I'll use a Turnigy 9X that I have modded to my personal liking.
First Person Video (FPV) gear
This one is also pretty much a no brainer, I have had decent luck with the 1/3 CCD Sony cameras in the past and have heard good things about the skew planar antennas from back when IBCrazy first invented them.
The goggle is the big question as I am not sure how a Fresnel lens with a 4.5 inch LCD is going to work however if it is bad for flying I guess I will have a Raspberry Pi head Mounted Display. There is a larger nicer Quanum goggle available now that has a neoprene head band and pockets for everything however the one I got was less expensive.
Ok Batteries are where you are going to have to do some math. We know that there are 4 speed controllers that will each pull about 12 Amps, for 48 amps. Add in another 2 amp current draw for the radio and camera gear and that requires about a 50 Amp current draw
The long of the short. LiPo Batteries are made up of individual cells in either series or parallel. Each cell has a nominal voltage of 3.7 Volts Direct Current and a fully charged voltage of 4.2V.
They have their capacity rated in either Amp hours (Ah),or milliamp hours (mAh), with their Charge/Discharge rates listed in Coulombs (C rate). We know that the motors can handle the voltage of a 2 or 3 cell series battery. And that the power distribution board can support a 3 or 4 cell battery. This will limit our choices to the 3 cell or 11.1v battery packs.
With the power draw estimated at 50amps (full load) we will need a 3 cell battery that supports at least 50C with a capacity of 1AH (1000mAh) So the key is to look for a 3S 50C burst 1000 mAh or better battery.
Now that we know the minimums it is time to start looking for the biggest battery in Ah/mAh that we can get for the weight. One thing to remember is that as capacity goes up the C rate can lower. I Chose 1.6 Ah 3S batteries with a 30C constant 40C 10 second burst discharge rate. 1.6Ah x 30C = 48 Amp for the constant draw with 1.6Ah x 40C = 64 Amp burst draw for 10 seconds. You can choose any battery maker you wish but you need to ensure that the battery cannot be over discharged by running the numbers. Also if you can find a higher Ah rating at a lower weight you are going to get longer flight times.
The charger only provides 800mAh so on this battery it is a 1/2C charge rate or about 3 hours per battery. If you want to spend a bit more you can get a better charger for about 10 times the price but the batteries I selected can only take a maximum of 3.2 amps for about a 10 minute charge or so. for $5 I couldent go wrong for a cheap charger. (that and I already have a couple better ones I was looking for a complete system for under $400)
I chose XT60 connectors as they are rated for 60 amps continuous and the batteries come with the female ends already soldered and heat shrinked. So I should only need to remove the Deans connector from the power distribution board and solder on a male XT60.
The motors do not have any bullet connectors soldered to them, So I need to solder 3, 2mm male connectors, per motor.
The receiver, controller and video transmitter will be installed with industrial 3m Double stick foam tape. It is the stickiest and reduces vibration nicely.
I chose the Naze32 as I wanted an easy to configure controller, with no frills, and provisioning for USB. I don't require any of the autonomous features or expense of the the Ardupilot Mega and I really didn't want the fragility of the KK boards screen. DJI is ok for some but we start hitting the price ceiling really quickly. Light Fast and simple is the name of the game. That and the controller is inexpensive and open source.
Step 4: Soldering Up the Power Components.
The first thing I like to do is to solder up all my modular components. This ensures that I can test stuff before final assembly. Yep this is a long step as it could have been 13 separate steps in a how to solder bullet connectors Instructable.
- Soldering Iron
- 3rd hands
- #11 Hobby knife
- Flux paste
- 3mm Heat Shrink
- 5mm Heatshrink
- 2 XT60 connectors (I accidently melted one good thing we bought a bag of 5)
- 2 JST male connectors to make a converter plug for the camera... I may want to use the video transmitter and camera on something else some day.
The Spedix ESC's and PDW came already soldered up with 2mm bullet connectors heat shrinked and ready to go. This alone saves at least a hour or 2. If the esc's you chose a different ESC than the parts list, solder 3 sockets to each of the motor side wires and 2 bullets to the power distribution side of your ESC's. Go ahead I'll Wait.
Got the ESC's ready to go? Good. I use XT60 connectors for all my RC stuff basically because I absolutely hate soldering up Deans T connectors. The T connector may be better for higher current loads but we figured a maximum power draw of 50A well below the 60A rate for the XT60 connector.
- Carefully cut the heat shrink from the cable going to the T connector on the Power distribution board.
- Heat up soldering iron to about 650* F (650* is pretty much my go to temp for lead free solder)
- Mount the Deans T Connector into your 3rd hands
- Touch Soldering Iron to the joint where the wire meets the T connector pin while pulling slightly on the cable.
The wire should pop free when the connection is sufficiently melted and leave a tinned end ready to install
- Do the same to the other cable (positive and negative)
- Slide a piece of heatshrink cable over the now loose cable ends.
- Place your XT60 (or bullet if soldering a motor) Connector into your third hands with the clip on one of the posts. Make note of what pole you are wanting to solder. - for ground + for positive The XT60 connector is marked and the /o\ end should be Negative. Motor bullets are not polarized.
- Heat the socket momentarily, then Tin it by applying solder to the inside of the socket.
- Apply Flux to the tinned cable
- Apply your iron to the socket and insert the cable end when you notice that the solder is evenly melted remove your iron and wait until the solder freezes. While the joint is cooling do not wiggle it.
- Give the solder joint a pull to ensure that it does not pop free. If it pops free you had a cold joint due to not enough heat or jiggling the wire
- Slide the heatshrink over the completed solder joint apply heat (lighter or hot air gun etc) to prevent the joint from shorting out.
- Complete steps for each connection you need to make.
Great now you should have soldered up 12 male bullets on 4 motors, and XT60 connector to match the battery packs on the parts list. If you picked other ESC's you will be a pro at soldering bullet connectors. as there would be 20 additional connections...
To make the adapter for the video power. Use 2 male JST connectors and cut the red and black wires to solder them back together. The video wiring harness is assembled at the factory with a Female JST socket and that will not slip over the pins on the Power Distribution board. If you are using the 3 cell batteries suggested make sure it is on the battery tap and not the 12v tap. 12v is regulated for 4 cell batteries and you may lose video when the voltage drops below 12v on a 3 cell pack.
Step 5: Soldering the Flight Controller
The Naze32 can come either in a soldered or kit form. The pre soldered model was out of stock at the time of my order. Not being afraid of a bit of soldering I was happy to save the $5 by getting a kit version. That and I can shave a gram or 2 off the build, every little bit helps.
This is how I soldered my Naze32. I only need 4 Channels without any of the other functions so I am going to omit the pins for output channels 5 and 6 along with the wiring for inputs 5-8, I am also omitting the pins for the telemetry and buzzer.
The manual can be found here. I suggest downloading and reading it, to get an idea of the pins, before soldering up your board. Then re read it again...
- Soldering Iron
- Circuit board vise
- #11 Hobby knife
- Wire Cutters
- Mount the board into your holding device of choice.
- Tin the edge solder pads
- Slide the 2x5 pin header on the edge centering the pins on your tinned pads
- Solder the pins to the pads
- Clip the 3x6 right angle header to make it a 3x4 pin header
- Insert the header into position aligning the pins for output channels 1-4
- Solder the pins into place
Now it is time to put the receiver harness onto a diet.
- Plug the harness into your newly soldered edge connector the end marked with a triangle should be pin Ground for channel 1.
- Flip the board over and make note of the 4 wires that correspond with channels 5-8
- Unplug the harness from the connector
- To remove the 4 wires without damaging the harness, I clamped the plug into my vise then gently lifted the retaining clip to slide the wire with plug from the harness
- Plug the harness back into the flight controller and ensure that pins ground through 4 have a lead
Step 6: The First Person Video Gear Info and Preassembly Checks
First Person Video/View equipment is where most of the expense comes in with drones, One can go as expensive as one likes but I am always along the mindset of how inexpensive can I go and still get good results especially when one is planning on survivability for crashing into trees and stuff.
It does not get much cheaper then the Quanum DIY goggle set, for about $100US you receive all the components needed to add FPV to your quad with only a slight bit of assembly required.
Make sure you do a full ground range test before flight and do not power on your TX with out an Antenna
Like mentioned on page 2 there are 5 channels that are allowed by the FCC for US usage. The transmitter included the dip switches will be for FR2(B) with the numeric channels 1,2,3,5,& 6
The dip switches should be set to the following for US channels Transmitter is first with receiver listing second
TX CH1 1 1ON/2ON/3ON/4OFF/5ON RX CH 21
TX CH2 1OFF/2ON/3ON/4OFF/5ON RX CH 22
TX CH3 1ON/2OFF/3ON/4OFF/5ON RX CH 23
TX CH4 NOT ALLOWED-US RX CH 24
TX CH5 ON/2ON/3OFF/4OFF/5ON RX CH 25
TX CH6 1OFF/2ON/3OFF/4OFF/5ON RX CH 26
TX CH7 NOT ALLOWED-US RX CH 27
TX CH8 NOT ALLOWED-US RX CH 28
Now on to testing the Video Gear before assembly of the goggles.
- Set the video Transmitter dip switches to one of the 5 allowed US channels I used Channel 1
- Check both Antennas to ensure that they are correctly labeled I shined a flashlight and counted the lobes TX should have 3, RX should have 4
- Screw the appropriate antenna into the TX and RX modules hand tight.
- Find the camera wiring harness one end should be 2 micro JST connectors the other should have a JST power connector (red) and 2 wires that we are not using for audio.
- Connect the 3 pin connector to the camera making sure to align it properly for the plug
- Connect the larger XXX Pin Connector to the transmitter also aligning it for the plug.
- Locate the RX power Y wire with a XT60 Connector (Like the one soldered in step 3)
- Plug one end into the display pigtail and the other into the receiver.
- Locate the RCA to Tip Ring Sleeve cable
- Plug the TRS end into Video output 1
- Plug the VIDEO ONLY (yellow) into the display. (Audio may cause interference with the video signal and since we are not broadcasting audio anyway no need.)
- Plug a 3 cell battery into the display harness (OBSERVE SNOW)
- Plug a 3 cell battery into the transmitter harness ( Observe the lens cap and remove it... )
- See your mug looking at your mug
*Note* I already have 3 cell LiPo with a JST connector you may need to modify the camera / TX wiring harness power lead for your power distribution board before this step if you do not have a 12v battery with a Female JST connector already. I try to test things before assembly incase something is damaged in shipping so that I can attempt a RMA before modifying it,
Step 7: Assembly of the Quanum DIY Goggle
- #11 Hobby Knife
- Butter Knife or metal ruler (seriously)
- Foam Safe Glue, I used Low Temp Hot, and Gorilla glues
- Velcro elastic strap or a couple books (as a clamp)
The Quanum DIY Goggle is a pretty simple little setup. There is some trial and error to ensure that it is set up for your face and eyes.
Locate from your parts box.
- The display that we tested in the last step
- Both Styrofoam halves of the shell
- Baggie with lenses, frame and bits
- Elastic Strap with Buckles
Lets get to assembling the Goggle
- Locate the bottom half of shell and set the display in its channel right side up
- Locate the Fresnel lenses
- Lift the bottom of the goggle with the display to your face and try the goggles to find the one with the orientation that works best for your. I think I chose the 4x magnification lens but I need glasses so your milage may vary.
- Make a note of which side is facing you and glue the lens to the frame so that when it is assembled you see frame lens display. I used a dot of hot glue in each corner and along the wide part that I made the bottom.
- Glue the ears to the lens frame
- Glue the soft foam blocks into the channels on the top and bottom halves of the goggles (again hot glue)
- Place the lens frame into the goggle where the foam blocks are
- Place the top half on the lower and while holding the two halves together make sure that you are happy with the lens chosen. If not now is the easiest time to swap it out.
- If you are happy? Moisten the studs on the top goggle half, and place a drop or 2 of gorilla glue in the sockets of the lower goggle shell
- Mate the 2 halves together and clamp with either the elastic velcro strap or book weight.
- Wait until the glue is fully cured.
- on each side you will notice 2 indentions for the head straps
- Using your butter knife or metal ruler fold over a section of head strap and jam it into the foam.
- Just to be on the safe side I added one of the included screws to the top and bottom half to ensure that the head strap does not just slip out of the slot. From the inside.
- Add foam tape to the parts where the goggle will meet your face.
Look at how cool you are, and do your best bender impersonation
Step 8: Installing the Motors and ESC's to the Arms
- Allen wrench (included with motors)
- Blue Locktite
Parts Needed from the
- 2 CW motors
- 2 CCW motors
- 4 arms
- 4 carbon fiber arm covers
- 4 landing legs
- 2 red ESC's
- 2 green ESC's
I like to lay out the parts in groups of what will be needed. Thankfully the motors included visual cues for the rotation via the color of the spinner nut. So with out knowing that black is Clockwise, and Silver is Counter Clockwise. If you have a red and green esc laid out with each color motor you will be fine come assembly.
- Mount a motor to the top side of the arm (indicated without any cavities for the esc and wiring) using a dab of Blue Locktite on the 4 mounting screws included with the motors.
- I attached the motors bullet connectors all the same way with the outermost wires hooked to their corresponding positions on the ESC's. (we will correct any rotational problems later)
- Place the ESC into the motor pod with the LED facing towards you.
- Gently fold the wiring into place in the cavity of the arm,
- Secure the wiring in the arm with the included carbon fiber plates and screws. Ensuring that the signal and power wires are sticking out of the free end.
- Secure a landing leg to the motor pod using the included screws.
- Admire your handy work and set it in the appropriate pile. Green for the front, Red for the back.
Now you have 3 more to assemble. Go ahead I will wait for ya...
Step 9: Mounting the Arms to the Bottom Plate.
Assembly is pretty straight forward. The bottom plate has the beaver tail and the front bulkhead contains the hole for the CCD camera.
- Allen Key
- #0 Phillips
- hobby knife
- 3M double stick tape..
Locate the bottom plate from the box of quad frame parts, the front bulkhead and 2 tiny phillips wood screws. You will also need 16 of the included machine screws to secure the arms to the frame.
- Disconnect the harness from the camera module. and apply a patch of doublestick tape on each side around the lens housing as pictured above ( I only showed 2 pieces but I used 4 as the camera was cocked to one side with only 2.)
- Remove the backing from the 4 patches of tape, and stick the camera to the front bulkhead. (the connector is along the bottom edge of the back side for reference.)
- Attach the bulkhead to the bottom frame plate using the 2 #0 Phillips screws
- Attach the #2 motor arm, (Front Right/CCW rotation/Silver Spinner/Green ESC) to the right side of the bulkhead sandwiching the wires between the channel in the arm and the plate. Using 4 of the included machine screws
- Attach the #4 motor arm, (Front Left/CW rotation/Black Spinner/Green ESC) to the Left side of the bulkhead sandwiching the wires between the channel in the arm and the plate. Using 4 of the included machine screws
- Attach the #1 motor arm, (Rear Right/CCW rotation/Silver Spinner/Red ESC) to the right side rear of the frame sandwiching the wires between the channel in the arm and the plate. Using 4 of the included machine screws
- Attach the #3 motor arm, (Rear Right/CCW rotation/Silver Spinner/Red ESC) to the right side rear of the frame sandwiching the wires between the channel in the arm and the plate. Using 4 of the included machine screws
Now that all 4 arms are attached test fit the PDB and attach 4 standoffs to the bottom plate with nuts corresponding to where the PDB mounts up.
At this point I test fit the top plate on and placed the video transmitter and antenna in the hole closest to the #1 motor
Step 10: Mounting the Flight Controller, PDB, Receiver, & Hooking It All Up.
- Allen Key
- #1 Phillips Screwdriver
- Hobby knife
- Side cutters
- 3M double stick tape
- small zip ties
- 3mm Standoffs/Nuts/Screws (not included)
- Velcro strip to secure battery (stock on hand)
Now it is time to test fit everything. As the flight controller is much smaller then the power distribution board. I needed to mount 4 standoffs to the BDB in the innermost position. At this time I also decided to use the heatsink side up so that the wiring comes out the right side. However one thing to note is that the 5v power wire for the receiver needs to be routed out the back side of the PDB before it is mounted in place.
Before mounting everything to the bottom plate I took this time to thread a velcro strip through the slots in the the bottom plate to secure the battery.
The cool thing is that the PDB does not care what esc is in what port so I just attached the positive and negative to the appropriate sockets closest to those arms. I then routed the signal wires for ESC 1 and 3 under the PDB keeping them on their respective sides before plugging them into the flight controller. Remember Motor/ESC 1 is the right rear on this quad and in the rightmost position on the NAZE32 flight controller. The key thing to remember with the ESC's is that BROWN = GROUND - Connect the power adapter to the battery pins on the PDB before mounting the Naze32 as it may be difficult to read the polarity once the controller is screwed into place.
To make hookup to the Receiver easier (as it is just one harness on the controller side) I hooked up the triple connector for - + and signal 1 to channel 1 on the receiver. then 2-4 in order leaving channel 5 open for power. The flight controller will receive its power via the rails in the receiver. See the annotation in the picture for clarity.
After I routed the signal wires and receiver power wire under the power distribution board. I secured it in place using 4 nylon screws that came in my standoff assortment (NOT INCLUDED). Then I mounted the Naze32 Flight controller with the reference arrow / ESC connections facing forward (towards the camera). I secured the receiver to the beaver tail, using more 3M tape, keeping all the wiring as close to the inside and neat as possible.
At this time you will want to connect the camera and video TX to their wiring harnesses and power. it is easier to manage the bundle while the top plate is off. If you left the video TX antenna threaded through the hole in the right rear of the top plate you will notice that the wiring harness is aligned facing front on the right side. And that tension of the 2 plates is sufficient to keep it in place.
Attach the top plate to the motor arms using 8 machine screws. Use 2 #0 phillips screws to secure the top of the front bulkhead.
Step 11: Setting Up Flight Controller Software.
- Micro USB cable
- Internet service
- 4AA batteries for the Control Radio Transmitter
I am going to try shooting a video on this step as it is easier to show you but I will be performing the following with the PROPELLERS OFF.
- Install Chrome if not installed already
- Install baseflight from the chrome app store. it is a free download.
- Insert micro USB cable into the rear of the flight controller A stiffer cable is easier to fish past the control reciever
- Insert the USB cable into your computer.
- Open Chrome
- Click on Apps
- Open Baseflight
- If you click the red connect button you may receive an error about an unsupported firmware.
- Click on the "Firmware Flasher" button in the lower right corner.
- Select the latest stable firmware and click Load Firmware online
- After you have a bar that states loaded online firmware. Click Flash Firmware.
- The Flashing progress bar will star filling up orange then turn green and report successful when completed
- Click Leave Firmware Flasher on the lower left the lower left corner
- Then disconnect the USB cable from the computer.
- Reconnect the USB cable and Click Auto Connect. If the firmware is successful you should now see a diagram of a quadcopter for the settings that I used please see the below video.
Step 12: Tuning & PID Troubleshooting
I have a file that I reference on different flight controller notes and I am quoting that for the following description and values. As I chose the Naze32 and 600 mhz esc's I am using the following info loop time 1600
There is a ton of good info about tuning the Naze32 on the site linked. I am using the baseline PID's first before adjusting so use the following info at your own risk. I would rather start sluggish and increase from there
All in all play with the settings keep within the margins of error and as you become a better pilot adjust them to fit your needs.
The following excerpt is a good indication of where to start. They also have suggested starting points for a couple different propeller combinations.
"In Multiwii/Naze32, loop time is the time it complete a “control loop” in micro second: Sensor measurements, data processing and calculate outputs from PID algorithm ready for the ESCs.The lower loop time the faster it computes commands to the ESCs. In frequency term:
- 3500 - 286Hz
- 3000 - 333Hz
- 2500 - 400Hz
- 2000 - 500Hz
- 1600 - 600Hz
Changing loop time will have an effect on your PID values, so don't expect everything will just magically get better if you reduce loop time, you will still need to re-tune PID. Generally lower loop time allows higher PID gains. A low loop time should make the copter more sensitive and responsive, but more affected by vibrations.A common value is around 2500 for most multicopters. That’s because most ESCs have a maximum update rate of 400Hz. Some ESCs even have 600Hz update rate so looptime can be set at 1600. Some argue if the loop time is faster than the max ESC update rates, there is no point to lower loop time further as it won’t have any effect on it. Some even suggest it would result in syncing issues."
Step 13: Conclusion
During the past few months of building and tinkering with this quadrotor off and on, it was quite satisfying to lift off for the first time with out any clue as to what would happen.
Of the several propellers that I purchased I received the best flight times and throttle response with 6 inch 3 pitch two bladed propellers. With the 6's I was able to fly for about 8 minutes with no appreciable gain in temp to the speed controllers and the motors.
I would also add a low voltage battery alarm. The speedix esc's just shut off when the pack voltage drops to 9.7V from 12.6VDC So a Li-Po low voltage alarm is pretty much a necessity at this point. My last crash would not have happened as it would have started screaming when the voltage hit the critical shut off stage.
If you saw the crash reel on the first page you will see that the quad took quite a few tumbles from various altitudes. the last one was the worst and only resulted in 1 prop breaking and knocking my action camera off the topside. It was using the rubber isolation mount (included with the frame) so when the camera hit it just detached and everything still works just fine.
All in all the 1.6 AH batteries chosen will give a solid 8 minutes of flight time powering everything. I presume that when I remove the action cam that it will extend to about 10 minutes as total weight will drop from 600 Grams to about 500 grams.
Lets go over the scope of the project.
- SAFE - With the ability to remotely Arm and Disarm the quad it is about as safe as the operator can make it. I did not notice any wild actions that were not user error.
- Cost less than $400 total for all systems - With the cost of a Lipo alarm as suggested in this step I think I am still within the $350 mark for everything needed to fly.
- Durable in a crash - you saw the footage - Multiple hard hits and the only thing that broke was a propeller.
- Use inexpensive parts for repairs, off the shelf - yep they are inexpensive however it seems that hobbyking is hit or miss when it comes to availability so I would say this is a half star.
In conclusion I will rate this build at 3.5 out of 4 stars. I suppose the adage of good fast or inexpensive is at play here. I picked good and inexpensive so fast may not be an option.
If you are having issues getting the hang of flying in FPV with the quad wanting to roll over on ya. May I suggest the following changes.
- Connect the Naze32 to your computer and baseflight
- Click on the pid tuning tab
- Drop the Roll and Pitch rates to 0.35
- Increase the yaw rate by +0.20 (if it was at 0.60 make it 0.80)
- Click on the Auxiliary configuration Tab.
- Under the Angle value place a checkmark in Aux 1 Med
- Angle should now be green indicating that the controller will use the accelerometers to keep the quad from pitching or rolling 50 degrees in any direction. Yaw is not affected neither is throttle.
Disconnect and test fly it in regular third person view. (looking at it from the ground) to get a feel on how it handles and then when you are comfortable put your goggles on and get some FPV stick time in.
Due to the number of crashes I have been experiencing before the above settings... May I suggest ordering 4 sets of landing gear and 4 full sets of propellers. Those spares will run about $25 but it will keep you flying more often. The green landing gear are designed to snap in a crash to absorb some of the energy. My main frame is just fine I just keep breaking props and landing gear.