Introduction: DIY FPV Racing Drone
Whether it be a car, boat, or plane, piloting all remote controlled vehicles provide a great source of fun and interest. With that said, FPV quad rotor flying is a whole new experience, and building one your self is a whole new fun in itself. For those who do not know, FPV (first person view) flying lets you pilot your vehicle as if you were in the cockpit. Adding FPV to your quad is fairly straight forward and will be discussed in a later step.
In this inscrutable, we will be constructing our very own 250 class racing FPV quad, however the building process is very similar to constructing other multi-rotors. Hopefully by the end of this, you will have a good understanding of how a multi-rotor works, how to build one, and of course have your very own FPV quad.
Lets get into it!
Note: This is my first Instructable post.
Step 1: Components
When building the FPV quad there are two main systems that need to be constructed: the quad-rotor, and the FPV camera streaming system. Each of these systems have components within themselves. Below is the list to what is needed for both systems.
- 1x Frame (250, 210, or any size you like) - QAV250 Frame link
- The frame is basically what gives structure to the entire multi-rotor. It is where you screw the electronics to and provides a place to put the battery and other components.
- 2x CW Brushless Motors - EMAX MT1806 KV2280 Brushless Motor For QAV250
- 2x CCW Brushless Motors - EMAX MT1806 KV2280 Brushless Motor For QAV250
- The motors spin the props at high speeds to generate lift, thanks Bernoulli's principle!
- 4x Motor ESCs - Emax Simonk Series 12A
- The ESCs (Electronic Speed Controllers) communicate with the motors and flight controller. Depending on what input the reciever recieves from your radio transmitter, the ESCs will change the speed of the motor so you can change directions, speeds, and maybe do a flip!
- 1x Flight Controller (Naze32, or CC3D) - CC3D Flight Controller
- The brain of the quad, if recieves input from your radio to tell what systems to run on the quad. It also includes useful sensors such as a gyroscope so it can read its current state.
- 1x Reciever (Rx) and Transmitter (Tx) - FlySky FS-i6 2.4G 6CH AFHDS RC Transmitter With FS-iA6 Receiver
- The radio Rx sends signal to the Tx on the quad to tell what direction/manuvers you would like to preform.
- 1x Power Distribution Board - ESC Connection Board Distribution Board
- The PDB is optional but highly recommended as it helps manages voltages to the different components such as the ESCs and camera. It saves you from having to solder directly to the components and helps with wire orginization too.
- 1x Battery - ZOP Power 11.1V 2200MAH 35C Lipo Battery T Plug
- Provides power to the systems
- Lots of Propellers - 6 Pairs Gemfan 5030 CW CCW ABS Propellers
The FPV System
- 1x Camera with Transmitter (5.8 GHz) - Eachine 700TVL 1/3 Cmos FPV 148 Degree Camera w/32CH Transmission
- The camera simply records what is going on (the FPV), however it then sends it to the video transmitter which inturn sends it to the reciever.
- 1x Receiver (Also 5.8 GHz) - Eachine RC832 Boscam FPV 5.8G 32CH Wireless AV Receiver
- Gets the streamed video over a 5.8GHz stream.
- 1x Display - FPV 4.3 Inch TFT LCD Monitor Screen For RC Models
- Displays the video signal coming in from the video transmitter on the quad.
- Power Source for the camera and its Tx - you can either solder it the the PDB or find battery that has also has 5V output along with the 12V for the main quad system.
- Alternatively, you can invest in FPV goggles which include the display and receiver - Eachine CCD 700tvl 148° Camera 5.8G 32CH 200mW FPV Transmitter w/ UFO FPV DIY 5 Inch Goggles
Other Useful Things...
- Soldering iron and solder
- Heat-shrink tubing
- Electrical tape
- Spare hardware
- Screw drivers and allen keys
- Bullet connectors - http://www.banggood.com/5-Pair-2mm-Gold-Bullet-Con...
In the next part of the tutorial, we will begin the building process of the quad.
Step 2: The Electronics and Schematic
Most of the quad building has to do with plugging in wires and soldiering connections, therefore it is important that we know what components go where. The diagram above shows a schematic of the quad and will hopefully aid through the building process. Before we start, it is good to layout the components to make sure that there is enough space for them in the chassis. This will not only stop wires from potentially getting caught, but also improve the cable management of the quad-rotor system. Now lets heat up the soldering iron and begin!
Step 3: The Power Distribution Board
Soldering the Battery Connector
First we are going to want to get the PDB and solder the battery connector to the PDB. If you purchased the same PDB from the list, the battery connector would have been provided (the t-plug), however, some other PDBs do not come with the connector so make sure you purchase the correct kind for your battery (JST, XT60, etc.).
Soldering the ESCs
Once we have the battery connector soldered, we will start to solder the ESCs. Solder the positive end to the positive terminal and same for the negative. Also, make sure that you solder the ESCs in a place where it will be easy to manage cables.
Step 4: Motors
Now that the PDB is all soldered up, we can connect the motor leads to the ESCs.
Since we are using the CC3D flight controller, we need to orient the motors in a specific way so when we are setting up the controller, there are no issues. If we recall the quad-rotor schematic from the previous step, if the front facing portion of the quad is the top, then the top-left motor is read as motor 1, top-right as motor 2, bottom-right as motor 3, and bottom-left as motor 4. Also, make sure that your motor 2 and motor 4 are the counter-clock-wise (CCW) motors.
Soldering the Leads
If you purchased bullet connectors then simply solder the components to the motor leads, and the others to the ESCs. If not, just directly solder the motor wires to the ESCs. Later in the build, when we are configuring the flight controller, we may need to de-solder the connections as the motors might spin in the wrong direction, this is why the bullet connectors have an advantage in the configuration phase.
Step 5: The Flight Controller
For this build, the CC3D will be used as the choice of flight controllers. The process is similar if you have another flight controller such as the Naze32, however the wiring will be different. If you are not sure where to plug the connections to, check the pin out diagram for your specific controller.
Wiring the ESCs
Along with the power wires and motor leads, the ESCs provide another cable that enables the flight controller to communicate with the ESCs. The CC3D flight controller has a set of output pins that are label 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6. These pins are for connecting the ESCs to the CC3D. If we recall what we labelled our motors (top-left is motor 1, top-right is motor 2, bottom-right is motor 3, and bottom-left is motor 4), simply plug the motor's ESC to the corresponding number on the CC3D (i.e. motor 1 plugs into port 1 on the CC3D). It is also important how which way to connect. The wire will be coloured ORANGE, RED, BROWN, the orange cable is the signal cable and it connects to the left-most port. Repeat this for all of the ESCs.
Connecting the Radio Receiver
The CC3D also includes a group of wires connect to your transmitter. Depending on your reviver, the way you plug the leads to the channels may be different, however generally you configure it the following way:
If the top of the list is Channel 6, then:
- LIGHT PURPLE
- Signal and PWR
See the image for reference.
Configuring the CC3D
Now that we have the hardware components ready, we can move to the software configuration. For this we will be using a program called LibrePilot (formerly known as OpenPilot). OpenPilot and LibrePilot are basically the same; the only difference is the logo of the two programs. To download go to:
This instructable won't show how to set-up and use the LibrePilot/OpenPilot software as there are plenty of tutorials online, however here is a really in-depth example that will give you a thorough understanding of the software:
Now, FPV time!
Step 6: The FPV
Camera and Video Transmitter
The camera is pretty easily installed; just a few screws and your ready. The camera and transmitter have a connection cable that one end gets plugged into the camera, and the other to the VTx.
The transmitter and camera need 5V to operate, if the battery you purchased has two connections (the t-plug/XT60/etc, and the 5V cable) simply plug the 5V cable to the camera power lead. If your battery does not have this provided, you will need to solder the power wires directly to the PDB - make sure that the terminals you are soldering to are 5V! If not you will need to have a voltage regulator (such as this) and simply solder the camera power to that, and then solder the regulator to the PDB.
Displaying the Video
If you have FPV goggles, then all that is needed is to make sure you are on the same channel as the VTx and that you have power for your goggles. However, in this build instead of using goggles we will be going full DIY and using a TFT monitor and a 5.8 GHz video receiver, and some batteries. Although there are a lot of wires this way, and it doesn't look as clean as having FatShark Dominator goggles, it is also doesn't cost more than the quad itself. To get this system working, simply plug the yellow cable from the video receiver into the yellow lead from the display. To make sure its working, plug the quad battery to the camera and provide power to the display system. If there is no image being displayed, just cycle through the channels on the video receiver until you see the camera stream.
Step 7: Closing
Congratulations! You have just finished building your very own FPV racing quad-rotor! Hopefully throughout the course of this instructable, you learned how a quad-rotor works, the different components that go into it, and how FPV works too. However, before you go out and fly you quad, make sure you are flying it legally: for example, make sure you are in authorized airspace, and follow safety guidelines. Take a look at these links to learn more:
Also, if you are new to RC piloting and drone flying, take your time to familiarize yourself with the controls, movement, and feel of your aircraft. In your first several flights, take it slow and if you start to panic just try and stay as calm as possible. Check out the video by Flite Test on how to fly a quad, and check out their content, it is a great resource for beginners and all.
Thanks for making it all the way through, and have fun!