How it all started
I just recently tried getting into the drone market about mid June of 2015. I have always flown RC helicopters, planes, ultra micro, motorcycles and cars. Never really being content with having anything stock, (I like to customize my things), why would the drones be any different? I bought a 450 dead-cat they called it at Hobby King. I put it together and tried to fly it. It ended up being shelved until I bought a Hubsan instead to learn on. After learning how to fly my Hubsan, It was time to try the 450 again. I flew the 450 outside and started adding stuff to it. I could not afford a camera gimbals so I made my own mount out of acrylic. Next thing I added was a video receiver so I could try FPV. (I still have not learned how to fly the goggels without crashing). Then I thought why not try something different. I design stuff at work all day why not make my own bodies and try to fly those. First thing I used was acrylic. I could cut it on a bandsaw and made any design I wanted. I made a 250, 430, 500 out of acrylic and wood. Each design flew and it was stable enough for this beginner flier to fly. I then thought why not make plans so people could buy them and make their own. I did this and no one wanted them. Since that didn't work out, I said to myself I bet I could make it out of real wood that is 1/4" and make these fly. That is where the Steam punk drone came from. The bad thing about wood is the grain. You really can't depend on the wood grain to go in the direction you want it too without making the drone weak. I kept pondering to myself what else is there to make these bodies out of? I knew my designs could fly and fly good. I know because I built and flew them as a novice flier. I still wonder what my designs would do in the hands of really good flier. The questions kept making me think more and more about what material to use. Hobby King sold carbon fiber frames, but carbon fiber is a pain to buy and cut. There was acrylic, it was light and easy to cut, but, it was a little too heavy and brittle. Wood was only good for the Steam punk design because the wood grain did not affect the wood arms. Hmmm what else is there? Then the thought hit me. Why re invent the wheel? Find some other use for the material I want to use. I found something strong as carbon fiber, in a head to head comparison, 1/4" material vs 1/4" carbon fiber. It is light as wood, but not light as carbon fiber, and it has no directional grain. I could cut it on a bandsaw and drill it without any special needs or safety hazards. It was time to use this material and build the acrylic models 250, 430 out of this to see if it would fly. I was shocked how well they held up and flew. Each design was 100 grams within the range of the Hobby king models that are made out of carbon fiber with the same equipment. I was very happy with this new material.
Step 1: Every Design Must Have a Purpose and a Beginning.
What to do with my new material?
Next thing to do was to figure out if a there was a way to cut it so it could be massed produced. I contacted a couple of CNC guys and had them run some trial runs for me. I found that it dulled their expensive bits after two kits were cut. Hmmm, this is some really tough stuff. One of the CNC guys told me he had a laser and would try it on there. I said go for it and let me see how it looks. Oh wait I am getting ahead of myself. Back up....................................... After I found the perfect material I went back to the drawing board and created a folding quadcopter. I was beginning to run out of room to put these things on my already full shelves. The folding quadcopter would give me room to store more drones on the shelves.
Hitting Inventor I designed folding quadcopter that flies, (and I mean it ),better than the dead cat. I was very happy the orientation which is a whole lot better than the dead cat from a distance. That is why I designed the handle on top. It is really hard to tell which way an X quadcopter is facing you from a distance. This H design gives me the best orientation to tell the front from the back. Plus the handle gives you a way to carry it and protect the electronics. I should also add I like all my designs to be neat and tidy. I am not happy with just shoving this or there or zip tying here and there.
Step 2: Each Design Needs to Work As Intended.
Time to experiment.
I had the perfect material, the perfect design and it looks cool. I can cut as many as I want on a band saw or laser, (if you happen to own one) the material is easy to buy, cheap, no grain, has a wood finish, and flies better than the Hobby King 450. The next thing to do is to make a check list.
- How much weight it can handle?
- What is the best motor to propeller combination?
- How does it do on taking pictures?
- How many cameras can it handle?
- How easy is it to repair?
- How easy is it too fix?
- Can it survive a hard crash from way up?
- What is the longest flight time I can get on the setup I choose?
- How hard is it too see from a distance?
- Can it handle lights?
Lets take each checkpoint and see the answer to them.
How much weight can it handle? By using 935k with 8045 props, simon k neewer 20 amp esc, customized power distribution board, updated firmware kk2.1 flight control board, custom aluminum cut studs. 500 HK landing gear, nuts and bolts, and 3s 3,000 lipo it comes in at 1500 grams.
What is the best motor to propeller combination? I only had some 935 kv motors laying around and some 20 amp neweer escs so I used those in this new quadcopter. I did try some 800 kv with some afro 20 amp escs, but they need larger props to not under size the motors. I found that without a larger propeller the motors never reached their peak lifting power. So it is safe to say that 935kv is the best combination for this setup.
How does it do on taking pictures? I made my own camera mount and when I designed it put a long nose on it to make the mobius camera fit. I am not a rich man and only use what I have already bought or could afford. Mobius from Hobby King was my choice. I was blown away at how good the video looked. No jello, and no propellers in the view window. I took alot of videos with this design and each one looks good. Me and my wife had a lot of fun watching them after we took them. The video in the pictures of this instructable is from the same design.
How many cameras can it handle? I wanted to see if it could handle a FPV camera and a video camera at the same time. I will say it handles them without any sacrifice to the battery time. Of course the more weight you add it will lessen the flight time. I could still get 15 minutes on this design on the same setup. Oh, I should add I am cheap so I used the casing from the Hobby King kk2.1 flight control board and designed a light compact kit with the antenna attached all in one package and mounted this with velcro onto the design. (That can be another instuctable)
How many cameras can it handle? Right now 2. One for the FPV video and one for the recording. I did modify and make the Mobius work with the receiver so I could use the Mobius for the FPV. (This is for when I get brave enough to try it.)
How easy is too repair? I can take this folding drone apart down to the body in 10 minutes or less. I can replace any part with a bandsaw and drill press. Even the studs could be home made. (That would be another instuctable) It is very easy to repair.
How easy is it too fix? The only time consuming thing about this design is the wiring harness. Because you have to make the wires longer than what the store gives you. The rest is pretty much all plug and go. The motor leads use bullet connectors, The escs are easy to replace because of the design. It only takes 4 screw to remove and you inside the guts of it. I would say really easy compared to the dead-cat.
Can it survive a hard crash? You may not believe this but yes. I was shooting some video of my house way up about 2,000 feet or so. I was up there. I could barley see it, ( You should know I fly on my own land and in a large field.) While I was going up I swatted a biting fly and yes I lost sight of it. I tried to imagine landing it in my mind on the transmitter. I took note of the direction and went to find it. I did not find the drone until the next evening. The battery was totally drained and the only thing that broke was the Hobby King landing gear. I was so happy to find it. I searched the whole night before hoping to hear it with the lost sound control. I loaded up the video and watched the entire thing of what happened. It came down hard, and the only thing that broke was the landing gear. To answer the question YES.
What is the longest flight time I can get on the setup I choose? I have been able to get, (and I recorded this fact), anywhere between 10 -16 minutes on the 935kv setup. One of my friends from Quadcopter forums said I was lucky in finding the perfect setup for this design.
How hard is it too see from a distance? If you look at the video you can see for yourself. Not hard at all. Matter of fact this is the perfect design for the beginner flier. That handle really helps you know which is the front and the back. The nose adds to this orientation. Try to do this with an X copter it was really hard to tell which way it was going unless I put something on one side of it.
Can it handle lights? Yep I made some custom lights with the acrylic I had left over and wired them with a 4 connector into the lipo balance connector. It only affected about 2 minutes of battery time. I also added some lights to the receiver so I could see it "beep" from a distance to know when the lipo is getting low.
Step 3: Promotion.
It was time to show the world what I made. I used media sharing, kick starter, and Ebay to show them how good this design is. I have been trying to sell these as kits, and almost ready to fly models. I joined a twitter account, RC groups, and instagram. Even started making my own website. And the world responded.
It is made out of wood and will break. It is too heavy. Carbon fiber from Hobby King is cheaper and lighter. Your asking too much compared to what I can get from Hobby King.
I am determined to show the world that they are wrong about this design. To be proactive I made my own Logo for it and even designed T-shirts, hats and other stuff on cafe press for it.
Introducing the H-430 Torpedo Quadcopter. If you want to learn more you can ask me on here or email me. If I have time I will make some more instructables showing you how to make your FPV camera case out of the KK2.1 foam case it comes shipped in.