So you want to build a quadcopter? Maybe you've seen my Micro Quadcopter build, but you're not satisfied. You want more speed, you want more power, you want more muscle... Well then you're in the right spot! Today i'll teach you how to build an epic quadcopter!
Dont forget to watch the Video which covers the entire build process!
210 Quadcopters are my all around favorite sized quad. They're just large enough to carry a gopro, but still small enough to shoot through tight gaps and small spaces. I like to refer to 210 quads as "acrobat quadcopters" because they are perfect for doing flips, rolls and other tricks. However I would like to offer a word of warning before you get too excited, this quad can fly at high speeds (i'd say with ordinary props anywhere from 60-80 mph top speed), If you hit someone it will seriously injure them. Not to mention the dangers of lithium batteries, and the constant care you will need to provide to maintain them safely. In addition to all these dangers, its not easy for a beginner to make a quadcopter! this will require advanced soldering skills, and a basic understanding of electricity. If you don't believe your ready for such a commitment, I would highly recommend to fly/build a micro quad first.
Here are the parts you will need for the quadcopter.
3. Runcam Eagle 800TVL Global WDR Mini FPV Camera: https://goo.gl/YwtGoM
4. FX FX796T FX799T Micro Race Transmitter: https://goo.gl/YwtGoM
5. FT48X Adjustable Video Transmitter: https://goo.gl/YwtGoM
8. Realacc TRF Carbon Fiber PDB Frame Kit: https://goo.gl/h9Pr7t
9. Upgrade NAZE32 F3 Flight Controller: https://goo.gl/h9Pr7t
10. Realacc/Matek Dual BEC PDB Built-in 140A Current Sensor: https://goo.gl/h9Pr7t
11. 7 Pairs Kingkong 5 Inch 4-Blade Propeller: https://goo.gl/h9Pr7t
12. 10X XT60 Male Female Bullet Connectors Plugs: https://goo.gl/h9Pr7t
13. 10 Pairs Emax CW/CCW Brushless Screw Nut: https://goo.gl/h9Pr7t
16. Remote Control Helicopter Battery Monitor Alarm: https://goo.gl/P9MbMU
17. 300pcs M3 Nylon Black Hex Screw Nut Assortment Kit: https://goo.gl/P9MbMU
Banggood RC Quadcopter Deals: https://goo.gl/P9MbMU
Step 1: The Frame
Basically, the frame is the skeleton of the quad. Almost no two frame kits are the same, though they can almost always be assembled in a similar manor. Though mine was made out of carbon fiber I bought, the option are endless: 3d printed? PVC? Wood?
To assemble the frame its quite easy. Inside the box you will receive eight arms (Four replacements), A baseplate, screws and nuts, a top plate, a thin middle plate (Sometimes this can be an integrated PDB board), and in some kits a camera mounting plate.
Assembly is quite simple, I put the bottom plate down on a flat surface, arrange the arms to the correct position making sure to line up the three holes in the arm, and press the middle plate on top, pinching the arms in place. Essentially I just made a "quadcopter arm sandwich". Then I put the screws through the three holes in each of the four arms, added the nut to the bottom side and then the bottom was done! I like to leave the top plate off, until im ready to fly, it just makes it easier to build.
Step 2: Work Backwards In!
A simple way to avoid confusion and mismatching wires is to start your quadcopter from the ends of the arms and work inwards, this way all your wires will be even and your quad will weigh less, not to mention look cleaner without the mess of excess wires. using some loctite, I placed the emax motors onto the arms used the included screws to fasten the motor to the frames arm. When tightening the screws, I made sure to work in a diagonal pattern. This ensures that the motor gets nice and even pressure from all four screws.
Then place your ESC onto the arm. I had to trim my motor wires so that my esc could fit onto the arm, but it mostly depends on your frame choice. Using a piece of masking tape, I temporarily secured the ESC in place, then soldered the three motor wires to the three pads on the esc. The pads you solder the wires onto don't matter for nw, but more on this later.
I then got my PDB board and tinned all the pads of the board. I then added the PDB onto the thin bottom plate, using some nylon nuts and bolts. I can already tell, right away some of you reading this instructable are shocked right now... "Using a pdb when the bottom plate already has an integrated pdb? This guy is nuts!". And to be honest, you are right, normally I would never use the two together, but the cheap Chinese pdb that was integrated in the plate was in fact, cheap and Chinese. Plugging a battery in earlier caused the circuit to blow and magic smoke was released everywhere, leading me to use a different PDB. Anyway, back to the build, I soldered the RED and BLACK wire coming from the end of the ESC to the POSITIVE and NEGATIVE tabs of the pdb respectively. Once I had done that for all four ESC's, then I added an XT60 connector to the 12v input tab.
What I when I was done with this step, from the outside in was:
Motor - ESC - PDB
Step 3: Flight Controller
Normally, when I build a quad I use a Flip 32 (Naze 32 knockoff) for my Flight Controller. However, this time I decided to change it up and use a SP Racing F3 flight controller. In the end, I didn't like it too much, I would recommend a Flip 32 for beginners, because the F3 was a bit confusing. Either way, the first thing I did with my Flight Controller was decide where I would mount it. I decided to stack it right on top of the PDB. Next I soldered a spare piece of wire from the 5v + and - output of the PDB to the 5v + and - in of the Flight controller. Then began the hard part.
The Easy Way: To connect the ESC to the flight controller, its quite simple. Imagine your quadcopter is a clock. 12:00 is the front, and of course 6:00 is the back. In between 12 and 6, there are four arms at 2,4,8, and 10:00. Now in a typical Quad X design, The arm at 4:00 Is number 1. Number two is 2:00, Three is 8:00 and Four is 10:00. Now ignore the clock, and you have a quadcopter with numbers 1-4 for arms. Looking at the flight controller, you'll notice it has a row of output pins with the numbers 1-8. Simply enough, you can take the the wires from the ESC and plug it into the respective slot on the flight controller, Arm one goes to Output One, Arm two goes to Output two and so on. Doing this will work, but you'll notice you have a bunch of extra wire that makes your quad look sloppy and even adds weight.
The Hard Way: The hard part is quite optional, but ends up with a lighter and cleaner looking quadcopter. Instead of plugging the flight controller plug of the esc straight into the flight controller, I trimmed the wires. To do this, I cut and peeled away a small part of the heat shrink covering the esc. Then I desoldered the black and white wires and pulled them off the esc. I then plugged the black and white wires into the flight controllers slots, lined up the wires and trimmed accordingly. In most cases I had to cut about two to three inches of excess wire off. Once the wires were shortened, I tinned the ends and soldered the black and white wires to their original spot on the ESC. If you plug in the esc to the flight controller, it should be the perfect length, not too tight that it will break in a crash, but also not too much excess wire.
When I was building this quadcopter, I had run out of heat shrink to cover the ESC. To solve this, I put a piece of foam under the esc and wrapped it in electrical tape. This will isolate the wires and hold the esc to the arm. Also, a tip I learned from flitetest, I put a broken propeller piece over my esc, and under the electrical tape to protect it in case of a crash. EDIT: Doing this actually saved my quad on the second flight! I highly recommend you do it.
Step 4: Receiver and FPV
Binding the receiver is quite difficult with the SP Racing F3. Normally on flight controllers there is only one row of IO pins, but this one had two! I was a bit confused but then I realized they just split the two sides in the middle.
Receiver: With the F3, you should have received two groups of wires that come with a cable consisting of 8 different wires to plug into the IO pins. Assuming the USB is the front of the Quad,On the Left side of the F3 there should be IO_1 and the Right side should be IO_2. IO_1 has pins 1-8, while IO_2 goes from 8-1. On IO_1, if you plug in the 8 wire cable, the wires should be (in order): Black, White, Red, Blue, Yellow, Green, Red, Black. Black, White and Red were connected on mine to power the receiver. Now this is where it gets a bit confusing, on IO_1: Pin 1 (Black) = Ground, Pin 2 (White) = 5v, Pin 3 (Red) = Aileron, Pin 4 ( Blue ) = Elevator, Pin 5 ( Yellow ) = Aux 1, Pin 6 (Green ) = Aux 2
On IO_2 Pin 1 (Black) = Ground, Pin 2 (White) = 5v, Pin 3 (Red) = Throttle, Pin 4 ( Blue ) = Rudder, Pin 5 ( Yellow ) = Aux 3, Pin 6 (Green ) = Aux 4
Though my Tx and Rx only supports 6 Channels so I could only use Aux 1 and 2. I then used a razor blade and cut the extra wires off.
FPV: To add FPV, first of all you need to make sure that the goggles and camera are on the same frequency, On fat sharks you can cycle through the different channels using the buttons on the top of the goggles. For the transmitter, make sure the antennae is screwed in or else the board could break itself trying to transmit. Then solder a wire from the PDB onto the fpv transmitter, in this case mine took 12v so it worked perfectly.
The only problem with my fpv setup was that the cables from the Owl Cam didnt match the fpv transmitter. to solve this, I cut the power and data wires, tinned them and soldered them together, in this case Positive to Positive, Negative to Negative and Data to Data. Once you power on your goggles and transmitter you should be seeing the cameras live feed.
Step 5: Cleanflight and BL Heli
Plugging the quadcopter into to my laptop, I flashed the flight controller with the latest SP Racing F3 software and connected the quad to cleanflight. In cleanflight I set up the basics, and checked that my receiver was working in the receiver tab. After calibrating the ESC's I checked the motor direction in the motors tab. If you remember the arm numbers from the flight controller step, check that ARM 1= clockwise ARM 2= Counter clockwise ARM 3= Counterclockwise ARM 4= clockwise
If you connected all your motors with wires straight to the ESC's most likely you will have at least two motors spinning the wrong direction. Now in most cases you can switch any two wires and the esc will switch directions, but I had already sealed my esc with electrical tape, and my motor wires were too short to switch anyway!
To solve this I exited the quadcopter out of cleanflight (BUT LEFT CLEANFLIGHT STILL RUNNING) and opened BL Heli. Inside BL Heli I selected the ESC #2 and 4 because on my quad, two and four were running the wrong direction, and I switched the esc from normal to reverse. After that I closed cleanflight and BL heli, then tested my quadcopter for the first time!
(I used stock PIDS and rates for the first flight)
Step 6: The End!
Now you're done with your quadcopter! Slap some props onto your quad and go fly! If this is your first time flying, I highly recommend that you practice with a simulator such drl simulator first. to add the propellers, determine if the motor is cw or ccw then add the corresponding prop. Add the nut over and tighten it down. You're ready to fly!
Have fun, but also stay safe! Remember to stay legal when you fly, theres areas where flying is not allowed (some people just don't like drones) :(
In anyway, I hope you enjoyed my instuctable! Follow me to stay updated on new projects!