In our childhood we all have seen planes and helicopter flying in the sky or in cartoons and we all at some point of time wanted to make one for us. So now I am gonna make your dream come true. We are going to build a quadcopter in this instructable with least required parts and you'er not gonna believe that I made this quad under $180. Your price may fluctuate a bit but it would remain under $200.
So what is a quadcop? A quadcopter is a flying unit with four brushless motor providing enough push to lift up your copter in air with its battery and other stuff. Since it has four motors, it is called quadcop. Building a quadcop is much more easier than building a helicopter since in a quadcop you don't have to know about aerodynamics. And it is much more easier to control and to fly a quad rather than flying a helicopter. In helicopter, you have to maintain the center of gravity of the copter in the center so that it doesn't get tilted while flying whereas a quad automatically settles its CG in the middle.
So now I am gonna tell you the best part about this quad.As you can see from the title that this quad also features a wireless camera. What a wireless camera!! Yes. This part makes this instructable totally different from other quad instructables. And you are not gonna believe that i have not spent anything extra from that $180 so as to add a camera to this quad. The camera system of this quad is made from two smartphones. Yes you heard right, smartphones. So what happens is that one of your smartphone is attached to your quad using a mount and the other one would be in your hand along with your remote control. An app called Alfred would be installed on both you devices. When you will turn on the app, one of your device would become a wireless camera and the other one would become a viewer. An internet connection would be needed for this app to work so make sure that you have a internet connection in the place where you are flying your quad. You can turn on data connection on your smartphone if you want.
Here is a step by step instruction video on how to make a quadcop. Please go and do what the video and please subscribe to my YouTube channel. I am starting a new channel and this is my first video so please support me by liking the video and subscribing to my channel. Here is the link:
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Step 1: Parts You Will Need
Here are the parts you will need. It is not mandatory that you purchase part specified by me like I chose KK 2.1.5 flight controller but you can choose other flight controllers also.
- 2.4 GHz radio transmitter and receiver
- Flight controller (my preference would be KK 2.1.5)
- Brushless motors X4(1000 Kv, 1400 Kv, 2200 KV; anyone would work)
- Chassis or base of quadcop(You can use a DIY base or can buy one like me)
- A 11.1V Li-Po battery(capacity of battery depends on you. Mine is 11.1V 2200mah)
- 30A ESCs X4 (for controlling brushless motors)
- Female to female jump cables
- Li-Po battery strap and well-crow strip
- Power distribution board
- Screws(Though you will get them with your motors and chassis)
- Zip tie
- Double sided tape
WIRELESS CAMERA PARTS:
- Smartphones X2
- Camera mount
- Soldering iron
- Soldering wire
- Wire stripper
Step 2: Soldering ESCs to the Power Distribution Board
The first and the most frustrating step is to solder the ESC to the power distribution board. If you are using a frame similar to mine then you don't have to buy a power distribution board because the bottom part of these frames has a inbuilt power distribution board. So its a great choice buying these frames. But if you are going with a DIY base or some other sort of base,then your gonna need a power distribution board. So start by cutting the Dean style connector from the power cables of the ESCs. In my photos you a can see I have already done that. Soldering ESC to base can be quiet frustrating as a lot of soldering wires is required to connect those power cables to the distribution board and to melt that much amount of soldering wire, a lot of heat would be required and ultimately a lot of time would be needed to supply that much amount of heat. And seriously doing this is quiet frustrating. You can make your work easier by putting some soldering wire on those thick ESC wires and then they could be soldered to the distribution board more easily.
After you have soldered all your ESCs to your power distribution board, you will notice that there would a one point for connection left on the board where we will be connecting our battery. You would be thinking that we're gonna cutting off the dean style connect of the battery as we did with ESC but doing that will Increase the cost of the project as you then need to add a switch. A better way is to use two pieces of thick wires and Connect them to power distribution board on one side and the dean style connector that we got from ESC on the other side. You can know the polarity of dean style connector from the image attached above.
Step 3: Making a DIY Base(optional)
This step is for those people who do not want to buy a ready-made base for the market and are more lean towards making a base of their own. Though I have not made a DIY base for my quad I will try to help you in making one for yourself. I don't have any real life experience on make a DIY base for quad. I have take measurements from the internet and if things don't go properly please don't blame me. I rather advise you to buy a base. I will hardly cost you 15 bucks and buying a base would save your time and hard work which you'll do in making a DIY base.
The material that is best for making DIY quad base is aluminium. It is strong, light weighted and durable. You would be needing 4 aluminium rods of length 23.5cm. Arrange those rods at an angle of 90 degree with each other making a perfect cross. Use glue and pieces of aluminium sheets to make the rods stay together. Now make two square using cardboard sheet or acrylic sheet. Now make a sandwich with the aluminium rods in between and the sheets on the sides. Here is your DIY case ready in front of you.
Step 4: Attaching the Motors to the Quadcop Legs
In this step we'er gonna attach our brushless motors to the legs of our quadcop. Moving towards brushless motors, brushless motors are medium sized motors which are capable of rotating at a very high speed with a normal current of 11.1v. The voltage of motors can increase or decrease depending upon the use. What makes brushless motor different from ordinary motors is that the need AC current to work. That is the reason why brushless motors require and ESC to work. You can not connect them directly to your Li-Po battery. An ESC converts DC current into AC current, fit for a brushless motor. An ESC also convert your battery voltage(11.1V) into 5V which is the voltage on which your flight controller and receiver works.
Start by placing your motor on your quadcop leg. Make sure that the wires of your motor goes inside towards the frame. There is only one way in which you can tighten your motor which is with your motor wires going inward. Use screws which you have got with your frame or with your motors. The screws which I used were cap hexagon socket screws. After you have attached the motors, give a little jerk to them to see it they are shaking or not. If shacking, tighten your screws more properly to avoid accidents while flying. Now do the same with other motors also. I wanna give you an advise that while screwing the first screw, don't tighten it fully because you need to arrange the motor by moving so as to tighten the first screw.
Step 5: Attaching Legs to Quadcopter Frame
Now the legs of our frame is ready and we are going to attach them to the frame. Starting by placing the leg over one of the four pairs of holes. The power cables from the ESC should pass from the hole present in the legs. Go and watch the video if you are not able to understand what I am trying to tell. By the way the screws used is cap hexagon socket of a size little smaller than that of motor screws. You must be having legs of two different colors. Try to connect the legs of same color adjacent to each other. This will help you to make any color side as the forward direction. For example connect the legs of red color adjacent to each other and black color adjacent to each other so that while flying you can easily know that the side with red color legs is the direction in which your quadcop with move i.e forward direction. I was not able to do so but you should do it.
After attaching the legs to the frame, half of your frame is ready. It is the time to a connect our motor with our ESCs. Take any random wire from ESC and connect it to any random wire on the motor.There is not hard and fast rule of connecting an ESC to the motor since our motor works on AC voltage. Use zip-tie cables to tie the ESC with the legs.
Step 6: Attaching the Li-Po Battery and Completing the Frame
A Li-Po is the battery most fit for usage in RC plane. These batteries are small in size but have a lot of charge and capacity. Though being light weighted and small, they can supply high amount of current at a very faster rate. Taking my battery pack as an example, it is rated at 11.1V, 2200mah at 25C discharge rate. Having such a high capacity and high voltage, this battery weights only 188g. You would be thinking what is '25C' that I mentioned in the previous line. It is the discharge rate of your battery. Some batteries have discharge rate 10C, some have 20C and so on. This tells you how much current you can draw from your battery. Just multiply your battery capacity with the number written just before 'C'. For example you have a 2200mah battery with 25C discharge rate. You can draw 25 X 2200= 55,000mah (55Amp).
Start by placing the a well-crow strip on the back of the battery using some glue. Glue another one on the lower base of quadcop. After gluing, gently place the battery above the well-crow strip and your battery should stick there perfectly. Use a battery strap to tie the battery with the frame more firmly. Now take the upper part of the frame and place it over the holes. Don't tighten all the screw. First place all the screws on their places and then tighten them. This will help you to move the plate for a better positioning of screws.
Step 7: Placing Flight Controller on Quadcop
Now its time to work the most essential part of our quadcop a.k.a Flight controller. Flight controllers are generally used in device or planes in which more than one motor is used. Since our quadcop works on four motor it is very essential to use a flight controller.Coming on the flight controller, their is a huge variety of flight controller available in the market. Some of the most famous one are Ardupiolet, KK 2.1.5 board etc. I chose KK 2.1.5 board as this flight controller is best for beginners and programming this controller is also not very though. This flight controller has a in-built lcd and physical push buttons, so you need not to carry your laptop to the field for setting up your quadcop for its flights. This flight controller lacks few features such as in-built GPS but since we are not making this quadcop for professional use, that would not create problems. If you ask me which flight controller you should buy, then i definitely recommend kk board. Older version of this board are also available but try to buy the newer one(KK 2.1.5) with a protective case. You can also go with a DIY version but its better to use a ready-made as DIY flight controllers are not much reliable and your definitely not want to wreck your quadcop.
So we'er gonna start by connection the ESC to the Flight controller. But before connecting, mount your board inside a protective case. If you don't have one, make one. The pins on the right side of the LCD are the pins for ESC and the left one are for the signals coming from your RC receiver. Look on the image above to know which pins are Vcc pins, which are signal pins and which one are ground pins and to know which is your first,second,third and fourth motor. Use double sided tape to stick Flight controller to the frame.
Step 8: Binding the Receiver With the With the Transmitter
The receiver and transmitter that you get are generally not binded to each other so in this step we are going to bind the receiver with the transmitter. Binding matches the frequency of your transmitter with your receiver so that while flying your quad, your receiver is only concerned to receive signal form that particular frequency. As you can find that the receiver has six channels and there is one extra port on the receiver unit with bat mentioned on it. That port is for binding. Connect gnd of bat connection to signal pin of bat. Then take one signal wire coming from ESC and connect it to channel 3(Throttle) of the receiver. Be sure to check the polarity. Turn on your quad and a led should start blinking on the receiver. This means that binding process has started now. Press the bind button on your transmitter and switch it on and hold the button for few seconds. You can see that the blinking led goes solid. That mean that receiver is binded. Now remover the power supply and the bind cable. Place the wire coming from the ESC back to the kk board.
Step 9: Connecting Receiver to the Quadcop
The time has come to connect the receiver and the flight controller. This is a very easy step and it'll not take more than two minutes to complete. Start by connection the vcc and gnd of the receiver unit to vcc and gnd of kk board respectively. Then connect channel 1,2,3,4 of the receiver to signal pin 1,2,3,4 of the kk board respectively. Look on the images and circuit above to understand the connections better. You don't need to connect vcc and gnd of each and every channel to kk board as all the vcc pins and all the ground pins of receiver unit are connected to each other internally. After you are done with the connections, its time to find a perfect place for your receiver unit. I saw that there was a little bit of space on the right side of my quadcop and I realized that that place was perfect for it as there my receiver unit could easily fit it and it will be in reach of me so that if I want to add some other things I can easily connect it with receiver. Use some zip-tie cable to fasten it with quadcop.
Step 10: Configuring the KK Board
Now its time to configure the kk board. Though some seller sell them already configured for use in a quadcop but its better not to depend upon the seller and risk your quadcop. And also configuring the kk board is not a though process. You don't need any PC or any type of programmer to program this board. But if you are using some different sort of flight controller then you surely need a PC. So flow these steps to setup you KK board:
- First go to menu and scroll down to factory reset and press enter. Your KK board show reset automatically. Make sure that "OK" is written after every axis of Gyroscope and accelerator.
- Go to load motor layout and scroll down to "Quadcopter x mode". Select it and then go back to menu and select "show motor layout". Here you will be able to see which motor is your first motor, second motor etc and would also be able to know the direction of rotation of each and every motor.
- Now place your quadcop on a leveled surface or ground. Scroll up to Acc calibration. Select enter and start the process. Again make sure that "OK" is written after every axis of accelerometer. Remember that each and every time you go out to fly your quadcop, make sure to calibrate accelerometer for a better and safe experience.
- This is the time to configure the throttle of the transmitter and the kk board. So start by turning the kk board off. Now set the throttle of the transmitter to 100% and turn it on. Also turn on you kk board and when your turn it on, press the first and the fourth push button of the kk board. You can hear two beeps from ESC. Then set the throttle to 0%. After hearing the beeps from ESC again, lift up your fingers from the push buttons and your throttle is calibrated.
- Go to menu>Receiver test and see that the values after every function is zero.If not so, use sub-trims to make it zero and you are done with configuring the ESC.
After configuring the kk board, its time to check the direction of rotation of the motors. Turn the left stick of your transmitter to the right side when it is at 0%. You kk board should be armed then. Now give some throttle and your motor should start rotation. Touch the motors gently to see in which direction your motor is rotating. If they are not rotating in correct direction, switch any two wires of the motor which are connected to ESC and your motor should start rotating correctly. Look on the images to see the number of each motor. Here are the direction of rotation:
- 1st motor-----clockwise
- 2nd motor-----anti-clockwise
- 3rd motor-----clockwise
- 4th motor-----anti-clockwise
Step 11: Making a Mount for the Smartphone
Finally the step is there for which you all were waiting from a long time. We'er going to mount our phone to quadcop but for that we will be needing a camera mount or a camera gimble. This time I decided to go with DIY version. I used some "mechanix" parts to make this mount. For those of you who don't know what mechanix is, it is a toy for children above 8 years in my country. Its a great DIY toy with which we can make anything. Inside the box you get various aluminium sticks and screws with which you can make whatever you want. I used them and made a camera mount. My camera mount can not be controlled wirelessly. I tried to hook up a servo and connect it with receiver but my small servo motor was not able to bear the weight of my mobile phone and my bigger servo motor was not working at that time. You can print your mount using a 3D printer or can make one using wood and acrylic glass sheets. I chose to mount my phone on the front part of quadcop. Since my phone is small in size, it is not going to disturb the propeller of the quadcop later on but if you are using a big phone, the you have to mount it on the bottom of the quadcop and would also be requiring landing gears for quadcop. Mount the camera gimble and set it on the angle in which you want to record the footage.
Step 12: Connecting the Propeller to the Motor
So we'er almost done with our quadcop and the only thing left is arranging the propellers. Their are different types of propellers depending upon your motors and rotation of direction of motor. Some propellers get attached to motor with screws and some of them get attached using stress or friction. In my case, it is attached with physical stress. I got some bearings with my motors with which I can attach my propellers with my motors. So if you have a motor like me then follow these step to connect the motor to quadcop. Start by placing the cap over the screw that you got with the motor. Then place the propeller over it and tighten it with bolt. Don't tighten it fully. First place it over the motor and then tighten it. Use a thin screwdriver to tighten the prop to the motor. Simple insert that screwdriver inside the two holes made in the bolt and and rotate it. Look on the images above to see which prop is clockwise propeller and which one in anti-clockwise propeller. If you'er not able to understand properly, watch the video and you'll understand everything. After connecting the propellers, place your phone in the mount and see whether it is creation any hurdle in the rotation of propellers. I found that my phone was not making any problem so I can proceed to the next step.
Step 13: Installing App on the Smartdevice
To convert our smart devices into wireless camera and viewer, we'er going to use an app called Alfred. This app is available on both iOS and android app store for free of cost. You just need to download the app from there. After downloading open it and it will ask you to sign in with your google account. This is just to connect both your phone to each other when they are not connected to same WiFi network. Sign in and a window will pop up asking you to tell that you are going to use this device as a viewer or as a camera. Select according to your preference and select the opposite on the other device. Press next and on your viewer device you can see that name of your camera phone would appear. When you will tap on that, you can use this wireless camera. Make sure while flying, both your devices should be connected to internet,so that this app can work properly. You can use data connection on you camera device so that when your quadcop goes out of range of WiFi, data connection starts working and you are not disconnected with your device.
Step 14: The End
Now your quadcopter is ready to fly.Go out and search for a field to fly your quadcop. Fly it and record the footage and share it with your friends and family. This instructable ends up here. Hope you enjoyed it and liked it. Here is a video of the project.Please like and subscribe to my channel. Follow me for great new projects. Here is the link of the video:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1aWBc2xDEYk