For the Quad-Copter project, our team inherited 4 brushless motors with ESCs
(Electronic Speed Controllers), propellers, a frame, 3 LiPo batteries and charger, an APM 2.6 auto-pilot flight controller with GPS module, and a 6 channel RC (radio controlled) transmitter with receiver.
Starting at www.diydrones.com we found a wealth of information on everything we needed to get started.
For our Quad-copter, www.copter.ardupilot.com provided the instructions we used to successfully build and fly our UAV.
Unfortunately, we were not able to complete our goal of completely autonomous flight.
What's included is what we did and how we did it. Sort of. Hopefully this will peak your interest in this growing field.
Step 1: Assembly and Battery
After assembling the frame, we attached the motors, the ESCs, the APM 2.6 w/ GPS module and RC receiver according to the diagram on http://copter.ardupilot.com/wiki/initial-setup/as...
The quad-copter requires a rechargeable lithium polymer (LiPo) battery. 1,000 mAH (milliamp hours) per motor is the standard. For our Quad copter (four propellers), a 4,000 mAH LiPo battery is used. It is important to read the instructions of the battery charger in order to connect the proper leads and to ensure safety. Although only one battery can be connected at a time, having 3 allowed us to fly for longer periods of time.
Step 2: Installation of Mission Planner Software
Mission Planner is a free, open-source software that is compatible with the APM hardware, allowing you to configure missions, and to perform the required calibration and configuration prior to flight. This software talks directly to the APM 2.6, loading the firmware necessary to control the quad-copter.
Step 3: ESC Calibration and Motor Setup
We followed the instructions here to calibrate the ESCs: http://copter.ardupilot.com/wiki/initial-setup/es...
Motor setup here: http://copter.ardupilot.com/wiki/motor-setup
Step 4: Flight (briefly)
After a few tries, we were able to see our quad copter take off and land a few times. We ended our brief test flights after breaking a few propellers and cracking the protective rotor frame. Due to time constraints we were unable to fully accomplish what we set out to do: adding a GoPro camera and flying using GPS coordinates. Our hope is to one day send our quad-copter out to capture images from above.