Watch it in 720p
You need some pre-requisite skills:
- How to use Arduino, enough to get started
- Soldering, wiring, basic electronic skills
- Basic hand tool operation
When one rotor spins faster than the rotor on the opposing side, the faster side will have more lift, and thus the helicopter will tilt. When the helicopter is tilted, the air is being blown slightly sideways instead of directly down, and the helicopter will move.
The propellers also need to be in counter-rotating pairs, two spin clockwise and two spin counter-clockwise. This way, the helicopter does not spin on the vertical axis since the rotational enertia is cancelled out. But when the pair that's spinning in one direction is faster than the other pair, the helicopter will spin on the vertical axis. This is how the helicopter controls its direction.
We will be building a flight controller circuit that contains an accelerometer and gyroscope sensor so that a microcontroller can detect undesired changes in the helicopter's angle, and adjust each rotor's speed accordingly to counter the variation. This microcontroller will do this hundreds of times per second, keeping the helicopter stable in the air.
The flight controller is a completely open source circuit. The circuit schematic and PCB files are provided. The flight controller is completely Arduino compatible. The source code is a modified version of AeroQuad (open source Arduino based quadrocopter control code). The flight characteristics can be adjusted using AeroQuad's configurator utility.
Attached is a diagram that shows you the direction of spin for each motor, remember this diagram! You won't be able to fly if your setup does not follow this diagram.
This microcontroller will also take input from a RC radio receiver, so you can control the helicopter from the ground using a RC radio transmitter.
This helicopter will use four brushless motors. Each motor will be controlled by an ESC (Electronic Speed Controller). The ESCs will be controlled by the microcontroller.
A lithium polymer battery will power the entire contraption.
Summary of Downloads:
- Over 100 pictures in all the steps
- Step 9 contains flight controller circuit and PCB files
- Step 10 contains bootloader and core for microcontroller
- Step 12, 13, 14 contains demo Arduino sketches
- Step 26 contains the flight control software