Instructables

Sturdy Quadcopter Build

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Picture of Sturdy Quadcopter Build
This is my first instructables that I decided to post. I was obsessed by these amazing flying machines for quite a while until I ended up coming across some fantastic How-To guides on YouTube that made me realize building a Quad wasn't as hard as it sounded. After many days of in depth research and creating my detailed shopping list I ordered all of my parts (mostly on http://www.hobbyking.com but I also ordered  some other small items such as the bullet connectors and Velcro straps off eBay and amazon) and then I decided to share my own build. I hope this helps other eager Quadcopter pioneers in making their own Quads. 

Prerequisite skills:
- Basic Soldering
-General Electronic Knowledge
-How to operate a Dremel (this is optional)

This guide should be pretty simple for any beginner Quadcopter designers because most of the construction and programming is almost all plug-and-play meaning that you don't have to worry about building your own flight controller and receiver to operate the Quad! 

All the programming that is done in this project (If you follow the shopping list) is done by the flight control board and a Ready-Made programming card for the ESC's.

Another option you have in this guide is the choice between soldering your own power distribution set-up or buying a compact power distribution board. The power distribution board really simplifies life because it cuts down on the amount of soldering required and its then incredibly easy to swap out broken ESC's if you have a wicked crash. 

!SAFETY! The last thing I want to say before we jump into building the Quad is that some of these steps require inferno like heat and razor sharps blades! Therefore please be CAUTIOUS I actually cant stress this enough after almost slicing my foot after not properly calibrating my ESC's and then testing my Quad. 

Any and all feedback/comments would really be appreciated :) 

EDITS:

Edit #1


Added prop balancer to the parts page.
- Added Gorilla glue option to the optional supplies list.
- Added new explanation to the final paragraph in wiring/programming page.
- Added explanation on parts page about prop & motor problem.

GOPRO Mounting has received a fair bit of questioning lately so I figured I would give a little bit of an explanation as to what is and isn't possible. And answer some frequently asked questions.

Can this setup carry a GOPRO camera?

 - 
Yes it can. This setup has more than enough power to take a GOPRO up into the air.

How do I mount my GOPRO on this particular Quadcopter?

 - 
Right now you can't.

Why can't I mount my GOPRO on this Quadcopter?

 - 
Because currently I do not have the time to think up or figure out a way to attach a mount on the baseplates.

This summer I plan on figuring out a way to mount my GOPRO on the Quad but for now (to me at least) it's really not that big of an issue. If this seems like too long for all of you "FPV" and video enthusiasts then by all means you are free to find a way to do it yourself, or you can buy a Quadrotor with pre-installed mounts.  But I unfortunately do not have the time.

END of EDIT
 
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coubnoob4 days ago

hi,

I followed your tuto (thx) but I think something is not good. Indeed when I try to calibrate the ESC the board card stays on "calibrating esc" and doesn t ring once but the esc ring 3 times. (Not like the video).

Is there something I missed?

Thx

wjmetcalf2 months ago

I built this. All-in cost about $450.00 (USD) Nice description, Chris! Bought the KK2.1. All is well except for the KK2.1 output for the 4th motor. I calibrated the ESC's using the card, and then with the 'all at once'. Beeps, etc....were good. Problem is that one motor just does not spin up. I changed it at the FC and the 'other' motor would not spin up, so it's not the motor or ESC....it's the output at the FC. There is a definite order to when the motors start spinning. I have calibrated the FC/ESC's about 20 times now. I have not flashed the KK2.1 with 1.6. Thoughts?

quad.jpg

Looks like you also REALLY need to get some heat shrink over those motor connectors. You're begging for them to short against each other.

Just to make sure, is the KK2.1 in quadcopter mode not tricopter? Also, it appears your flight control board is positioned to be in a + configuration, however your propellers suggest you want an X configuration. Is this intended? If so, you can ignore the previous sentence. Another note is that you have three propellers in the CCW direction and only one CW, I'm not sure of the exact configuration for the + configuration, but if you select Load Motor Layout on the KK2.1 board it will show the correct propeller orientation, however I do know that 2 of the propellers should be CCW and 2 should be CW. Viewing the Motor Layout should also make sure it is in quadcopter mode. To answer your original question, it could be a problem with the board, however I'm not sure of this so don't go ordering a new one until you have further confirmation.

dmartinez411 month ago
I think I figured out the props orientation but I have another question. To turn it on/off we have to plug in and out the battery every time? Is their another way?
Chris_Schroeder (author)  dmartinez411 month ago

Yes, as far as I know this is the only way. Unless you want to go through the trouble of making a homemade switch for your quad, and if you do, then by all means go for it and let me know how it works out.

In my opinion unplugging it and plugging it back in is the most reasonable way to go, since you will have to take out the battery anyway to recharge it. Just my opinion on this though.

dmartinez411 month ago
I finally finished building it but I have to take it out to fine tune it. I bought two types or props. Cw/ccw but I have no idea in what order the go. Can someone clarify?
mmo91 month ago

i wonder if you can give a direct link for the source Code ?

kballar31 month ago

Hi Chris. This is a great tutorial. I'm new to all this stuff and confused on the ESCs. It looks like the ones you mentioned have their own BEC. The manual for KK2.1 mentions a UBEC if using OPTO? I guess what I'm asking is...if you get the KK2 or KK2.1 and get ESCs with BECs do you need to do anything extra? Should all 4 ESCs have BEC?. I've also been looking at the Naza M Lite controller and it's got me a little confused because it looks like it uses OPTO and no kind of BEC or UBEC in the build. One more question, regarding the PDB, If I buy a frame like the DJI F450, it has it's own PDB built in. Will the KK2 work with that? Thank you for your time, I hope my questions aren't confusing.

sannu2 months ago

Hi Chris.. Excellent tutorial.. I'm preparing the same quad as your with almost all the part list of yours( except motors and props).. But I got a problem with motor fitting.. The base of Turnigy Park motor is touching the frame, when tightly fit and its providing some sort of friction to the motors.. If I loosen it a bit, and apply little throttle, the nuts were unscrewing by themselves.. How did you successfully mount your motors to the Talon frame..?? This is the only obstruction for me, to fly my quad.. All other calibrations, settings were successfully applied.. Do in need any other screw set for this purpose..?? Of what length..?? Please help me over this issue..

Thank you..

Chris_Schroeder (author)  sannu2 months ago

Hi sannu! The reason you are having so much trouble getting the motors to attach is that thye are not the same ones I am using and that I have listed in my guide. Hope this helps!

I somehow fitted some extra nuts and solved that issue.. Completed the quad and had a flight test.. CRASH!!!! It flew 1/2 foot and a 9x4.7R prop got unfitted from the motor, along with the prop adapter.. :( I swapped its position to another motor.. Still the same issue.. I balanced the props.. Then why did it happen so..?? Can you help me..??

sannu sannu2 months ago

This extension is causing the problem.. Its touching the aluminium alloy part of the frame when mounted and tighted.. Its causing the friction..

19036-2.jpg
flyingmickey2 months ago
(removed by author or community request)

Chris_Schroeder (author)  flyingmickey2 months ago

Nice job, I think we have an expert pilot over here! :) I was no were near this good when I first started flying mine. Thanks for using my build!

Here is one idea that I have for a GoPro, this is just a prototype. I have not tested it yet.

photo.JPG
luketanti made it!2 months ago

Hi. Finally it arrived today and I got it all hoked up. But now it is too late for testing. Will test it tomorrow. It looks great and I hope it flies great too!!

2014-01-29 19.59.43.jpg

Here is a small video of the Quad! Still getting the hang of it!

Chris_Schroeder (author)  luketanti2 months ago

This is awesome! Thanks for using my build, and nice touch with the green props too! :)

Chris_Schroeder (author)  luketanti2 months ago

Awesome! Let me know how the testing goes! I look forward to hearing about your accomplishments and your observations.

jnoahr3 months ago
Will this QuadCopter support a GoPro camera?
solidfunk jnoahr2 months ago

I would also like some help on this, I notice that the frame is close to the ground would we need a landing gear? I would eventually want a gimble of some sort. Thanks and great build!

Chris_Schroeder (author)  jnoahr3 months ago
Good question! I really want it to be able to support a gopro camera (and its absolutely got the power to carry one up in the air), but unfortunately I don't have the time to figure out how to get one mounted... this might be a project for me this summer.
dmartinez412 months ago
If I replace the 6ch rc with a turnigy 9x 9ch rc, would it cause any issues?

No, you should not have any problems. In fact it should have longer range as it is a more powerful transmitter. You are going to have more channels that you can use for other controls.

Vineet_Palepu3 months ago

Hello. Nice tutorial and great design. One of the best guides I have seen.

I built this setup and it had been working fine for the first few days. However, when I cleaned up and re-zip tied the wiring, when I plugged in the battery, one of the ESC's immediately started smoking. I quickly unplugged it, and cut open the heat shrink and examined it. Everything appeared fine, except the positive wire, which had a cut in it(probably from when removing duct tape I used to fasten it to the arms) and appears to have burnt part of the servo connector leading to the FC. I taped that part of the wire and the part of each servo wire and plugged it back in and it seemed to work fine. The next day, I flew it inside and it flew with no problems, however when I took it outside, the ESC started smoking again (the quad had barely lifted off the ground), and the positive wire on the ESC was burnt, but in a different place this time. Is the ESC still usable? Is there any way for me to test if it is usable? If someone could give me advice on what to do next, I would greatly appreciate it.

Thanks in advance.

Note: I didn't reverse the polarity on the ESC or the battery, which I have read is a common reason for why an ESC would smoke.

Chris_Schroeder (author)  Vineet_Palepu2 months ago

Just a thought because I don't want you too have a terrible crash, but I would highly recommend you just replace the ESC and re-calibrate the quadcopter. This is probably your safest bet, and will potentially save you lots of money.

Thanks!

zach3002 months ago

I am thinking of making this copter and I was wondering what the average flight time of it is?

Chris_Schroeder (author)  zach3002 months ago

I get an average flight time of 15 minutes. Longest I've ever flown is half an hour, this is currently my longest flight on record so far.

8-10min.

dmartinez412 months ago
This is the best guide. Thanks a lot. I already ordered all the parts. I have one question. Would it be possible to make it autonomous? What would be needed to accomplish that?
Chris_Schroeder (author)  dmartinez412 months ago

Anything is possible! It just needs someone with the time to figure it out. Currently that someone is not me... I really hope I can figure this out over the summer though.

Thanks for the Compliments! :)

Big Shasta3 months ago

Awesome Writeup. My first flight was 1-4-2014. Flies great with default kk2.1 settings. I just need to practice. Found a few things though. The Turnigy CF frame is different now (V2) the power dist board won't fit in it. I made my own distro harness, no big deal. The throttle is very touchy. and I have WAY more power than I need/can use. I'm guessing it's because I have the 180W motors and the 10X4.5 props from your original writeup. I wanted to make sure I understand the issue correctly. If I step down to 9X4.5 props I will have less lift, less potential to pull too much current through the ESCs AND that should make my throttle less touchy, right? Also, that should eliminate my issue of the Collets being hard to get tight enough. The lifting power has pulled them off a couple times (without incident so far) One last thing. Compare your Step 6 motor directional arrows to the KK graphic showing direction. Your motor 3 and 4 arrows should be on top of the motor in the graphic (like the kk graphic). As they sit, they are backwards. Either move the arrows to the top or replace them with Clockwise/CClockwise. Great job, Thanks!

Chris_Schroeder (author)  Big Shasta2 months ago

Yes if you step down to 9X4.5 props it should have less lift, less potential to pull too much current through the ESCs AND that should therefore make your throttle less touchy. And in the event that you see no difference in the swap, you now have spares just in case! :)

I also believe I changed the motor orientation picture a while back so it should be OK now.

Thanks for your feedback! Glad you're liking the build :)

luketanti3 months ago
Hi. Great instructions and nicely built!

I have ordered all of the above parts except for the motors. I got these instead of the ones you listed because they were not in stocks. But now I saw your edit and I am thinking that I may have made a big mistake. The ones I bought have a max power rating of 130W and the ones you listed were 180W. I don't really understand what that means but with the 10*4.5 propellers I think the motors may get damaged.

If someone please can explain this a little bit in detail I would really appreciate.
Thanks 
Chris_Schroeder (author)  luketanti3 months ago
What motors did you buy exactly? Cause the W rating is only how much power they will supposedly pull from the battery. Whats the KV rating?
http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/store/uh_viewItem.asp?idProduct=14735
Chris_Schroeder (author)  luketanti3 months ago
I don't think that these were a bad buy. They are essentially the same ones I have listed in the guide so all I can recommend is that you test them out and see for yourself (maybe buy some smaller props). If you do feel like buying another set go for some of these:

http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/store/__14733__Turnigy_L3015A_1000_Brushless_Motor.html?strSearch=turnigy%201000

And then you can stick with the 10*4.7 props aswell.
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