Instructables
Picture of Building UP an ArduCopter!
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Today's guide will be about building an Arducopter, or otherwise known by the locals as "Flying Hedge Trimmer"


My greatest problem with the world of  RC and hobbyists is that there never is a complete guide on doing ANYTHING!

The experience of learning how to build a hexacopter from no knowledge is basically a big scavenger hunt for information. There was always bits and pieces, but never a complete guide for the build log, hardware, AND SOFTWARE (99% of the build).

I'm here to change that issue, so hopefully I can enlighten Instructables with a COMPLETE guide on building a Arducopter!

 
 
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Step 1: Features of This Build

This Hexacopter is equipped with:
  • 6 POWERFUL motors that produce 12 lbs of thrust!
  • Autonomous flying capabilities
  • A fully functional 2 Axis 3D-Printed Gimbal
  • Ability to be controlled by an Android Phone
  • Custom modded carbon fiber arms* .
  • A "Follow Me" Mode that allows for high speed chase film!
  • Fully functional safety features: Return To Launch (RTL), low voltage telemetry warning, and fail-safe.

Still interested? Read on!




*(before it broke, see last step :/)


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tvm7771 year ago
how much did you spend only for parts? (all parts i mean)
husamwadi (author)  tvm7771 year ago
My first payment was to hobbyking for $594.23:

HXT900 9g / 1.6kg / .12sec Micro Servo 2 IN STOCK
Boscam 5.8Ghz 200mW FPV Transmitter 1 IN STOCK
Large box and Packing 297g 1 IN STOCK
ZIPPY Flightmax 800mAh 3S1P 20C 1 IN STOCK
HobbyKing 1500mAH LiFe 3S 9.9v 1 IN STOCK
Turnigy H.A.L. Hexcopter Frame 775mm 1 IN STOCK
Boscam RC805 - 5.8Ghz 8 Chn. AV Receiver 1 IN STOCK
10CM Male to Male Servo Lead (JR) 26AWG (10pcs/set) 1 IN STOCK
L-C Power Filter for FPV A/V Systems 1 IN STOCK
Turnigy Heat Shrink Tube 10mm RED (1mtr) 1 IN STOCK
Turnigy Heat Shrink Tube 10mm BLACK (1mtr) 1 IN STOCK
Slow Fly Electric Prop 11x4.7R SF (4 pc - Green Right Hand Rotation) 1 IN STOCK
Slow Fly Electric Prop 11x4.7SF (4 pc - Green) 1 IN STOCK
MultiWii PRO Flight Controller w/MTK GPS Module 1 IN STOCK
Turnigy 9X 9Ch Transmitter w/ Module & 8ch Receiver (Mode 1) (v2 Firmware)
*JIT-Item (this item takes 3-5 days to dispatch)
1 IN STOCK
Turnigy Accucel-6 50W 6A Balancer/Charger w/ accessories 1 IN STOCK
10x4.5 SF Props 2pc Standard Rotation/2 pc RH Rotation (Green) 2 IN STOCK
Turnigy Aerodrive SK3 - 2830-920kv Brushless Outrunner Motor
6 IN STOCK
ZIPPY Flightmax 4000mAh 3S1P 20C 2 IN STOCK
M3x8 Nylon Screws (10pcs/bag) 1 IN STOCK
5.6mm x 14mm M3 Nylon Threaded Spacer (10pc) 1 IN STOCK
Hobbyking SS Series 25-30A ESC 6 IN STOCK
Turnigy H.A.L. Battery Mount Plate 1 IN STOCK
Hobby King Octocopter Power Distribution Board 1 IN STOCK
Gyro / Flight Controller Mounting Pad (10pcs/bag) 1 IN STOCK
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I also bought 70$ for spare parts and carbon fiber tubes:

Turnigy Aerodrive SK3 - 2830-920kv Brushless Outrunner Motor
*JIT-Item (this item takes 3-5 days to dispatch)
1 IN STOCK
Hobbyking SS Series 25-30A ESC 1 IN STOCK
Carbon Fiber Tube (hollow) 8x750mm 2 IN STOCK
Carbon Fiber Tube (hollow) 14x750mm 3 IN STOCK
Extra Length Cardboard Box and Packing 379g 1 IN STOCK
Turnigy H.A.L. Boom Mount (4pcs) 1 IN STOCK

Then I bought upgrades for the Turnigy 9x controller:

FrSky DHT DIY 2.4 Ghz AACST transmitter module. U.S
FrSky D6FR 6 Channel Telemetry Receiver US vendor US
FrSky Battery Voltage Sensor US vendor US shipping
Turnigy 9X FlySky FS-TH9x LCD Backlight(Blue) Kit

$81.79

Total: $746.02
With your new update (July 17) and with the spare parts you bought after your first purchase (because i believe when you upgraded, you left some stuff without use, i mean you replaced it, right?)
Could you please update your parts list so i buy only necessary (im dont have that much budget).
thanks for your help and quick answer
husamwadi (author)  tvm7771 year ago
I sent a message to your inbox.

Cheers!
i didnt receive anything :) just to make sure you send it, thanks in advance
husamwadi (author)  tvm7771 year ago
whoops, I meant to say that to another person..

anyway, to answer your question, I used pretty much everything on that list.

If you want to save money, build a quad and not a hex, trust me there is really no difference and the hex is WAY over powered.

also if you aren't doing fpv you don't need the:

Boscam RC805 - 5.8Ghz 8 Chn. AV Receiver
L-C Power Filter for FPV A/V Systems

but those were only mentioned in my comments list.

The bulk of the price is going to be the:

frame
motors (x6 or x4)
transmitter
flight controller
and more or less the escs (x4 or x6)

I wouldn't recommend turnigy for motors or escs, but for battery chargers, batteries, and transmitters they are okay.

Don't go cheap on motors or escs. make sure that people have reviewed the brand and that the bearings are known to be smooth.

Thats all then.
quad will be enough for hold a gopro?
husamwadi (author)  tvm7771 year ago
more than enough, a gopro weighs around 900grams.

And if you have 9 inch x 4.5inch props with 920kv motors you get around 900 grams PER MOTOR

900 grams x 4 = 3.6KG!

take the weight of your craft and battery, 1kg + 900 gopro grams =1.9kg

3.6-1.9 = 1700grams=(1.7KG)=(4lbs) left over.

That should be way more than enough.

i dont want to bother you, but maybe could you list what do i need (from your list) to build a quad.
only should i take 4 motors instead of six? thats all?

also, i was wondering, what if i get a 6 motor "skelleton" (idk how to call the 6 arm case) and just use 4 for a while, will my machine fly less? lower? worst? or will be capable of fly with 4 motors instead of six meanwhile i get money for other motors.
husamwadi (author)  tvm7771 year ago
A quad is more than enough to fly with a camera. Heck, I've seen professionals use quadcopters to hold their canon d5 cameras.

Also, go back and READ step 2!!!!

I already included the quadcopter alternative in that step!!!

Thanks!

I'd also recommend buying a spare motor and esc. Also, DON'T BUY TURNIGY AERODRIVE MOTORS, they're trash. Go with NTM or some other manufacturer that is more trusted.
thanks, ill be waiting then :)
husamwadi (author) 1 year ago
***UPDATE***

I finally made the new 3D gimbal. The link is here:

http://grabcad.com/library/gopro-gimbal-v2-5-1

A
lso, I found some really cool brushless motor gimbals (WAY SMOOTHER) 3D printed frames:

http://grabcad.com/library/brushless-gopro-gimbal-v2-1

http://grabcad.com/library/brushless-gopro-gimbal-v1-1
asweed1 month ago

hello i want to ask you if i could make live streaming using this chip ?
if yes what the best camera to buy ?
Regards.

Biz851 month ago

How is the wiring on a Quad+ ? I'm tottaly noob, have some problems,on how to set my 9XR pro up properly, but if you can help me with correct wiring i'll be more than happy:) have a nice day.

theargha1 month ago

how to connect the escs, i mean the wire alignment, if i use the turnigy multistar ones?

rdalotto1 month ago

Hey, i was planning to buy the APM 2.5 just for the mission planner and the gps points control, i didn't know that MultiWii can be controlled by the same software, the difference in the prices is huge here in brazil, but the gps points feature is essential to me, have you tested this function? I don't have any experience building drones, the APM really worth the price? Nice instructable, thanks in advance.

RichárdK2 months ago

i would build this but its so expensive :(

Biz853 months ago

Hi,

Nice work... I'm going to build the Quad soon:)

*Note, in one step I used a 256 control rod and a servo quick connect...

is it those in the link below? and could it be 2-56 rod, dont know if there's any difference? :)

http://www.hobbylinc.com/htm/gpm/gpmgpmq3870.htm

Have a nice day, and keep up the good work. :)

husamwadi (author)  Biz853 months ago

Yep they are the same!

skulk6 months ago

The "S" doesn't stand for "cells", it stands for "serial"
So a 3s1p-LiPo has 3 Cells in Serial (3X3.7V) and 0 Cell in parallel connected. you could also get an 3s2p, wich has double capacity, because it has 3 Cell in Serial and 2 Cells in parallel.

duran16 months ago

Hi

I am searching two days now to find Frsky D6fr 6 channel receiver but no luck. Everywhere i looked is out or stock so i am wondering if there is a better one that i can buy or similar one that work two becuase i have stuked .

Thanks

husamwadi (author)  duran16 months ago
You dont have to go with the D6fr, you can go with the D8

http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_odkw=frsky&_osacat=0&_from=R40&LH_PrefLoc=3&_trksid=p2045573.m570.l1313.TR11.TRC1.A0.H0.Xfrsky+combo&_nkw=frsky+combo&_sacat=0

http://www.ebay.com/itm/FrSky-DJT-D8R-2-4G-2-WAY-combo-with-Telemetry-For-JR-PCM10IIS-9XII-8103-/271093959263?pt=Radio_Control_Parts_Accessories&hash=item3f1e758a5f

Plus, I really felt limited with 6 channels, I would advise 8 anyway (only like 10 dollars, 5 pounds, more)
duran1 husamwadi6 months ago

Nice so i i buy the second link that is a combo i dont need the frsky DHT DIY 2.4ghz AACST? Also can i ask you if i need both right hand and left hand proppels ? or it is the same ?

Thnaks !!

bygreencn8 months ago
perfect tutorial.thanks
izea97sk8ter8 months ago

For future reference, Lipo battery cells are wired in series. So the S in 3s signifies 3 cells in series, or 3 series. Also thanks for the info about the multiwii pro and multirotors in general. Great Project

rgarcía529 months ago
How much extra weight can raise?
Thank you very much for the guide! :)
It's done!
It's finally finished!
Following this guide I have assembled me a hexacopter!
Here is my roadmap in pictures https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.504435556297592.1073741825.100001934556610&type=3

However, much to my despair, on the first test flight I discovered that it doesn't want to fly, it wants to spin out of control to any direction it so pleases :(
The spinning happens with no yaw input, in fact the yaw input seems to do nothing even though the radio monitor on the mission planner clearly shows yaw input is happening. Pitch and roll inputs works as expected

Tried to research possible causes and the ones that showed up was the motor booms being too flexible or not in the same plane. This is definitely not the case with the HAL frame.

The changes I made on my hardware is that I'm using the APM 2.6 board, ublox GPS+Compass and AR6210 RX and Devo 8s running deviation firmware as TX

PIDs are not tuned yet so I'm really really HOPING that is the problem.

Here you can see how my electronics are set up, maybe the ublox is not high enough?
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=529015240506290&set=a.504435556297592.1073741825.100001934556610 
husamwadi (author)  DantHimself1 year ago
Awesome! I looked at your pictures and you have a clean setup.

I have a couple of questions just to center down the problem.

Can you plug in the hexacopter via usb (get a long cable) and connect it to your computer.

Boot up mission planner, make sure your remote is on (but keep the hex disarmed for now) and go to the radio setup page.

move the throttle stick and pitch/yaw around. Find the channel that yaw is on and see if it is jittery. If it is smooth and responds like you would expect it, then the problem isn't with the controller.

go to the Failsafe-Arm/Disarm tab. Make sure you go to a room that has space, and put your foot on the hexacopter (to keep it from flying off). Arm the hex, and SLOWLY pull up the throttle (NEVER GO FULL THROTTLE ) until the motors start spinning, then move the pitch/yaw around and check to see if the bars on the screen start to jitter or act weird.

To be honest, I'm 99% sure it is Calibration, because the same thing happened to me before I calibrated it. Follow the instructions in step 23, tether your hex to a frame of some sort, and calibrate it the same way the guy in the video does it. This may take a couple of hours, but take your time, better to calibrate it tethered, then fly it and crash (which really sucks).

also, have you done the frsky mods to your controller? that'd help me to explain the channel 6 setup.

Keep it up bro!
Inspecting the motors closely yestarday I noticed some of them are slightly not centered, something around 1º or 2º. So I'm mentally preparing myself to unscrew everything and re-align those. Yeah... :(
Also, when I plug the battery in not all motors buzz at the same time, I dunno if this is normal but I am also mentally preparing myself to do a yaw test with motors plugged on in pairs to see if with any combination it wants to spin

When I was at the radio setup page I only checked if all channels were working correctly, didn't check for jittery, will see that.

I am not using the frsky setup, I'm using a DSMX radio receiver and the Devo 8s(walkera) transmitter. There is a open source firmware for this receiver that allows it to be the one controller to rule them all, pretty awsome.

I am also hoping it is a calibration issue, or perhaps compass interference, will try tunning PIDs and rising the GPS a little higher.
husamwadi (author)  DantHimself12 months ago
I really think it is a calibration issue, that's what it was for me (at the beginning).

I do believe I blew the esc or motors since I crashed the multicopter 8 times, so I have to replace them.

I will probably go with the plush series 40A. I'm trying to buy as high quality parts as I can afford now, since the price is offset by the ease of use.

Also, sometimes the motors aren't smooth, so I've seen some people switch out the bearings to max the performance.

And I've never seen the DSMX setup, but sounds awesome! I think I might look into it. I am now on a battlebots team so I work 24/7 on that robot, but I will try to get back into making hexacopters soon!

good luck! AND DONT TRY TO FLY AND CALIBRATE AT THE SAME TIME!!!

that's how I crashed 8 times. always tether the hex to something!
Here is a video of current state of affairs http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tdqMwwFYd2c
Im currently trying to determine (and hoping) if it is a faulty motor or sodder
husamwadi (author)  DantHimself9 months ago
Sweet deal man! Glad you made it this far. Quick check, make sure that you didn't accidentally wire one of the motors backwards (I did that before and it spun like your video).

If not, then try recalibrating each throttle range on each motor (plug the esc to channel 3 and do step 7 again (can't hurt to try).

Lastly, there is a slight chance that it may be the YAW calibration, I would even be tempted to set the KP configuration to channel 6 and slowly turn the dial to see if it makes any difference (step 23).

But yeah, if none of those "quick" fixes work, then you may have a bad esc/motor. I would take a look here:

http://diydrones.com/forum/topics/new-usr-hexacopter-on-2-9-1-spinning-out-of-control?id=705844%3ATopic%3A1150952&page=2#comments

specifically at this comment:

"After seeing the video I am suspicious that you have a single motor or ESC that is behaving badly.  The lack of lift on one side combined with the spinning motion is an indication that a single rotor is turning too slowly.  Try this:  For each motor on the side of the hex that is not lifting pull the 3 wire plug from the ESC that goes to the PDB and plug it into a separate radio receiver.  Power that motor individually at 40% throttle.  Do this with 3 motors on that side of the hex.  See if one is behaving different than the other two."

Just plug each motor one by one to channel 3 (throttle) give it full or half and see if it is slower than the rest.

I will keep searching to see if I can find anything else man, but good luck!

Thanks for the quick response, you're awsome!
Looking back at the video, I noticed what you mentioned about the lack of lift, I annotated the video with the one that looks faulty.
I don't think it is uncorrect wiring since they all spin where they are supposed to, but maybe a bad connection.
I'm gonna try focusing my efforts on that motor that looks faulty and get back when I have news
husamwadi (author)  DantHimself9 months ago
Sweet deal, sounds like a plan.

If you have any other questions let me know!

Thanks!
Even though most motors vibrate on different times on ESC calibration mode, I noticed motor number 8 didn't vibrate at all making me believe that is the culprit.

I just finished soddering another ESC for motor 8 in hopes of a bad ESC but no success, apparently I need motor replacements.

WELP, putting in the order now :\
Will report back in a few weeks when it arrives
husamwadi (author)  DantHimself9 months ago
HOLD ON!!!

are you buying 1 motor or all of them? if you are switching them out I would HIGHLY suggest NOT to go with TURNIGY for ESC or Motors!!!!!!

go with NTM or some other brand, but not TURNIGY! They are literally the cause of all my Hex problems (they make good batteries, controllers, and chargers, but go with high quality motors and ESC's).
husamwadi (author)  husamwadi9 months ago
I would go with what this guy has:

http://hobbyking.com/hobbyking/store/uh_viewItem.asp?idProduct=26820 (scroll down a bit)

it says turnigy 2826 1200kv but it is actually ntm.

His seemed to work out fine, and I assure you that if you go with anything BUT TURNIGY you're life satisfaction will jump a notch haha.
LeelaKrishna12 months ago
I need 50A esc's with the lowest price possible.
would you recommend these: http://hobbyking.com/hobbyking/store/__18006__HobbyKing_Red_Brick_50A_ESC_Opto_.html
Or these: http://www.ebay.com/itm/NEW-ESC-Speed-Controller-50A-blue-for-plane-Model-YUSHOP66-/321227157917?pt=Radio_Control_Parts_Accessories&hash=item4acaa1719d
husamwadi (author)  LeelaKrishna12 months ago
No I would not recommend that. In fact, I'm now going on a crusade against buying motors or esc's from hobbyking.

Most of the time the motors bearings are stiff, and the esc's tend to fail at random times.

I looked up the quality for the "red brick" and it was a 50/50. So I'm not too sure how it would work out, but on my hex, my turnigy esc's went out first.

I did find a different brand that had a cheap 40A esc:

http://www.hobbypartz.com/07e-skywalker-40a.html

Also, If you're willing to shell out 6 extra dollars for each motor, I would buy 980kv motors from hobbyparts website too:

http://www.hobbypartz.com/02p-motor-374-ms2212-kv980.html

Trust me, nothing is worse than hours upon hours of useless troubleshooting over failing parts.

Thanks!
Hey, GREAT tutorial, thanks so much! I'm thinking about attempting this over break this december when I return to the states.
One question. Do you have any recommendation for a controller (Rx/Tx) that has failsafe etc. built in?
The only thing I could find was this: http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/store/__45025__frsky_2_4ghz_accst_taranis_x9d_digital_telemetry_radio_system_mode_1_.html
Do you think that would work?
Thanks for your help!
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