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!


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 :/)

how much did you spend only for parts? (all parts i mean)
My first payment was to hobbyking for $594.23: <br> <br>HXT900 9g / 1.6kg / .12sec Micro Servo 2 IN STOCK <br>Boscam 5.8Ghz 200mW FPV Transmitter 1 IN STOCK <br>Large box and Packing 297g 1 IN STOCK <br>ZIPPY Flightmax 800mAh 3S1P 20C 1 IN STOCK <br>HobbyKing 1500mAH LiFe 3S 9.9v 1 IN STOCK <br>Turnigy H.A.L. Hexcopter Frame 775mm 1 IN STOCK <br>Boscam RC805 - 5.8Ghz 8 Chn. AV Receiver 1 IN STOCK <br>10CM Male to Male Servo Lead (JR) 26AWG (10pcs/set) 1 IN STOCK <br>L-C Power Filter for FPV A/V Systems 1 IN STOCK <br>Turnigy Heat Shrink Tube 10mm RED (1mtr) 1 IN STOCK <br>Turnigy Heat Shrink Tube 10mm BLACK (1mtr) 1 IN STOCK <br>Slow Fly Electric Prop 11x4.7R SF (4 pc - Green Right Hand Rotation) 1 IN STOCK <br>Slow Fly Electric Prop 11x4.7SF (4 pc - Green) 1 IN STOCK <br>MultiWii PRO Flight Controller w/MTK GPS Module 1 IN STOCK <br>Turnigy 9X 9Ch Transmitter w/ Module &amp; 8ch Receiver (Mode 1) (v2 Firmware) <br>*JIT-Item (this item takes 3-5 days to dispatch) <br>1 IN STOCK <br>Turnigy Accucel-6 50W 6A Balancer/Charger w/ accessories 1 IN STOCK <br>10x4.5 SF Props 2pc Standard Rotation/2 pc RH Rotation (Green) 2 IN STOCK <br>Turnigy Aerodrive SK3 - 2830-920kv Brushless Outrunner Motor <br>6 IN STOCK <br>ZIPPY Flightmax 4000mAh 3S1P 20C 2 IN STOCK <br>M3x8 Nylon Screws (10pcs/bag) 1 IN STOCK <br>5.6mm x 14mm M3 Nylon Threaded Spacer (10pc) 1 IN STOCK <br>Hobbyking SS Series 25-30A ESC 6 IN STOCK <br>Turnigy H.A.L. Battery Mount Plate 1 IN STOCK <br>Hobby King Octocopter Power Distribution Board 1 IN STOCK <br>Gyro / Flight Controller Mounting Pad (10pcs/bag) 1 IN STOCK <br>------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ <br> <br>I also bought 70$ for spare parts and carbon fiber tubes: <br> <br>Turnigy Aerodrive SK3 - 2830-920kv Brushless Outrunner Motor <br>*JIT-Item (this item takes 3-5 days to dispatch) <br>1 IN STOCK <br>Hobbyking SS Series 25-30A ESC 1 IN STOCK <br>Carbon Fiber Tube (hollow) 8x750mm 2 IN STOCK <br>Carbon Fiber Tube (hollow) 14x750mm 3 IN STOCK <br>Extra Length Cardboard Box and Packing 379g 1 IN STOCK <br>Turnigy H.A.L. Boom Mount (4pcs) 1 IN STOCK <br> <br>Then I bought upgrades for the Turnigy 9x controller: <br> <br>FrSky DHT DIY 2.4 Ghz AACST transmitter module. U.S <br>FrSky D6FR 6 Channel Telemetry Receiver US vendor US <br>FrSky Battery Voltage Sensor US vendor US shipping <br>Turnigy 9X FlySky FS-TH9x LCD Backlight(Blue) Kit <br> <br>$81.79 <br> <br>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?) <br>Could you please update your parts list so i buy only necessary (im dont have that much budget). <br>thanks for your help and quick answer
I sent a message to your inbox. <br> <br>Cheers!
i didnt receive anything :) just to make sure you send it, thanks in advance
whoops, I meant to say that to another person.. <br> <br>anyway, to answer your question, I used pretty much everything on that list. <br> <br>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. <br> <br>also if you aren't doing fpv you don't need the: <br> <br>Boscam RC805 - 5.8Ghz 8 Chn. AV Receiver <br>L-C Power Filter for FPV A/V Systems <br> <br>but those were only mentioned in my comments list. <br> <br>The bulk of the price is going to be the: <br> <br>frame <br>motors (x6 or x4) <br>transmitter <br>flight controller <br>and more or less the escs (x4 or x6) <br> <br>I wouldn't recommend turnigy for motors or escs, but for battery chargers, batteries, and transmitters they are okay. <br> <br>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. <br> <br>Thats all then. <br>
quad will be enough for hold a gopro? <br>
more than enough, a gopro weighs around 900grams. <br> <br>And if you have 9 inch x 4.5inch props with 920kv motors you get around 900 grams PER MOTOR <br> <br>900 grams x 4 = 3.6KG! <br> <br>take the weight of your craft and battery, 1kg + 900 gopro grams =1.9kg <br> <br>3.6-1.9 = 1700grams=(1.7KG)=(4lbs) left over. <br> <br>That should be way more than enough. <br> <br>
i dont want to bother you, but maybe could you list what do i need (from your list) to build a quad.<br>only should i take 4 motors instead of six? thats all?<br><br>also, i was wondering, what if i get a 6 motor &quot;skelleton&quot; (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.
A quad is more than enough to fly with a camera. Heck, I've seen professionals use quadcopters to hold their canon d5 cameras.<br> <br> Also, go back and READ step 2!!!!<br> <br> I already included the quadcopter alternative in that step!!!<br> <br> Thanks!<br> <br> 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 :)
***UPDATE***<br> <br> I finally made the new 3D gimbal. The link is here:<br> <br> <a href="http://grabcad.com/library/gopro-gimbal-v2-5-1" rel="nofollow">http://grabcad.com/library/gopro-gimbal-v2-5-1<br> <br> A</a>lso, I found some really cool brushless motor gimbals (WAY SMOOTHER) 3D printed frames:<br> <br> <a href="http://grabcad.com/library/brushless-gopro-gimbal-v2-1" rel="nofollow">http://grabcad.com/library/brushless-gopro-gimbal-v2-1<br> <br> </a><a href="http://grabcad.com/library/brushless-gopro-gimbal-v1-1" rel="nofollow">http://grabcad.com/library/brushless-gopro-gimbal-v1-1</a>
<p>You have a mistake in the battery section: </p><p>S is not used for cells but stands for &quot;serial&quot;. This means, a 3S Battery has 3 serial Lipo elements. </p><p>A 3S2P battery e.g. would have 6 cells, where 3 elements are connected in serial mode, and then two of the 3S element packages are connected in parallel to give again the voltage of a 3S system but double capacity.</p>
<p>Hello,</p><p>I have just assembled<br>my first quadcopter roughly in order to test the components. I am using<br>ardupilot APM as my flight controller. The major problem I am facing is that<br>even if I give the slightest of input on the throttle, the drone just flies<br>suddenly to a super high altitude and becomes really hard to control. Is there<br>a way that I can give just enough throttle to make the drone rise about 6-8<br>feet so that I can learn to control it without damaging it a lot?</p><p>I would really<br>appreciate any help whatsoever.</p><p>Thank You</p>
im sorry for this question but... is this quad or hexacopter autopilot or just controled with the remote control? ? thnx
<p>Is there a controller I could buy at a fairly reasonable price that would not require as much modification? (I mainly want telemetry, failsafe, return to start)</p>
<p>Hi, i have followed your guide, but are in a stand still with programming my 9xr pro.</p><p>I'm totally noob, so hope that you can help me, or know a site where i can get help, to set up the mode. </p><p>If you or someone in here can help me to get flying, i will appreciate it very much:)</p><p>You can answer me here or on mail <a href="mailto:tk@kyhldesign.dk" rel="nofollow">tk@kyhldesign.dk</a></p><p>Here is some info:</p><p>Turnigy 9XR PRO (mode 2)</p><p>Frsky Telemetry and head track module extent cable</p><p>Frsky XJT 2.4Ghz Combo Pack for JR w/ telemetry module</p><p>and X8R 8/16Ch S.BUS ACCST Telemetry Receiver</p><p><a href="http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/store/uh_viewItem.asp?idProduct=42106" rel="nofollow">MultiWii PRO Flight Controller w/MTK GPS Module </a></p><p>I can sent/upload Pictures and videos if you need that:)</p><p> </p> <p> </p>
<p>How long did the whole system take to build?</p>
<p>Hi. I built a 450 (I think) using the Multiwii Pro and this guide helped greatly. I got my first flight in today! However, I have one more bit of tuning I need to do that I can't find information on, that is, sensitivity to control.</p><p>I skipped the PID stuff because am using Megapirate and heard elsewhere the defaults usually work. However, it did oscillate side to side violently while in the air, so I eventually brought the values down and that has stopped. However, the flight is still way to responsive for a beginner. My neighbor used a Naza and pretty much anyone could pick it up and fly it, it's very stable and &quot;beginner&quot; responsive. Is that PID still or Tx adjustments? Attaching current PID values, suggestions to make it fly more like a Naza for now? I built a cage to do the fine PID tuning, but it seems to me that's to get the most responsive craft possible, I'm not ready for that just yet. ;)</p><p>Thanks!</p>
<p>What is the flight time?</p>
<p>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.</p>
<p>Yep, the gps works fine. Its dead accurate. </p>
<p>The &quot;S&quot; doesn't stand for &quot;cells&quot;, it stands for &quot;serial&quot;<br>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.</p>
<p>Good catch, ill change that!</p>
<p>i would build this but its so expensive :(</p>
<p>There are cheap ways of making quadcopters:</p><p><a href="http://oddcopter.com/2012/12/12/easy-diy-quadcopter-build-part-1-the-parts-list/" rel="nofollow">http://oddcopter.com/2012/12/12/easy-diy-quadcopte...</a></p>
<p>hello i want to ask you if i could make live streaming using this chip ? <br>if yes what the best camera to buy ?<br>Regards. </p>
<p>There is nothing linked? Send me a link and I will see if I know!</p>
<p>Great Tutorial, I am wondering if this AC adapter will work with the accucell charger?</p><p>http://www.amazon.com/Universal-Adapter-15V-18-5V-19-5V/dp/B004I5ERUW/ref=pd_sim_pc_2?ie=UTF8&amp;refRID=1YQDJSTJTYCP2EQENAFY</p>
<p>It should work fine. Just keep it at 15V</p>
<p>Great guide... I'm making a quadcopter on your project, but I don't find the Gimbal V.2.5 project on Grabcad anymore (Page not found). </p><p>Can u send me the file?</p><p>thank you</p>
<p>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.</p>
<p>how to connect the escs, i mean the wire alignment, if i use the turnigy multistar ones?</p>
<p>Hi </p><p>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 .</p><p>Thanks </p>
You dont have to go with the D6fr, you can go with the D8 <br><br>http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_odkw=frsky&amp;_osacat=0&amp;_from=R40&amp;LH_PrefLoc=3&amp;_trksid=p2045573.m570.l1313.TR11.TRC1.A0.H0.Xfrsky+combo&amp;_nkw=frsky+combo&amp;_sacat=0<br><br>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&amp;hash=item3f1e758a5f<br><br>Plus, I really felt limited with 6 channels, I would advise 8 anyway (only like 10 dollars, 5 pounds, more)
<p>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 ?</p><p>Thnaks !!</p>
perfect tutorial.thanks
<p>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</p>
How much extra weight can raise?<br>Thank you very much for the guide! :)
It's done!<br> It's finally finished!<br> Following this guide I have assembled me a hexacopter!<br> Here is my roadmap in pictures <a href="https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.504435556297592.1073741825.100001934556610&type=3" rel="nofollow">https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.504435556297592.1073741825.100001934556610&amp;type=3</a><br> <br> 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 :(<br> 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<br> <br> 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.<br> <br> 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<br> <br> PIDs are not tuned yet so I'm really really HOPING that is the problem.<br> <br> Here you can see how my electronics are set up, maybe the ublox is not high enough?<br> <a href="https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=529015240506290&set=a.504435556297592.1073741825.100001934556610" rel="nofollow">https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=529015240506290&amp;set=a.504435556297592.1073741825.100001934556610</a>&nbsp;<br>
Awesome! I looked at your pictures and you have a clean setup. <br> <br>I have a couple of questions just to center down the problem. <br> <br>Can you plug in the hexacopter via usb (get a long cable) and connect it to your computer. <br> <br>Boot up mission planner, make sure your remote is on (but keep the hex disarmed for now) and go to the radio setup page. <br> <br>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. <br> <br>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. <br> <br>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). <br> <br>also, have you done the frsky mods to your controller? that'd help me to explain the channel 6 setup. <br> <br>Keep it up bro!
Inspecting the motors closely yestarday I noticed some of them are slightly not centered, something around 1&ordm; or 2&ordm;. So I'm mentally preparing myself to unscrew everything and re-align those. Yeah... :( <br>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 <br> <br>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. <br> <br>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. <br> <br>I am also hoping it is a calibration issue, or perhaps compass interference, will try tunning PIDs and rising the GPS a little higher.
I really think it is a calibration issue, that's what it was for me (at the beginning). <br> <br>I do believe I blew the esc or motors since I crashed the multicopter 8 times, so I have to replace them. <br> <br>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. <br> <br>Also, sometimes the motors aren't smooth, so I've seen some people switch out the bearings to max the performance. <br> <br>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! <br> <br>good luck! AND DONT TRY TO FLY AND CALIBRATE AT THE SAME TIME!!! <br> <br>that's how I crashed 8 times. always tether the hex to something! <br>
Here is a video of current state of affairs http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tdqMwwFYd2c <br>Im currently trying to determine (and hoping) if it is a faulty motor or sodder
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).<br> <br> 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).<br> <br> 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).<br> <br> But yeah, if none of those &quot;quick&quot; fixes work, then you may have a bad esc/motor. I would take a look here:<br> <br> http://diydrones.com/forum/topics/new-usr-hexacopter-on-2-9-1-spinning-out-of-control?id=705844%3ATopic%3A1150952&amp;page=2#comments<br> <br> specifically at this comment:<br> <br> &quot;After seeing the video I am suspicious that you have a single motor or ESC that is behaving badly.&nbsp; The lack of lift on one side combined with the spinning motion is an indication that a single rotor is turning too slowly.&nbsp; Try this:&nbsp; 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.&nbsp; Power that motor individually at 40% throttle.&nbsp; Do this with 3 motors on that side of the hex.&nbsp; See if one is behaving different than the other two.&quot;<br> <br> 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.<br> <br> I will keep searching to see if I can find anything else man, but good luck!<br> <br>
Thanks for the quick response, you're awsome! <br>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. <br>I don't think it is uncorrect wiring since they all spin where they are supposed to, but maybe a bad connection. <br>I'm gonna try focusing my efforts on that motor that looks faulty and get back when I have news
Sweet deal, sounds like a plan. <br> <br>If you have any other questions let me know! <br> <br>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. <br> <br>I just finished soddering another ESC for motor 8 in hopes of a bad ESC but no success, apparently I need motor replacements. <br> <br>WELP, putting in the order now :\ <br>Will report back in a few weeks when it arrives

About This Instructable




Bio: a dude with a million dreams, hundreds of ideas, and a drive to achieve! If I make an Instructable, It is usually phenomenally AWESOME, and ... More »
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