What Up Duudes!? Well, actually my drone but anyhow today I am going to show you how to build a one of a kind drone for cheap! This type of drone is special as it can take off and fly forward faster than any 4 propeller drone that you have ever seen! It has the capabilities of a Plane and a Quadcopter. It has reliability, efficiency as in forward flight the wings create lift, speed, and lastly range which is very important for someone who need to fly somewhere far and return.
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Step 1: Research About VTOL Vehicles and Current Existing Designs
According to Wikipedia, A vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft is one that can hover, take off, and land vertically. This classification includes fixed-wing aircraft as well as helicopters and other aircraft with powered rotors, such ascyclogyros/cyclocopters and tiltrotors. Some VTOL aircraft can operate in other modes as well, such as CTOL (conventional take-off and landing), STOL (short take-off and landing), and/or STOVL (short take-off and vertical landing). Others, such as some helicopters, can only operate by VTOL, due to the aircraft lacking landing gear that can handle horizontal motion. VTOL is a subset of V/STOL (vertical and/or short take-off and landing).
Besides the ubiquitous helicopter, there are currently two types of VTOL aircraft in military service: craft using a tiltrotor, such as the Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey, and another using directed jet thrust, such as the Harrier family and new F-35B Lightning II Joint strike Fighter (JSF). Generally speaking, VTOL aircraft capable of STOVL use it wherever possible, since it typically significantly increases takeoff weight, range or payload compared to pure VTOL.
This Gives us a better idea of what it should be able to do.
Step 2: Materials and Parts Required
These are the parts that I used to build the drone.
- ArduPilot 2.8 kit with GPS and Telemetry system - $80
- 4 X AX 1806N 2500kv Brushless Micro Motor - $30
- 4 X Prop adapter w/ Alu Cone M5x3mm shaft - $11
- 4 X Turnigy 10A ESC Multistar - $28
- Hextronik Power Distribution Board - $4
- Turnigy Nano-Tech 3.0 3000mAh 11.1 volts - $26
OptionalFatshark Camera A/V Cable (360mm) - $3
OptionalFatShark 700TVL CMOS FPV Camera V2 NTSC/PAL - $25
Step 3: Setup and Install Ardupilot Flight Control
First to start this off, you will want to plug the Arudpilot into a microusb in your computer. Then download Mission Planner which is a software that allows you to control the Ardupilot. Then once the Mission planner is open, navigate to the Install firmware section and install the Arduplane software. It may take a while up to 3-4 minutes and once it is done, then you can connect to it by finding the port that it is connected to at the top right corner and press the red connect button.
Step 4: APM: Setup Accelerometer
Navigate to the Accel Calibration to get started with the calibration process. Press the Calibrate Accel and follow the instructions and orientations to put your board in. Then Calibrate the level by putting the Ardupilot on a flat surface and pressing the Calibrate Level button.
Step 5: APM: Setup Compass
To setup the Compass and the rest of the sensors, you will want to select the APM and External Compass button at the top. Attack the GPS and Compass sensor the the GPS and I2C connectors on the board. Then you will want to Calibrate the Magnetometer by pressing the live calibration. If you need help on how to do this watch this video.
Step 6: OPTIONAL: APM: Calibrate Radio
If you want, you can set up the radio, however i would not recommend it as I have a different method that conserves weight and space on the plane. If you still insist, you can set it up by following what the Calibration is telling you to do.
Step 7: APM: Set Flight Modes
In the Flights mode section, you want to set Flight mode 1 to STABILIZE which is what it should be doing most of the time so that if you let co of the controller to stretch, the plane will not spin out or stall and try to stay in the same direction. To set flight mode 6 to QRTL (Quadcopter Return To Launch), you will need to go into Config/Tuning and go to the Full Parameter Tree to Change the value for FLTMODE6 to 21. Then press the Write params at the top right to save the parameters.
Step 8: APM: Setup Telemetry Radio
This is one of the most important steps if you are not using a Transmitter and Reciever to control the vehicle. I have found a solution because of the fact that the receiver that I was using was much too heavy to be able to be put on the plane. To solve this, in Mission planner in the Flight Data tab, there is an artificial horizon which is showing what angle your Ardupilot board is at. Just below, there are small tabs and one of them is labeled Actions. Once it is selected, one of the buttons says, Joystick. However you will need some sort of USB controller such as a flight Joystick or a PS3/4 controller with a USB cable. Then set the parameter in the setup to meet your needs and how you would like to control it. You do not need to set a button or slider to CH5, CH6, and CH7 as they are not used in the plane we are building. You will also want to plug in the little board with a cable and antenna to the Telem port on the Ardupilot.
Step 9: Laser Cut or 3D Print Parts for the QuadPlane
First you will need to either lasercut or 3d print the pieces using eighth inch wood or print it until it gets an eighth inch thick. Then follow the next step to see how to put the pieces and electronics together.
Step 10: Put All the Pieces Together!
You can look at the many photos that I have made so that you can build the drone.
Step 11: First Attempt for Quad!
The First attempt for the quad was a COMPLETE failure as the plane flipped backwards and I had to make a new mount, and change the propeller. However I had to change the parameters in Mission planner so that the maximum throttle is higher. This is because of a bug in Mission planner and it sets your max thrust to 80 instead of 1000 which is what it is supposed to be.
Step 12: Second Through Seventh Attempt But No Luck
However, after many attempts at trying to fly this drone, it was barely able to move. One thing to note is that at some times when the drone would not take off is because of some software in the Ardupilot that would limit the throttle.
Step 13: Finally! It Hovers!
After multiple tests, and changes to the drone, I have accomplished to make the drone hover.
Step 14: Setting Up the FPV System
Setting up the FPV system is relatively simple as the only work you have to do is connect the MinimOSD and the Telemetry signal in the same port which you can solder the wires together. See the first picture for how to solder the wires together.
Step 15: Conclusion
At the end, I have accomplished at flying the drone and the project was a success!
Thanks for reading!