Intro: Build a High Performance FPV Camera Quadcopter
We all know humans can't fly. Our bones are far too dense and flapping our arms does not produce adequate lift to overcome the pull of gravity, but luckily we can use technology to give us the experience of flying. I'm not talking about flying in airplanes though, or a hang glider, or jumping out of airplanes, or using a zip line. We can actually use multirotor aircraft to give us the impression of flying using a technology called FPV. I think "flying" with an FPV-equipped multirotor is even better than flying with any of the aforementioned technologies though because multirotors are infinitely more agile. Flying with FPV is more like being a bird and less like being thrown through the air. It is an amazing, and very fun, technology.
This Instructable will show you how to build what I would categorize as a high-performance FPV quadcopter that can be used to take amazing aerial photos and videos. We will be using a top-of-the-line flight controller (the DJI Naza M Lite) and an excellent FPV system from Fat Shark, with the PilotHD camera for both recording video and delivering the FPV feed. We will also be using high quality motors and ESCs designed specifically for use in multirotors. Finally, we will be using a premium-quality Spektrum radio system. More about the parts list for this project can be found in the next step.
I always like to keep in mind the big picture of a project as complex as building an FPV quadcopter. So, this Instructable will consist of four major parts which we will go through more or less (probably more on the less side) in order:
- Assemble the quadcopter frame
- Attach the electronics to the frame
- Wire all of the electronics
- Program the flight controller/radio transmitter
My intention for this Instructable is to make it much more than just a set of directions for assembling a quadcopter. I want this Instructable to help you understand how each part of the quadcopter works and understand the logic behind everything from part selection to build strategy. I am doing this for a few reasons. First, you might not build your quadcopter exactly the same way I am in this Instructable,or you might build a different multirotor in the future. I think it will help you to understand how everything works. Second, in case something on your quadcopter breaks (which is unfortunately somewhat likely because you will probably crash at some point) you will want to understand how each part works so you can make repairs. Last, and perhaps most importantly, I think quadcopter pilots who really understand how the technology works are better pilots. If you were a passenger in an airplane, you would certainly like to know that the pilot understands how the aircraft functions. Fully understanding the way an aircraft works allows a pilot to adapt quickly while flying to solve problems.
Instructable Table of Contents
- Gather Your Parts
- Assemble the Inner Frame
- Attach the Motors to the Motor Mounts
- Create Motor Cable Extensions
- Attach Motors to Inner Frame
- Attach Landing Legs to the Motor Mounts
- Attach the Camera Holder to the Inner Frame
- Solder Ferrite Beads to the Power Distribution Board
- Solder FPV Power Cable to the Power Distribution Board
- Assemble Battery Connector
- Solder the Battery Connector to the Power Distribution Board
- Solder DJI Power Module Connections to the Power Distribution Board
- Solder ESC Connectors to the Power Distribution Board
- Mount the Power Distribution Board to the Inner Frame
- Add Velcro Tape and Strap
- Attach Flight Controller Mount to Inner Frame
- Attach LED Indicator Mount
- Install DJI LED Indicator
- Install the Radio Receiver
- Install the Power Module
- Install the FPV Transmitter
- Install the FPV Camera
- Install the GPS Module
- About the Naza M Lite
- Connect the Radio Receiver to the Flight Controller
- Connect the LED Indicator to the Naza M Lite
- Connect the ESCs to the Motors
- Program the ESCs
- Connect the Power Module to the Flight Controller
- Connect the ESCs to the Naza M Lite
- Connect the GPS/Compass Module to the Flight Controller
- Install the Naza M Lite
- Connect the FPV Components
- Bind the Radio Transmitter to the Receiver
- Set the Model in the Spektrum DX6i
- Attach the Lower Shell to the Inner Frame
- Attach the Rear Upper Shell
- Attach the Front Upper Shell/Camera Cover
- Insert the Battery
- Install the Naza M Lite Driver
- Install Assistant Software
- Connect the Naza M Lite via USB
- Select Multirotor Type
- Set GPS Module Mounting Location
- Calibrate the Transmitter Sticks
- Reverse the GEAR Switch Direction
- Calibrate the Flight Mode Switches
- Set Failsafe Mode
- Attach Battery and Antenna to Fat Shark Goggles
- Attach the Propellers
- Appendix A: Charge the Battery
- Appendix B: Calibrating the Compass Module
Step 1: Gather Your Parts
To build your Quanum Venture quadcopter, you are going to need to order some parts, quite a few parts in fact. Before I list the parts used in this tutorial, I just wanted to make a note about the supplier I chose when purchasing components. I ordered all of the components used in this tutorial from HobbyKing. HobbyKing is an online retailer of a wide-range of hobby parts, including parts for building multirotor aircraft. The reason I chose to order components from HobbyKing is, quite simply, because their prices are very low. Now, I do not intend this page to be a review of HobbyKing, or of any of the products listed, but I just wanted to note that the trade-off for HobbyKing’s low prices is slow shipping speeds and non-existent customer service. This last point is probably the biggest drawback to using HobbyKing, their customer service is absolutely pathetic. If you don't want to use HobbyKing, you can usually find the parts you need from sellers on ebay.
Also, HobbyKing's stock levels vary widely and rapidly. There is a high likelihood that by the time your read this Instructable HobbyKing will have run out of parts, discontinued parts, or parts might simply have disappeared from the site. It it not so important that you use exactly the same parts I did. Use the parts list below more as a guide for making sure you get all the parts you need, even if you have to get slightly different parts. If you want help picking components, I've written a lot of information on my multirotor blog, Black Tie Aerial. There are a bunch of posts about choosing various components, from motors to FPV gear.
I just want to make one more quick note about shopping for parts before getting to the list. HobbyKing has warehouses located in many countries, with their main warehouse located in Hong Kong. I found that ordering all of my quadcopter parts from the Hong Kong (international) warehouse led to extremely high shipping costs (for me $114). So, after a lot of experimentation, I found that I could minimize shipping costs by ordering some components from the international warehouse, and some parts from the U.S.A. warehouse. Experiment with your ordering locations and try to get the lowest shipping price. I tried to come up with a universal strategy for this but the shipping charges vary a lot by location so try to come up with the best ordering strategy for yourself.
And then some of the parts are available from Amazon. You should not have any of the issues I just described with Amazon; your experience with Amazon should be great.
Now, on to the parts list.
Quanum Venture Quadcopter Parts
|1||Quanum Venture Quadcopter Frame||1||HobbyKing|
|2||DJI Naza M Lite Flight Controller with GPS||1||HobbyKing|
|3||Fat Shark Teleporter V3 Kit with (PilotHD Camera)||1||HobbyKing|
|4||Turnigy Multistar Outrunner Motor||4||HobbyKing|
|5||Turnigy Multistar 20A ESC||4||HobbyKing|
|6||3.5mm Bullet Connectors (20 pairs)||1||Amazon|
|7||14 AWG Silicone Wire||1||Amazon|
|8||8045 Propellers (set of four)||1*||HobbyKing|
|9||Spektrum DX6i 6-Channel Radio System||1||Amazon|
|10||Turnigy 2200mAh LiPo Battery||1*||HobbyKing|
|11||Turnigy Accucel-6 Battery Charger||1||HobbyKing|
|12||10CM Male to Male Servo Lead||1||HobbyKing|
|13||Turnigy Multistar ESC Programming Card||1||HobbyKing|
|15||OrangeRX R615X Receiver||1||HobbyKing|
Aside from the supplies listed in the table, you will also need a few general-purpose parts that you can get anywhere, like a hardware store, many places online, or even a department store:
- 3M Command Strips
- Thread Locking Compound
1 The Quanum Venture quadcopter frame is a very inexpensive kit (~$40) but it is a very good product. It is actually a somewhat unique quadcopter frame. The frame consists of an inner structure made from interconnected aluminum tubes, and then a shell that encloses all of the electronic components. This is a nice change from most frames, which are just pieces of fiberboard stacked together. The frame looks great and is engineered extremely well for a kit in its price range. The Quanum Venture is purposefully designed for FPV flying. It's H shape means the front propellers will stay out of your camera's field of vision. There are many other reasons I really like this kit as well, which you will discover as we assemble it.
2 The Naza M Lite is DJI's entry level flight controller. Despite its position at the bottom of DJI's flight controller product line, it is still a superb system. It is extremely well designed, packed with features, and its "DJI Assistant" software used for programming is excellent. Among the features I like best is how easy the GPS functionality is to use.
3 The Fat Shark Teleporter V3 is a goggle-style FPV receiver. There are basically two types of FPV viewers, screen types and goggle types. Screen viewers are just small (about 7-inch diagonal) LCD screens, typically mounted in some kind of sun shade, used for viewing the FPV feed. Goggle type viewers, like the Teleporter V3, go, as you can probably guess, on your eyes. I chose the goggle type because it is more immersive. The PilotHD camera that comes with the Teleporter V3 is fantastic for FPV. The PilotHD is like two cameras in one; it is used to capture the video feed, and it also records video. This means you will not have to use one camera for the FPV feed and a second for recording.
4 The Turnigy Multistar motors are high-quality motors designed specifically for use on multirotor aircraft.
5 These Turnigy ESCs (electronic speed controllers), like the motors, are designed specifically for multirotor aircraft. HobbyKing often runs out of stock on these ECSs so you might have to select a different ESC for your quadcopter build. Pretty much any ESC will work, as long as it is 20A or higher.
6,7 These small bullet connectors and wire will be used to make various connection cables for hooking up various components.
8 These are the propellers for the quadcopter. The only thing to mention here is that, although you will only need one set, you might want to order a few extra sets. In a crash, the propellers are always the first thing to break so, if you do crash, you don't want to wait weeks for a new set of propellers to ship from Hong Kong. It is even fairly easy to break propellers while transporting your quadcopter. Since they only cost a few dollars, I think it is worth ordering a few extra sets of propellers to have on hand.
9 The DX6i is Spektrum's entry-level radio system. However, Spektrum is a top-quality brand in radio systems, and the DX6i is a great transmitter, especially for its low price ($~110). The DX6i is a 6-channel transmitter, which is sufficient for the Quanum Venture quadcopter. If you want to put a camera gimbal on your quadcopter at some point, you may want to upgrade to a 9-channel system, which will allow you to control the gimbal angles. The minimum requirement for the transmitter is that you must be able to adjust the end points of all the channels, especially the switches. This means you probably need a computerized transmitter. The DX6i also comes with a receiver which will be mounted inside the quadcopter.
10 This battery will power the quadcopter. Note that we also have a different battery for the Fat Shark goggles. You only need one battery for your quadcopter, but I actually like to have two so that I can swap them out in the field to extend my flight time. With a fully charged battery you should be able to fly anywhere from four to eight minutes, depending upon how aggressively you are flying; it is a bit like how a car's fuel economy depends on how aggressive the car is being driven.
11 This is the charger for the LiPo battery.
12 These servo cables are for attaching the radio receiver to the flight controller. The Naza M Lite does come with a pack of servo cables, however they are a bit too short to reach from the radio receiver mounting point to the flight controller.
13 This simple device is used to program the ESCs.
14 The PilotHD uses a microSD card for recording but it does not include one. Just go for the cheapest, lowest cost SD card you can get. A 4GB card will give us about an hour of recording time, which is plenty since a battery charge is only good for teight minutes of flying at the most.
15 If you haven't been working with multirotors very long, you might not realize that there is a bit of an ongoing argument in multirotor circles about this OrangeRX (HobbyKing) brand of radio receivers and genuine Spektrum AR610 receivers. Pilots argue a lot about which of these receivers is better and about their relative merits. On one hand, Spektrum receivers are, obviously, built specifically to work with Spektrum transmitters and many people maintain that genuine Spektrum receivers are higher-quality than OrangeRX receivers. The OrangeRX R615X is basically a knockoff of Spektrum's AR610 receiver. Although they are actually less like knockoffs than they used to be as today's OrangeRX receivers use different hardware than the Spektrum receivers. Now, if you search online, you will find extensive information about pilots testing Spektrum receivers against OrangeRX receivers. Many people have an automatic mistrust of cheap third-party product clones, but from all of the information I can find, the performance of these two receivers seems very similar. Furthermore, in terms of range at least, the contention is irrelevant here because both Spektrum and OrangeRX radio systems will easily achieve a 0.75 mile range, but the range of the Fat Shark FPV system is only about half a mile. My choice to go with the OrangeRX R615X is motivated by one factor: the OrangeRX R615X costs about $7 and the Spektrum AR610 costs about $50.
The total cost for all the parts for this project is (very) approximately $650. This does not include the price of shipping which, depending upon where you live and how you arrange ordering from the U.S. versus Hong Kong warehouses, can range from $50 to $100.
If you want to save some money, I think the best opportunity is keeping an eye on eBay. If you are patient, you can usually find some of the more expensive parts, like the flight controller, FPV system, and radio system, on eBay. I actually purchased my flight controller, radio transmitter, and FPV system on eBay and saved about $110, which it not too bad at all. However it did take me about three months of stalking eBay to get the parts, so it is really up to you.
The more sophisticated products in this list come with product manuals. I decided to link to the product manuals in case you want to find information about the products that I do not include in this Instructable (it is already quite long so I do omit some information). Some of the manuals are better than others (you might as well not bother with the Quanum Venture manual), but some are pretty decent:
Step 2: Assemble the Inner Frame
As is typical for HobbyKing products, the manual for the Quanum Venture quadcopter frame kit is really bad. First, and most importantly, the greyscale images are not very easy to understand for important assembly tasks, like putting together the power distribution board. The images are not in color and are fairly low resolution. This is a really bad thing because, as we will see later, connecting your electrical components with the correct polarity is extremely important for making sure nothing gets shorted out. Even for relatively simple tasks though, like assembling mechanical frame components, the manual is unclear and lacks detail.
So, the next dozen steps in this Instructable will cover assembling the Quanum venture quadcopter frame.
So, to start out the process, we will build the quadcopter's inner frame. The entire quadcopter frame is built upon an H-shaped metal structure. I am calling this the inner frame.
Assemble the Inner Frame Arms
First we will attach T-joints to the two round tubes. Both tubes are assembled in exactly the same way, so follow the procedure below for each tube.
- Take a look at the T-joints. You will notice that there are two sets of pegs, one on the top and one on the bottom of the T-joint. The top is the side with the pegs closer together and on the bottom the pegs are farther apart.
- Now take a look at your round tubes (both are the same except for color). In the middle of the tubes you will notice a square cutout. The side with the cutout is the bottom of the tube.
- Take one of your T-joints and slip it over one of the round tubes. Slide the T-joint to the middle of the tube.
- Rotate the T-joint until the square cutout in the tube lines up with the square window in the bottom side of the T-joint (the side with the pegs farther apart). Also make sure the screw holes in the T-slot line up with those in the tube.
- Using the 2.5x18mm screws, put the screws down through the top of the T-joint and thread them into the brass threaded insert in the bottom on the T-slot. Use a bit of thread locking compound on the brass insert to make sure the screws don't come loose. Be careful not to tighten the screws too much or you could crack the plastic T-joint.
- Repeat these steps with the second round tube and T-joint.
Add Central Tube
Now we need to attach the two arms together.
- Take a look at the square tube. One one side of the tube you will find five holes, on the opposite side there are a total of eight holes. The side with five holes is the top of the tube.
- Remembering that on the arms we just assembled, the top is the side without the square hole in the round tube, attach one arm to each side of the square tube.
- Use four 2.5x6mm screws to attach the arms to the square tube. The tube itself is tapped and you will need to use two screws on the top and two screws on the bottom of the tube. Again use thread locking compound for best results.
Step 3: Attach the Motors to the Motor Mounts
In this step we will mount our four motors onto the motor mounts and then in the next step we'll mount the motors to the inner frame. We have four motors and four motor mounts so repeat the procedure below four times.
- Take a look at the motor mounts. You will notice a pointy bit on one side, this side is the bottom.
- Take one of your motors and route the three wires down through the top of the motor mount and out the side (this is where the motor mount will attach to the arm in the next step).
- Use four 3x8mm screws to attach the motor to the motor mount. It is particularly important to use thread locking compound here because the vibrations generated by the motor will quickly loosen the screws without the glue locking them in place.
Attach Propeller Mounts
Now that the motors are attached to the Quanum Venture quadcopter motor mounts, we will attach the propeller mounts to the tops of the motors. The propeller mounts are the metal threaded studs included with the motors.
First, we will need to disassemble the propeller mounts by removing the nuts and then the metal plates. You will find that the metal plates you just removed concealed three mounting holes in the base of the propeller mounts. Choose a motor to start with and place the propeller holder on top of the motor. Using the three thin screws included with the motor, attach the propeller mount to the motor. Then replace the metal plate, followed by the nut but do not attach the propellers yet.
If I may digress, this actually brings up the most important safety rule for working with quadcopters or any other multirotor aircraft. Never, ever, ever work on your quadcopter while the props are in place and the battery is attached. While the motors are at speed the props are just like blades and can cause horrific injuries when they hit flesh. I am not going to post any images here because they can be very graphic but if you have a strong stomach you can find plenty with a simple image search. Always remove your battery and/or props before doing any work on your quadcopter.
Step 4: Create Motor Cable Extensions
In the next step we will be attaching the motor mounts to the Quanum Venture inner frame. As part of that process we will route the motor cables down the arm tubes and out the square hole in the middle of the tube. Unfortunately though, most brushless motors do not have cables long enough to reach all the way down the arm. So, unless you purchased motors with extended cables, you will need to create some extension cables for your motors. The good news is, these are easy to make.
A few details before we begin though. First, as you probably already noticed, each motor has three wires. We will therefore need a total of twelve extensions. Second, the motor wires are terminated with 3.5mm bullet connectors. Third, these cables can carry pretty significant currents, for the motors I am using in this Instructable up to 12A. Therefore, make sure to use heavy enough wire gages, like 14 AWG.
Create Motor Cable Extensions
- Cut twelve 4-inch pieces of 14 AWG wire.
- On each piece, solder one male bullet connector. There is a good video on soldering bullet connectors on YouTube. The technique illustrated in that video is the one I used and it works quite well.
- Before soldering the other bullet connector, slip two 1-inch long pieces of shrink tubing onto each wire.
- Onto the un-terminated end of each wire, solder a female bullet connector.
- Slip the shrink tubing over all the 24 bullet connectors. For the female connectors, slip the shrink tubing all the way to the end. For the male bullet connectors, slip the shrink tubing only to the end of the shank; you do not want to cover up the connector itself.
- Apply heat and shrink the tubing.
You can also go ahead and attach your cable extensions to all twelve motor cables.
Step 5: Attach Motors to Inner Frame
Now that we have extensions for the motor cables, enabling the motor connections to reach all the way through the inner frame arms, we can attach the motor mounts to the inner frame.
There is one detail to keep in mind before attaching the motors to the inner frame. By the time we are done, we will have six wires sticking out each side of the inner frame. Since the wires will be concealed inside the arm tubes, it can be tricky to identify which three wires belong to each motor. So, each time you install a motor mount, label the wires so that you can identify the connections for each motor later on. I numbered my motors. I suggest you use this same numbering scheme for referring to the motors on your quadcopter because it is the same labeling we will use later on when programming the flight controller. The front (red arm), right motor is Motor 1. The front left motor is Motor 2. The back (black arm) left motor is Motor 3. Finally, the back right motor is Motor 4. So, in other words, the motors are numbered one through four counterclockwise around the frame starting with the front right motor.
Alright, let’s attach the motor mounts.
Attach the Motor Mounts to the Frame
We have a total of four motors, so follow the procedure below four times. Before you begin attaching motors, recall which side of the quadcopter’s inner frame is up and which side is down: the side with only three holes in the square central tube is the top side.
- Take one of the motors and carefully thread the extension cables you just made and attached through the inner frame arm and gently pull them out of the rectangular hole in the bottom of the arm. Remember that there is a screw going through the tube, attaching the T-joint to the tube. You may have to jiggle your cables a bit to get them to slip past this screw.
- Using a piece of masking tape, label the three wires protruding from the inner frame arm with the motor number according to the numbering scheme described above. Again, this will help later in identifying which cables belong to which motor.
- Using a 2.5x8mm screw, attach the motor mount to the inner frame arm the same way you did with the T-joints. Be careful when inserting the screw through the tube because you now have wires inside the tube. Once again, it helps to use some thread lock to secure the screw against loosening from vibrations.
- Repeat for the other motors.
Step 6: Attach Landing Legs to the Motor Mounts
With the motor mounts attached to the inner frame, we can now attach the landing legs to the motor mounts. Before we get started, there is one thing to note. The legs are curved and we want to orient the legs so that they all point towards the center of the frame.
There are four landing legs, so follow the procedure below four times.
- If you look at the bottom of the motor mounts, you will notice two gold-colored threaded inserts. We will connect the landing legs to these inserts.
- Place one of the landing legs into one of the motor mounts, rotated such that the curve points inward towards the center of the craft.
- Using two 3x8mm screws, attach the leg to the motor mount.
- Repeat for the other legs.
Step 7: Attach the Camera Holder to the Inner Frame
The last part we need to add to the inner frame at this point is the lower half of the camera holder. The camera holder gets attached to the front T-joint (the one on the red arms). We will not install the entire camera holder right now because we will do that later on when we install the camera itself. For now we will only install the lower part of the camera holder.
- If you take a look at the lower part of the camera holder, you will notice two kind of C-shaped hooks with holes in the top. These hooks fit over the T-joint on the front arms and the holes fit over the pegs on the front T-joint.
- Place the lower part of the camera holder onto the front T-joint (the one on the red arms).
- Use two 3x8mm self-tapping screws to fasten down the camera holder. This is a rare situation where we don't need to use thread locking compound because the self-tapping screws put into plastic will hold just fine.
Step 8: Solder Ferrite Beads to the Power Distribution Board
At this point in the Quanum Venture quadcopter assembly process we are going to take a break from working on the inner frame and instead begin work on the power distribution board.
Assembling the power distribution board is probably the most difficult part of this entire project (with tuning as a close contender). There are quite few things to do and a number of steps where it would be easy to make a mistake. It also doesn't help that the Quanum Venture manual is pretty bad at documenting the assembly process.
So, the next five steps are going to cover attaching various pieces to the power distribution board. The most important detail in these steps is making sure you have the polarity of the parts correct or you could risk frying some parts of your quadcopter. Always remember red is positive and black is negative.
Solder Two Ferrite Beads onto the Power Distribution Board
Alright, let's get started. The first thing to do is solder the two ferrite beads to the power distribution board. Ferrite beads are passive components that help to suppress high-frequency noise in the electrical system. The motors on the quadcopter can generate significant electrical noise which can interfere with the sensors and other functionality of the flight controller, as well as cause interference in your FPV feed, so it is necessary to suppress this noise.
There is one more useful piece of information you should know before we start soldering parts to the power distribution board. Later on, we will be mounting the battery to the quadcopter. The battery gets strapped directly on top of the power distribution board. Because of this, many of the bulky components on the power distribution board will be soldered onto the bottom of the board so that room is left on the top for the battery. So, it is important to mount parts on the correct side of the board.
As pointed out above, when assembling the power distribution board, observing correct polarity will be very important. However, the ferrite beads actually are not polarized, so their orientation doesn't matter.
- Take a look at the power distribution board. It is a bit tricky to tell the top of the board from the bottom, but the easiest way right now is to look for the "Hextronik Ltd." label in one corner. The side of the board with the label is the top. We will be soldering the ferrite beads to the bottom of the board so flip the board over to the side without the "Hextronik Ltd." label.
- In the center of the board, on one side, you will find two pairs of holes where the through-hole ferrite beads will be connected (see pictures). The two beads mount right next to each other.
- Bend the ferrite bead wires 90 degrees and insert the wires through the holes in the power distribution board.
- I like to clip off the leads before soldering so I don't risk breaking the solder connection by clipping them later. So, clip off the protruding wires, leaving just enough left to form the solder connection.
- Solder the two ferrite beads to the power distribution board.
Step 9: Solder FPV Power Cable to the Power Distribution Board
We just added two ferrite beads to the power distribution board which will help give us a nice, clean power source for the other components. Now we need to add the wire that will deliver that nice, low-noise power to the FPV system.
- Unlike the ferrite beads, the FPV power cable is polarized. It has a red wire and a black wire. The red wire is positive and the black wire is negative. This goes for many of the other parts as well so remember that red is positive and black is negative.
- Take a look at the power distribution board. We will be soldering the FPV power cable to the bottom of the board (the same side as the ferrite beads) but the polarity labeling is on the top of the board. Specifically, it is located on the back end of the board, which is the end with the "Hextronik Ltd." label.
- So, take your FPV power cable and insert the red wire up through the bottom of the board on the positive side of the connection point. Solder this wire in place.
- Now insert the black wire up through the negative side of the connection point and solder it too.
Step 10: Assemble Battery Connector
The next part we will add to the power distribution board is the connector where we will plug in the battery. But, we need to put together this connector cable first. We will need five parts to make the battery connector, all of which are included in the Quanum Venture quadcopter kit:
- 12 AWG red wire
- 12 AWG black wire
- Red shrink tubing
- Black shrink tubing XT60 connector
In the interest of starting with the end goal in mind, at the end of the procedure below we will have a cable connector which we will solder to the power distribution board in the next step and later use to connect the battery.
- Take a look at the yellow plug, which is called an XT60 connector. The plug is shaped like an arrow, which prevents the battery from being plugged in the wrong way. The flat side of the connector is positive (red) and the pointy side is negative (black).
- Solder the red wire to the flat side of the XT60 connector. It is easier to do this using a helping hands tool.
- Solder the black wire to the pointy side of the XT60 connector.
- Slip the two pieces of shrink tubing over the corresponding wires.
- Use a heat source to shrink down the tubing.
Step 11: Solder the Battery Connector to the Power Distribution Board
With the battery connector cable assembled, we can now solder it onto the power distribution board.
- We will be soldering the battery connector to the top side of the board. In the middle of the board you will find two sets of two connectors that run inline with the board. These connection points are exactly the same and you can solder your battery connector to either side (we will use the other side in the next step).
- Notice that the solder connection pads are labeled + and -. Solder the red wire to the positive pad. Solder the connector so that it stands up on end. This orientation will make it easiest to place the battery next to the connection cable.
- Solder the black wire to the negative pad.
Step 12: Solder DJI Power Module Connections to the Power Distribution Board
The DJI Naza M Lite comes with a pretty cool piece of hardware for converting power from the battery to a voltage the we can feed to the flight controller. We will discuss this module in more detail later. For now, we will need to add some connectors to the power distribution board that we will use later on to connect the Power Module to the main power system.
Create Power Adapter Connection Cables
The Power Module connection cables are just short lengths of wire with a female 3.5mm bullet connector on one side. We will need two connectors, one red, one black, for the Power Module.
- Cut one1-inch piece of red 14 AWG wire and one 1-inch piece of black wire.
- Strip about 1/8 inch of insulation from each end of each wire.
- Onto each wire, solder a female 3.5mm bullet connector like we did before.
Solder the Power Module Connection Cables to the Power Distribution Board
Now we just need to solder the connection cables to the power distribution board.
In the last step, we soldered our battery connector to a pair of solder pads on the top of the power distribution board. Recall that there were two identical sets of pads on each side of the board. We will solder the Power Module connection cables to the unused set of pads. First solder the red connection cable to the positive pad on the power distribution board. Solder the connector in an upright position like we did with the battery connection cable. Then solder the black connection cable to the negative pad using the same technique.
Solder Bullet Connectors to the Power Module
Now that we have places on the power distribution board for the Power Module power cables to plug in, we need to add bullet connectors to the Power Module's wires so we can easily make the connection. So, using the same technique we have been using for soldering on bullet connectors - you are probably getting pretty good at soldering bullet connectors - solder two male bullet connectors to the red and black wires from the Power Module. Then apply shrink wrap to the connectors like before.
Step 13: Solder ESC Connectors to the Power Distribution Board
Now here is a point where I am going to deviate quite a bit from the official Quanum Venture manual. We will need to connect our four ESCs to the power distribution board. The manual suggests that you clip the ESC wires and solder them directly to the power distribution board. I think this is a bad idea though. If you solder your ESC's directly to the power distribution board, it will be difficult to replace them if they break or if you want to upgrade your electronics.
So, what we are going to do instead is make some ESC connection cables similar to the flight controller power source connectors we made in the last step, solder those connection cables to the power distribution board, and connect the ESCs through the connection cables. This way, if we ever need to replace an ESC for any reason, we can just unplug and old ESC and plug in the new one. We can avoid having to desolder things and risk damaging the board.
Alright, lets get started with making some ESC connection cables.
Create ESC Connection Cables
Alright, so the first thing we need to do is create some ESC connection cables, which are just short lengths of wire with a female 3.5mm bullet connector on one side. We will need a total of eight ESC connection cables, two for each ESC.
Polarity will again be important for connecting our ESCs, so cut four 1-inch lengths of red 14 AWG wire and four 1-inch sections of black wire. Strip about 1/8 inch of insulation from each end of each wire. Onto each wire, solder a female 3.5mm bullet connector like we did before.
Solder the ESC Connection Cables to the Power Distribution Board
Now we can solder are ESC connection cables to the power distribution board.
Take a look at the power distribution board. On the bottom of the board, where we will be soldering the ESC connection cables, you will find eight solder pads in sets of two. Like with the other wires though, the polarity labeling is on the top of the board. We will solder the connection cables so that they point towards the closest end of the board. Eventually the ESC cables will wrap around the outside edges of the board to connect. So, start by soldering on the four red connection cables to the four positive solder pads. Do this on the bottom of the board. Now solder the four black connection cables to the four negative pads.
Plug in the ESCs
Now we can finally attach the ESCs to the power distribution board. This is easy. For each of the four ESCs, just plug the ESC's red wire into the red connector cable and the black wire into the black connector cable. Then, use two zip-ties, one on each end of each ESC, to fasten the ESCs to the power distribution board.
Step 14: Mount the Power Distribution Board to the Inner Frame
Good news! We are now finished assembling the power distribution board. The next step is to attach the board to the quadcopter's inner frame.
Let's get to it. On the top of the square central tube on the quadcopter's inner frame there are three holes. If you take a look at the power distribution board, you will find three matching holes down the center of the board.
This is an optional step, but since we are mounting a PCB straight onto a metal rod, I like to take the precaution of applying electrical tape to the top of the rod and then mounting the power distribution board on top of the tape. This will make certain there is no way for some part of the power distribution board to short on the metal rod (this happened to me once with a carbon fiber tube, which is also conductive and it exploded a receiver-controlled switch).
Use three 2.5x6mm countersunk screws to attach the power distribution board to the quadcopter's inner frame. Get the screws nice and snug but don't torque them down too hard or you could crack the power distribution board. Use thread locking compound for best results.
Step 15: Add Velcro Tape and Strap
Our battery will be fastened to the top of the power distribution board using two types of fasteners. First we will apply mating Velcro strips to the top of the board and to the battery so we can stick the battery to the power distribution board. Second, we will use a Velcro strap around the battery and inner frame to ensure the battery does not come loose during flight.
In this step we will add the Velcro strip and strap to the quadcopter frame but we will not attach the battery quite yet.
Apply the Velcro Strip
So, first we will attach the Velcro strip to the power distribution board. The battery will be mounted directly in the middle of the power distribution board. Since the battery is one of the heaviest parts of the quadcopter we want its weight to be in the center of the quadcopter so the quadcopter will be balanced. Also, since, as you probably know, the hook part of Velcro fasteners always collects more hair and lint than the loop part, I like to put the hook part inside the quadcopter where it will be less likely to collect this kind of debris than if we put it on the battery.
Applying the Velcro strip is easy. Simply peel off the paper backing and then stick the adhesive Velcro strip to the top of the power distribution board. Try to center the strip between the front and back of the quadcopter as best you can. It doesn't have to be absolutely perfect though as we will probably be shifting the battery forwards or backwards a bit to balance the quadcopter.
Attach the Velcro Strap
Next we will add the Velcro strap which will hold the battery down and ensure it doesn't wiggle its way free during flight.
If you take a look at the power distribution board you will notice four slots, two on either side of the quadcopter's central tube. Since the battery we are using in this Instructable is fairly skinny, we will be using the inner set of slots for the Velcro strap, but if you have a wider battery, the outer slots can be used instead.
We want the buckle on the Velcro strap to be on top of the power distribution board obviously. So, insert one end of the Velcro strap down through the the inner slots on one side of the power distribution board and then stick it back up through the inner slot on the other side. You can fasten the strap into a loop for now so it doesn't fall out as we continue the quadcopter assembly process.
Step 16: Attach Flight Controller Mount to Inner Frame
Continuing with the quadcopter assembly process, the next step is to attach the flight controller mounting plate to the inner frame. The mounting plate is a little piece that will make it easier to securely attach the flight controller to the quadcopter frame while also helping ensure that the flight controller is mounted straight.
The flight controller mount, and, in a few steps, the flight controller itself, will be mounted to the bottom of the inner frame, below the power distribution board.
Flip over the quadcopter's inner frame and take a look at the bottom of the central square tube. You will find a bunch of holes. On the back side of the tube there are three holes spaced close together. In this step we are interested in the other three holes, specifically the second and third holes counting from the front of the quadcopter.
Now take a look at the flight controller mounting plate. The front of the mounting plate is the side with the T-shaped protrusion.
Place the flight controller mounting plate onto the quadcopter's central square tube and line up the two countersunk holes in the mounting plate with the second and third holes on the square tube. You will have one unused hole in front of the mounting plate. The Velcro strap should sit underneath the square hole in the middle of the mounting plate.
Use two countersunk 2.5x6mm screws to attach the flight controller mounting plate to the inner frame. As always, use thread locking compound for best results.
Step 17: Attach LED Indicator Mount
Now, we need to add the mounting bracket for the LED indicator to the quadcopter's inner frame.
Take a look at the LED mounting bracket. You will notice that it is not symmetrical. Also it is slanted.
Place the mounting bracket on the quadcopter's central square tube and line up the two holes with the first and second holes the the set of three holes near the back of the square tube. The LED mounting bracket should be oriented so the piece slopes downward towards the flight controller mounting plate. For more clarity on what we're going for here, ai included a picture from later in the build process showing how the LED mounting bracket is designed to allow the LED to shine through a hole in the bottom of the craft. You will have one unused hole behind the bracket.
Using thread locking compound, attach the LED mounting bracket to the inner frame using two 2.5x6mm screws.
Step 18: Install DJI LED Indicator
At this point in the quadcopter build process we are going to start installing all of the electronics. We have a bunch of different devices to install and I think it is easiest to install everything and then wire everything up. Otherwise we will end up with a big spaghetti mess to stuff into the quadcopter. We will be installing the following devices, in order, over the next six steps:
- DJI LED Indicator Radio receiver
- DJI Power Module
- FPV video transmitter
- FPV camera
- DJI GPS/Compass module
And then we will get to the flight controller later on.
Install DJI LED Indicator
The first device we will install is the DJI LED indicator. Before we mount this device to the quadcopter though, I want to take a moment to explain what it does because it is actually a pretty nifty tool.
About the LED Indicator
The LED indicator has a tri-color, high-power LED used to communicate all kinds of information to the pilot during flight and also during hardware setup and programming. The LED lights up to display different information. For example, the LED flashes "red, red, red, green" when fewer than five GPS satellites have been acquired and holds solid green when more than six GPS satellites have been acquired. The LED flashes rapidly red when the battery gets low. The LED can also flash yellow and can deliver many signals besides these examples.
The LED module also has a USB interface which we will use later on to connect the flight controller to a computer for programming, firmware updates, calibration, and so on.
The LED indicator mounts to the metal bracket underneath the power distribution board, which we installed in the previous step. The LED mounting bracket is not symmetrical. One side of the bracket is longer than the other side. This is because the specific position where we will mount the LED indicator has two important considerations.
First, there is a hole in the bottom part of the Quanum Venture shell, which we will install a little while later. We have to position the LED indicator such that its light can shine through the hole. The bottom of the quadcopter’s shell also has a hole where we can plug a USB cable into the port on the LED indicator without disassembling the craft. It is this kind of attention to detail that makes me such a fan of the Quanum Venture frame.
A Comment About Foam Tape
We will mount the LED indicator onto the metal angled bracket we installed earlier. Now, you could use a piece of 3M foam tape (included in the kit) to attach the LED indicator on the metal bracket and that would be fine; but I just don't like using foam tape to fasten parts on the quadcopter. I think using foam tape makes maintenance a pain since it is difficult to detach components without damaging them. Plus, even if you manage to get the foam tape to release, you will be left with a sticky mess.
I think 3M Command Strips are a much better option for easily attaching parts on your quadcopter. Command strips can be much more easily removed in case you need to perform maintenance on or wish to upgrade any of your equipment. I also usually reinforce the Command Strip connection with zip-ties for added strength on larger parts.
Install the LED Indicator
So that is how we will fasten the LED indicator to the mounting bracket, with a 3M Command Strip.
- Remove the paper backing from one side of a small 3M Command Strip.
- Stick the Command Strip to the mounting bracket.
- Remove the paper backing from the exposed side of the Command Strip. Stick the LED indicator to the Command Strip. The side of the LED indicator with the cable wires should face the shorter side of the mounting bracket and the USB side should be flush with the end of the mounting bracket. Also, the LED should obviously face upward.
- Apply firm pressure for 30 seconds.
Step 19: Install the Radio Receiver
Next we will install the radio receiver. We will install the radio receiver by sticking it onto the quadcopter's central square tube, just behind the power distribution board. Like we did with the VU, we will use a 3M Command Strip and a zip-tie to secure the radio receiver.
- Peel the paper backing from one side of a Command Strip.
- Stick the Command Strip to the square tube behind the power distribution board.
- Peel the paper backing from the exposed side of the Command Strip.
- Stick the radio receiver to the Command Strip. The side of the radio receiver with pins for connecting wires should face towards the center of the quadcopter.
- Wrap a zip-tie around the radio receiver and the square tube. Tighten the zip-tie to secure the radio receiver.
Step 20: Install the Power Module
We will install the power module pretty much the same way that we installed the radio receiver, just on the other side of the power distribution board. First though, let's take a moment to learn about the module.
About the Power Module
First, the power module takes power from the battery and converts it to power suitable for the flight controller and other associated devices (like the radio receiver, but not the FPV gear). In this way the power module acts as a UBEC. More than that though, the power module's second major function goes beyond a regular UBEC because the module monitors the battery power and recognizes when the battery is getting low on charge. The power module talks to the Naza M Lite about the status of the battery and the Naza M Lite communicates low battery warnings to the pilot with the LED indicator.
Install the Power Module
We just installed the radio receiver by mounting it on the central tube behind the power distribution board. The power module gets mounted the same way, the only difference being that we will mount the power module in front of the power distribution board. It doesn't really matter in which orientation you mount the power module, with the power cables closer to or farther away from the power distribution board.
- Peel the paper backing off one side of a Command Strip.
- Stick the Command Strip to the quadcopter's central tube in front of the power distribution board.
- Remove the paper backing from the other side of the Command Strip.
- Stick the Power Module to the Command Strip.
- Wrap a zip-tie around the Power Module and the central tube and tighten it down to secure the Power Module.
Step 21: Install the FPV Transmitter
Next up on our list of electronic devices to install is the FPV video transmitter. In this step we will take a momentary break from working on the quadcopter frame because the FPV transmitter will be mounted in the quadcopter's lower shell.
The quadcopter's body shell consists of five parts. The top of the shell has a front piece and a back piece. The upper shell parts are very thin and light. The bottom of the quadcopter's shell is made from much thicker and stronger plastic; this is the part onto which we will mount the FPV transmitter. Next we have a kind of loop that goes in the middle of the top part of the frame to support the thin top shell. Last, there is a small shell piece that covers the camera.
In this step we will be working with the lower shell, the large grey piece. If you take a look at the piece, on one side you will notice a kind of grill. This side is the back of the quadcopter and it is where we will mount the FPV transmitter. If you look in your box of parts, you should also find a small, grey, plastic bar with screws on both ends. We will use this bar to hold the FPV transmitter in place, in conjunction with a Command Strip.
- Peel the paper backing from one side of a Command Strip.
- Stick the Command Strip to the lower shell where there is a flat portion in the middle of the grill.
- Now take a look at the FPV transmitter, which is the larger, green PCB. On one side of the board you will notice a gold-colored screw connector. This is where we will connect the antenna later on. Orient the FPV transmitter so that antenna connection faces the back of the quadcopter.
- Remove the paper backing from the exposed side of the Command Strip.
- Stick the FPV transmitter to the Command Strip and apply pressure for 30 seconds.
- Locate the two screw holes on either side of the FPV transmitter. Take your plastic bar and screw it down to these holes to hold the transmitter in place.
We are not going to install the antenna on the FPV transmitter quite yet because we still have a bunch of assembly steps to complete and we don't want to risk damaging the FPV transmitter or its antenna.
Step 22: Install the FPV Camera
Now let's install the FPV camera, the Fat Shark PilotHD. Installing the camera is a little bit more complex than installing the other electrical devices so I am going to explain a bit first before getting to the installation procedure.
The FPV camera gets mounted, obviously, in the very front of the quadcopter frame. The camera holder consists of three parts:
- The lower part of the camera holder is the grey plastic part we installed on the inner frame front T-joint quite a while ago.
- The top of the camera holder is a grey plastic part that attaches to the lower half of the camera holder. The top piece has a hole in it that will give us access to the microSD card and record button on the PilotHD.
- There is also a foam block that is supposed to go inside the camera holder with the camera held inside the foam block. However, the foam block is too small for the PilotHD. Therefore we will need to create a custom foam block by modifying the one included in the Quanum Venture kit. By modify I mean cut it up into little pieces.
There is one more detail to point out. The PilotHD comes with a lens cover. You should get in the habit of keeping the lens cover in place any time you are not flying, this just helps to protect the camera.
Create the Custom Foam Cushions
So the first order of business is to modify the foam block for the camera holder so that it can accommodate the PilotHD. Fortunately this is pretty simple to do, all you need is an Xacto knife or box cutter, just make sure your knife is very sharp.
So first take a look inside the foam block. You will notice two pieces of double-sided tape. We want those pieces of tape and the foam they are attached to; so we're going to harvest two sides of the box.
Using your knife, cut out the rectangular sections of foam behind the tape. Then, peel the backing off the double-sided tape and stick the two pieces of foam to the sides of the PilotHD camera.
You should be left with two sides of the foam block still intact. Cut off these two sides.
Install the Camera
What you should have at this point is your PilotHD camera with two pieces of foam stuck to each side, two other non-sticky pieces of foam, and your unoccupied camera mount, both the top and bottom pieces. Let's install the camera.
- Take one of the non-sticky foam pieces and put in across the front of the camera holder attached to the quadcopter frame.
- Locate the microSD card slot on the top of the PilotHD. With this side facing up, stick the camera into the bottom of the camera holder.
- Now place the other non-sticky piece of foam into the upper-front corner of the top part of the camera holder, so it mirrors the piece you put in the bottom.
- Place the top part of the camera holder on top of the camera.
- Line up the screw holes and, using two 2.5x6mm screws, fasten it down.
Step 23: Install the GPS Module
We are going to once again take a break from working on the quadcopter frame because the DJI GPS/compass module gets mounted to the back part of the top shell. The GPS module has to have an unobstructed view of the sky above the quadcopter - or rather of the GPS satellites in space - in order to function, which is why it must be mounted on top of the quadcopter.
About Installing the GPS Module
Mounting the GPS module is a bit tricky, and it is another step where the product manual really lets us down, so let's take a moment to get a big picture idea of what's going on.
Mounting the GPS unit will involve four parts. First we have the back half of the top shell which will actually hold the GPS module. Under the top shell there is a small arch piece that supports the thin upper shell pieces. This part will also be supporting the GPS module. Third we have the GPS module and its attached cable. Last, the DJI GPS module comes with mounting hardware. We are interested in the plain metal plate. We will be mounting the GPS module to this plate and then attaching the plate to the Quanum Venture's upper shell.
The orientation of the GPS module on the frame is extremely important. If you take a look at the top of the GPS module you will see a red ring around the outside with a little arrow on the same side as the wire. This arrow must point forward in order for the GPS functionality to work properly. When you mount the GPS to the quadcopter frame, get this arrow to point forward as precisely as possible. If the GPS unit it not aimed straight forward will tend to drift around in circles because when the flight controller attempts to go forward in order to maintain position, the quadcopter will not move in the direction the flight controller expects.
Alright, let's get to the installation process.
Attach the GPS Module to the Mounting Plate
The first thing to do is attach the GPS module to the mounting plate. This is the one and only part of the build process where I will use foam tape because there is no real reason why we would ever need to detach the GPS module from the mounting plate.
- Peel the paper backing from one side of a foam tape disk.
- Stick the foam tape disk to the plain metal mounting plate.
- Peel the paper backing off the other side of the foam tape.
- Being very careful to get the mounting plate centered on the round GPS module, stick the mounting plate to the GPS. Apply pressure for 30 seconds.
Mount the GPS Module to the Quadcopter Frame
With the mounting plate attached to the GPS/compass module, we can now attach the module to the quadcopter's upper shell.
Take a look at the back half of the upper shell. On the top you will notice two holes. One is round and the other is rectangular. The rectangular hole is for the GPS cable and the round hole fits the peg on the bottom of the GPS mounting plate.
Take the end of the GPS module's cable and stick it through the rectangular hole. First, insert the cylindrical peg on the bottom of the GPS module through the round hole. Now we need the plastic arch piece. If you take a look at this piece you will notice that it too has a rectangular hole and a round boss. Insert the end of the GPS module's cable through the rectangular hole in the arch piece. Then, using firm pressure, stick the metal peg on the bottom of the GPS module, which is protruding from the quadcopter's upper shell, into the round boss on the arch piece. You want the arch piece to be flush with the inside of the shell, it should be fairly obvious how it fits.
You can set the upper shell piece with attached GPS module aside for now as we continue the assembly process.
Step 24: About the Naza M Lite
As you've probably noticed, there are a whole bunch of electrical connections to make between the DJI Naza M Lite flight controller and various other components. The flight controller will be connected to the radio receiver, the power module, the LED indicator, each of the four ESCs, and the GPS module. Since hooking up the flight controller can be a bit of a confusing task, I thought I would break it down a bit into individual steps covering connections to each of the devices just mentioned. Before we start connecting components though, I want to give you some additional information so that you understand how the Naza M Lite connections all work.
About the Flight Controller Connections
So, on the Naza M Lite, connections can be found on both ends of the device. On the top of the flight controller there is a label that identifies each connection. However, the label uses only acronyms to identify each connection, so we need to identify which device we connect to each position. Also, and this is an important detail to note, because the Naza M Lite gets mounted to the underside of the power distribution board inside the Quanum Venture quadcopter, but still needs to be mounted right-side up, we will not be able to see the label once we install the flight controller. This is why we are making all the connections to the flight controller before mounting it to the quadcopter.
There is one more detail to know before we start making connections. On the Naza M Lite, most components connect with three-pin headers. For these three-pin connections, most are oriented vertically; in other words, the three wires stack on top of each other. The connections to the LED indicator and GPS module, however, are horizontal.
For all of the radio receiver and ESC connections, which use three wires, the signal wire connects to the bottom pin on the flight controller. We can tell this because of the little icon below all the channel labels. In this icon, the omega symbol means signal.
Identify Naza M Lite Connections
|Aileron||Connection for radio receiver aileron channel, which is channel 1|
|Elevator||Connection for radio receiver elevator channel, which is channel 2|
|Throttle||Connection for radio receiver throttle channel, which is channel 3|
|Rudder||Connection for radio receiver rudder channel, which is channel 4|
|Flight Mode Selection||Connection for one of the radio receiver switch channels. The U channel on the Naza M Lite is used to switch flight modes.|
|LED Indicator||Connection for the LED indicator|
|GPS/Compass Module||Connection for the GPS/compass module|
|ESC Connections (M1, M2, M3, M4, M5, M6)||Connections for up to eight ESCs|
|Camera Gimbal||Connections for camera gimbal motors or ESCs (not used in this Instructable)|
|Gimbal Pitch Control (not used)||Connection for radio receiver AUX1 channel.|
|Radio Receiver||Connection for a PPM radio receiver (like the one used in this Instructable)|
|Power Module Connection||This is where the DJI power module connects.|
At this point you might be thinking "but quadcopters don't have rudders or ailerons or elevators. Why are the flight controller pins labeled this way?" Well, you are right, our quadcopter has no flaps at all. These labels correspond to the various control surfaces (flaps) used to control airplanes in flight. But, it is just a convention to use the same terms for quadcopters even though they don't literally apply.
So we will need to form a mental map of the way these airplane controls correspond to quadcopter controls.Just like airplanes have four control channels, so too do quadcopters, but the terminology used for quadcopter control is a bit different. The four control channels for quadcopters are roll, pitch, yaw, and throttle. To translate the Naza M Lite connections from airplane terminology to quadcopter terminology, we just need to substitute the airplane-related words for quadcopter-related words:
aileron → roll
elevator → pitch
rudder → yaw
throttle → throttle (which basically means altitude for quadcopters)
This terminology is actually really important. You should make sure to memorize the relationship between airplane controls and quadcopter controls because throughout the rest of this tutorial I will often be using these terms interchangeably; and this is the same for many other sites. It will make your life much easier if you do not have to come back here to look at the above chart every time you encounter one of these words.
About Naza M Lite Flight Modes
The Naza M Lite has four modes. In each mode, the Naza M Lite controls the quadcopter in different ways and each mode is useful for different purposes.
Manual mode is the simplest flight mode the Naza M Lite can use, but it is also the only one we will not be using in this Instructable. It is also the most difficult and dangerous mode to fly with, which is why we will not be using it in this Instructable. In manual mode the radio transmitter sticks control the movement of the craft around the roll, pitch, and yaw axes. The craft will maintain these angles until you move the sticks. It is therefore up to the pilot to keep the quadcopter pointing in the correct direction, and keeping the quadcopter right-side up. The manual flight mode is best really for expert pilots doing acrobatic flying. If you want to throw your quadcopter through the air, doing flips and loops and rapid changes of direction, manual mode is for you. If you want to not crash, I would advise trying a different flight mode.
Atti. mode stands for "attitude" mode. Attitude is the orientation of an aircraft relative to the earth's horizon. In attitude mode the Naza M Lite will keep the quadcopter in a level position, allowing the pilot to fly with much less chance of crashing. Attitude mode is great if you just want to fly for fun, without having to do quite so much work to keep your quadcopter from crashing. It is also great for doing aerial photography or videography as it provides a nice stable platform for your camera.
GPS Atti. Mode
In GPS attitude mode, like in attitude mode, the Naza M Lite will keep the quadcopter level. In GPS attitude mode, however, the Naza M Lite will also maintain the quadcopter's position in space using the GPS/compass module. The quadcopter will stay in one place horizontally and vertically (GPS coordinates), and will stay pointed in the same direction (using the compass). The GPS positioning is not perfect, the quadcopter may drift up to 2.5m horizontally and 0.8m vertically, but the position hold is quite good. GPS attitude mode is even better for aerial photography than regular attitude mode because the Naza M Lite will effectively keep the camera pointed to one spot, all on its own.
Failsafe mode can be activated in two ways. First, if the radio receiver loses contact with the transmitter for any reason - the transmitter batteries might have died, the transmitter might be out of range, there could be interference, etc. - failsafe mode will be automatically enabled. Otherwise, failsafe mode can be manually selected just like any other mode.
When the Naza M Lite enters failsafe mode, it will take one of two actions, which we will select during our configuration. First, the Naza M Lite can automatically land the quadcopter. It will use the GPS module to determine the height of the quadcopter above the ground and then gently (usually) land. After landing the Naza M Lite will turn off the motors.
The second option is a bit more complex. When the Naza M Lite enters failsafe mode it can activate the Return to Home (RTH) function. The RTH function is really, really cool. When you first launch the quadcopter, the Naza M Lite will use the GPS module to record the launch position, this is "home." Then, if the Naza M Lite enters failsafe mode, the quadcopter will fly back from wherever it is located and land at your feet, saving you the trouble of going out to retrieve your quadcopter if you used autoland mode. Note that before the Naza M Lite flies back, it will ascend to an altitude of 20m if it is not above that level already, then fly back and automatically land. By flying back at a high altitude, the Naza M Lite reduces the chance that it will crash into a tree on the way home.
Step 25: Connect the Radio Receiver to the Flight Controller
About the Radio Receiver Connections
Now that you understand all the connections on the flight controller, direct your attention to the radio receiver. Each channel on the receiver corresponds to a different action on the radio transmitter. For example, the RUDD channel receives commands when you move the right stick left and right, the THRD receives commands when you move the right stick up and down, etc.
Each of the three pins for each channel carries a different electrical connection. The OrangeRX R615X receiver does not come with any documentation (thanks HobbyKing), so it took me a bit of search to figure out which pins make which connections, signal, positive, and negative. It turns out, on the side of the receiver, molded into the plastic so it is difficult to see, there is a little S icon that reveals that the row of pins closest to the label is signal. So, the pin layout goes like this:
- Signal (yellow/orange wire) is the row closest to the label
- Positive (red wire) is in the middle
- Negative (black wire) is on the bottom, farthest from the label
Connect Radio Receiver to Flight Controller
If you take a look at the labels on the radio receiver and the flight controller, you will notice that each device uses different characters to identify the channels. The table and image below will help you match up the channels.
|Receiver Image||Receiver Connection||Naza M Lite Connection||Naza M Lite Image|
|AUX1 (gimbal pitch control)||X1 (gimbal pitch control)|
|GEAR (flight mode)||U (flight mode)|
|RUDD (rudder)||R (rudder)|
|ELEV (elevator)||E (elevator)|
|AILE (aileron)||A (aileron)|
|THRD (throttle)||T (throttle)|
Now that we can identify all of the connections on the Naza M Lite and on the radio receiver, we are ready to make the connections between the flight controller and the radio receiver. This is easy to do. I would advice making connections one at a time, otherwise you will have a bunch of wires sticking out of the radio receiver and it will be easy to get confused.
I started with the connection between the AILE channel on the radio receiver and the A channel on the flight controller. First, simply insert the three-wire jumper into the radio receiver AILE column with the signal wire (yellow) closest to the label. Then, insert the other end of the wire into the flight controller A column with the signal wire (yellow) farthest from the label.
Just repeat this procedure for all the connections according to the table and image above.
Step 26: Connect the LED Indicator to the Naza M Lite
It was quite a bit of work to hook up the flight controller to the radio receiver. Here's some good news though, hooking up the LED indicator is much, much easier. In fact, we have only one wire to connect.
If you look at the label on top of the Naza M Lite, you will notice a box labeled "LED". This, as you might expect, marks the spot where the LED indicator connects.
Unlike the radio receiver connections, the LED indicator connection goes horizontally across pins. On the side of the Naza M Lite there is a spot across the top of the radio receiver connections where you should plug in the LED indicator cable. The plug will only fit one way so you shouldn't be able to connect it the wrong way.
Step 27: Connect the ESCs to the Motors
Next up we are going to start working on the ESCs. We need to program them and connect them to the flight controller. Before we do anything else though we need to connect the ESCs to the motors.
About Motor-ESC Connections
The ESCs have six different cables coming out of them. We've already used two of the cables to connect the ESC to the power distribution board. In the next step we will use the three-pin connector cables to hook up the ESCs to the flight controller. So that leaves us with three cables. These three cables will attach to the three cables on the motors corresponding to each ESC.
Now, the order in which we attach these cables is important. The order determines in which direction the motors will spin. Here's the catch though, until we finish hooking up all the electrical components, plug in the battery, and manually check the motor spin directions, we will have no way of knowing whether we've plugged the the three wires in the correct order or not.
So for now we will just hook up all the motors to their corresponding ESCs in a random order. Later on, when we test the motor spin directions, if we find that a motor is spinning in the wrong direction, we can easily reverse the direction by switching any two of the motor-ESC connections.
Connect the Motors to the ESCs
Let's start connecting the motors to the ESCs. Way back when we attached the motors to the inner frame we labeled the wires coming out of the frame arms to identify each motor. Here's a refresher: the front-right motor is Motor 1, the front-left is Motor 2, the back-left motor is Motor 3, and the back-right motor is Motor 4.
The ESC on each corner of the power distribution board corresponds to the motor on the same corner of the inner frame So, for example, the front-right ESC connects to the front-right motor, which is Motor 1.
Connecting the ESCs to the motors could not be easier. Simply plug the three wires from the motors, coming out of the inner frame arms, into the three wires on the corresponding ESC. Do this for all four motors.
Step 28: Program the ESCs
The next device we will connect to the Naza M Lite is the Power Module. Before we do that though, we actually need the module's power output for programming the ESCs.
About Programming the ESCs
Before we connect the ESCs to the flight controller, we will need to program the ESCs. Programming the ESCs involves adjusting a number of settings related to the electrical system and flight performance. To program the ESCs, we will use the ESC programming card.ESC Settings Before we get to the ESC programming process, let's take a moment to go over the different settings we will use the ESC Programming Card to configure. The underlined options are the ones we will be using. We will discuss how to select these settings in a moment. For now, the ESC Programming Card allows us to adjust six different ESC parameters:
Batt Type (Battery Chemistry): NiXX, LiXX, Life
The battery chemistry parameter tells the ESC what kind of battery is being used to power it.
Cut Off Voltage: High, Medium, Low
The cut off voltage setting specifies at which point, as the battery drains and starts outputting less voltage, quadcopter will cut power to prevent damage from a low-voltage condition. There is a chart on the back side of the ESC Programming Card that shows what the actual cut off voltage is for each Cut Off Voltage setting for each Battery Chemistry.
Cut Off Type: hard, slow down
When the battery drains to the point that it reaches the Cut Off Voltage, this setting determines the behavior of the motors. The "hard" setting just stops the motors dead. The "slow down" setting gradually slows the motors, allowing the quadcopter to slow its descent.
Brake: off, medium, hard
The brake setting determines how the motors behave when the throttle is set to zero. With the "off" setting, the motors coast to a stop naturally. This action requires no additional power and so it increases battery life, but in an emergency situation the props may still be spinning after the throttle is zeroed out. With the "hard" setting, the motors stop immediately when the throttle is set to zero. This setting allows the quadcopter to lose altitude more quickly, and can also be very useful in preventing damage in an impending crash, but additional power is required to stop the motors, which reduces battery life. The "medium" setting strikes a balance between "off" and "hard."
Timing: auto, high, low
The timing mode setting is complex, but it roughly adjusts the speed with which the ESC communicates with the motors. In general, motors with a higher number of poles should use higher timing modes, and motors with fewer poles should use lower timing modes.
Start Up: high, medium, low
The Start Up setting determines how quickly the motors accelerate from stationary during takeoff. A setting of "high" means the quadcopter will get off the ground very quickly. A setting of "medium" or "low" means the quadcopter will get off the ground more slowly.
Adjusting Settings on the ESC Programming Card
If you look at the sides of the ESC Programming Card you will notice a bunch of pins and six 2-pin jumpers. The ESC Programming Card has a label on each side, on one side is information about cut off voltages for different battery chemistries and recommended settings for different types of motor. The other side is where the important information is found.The label shows which pins correspond to the six different settings described above. There are six 2-pin jumpers that correspond to the six settings. By moving the jumpers so that they bridge different sets of pins, you can change the settings on the ESC Programming Card. Move the jumpers around so that the settings are configured as follows (also check out the picture):
Batt Type = LiXX
Cut off Voltage = medium
Cut off type = slow down
Brake = off
Timing = auto
Start Up = medium
Programming the ESCs
Alright, let's actually program the ESCs. We will need to program each ESC individually so just repeat the procedure below for each ESC.
The first thing we need to do is plug the Power Module into the power distribution board so it can receive power from the battery. Simply connect the red wire from the Power Module to the red connection wr soldered onto the power distribution board. Then connect the black wire as well.On the side of the ESC Programming Card with all the settings listed, in the upper-right corner you will find a set of three connection pins labeled, "Controller." This is where you will plug in the ESC with the yellow wire on the input in and the brown wire on the - pin.In the upper-left corner of the ESC Programming Card, opposite the ESC connection, plug in the output cable from the Power Module as shown on the label. The grey wire is negative and the res wire is positive. Now we just need to apply power to the system to program the ESCs. So simply plug the battery into the XT60 connector. Note that even if you have no charged the battery it should still have plenty of power. LiPo batteries are stored and shipped partially charged because this extends their shelf life.
When you plug in the battery, you should hear two beeps which indicates that the ESC has been successfully programmed. If you hear only one beep and then the ESC keeps beeping (technically it is the motors that make the beeping noise by the way), disconnect the power, switch any two of the motor leads, reconnect the power, and try the programming procedure again.
Step 29: Connect the Power Module to the Flight Controller
Now that we've made use of the Power Module's power conversion for programming the ESCs, we can connect the Power Module's output to the Naza M Lite.
If you look at the Power Module you will notice that, next to the output wire, there is a label that says "X3." Guess what? We are going to plug in the output wire from the Power Module into the X3 port on the flight controller. Like the other connections, orient the three-pin cable so that the yellow wire is on the bottom.
Step 30: Connect the ESCs to the Naza M Lite
Now we are back to a slightly trickier flight controller hookup step, connecting the ESCs to the flight controller.
If you look at the label on the top of the Naza M Lite, you will see that, on the side opposite where we connected the radio receiver, the connections are labeled M1 through M6. These stand for Motor 1 through Motor 6. We will obviously only be using the M1 through M4 connections but if you ever build a hexacopter, the Naza M Lite can control it.
Let's start making our connections between the ESCs and the flight controller. Starting with the Motor 1 ESC (the one on the front-right corner of the power distribution board) connect the three-pin cable to the M1 position on the Naza M Lite. The yellow wire should be on the bottom. Next connect the Motor 2 ESC (front-left) to the M2 position. Then connect the Motor 3 ESC (back-left) to the M3 position. Finally, connect the Motor 4 ESC (back-right) to the M4 position.
Step 31: Connect the GPS/Compass Module to the Flight Controller
We have one last device to connect the Naza M Lite, and this is another easy connection. The GPS module connects to the flight controller the same way the LED indicator did. If you take a look at the label on the top of the Naza M Lite, you will notice a box labeled "Exp." This is the position where we will connect the GPS module.
The GPS module connects horizontally like the LED indicator did, so simply take the GPS module cable and connect it next to the LED indicator cable.
Keep in mind that from this point forward, the quadcopter's top shell piece will be roped to the rest of the frame with the GPS module cable. So, if you are going to move your quadcopter, remember to pick up both parts.
Step 32: Install the Naza M Lite
We've been waiting until we had all of our electronic devices connected to the flight controller to mount the flight controller to the quadcopter frame. Now that we've made all our connections, we can install the Naza M Lite. There are a few details to cover first though.
About Installing the Flight Controller
First of all, as mentioned a couple of times before, the mounting position of the flight controller on the Quanum Venture frame is a bit odd. The flight controller will be mounted on the underside of the frame, below the power distribution board. However, we still have to mount the Naza M Lite right-side up, otherwise the flight controller will think down is up and up is down. Therefore, when you mount the Naza M Lite you will be unable to see the label on the top.
Second, kind of like with the GPS module, there is an arrow on the Naza M Lite label that points in the quadcopter's forward direction. It is very important that the flight controller is mounted straight, with the arrow pointed forward as precisely as possible.
Last, the Quanum Venture manual again advises you to use foam tape for attaching the flight controller to the frame. Again I think using foam tape is a bad idea because it is difficult to remove and makes a mess. So I am again going to use Command Strips and zip-ties instead.
Installing the Flight Controller
Take a look at the Naza M Lite label. In the center of the label there is an arrow. When installing the flight controller make sure this arrow points in the forward direction as precisely as possible.
- Peel the paper backing off two Command Strips.
- Stick the two strips to the flight controller mounting plate that we installed underneath the power distribution board earlier.
- Peel the paper backing off the other sides of the two Command Strips.
- Being very careful to ensure you are mounting the flight controller completely straight, stick the Naza M Lite to the Command Strips and apply pressure for 30 seconds.
- Wrap a zip-tie around the Naza M Lite and the flight controller mounting plate and tighten it down to hold the flight controller in place.
Step 33: Connect the FPV Components
At this point we've finished connecting together all of the components that talk to the flight controller, but we still need to wire up the FPV components, the camera and FPV transmitter. The FPV system is actually completely independent of the flight controller. Fortunately connecting together the FPV camera and transmitter is really easy.
If you take a look at the FPV camera, on the side opposite the antenna connection, you will find two connection points, one with five pins and one with only two. Plug the camera cable into the larger, five-pin spot.
Next we need to connect power to the FPV system. A while ago we soldered a power pigtail to the power distribution board. Find that wire and plug it into the smaller port on the FPV transmitter.
Note that now the lower part of the quadcopter’s shell is roped to the main part of the frame by the power and FPV camera cords, just like the top half with the GPS module cable. We will be attaching the lower shell to the rest of the quadcopter frame in the next step, but for right now, remember that if you want to move the quadcopter, you now have to move all three parts: the top part of the shell with the GPS module, the bottom part of the shell with the FPV transmitter, and the main part of the quadcopter with all of the other components.
Step 34: Bind the Radio Transmitter to the Receiver
Let's start this step with some background. Imagine that you are flying quadcopters in some kind of group, like, for example, imagine that you are having a race against other quadcopter pilots. How does your radio receiver know which transmitter it should listen to? All radio transmitters generally operate on the same frequencies, so how does your quadcopter not get confused by all the different signals? Well this is where binding comes in.
How does Binding Work?
Binding is the process of teaching the radio receiver which signals to respond to. The problem binding allows us to solve is, again, in the presence of multiple radio transmitters, all using similar frequencies, how does the receiver know which signals to obey?
Well Spektrum radio transmitters, as well as many transmitters from other brands, transmit two pieces of information with every command signal (this is a bit of a simplification but it is an acceptable level of detail for this discussion). They transmit the command itself obviously, and, more importantly, each receiver transmits a unique identification code. So these two pieces of information, the command and an identifier for the specific transmitter sending the command, are transmitted out into the air together.
When we bind a receiver to a transmitter we are teaching the receiver to recognize the unique identifier for the transmitter. Then, out in the field when we are flying, the receiver will only listen to signals from the transmitter it is trained to obey.
Bind the Receiver to the Transmitter
There is a special tool we need to bind the Spektrum DX6i transmitter to the OrangeRx R615X receiver. The tool is a simple loop of wire on a three-pin header that is included with the OrangeRx transmitter called the “bind plug.”
To start the binding process, first of all we need to insert batteries into the transmitter. The transmitter comes with some non-branded, demo-style batteries, but I don't really trust these included batteries for maintaining power to such a critical part of the quadcopter setup. So this is of course optional, but I would advise using some batteries you trust for the transmitter. I put the included batteries in my Xbox controllers and used four name brand batteries in the transmitter.
Alright, so to really start the binding process, make sure the transmitter is off and the battery is disconnected from the quadcopter. Insert the bind plug into the BATT/BIND column of the radio receiver. Orientation doesn't matter here. Just FYI, what we are doing here is connecting the BATT/BIND signal pin to ground. So if you ever lose your bind plug, you can accomplish the same thing by using a female-female jumper wire between the top and bottom pins. One more thing, the bind plug will be a tight fit in the receiver so you may need to use a bit of force to move the other pins over and slip the bind plug in.
Next, connect the battery to the quadcopter's power system. This will power the radio receiver. There will be an orange light blinking quickly on the radio receiver, this indicates that binding mode is engaged. Additionally, the DJI LED indicator will be blinking rapidly orange. This is the Naza M Lite telling you that the connection to the transmitter has been lost. We are currently binding the radio system so this is expected; just disregard the LED indicator for now.
Take a look at the top of the radio transmitter. Along the top, near the antenna, you will notice a series of switches. On the left side, find the switch labeled Trainer. Hold this switch in the up position while you turn on the transmitter. The transmitter will start beeping. Keep an eye on the orange light on the radio receiver. When the light turns solid, binding is complete.
You can now let go of the Trainer switch, but leave the transmitter on. For safety reasons, always make certain the transmitter is on whenever the quadcopter is powered. You don't want to have a powered quadcopter with no way to control it. Anyway, now remove the bind plug from the radio receiver.
Keep the bind plug around though because we will actually need to bind the radio system again after programming the Spektrum DX6i's ModelMatch feature. Let's do that now.
Step 35: Set the Model in the Spektrum DX6i
The DX6i has a useful feature called ModelMatch. The DX6i can be programmed with up to ten different models; in other words, the DX6i can store settings for up to ten vehicles. This is a great feature if you are operating different vehicles because you can load individualized settings for each craft with the push of a button. This way you don't need to reprogram the transmitter every time you change vehicles.
For example, I use my DX6i to control my Quanum Venture obviously. I am also working on a robot (which I hope to post an Instructable about soon) that I control with the DX6i. I can easily switch between these two machines on the DX6i in order to load the different setting.
The ModelMatch feature allows the radio receiver to recognize which model you have selected on the transmitter and prevent you from accidentally using the wrong settings for whatever craft you are using. For example, the radio system will not let me try to fly my Quanum Venture with the transmitter set to control my robot.
Using this feature has two broad steps: set the model in the transmitter, and rebind the radio system. Before we do the first part, setting a model in the transmitter, we will take just a moment to learn how to navigate the settings in the DX6i.
Navigating the Spektrum DX6i
Navigating the DX6i is easy. On the right side of the screen you will find a cylindrical button/wheel control. This control has two modes of operation. First, you can click the wheel to make selections. Second, you can scroll the wheel in either direction to move through menus and alter values.
Alright, now let's get started setting our model in the DX6i.
Set the Model in the DX6i
You can think of models on the DX6i almost like folders. The models have a name and they contain all the settings for your craft. We will get to the settings a few steps in the future; for now we need to give our model a name in the DX6i.
When you first turn on the transmitter you will be looking at the main screen, which displays some basic information about the transmitter. On the left side there is a little meter that can let you know when the batteries are getting low on power. The most useful information found on the home screen though doesn't appear for us yet. The home screen displays the selected model, but we haven't named our model yet so for now it displays nothing. Click the navigation wheel to enter the DX6i's menu.
We will be doing a lot of work in this menu before we are ready to fly. For now, scroll all the way to the bottom and select SETUP LIST. This will take you into another menu. From the setup list menu, select the second item, MODEL NAME.
First of all prepare yourself for a ton of little beeps from your transmitter and use the scroll wheel to name your model. You can use any name you want, whatever will help you recognize which model name corresponds to your Quanum Venture. I named my model Venture. When you are done inputting the model name select Ok! On the right side of the screen.
Now go back to the main menu by selecting List in the upper-right corner of the screen and then selecting Main from the upper-right corner of the next screen.
DX6i Screen Simulations
To make it easier to see the options on the screen, I created these illustrations to simulate the display. Follow this screen order to set the name of your model:
- From the main menu, select SETUP LIST
- From the setup list menu select MODEL NAME
- Input a model name
- Your model name will appear on the home page
Rebind the Radio System
Now that you’ve set and selected a new model in the Spektrum DX6i that will hold our settings for the Quanum Venture quadcopter, you will actually need to bind the radio system again. This is a little bit annoying, but it will activate a useful feature, ModelMatch. When we bound the radio system the first time, we were teaching the radio receiver to recognize the unique identification code of our transmitter. This time we will also be teaching the radio receiver to recognize which model is currently selected on our transmitter. This way, the radio receiver will not follow directions if we have the wrong model selected. This is a nice safety feature.
So, you will need to repeat the binding procedure detailed in the previous step before advancing to the next step. Remember to turn off your radio transmitter for the binding process.
Step 36: Attach the Lower Shell to the Inner Frame
Before we proceed, let’s take a moment to see where we stand in the Quanum Venture quadcopter assembly process since we have been building for a while now. So far we’ve assembled the inner frame, attached the motors, put together the power distribution board, installed all the electronic components, and connected together all the parts electrically. We only have a few parts left to cover. We need to put together the quadcopter’s shell, we need to program the flight controller, we need to calibrate the radio transmitter, we need to attach the propellers, and we need to go test and tune the quadcopter.
So we will start by assembling the Quanum Venture's plastic shell which, as mentioned previously, encloses pretty much everything on our quadcopter besides the motors, for obvious reasons, and the GPS module because it needs a clear view of the sky to function. The first part we need to install is the lower shell part.
Actually though, before we get to installing the lower shell, now is a good time to do some wire routing. Just take some zip-ties and faten down some of the loose wires by bundling them together and tying them down to some part of the frame. Pay particular attention to the motor wires and fasten them down so they stay out of the way when we install the lower frame, which we will do right now.
Attach the Lower Shell
So you already know the orientation for the lower shell piece. The side on which we installed the FPV transmitter is the back.
The lower shell attaches to the inner frame using six screws. On the front and back of the lower shell there are two screw holes that attach to the T-joints. Then, in the middle there are two more screw holes on long bosses that attach to the inner frame central tube.
Place the lower shell down onto the inner frame, making sure the lower shell slips into place over the inner frame arms. Then, using two 3x8mm self-tapping screws on each side (four total) screw the lower shell down to the T-joint. Finally, use two 2.5x6mm screws for the center two holes.
Step 37: Attach the Rear Upper Shell
Next we need to attach the rear upper shell, the part that holds the GPS/compass module. Recall from when we installed the GPS module that we use the plastic arch piece on the inside of the shell to hold on the GPS module. This arch piece is also important for installing the shell.
The tear upper shell is fastened down with three screws, two of which are on this plastic arch piece. The third screw hole is located on the back of the shell.
Place the shell part onto the back of the quadcopter, making sure the cable for the GPS module is inside the shell rather than getting pinched between the upper shell piece and the lower shell. Using three 3x8mm self-tapping screws, fasten down the rear shell piece.
Step 38: Attach the Front Upper Shell/Camera Cover
Now we can now finish assembling the upper frame. The front part of the upper frame is made to be easily removable to allow the battery to be easily removed for charging (you should always remove your battery when charging it) and inserting charged batteries. We will be installing the front upper shell part and the camera cover as a single step because, as you will see in a minute, the camera cover is actually the part that holds together the upper shell.
Take a look at the front upper shell part. On the middle part of the shell you will notice a tab sticking out. This tab acts as a hinge for the shell.
First, insert this tab underneath the rear upper shell and lower the front of the shell down over the camera. The sides of the front shell will be on top of the rear part.
Then, to secure the shell, press the camera cover onto the front of the quadcopter. There are two tabs on the bottom shell piece that correspond to two slots on the camera cover. So press the camera cover into the body until these tabs engage, holding the cover in place.
Congratulations! With the exception of installing the propellers, which, for safety reasons, we will wait until the last minute to do, we are done building the Quanum Venture quadcopter. In the next step we will quickly install the battery and then begin programming the flight controller and the radio transmitter.
Step 39: Insert the Battery
We are about to begin the process of programming the flight controller. But, in order to do that, we need to supply the flight controller with power via the battery. Now, we could probably have installed the battery prior to installing the front shell, because the first thing we now have to do is take the shell off again. But I wanted to write these directions to represent the way you will insert the battery when you are in the field.
There is just one thing to note before we insert the battery though. If your battery is new, it will already have something like 50% charge on it. When storing LiPo batteries it is best to store them partially charged. Storing the batteries long term (for example when they are in some vendor's warehouse before being purchased) is actually tough on the batteries. Storing discharged batteries can cause significant damage to the battery, reducing its lifespan and capacity. Storing fully charged batteries can also cause damage, plus it is a bit dangerous because LiPo batteries can start fires or even explode if they are punctured or smashed.
Anyway, the practical upshot of this is that it is unnecessary to wait around while the battery charges before finishing the remaining steps in this Instructable. You will need to charge the battery before flying though. The last step in this Instructable shows how to charge your battery.
Anyway, let's get started installing the battery. We need to remove the front part of the quadcopter shell so we can gain access to the inside of the quadcopter where the battery goes. First, pull off the camera cover. Then simply lift up the front of the shell and slide it forward to remove it from the quadcopter. Set the shell aside for now.
A long while ago we attached a Velcro strip to the top of the power distribution board. Before we can install the battery we need to apply mating Velcro strip to the battery. So remove the paper backing from the other Velcro strip and stick it to the battery.
Now, on the inside of the quadcopter, open up the Velcro strap. Then stick the battery to the Velcro strip inside the quadcopter with the connection cable facing forward. Fasten the Velcro strap over the battery and cinch it down nice and tight.
Finally, connect the XT60 connectors together. When you do this your quadcopter will come to life for the first time. You should see the light from the LED indicator shining from the back of the quadcopter. Cool! We will need the battery plugged in to program the flight controller, which we will start doing in the next step.
Now just replace the quadcopter shell using the procedure from the previous step.
Step 40: Install the Naza M Lite Driver
In the next step we are going to connect the Naza M Lite inside our quadcopter to a computer to begin configuring the settings needed to make the quadcopter fly. Before we can connect the flight controller to the computer though we will need to install a driver (if you are using a Mac you can skip this step).
The Naza M Lite driver is available for download from the DJI website. After downloading the file, simply run the .exe to install the Naza M Lite driver.
Now your computer knows how to communicate with the Naza M Lite.
Step 41: Install Assistant Software
We are now officially done assembling the Quanum Venture quadcopter (except for attaching the propellers for safety reasons). But before the quadcopter can fly we need to set up the Naza M Lite and the radio transmitter. In this step we will begin the process of setting up the flight controller and the first thing we need to do is get the DJI Assistant software.
After we connect the Naza M Lite to a computer we will use the DJI Assistant software to set up all of the parameters used to make the quadcopter fly. The Assistant software is a really nice. It offers an easy-to-use graphical user interface for setting up the flight controller.
We will start the Naza M Lite setup process by downloading and installing the DJI Assistant software. The software is available for download from the DJI websitefrom the DJI website. There is a version of the software for Windows and for Mac OS X. I will be using the Windows version in this Instructable but the Mac version works the same way, it just looks slightly different.
After downloading the software, simply install it on your computer.
When the installer finishes, launch the Assistant software.
Step 42: Connect the Naza M Lite Via USB
When we launch the DJI Assistant software it will ask us to connect the Naza M Lite, so let's do that. Recall that the Naza M Lite connects to a computer via USB. The flight controller includes the necessary USB cable.
The USB port for the Naza M Lite is not found on the flight controller itself. Rather, the USB port is found on the LED indicator. We mounted the LED indicator in a strategic place on the Quanum Venture quadcopter frame. Its position, as we discussed when we installed the LED indicator, allows the light from the unit to shine out the bottom of the craft through a hole in the bottom shell. But there is another reason we mounted the LED indicator in its present location. There is a hole in the side of the lower shell that gives us access to the USB port. This is really handy because it allows us to avoid taking apart the quadcopter to set up the flight controller.
So insert the USB cable through the hole in the side of the lower shell and plug it into the port on the LED indicator. Then click OK in the Assistant software dialog box.
The first screen you should be looking at in the Assistant software is the View page. This screen will be really handy later on when we are tuning the quadcopter. The View page gives us an overview of most of the important settings for the Naza M Lite. Right now there isn't a lot of useful information on this page because we haven't configured anything yet.
There are two things we need to check now though before moving on. First, in the lower left corner of the Assistant software window (lower right for the Mac version) you will notice two lights. The left light should be green, indicating that the Naza M Lite is connected to the software. Second, the LED indicator on the quadcopter should also be green, which also indicates a connection has been established.
Now that we have the flight controller connected and Assistant software running we can begin configuring the Naza M Lite.
Step 43: Select Multirotor Type
There are a number of settings we will need to configure before our quadcopter will fly correctly. Some settings will be set in the DJI Assistant software we are using right now, other settings will be configured on the radio transmitter, and for some settings we will need to work with the software and transmitter at the same time. The process of configuring the software on the flight controller and radio transmitter can sometimes be a bit intimidating. Particularly on the transmitter side there are often very few words written in plain English and, as always, documentation for the configuration process is extremely sparse. So, over the next few steps I will be breaking down the setup process into individual chunks and I will also try to explain what the different settings do, not just what numbers to plug in. I think it is essential for troubleshooting to know how the system is working.
So with that, let's get started configuring the flight controller and radio transmitter.
Set Multirotor Type in the DJI Assistant Software
The DJI Assistant software has a fairly intuitive navigation scheme. Along the top of the screen, you will notice a series of tabs: Basic, Advanced, Tools, Upgrade, Info. Under each of these tabs there is a sub-menu of smaller tabs containing more granular settings. The organization of information in the software is fairly well though out. We will be working through the main tabs and sub-tabs in order.
The first setting we need to configure is probably the most basic of all, the type of multirotor we are flying. The different types of multirotor have different settings that need to be configured, so selecting the proper multirotor type will determine how all our other configuration steps work. Click on the Basic menu and notice how four smaller tabs appear underneath the main menu. We will be working with the first one, Aircraft.
You will notice a selection of all the different multirotor types the Naza M Lite can be used to control. You will probably notice, however, that none really look like the Quanum Venture. The Quanum Venture is a H-style quadcopter, not a + or X style, which are the options available in the DJI Assistant software.
But don't worry, we can still use the Naza M Lite to control the Quanum Venture by selecting the second aircraft in the list, the X-style quadcopter. The flight controller doesn't actually care one bit about how our quadcopter's arms are arranged, all it cares about is the layout of the motors, which is the same for a X-style quadcopter as it is for a H-style quadcopter.
Step 44: Set GPS Module Mounting Location
Now select the next sub-tab in the Basic menu, the Mounting tab. This page allows us to let the flight controller know where the GPS/compass module is mounted on the frame. The Naza M Lite uses the GPS/compass module sense its position and heading. Therefore, it is very important that the flight controller know where the GPS itself is located on the quadcopter's frame. For example, if the GPS module were mounted 5cm behind the flight controller (it is on the Quanum Venture), the flight controller can figure out the true position of the quadcopter from the GPS reading by adding 5cm to the X position.
In the lower-left corner of the screen, you will find three input areas for configuring the GPS position, one for the X position, one for the Y position, and one for the Z position. The origin point for these numbers is the center of the flight controller. We will need to do some simple measurements to determine what numbers to input here.
Measure the Position of the GPS Module
In order to figure out the position of the GPS module relative to the flight controller, we will need to take some measurements. I think it is difficult to take measurements directly from the flight controller because there is bunch of stuff in the way, so we will be making a simple drawing of our quadcopter to make the process easier.
So first place the quadcopter on some surface on which you can draw. I simply spread some brown packing paper onto a table so I could draw with markers. With the quadcopter on your drawing surface, make a dot underneath each of the four feet. Next, looking at the side of the quadcopter, place a dot on each side of the quadcopter's body where the GPS module is located. The end goal here is to connect these two dots with a line to figure out the X position of the GPS module.
With these dots on the drawing surface, you can take away your quadcopter and set it aside for a moment. Using a straight edge, connect the dots you placed under the quadcopter's feet. Connect the dots on opposing corners so you get a big X on your drawing surface. The intersection of these two lines is the center of the quadcopter, which is where the flight controller is mounted. Then, connect the two dots you made to mark the position of the GPS module.
Now it is time to measure. Using units of centimeters, measure from the center of the quadcopter to the GPS module line. Go back over to your computer and input -5cm in the first box to set the X position of the GPS module.
The next number, the Y position, is really easy. The flight controller and the GPS module both sit exactly on the center line of the quadcopter. Therefore they have the same Y position. Input zero into the second box.
Finally we need to figure out the Z position of the GPS module. I ended up measuring this very carefully with a digital calipers, I was not able to figure out an easier way to take this measurement. To save you a bit of trouble, the Z position of the GPS module is 7cm. Input -7cm into the third box on the Basic > Mounting page.
Step 45: Calibrate the Transmitter Sticks
Now move to the next sub-tab in the DJI Assistant software, the RC tab. This tab is where we will be spending the vast majority of our time calibrating the flight controller and radio transmitter. I am going to split this page into two different steps. In this step we will be calibrating the communication between the flight controller sticks and the radio receiver. The, in the next step, we will be calibrating the action of the switches on the radio transmitter.
About the RC Settings
Let's start with a bit of background about what exactly we will be configuring in this step. First, there are several different technologies for communicating between the flight controller and the radio receiver. You can see those options in the first configuration group on the RC settings page: traditional, D-Bus, and PPM. Our receiver uses the "traditional" mode of communication, which means we have one wire per channel connecting the radio receiver and the Naza M Lite.
Now for the more complicated part. You have two sticks on your radio transmitter, each of which can move in two directions, for a total of four control channels:
- Right stick left/right = aileron (A)
- Right stick up/down = elevator (E)
- Left stick up/down = throttle (T)
- Left stick left/right = rudder (R)
Each of these channels has some range of output from the radio transmitter. However, the problem is, the flight controller doesn't know what that range is. Do the sticks go from 0 to 100? From 0 to 1000? From -100 to 100? So the first thing we need to do is calibrate the channels so the flight controller knows the minimum and maximum values for each channel.
What we are trying to accomplish here is making sure that when the transmitter sticks are in their lowest position, the Naza M Lite reads the minimum value, and when the sticks are in their maximum positions, the Naza M Lite should read the maximum value. We don't want, for example, the flight controller to max out a control channel when the stick in only half way to the top. We don't want to have to move the stick a quarter of the way up its movement range before the flight controller starts recognizing the command. The calibration process will allow the flight controller to figure out the maximum and minimum (and middle) values for each channel.
Calibrate the Transmitter Sticks
Now that we understand the objective of this process, let's calibrate the transmitter sticks. This is a simple process with the Naza M Lite.
First, at the top of the page, make sure you have the Traditional options selected. Then, try moving the sticks around on your radio transmitter. You should see the little chevron icons in the middle of the page start moving around.
Below this graph, click the Start button. When you do this, the chevrons will start flying around the screen like crazy. Stay calm. Take your transmitter and move each channel to its minimum and maximum values. Just flip the sticks around and in circles so the flight controller recognizes their full range of motion. Then, put all the sticks to their center positions. The right stick is spring-loaded and will return to the center when you release it. For the left stick, the rudder is spring-loaded to the center, but you will need to put the throttle channel at the center manually. There are some tick marks on the sides of the sticks, use these to place the left stick in the center.
Then, click the Finish button, which is the same button as the Start button from earlier. If everything went well, all the chevrons should be in the middle of their respective bars and they should be green. If the chevrons are way off their central positions, try the calibration process again.
If the chevrons are just slightly off the center, we can use the transmitter trim buttons to correct this. Take a look at the transmitter. You will notice that next to each stick there are two buttons, one vertical and one horizontal. These buttons are used to move the control outputs of the sticks slightly. If, for example, your rudder channel is slightly to the left of center when the stick is in the middle, push the button below the left stick to the right a few times and you should see the chevron move into position.
Check Stick Directions
There is one last thing to do and then we will be finished calibrating the transmitter sticks. We need to make sure the sticks move the controls in the correct directions. This is an easy step.
We will check the directional of each stick individually. So, starting with the aileron controls (left stick left/right), move the stick back and forth and make sure the chevron moves in the correct direction. It should move left when you move the stick to the left and move right when you move the stick to the right.
Now, if the chevron moves in the wrong direction, there are two places where we could switch the direction. We could change the transmitter settings in the Menu > Setup List > Reverse options, otherwise, in the DJI Assistant software we can simply click the Norm/Rev button to switch the direction. I think it is better to use the DJI Assistant software because it is much easier. Plus, some pilots like to invert certain controls. It is a bit like playing an FPS game on a console; some gamers like to invert certain controls, like up/down motion, which is equivalent to the elevator control. The DJI Assistant software is a simple way to customize your control directions in case you want to experiment with inverting certain controls.
Repeat that procedure with all of the other sticks. The only stick that must move in a particular direction is the throttle stick. Make certain the throttle stick is to the far left when at the bottom and far right when at the top.
Step 46: Reverse the GEAR Switch Direction
At the end of the previous step, we made sure all of the sticks were traveling in the directions we wanted. There is one more control though that we will need to reverse, the GEAR switch. The next step, which is the longest in this entire Instructable, will discuss the functions of the GEAR switch in great detail, but before we get to that step, we need to change the direction of the switch. The GEAR switch is used to select flight modes for the Naza M Lite, and it has to be reversed in order to work properly.
Unlike the control sticks, however, there is no option in the DJI Assistant software to reverse the direction of the switch. Therefore, we will need to use the settings in the radio transmitter.
- From the DX6i main menu, select the last item in the menu, SETUP LIST
- Scroll down and select REVERSE
- This screen allows us to reverse the directions of any of the controls, We want to reverse the direction of the GEAR switch, so scroll down to the GEAR option and change the option to R.
Step 47: Calibrate the Flight Mode Switches
This step contains what is by far the most confusing part of the entire flight controller/radio transmitter calibration process. Here is the situation: the Naza M Lite has four different flight modes, three of which we will be using in this Instructable (attitude mode, GPS attitude mode, and failsafe), the problem is, the channel we are using to control the flight modes (the U channel on the Naza M Lite) is connected to a two-position switch. So we are trying to use a two-position switch to select among three flight modes. How do we do this? How can we get three options out of a two-position switch?
Well, the answer is, we cannot select three different options with a two-position switch using the hardware alone. However, we can make use the the transmitter software to solve this problem using a combination of features: programmable mixing, travel adjustment, and sub trim. Be forewarned, programmable mixing is complicated and difficult to understand. Just try doing a Google search for explanations on how radio transmitter channel mixing works, I can virtually guarantee you will be quite confused. Setting up the switches on the DX6i or other transmitters that lack three-position switches is by far the most conceptually difficult part of using the Naza M Lite. The other features though, travel adjustment and sub trim are, thankfully, much easier to understand.
Don't be intimidated though, the settings are really not all that confusing. Let's start by examining the situation with the default settings on the DX6i. Remember that the GEAR switch (left bumper) is connected to the U channel on the flight controller so the GEAR switch will be used to select mode.
Open the Basic>RC settings in the DJI Assistant software and observe what happens when you flip the switch back and forth. You will notice that with the switch in the 0 position the flight mode chevron will be below the bottom of the bar and the flight controller will be in failsafe mode. Flip the switch and the chevron will jump to the second failsafe area. So, no matter how you flip the switch, the flight controller will always be in failsafe mode. This is not good because if the flight controller is always in failsafe mode, it will never lift off the ground.
What's going on here is that the range between the minimum and maximum values of the GEAR switch is too wide. In the DJI Assistant software, take a look at the range between the GPS area and the Atti. area; it is quite a bit narrower than the range between the minimum and maximum values of the GEAR switch. So, the first step in making the flight mode selection work is reducing the range between the minimum and maximum values of the GEAR switch.
We will do this using the Travel Adjust function. The travel adjust feature allows us to change the range between the maximum and minimum values of a control. That is exactly what we want to do here! To begin with, make sure to flip your GEAR switch to the down (0) position. Now, it takes a bit of experimentation to figure out workable numbers, but in the transmitter's TRAVEL ADJ screen, reduce the GEAR setting to 80%. Now go back into the DJI Assistant software and try flipping the GEAR switch back and forth again.
You will notice that the chevron doesn't move so far this time. In fact, it travels 20% less distance than it did before. It almost looks like the distance between the maximum and minimum values matches the distance between the GPS area and the Atti. area, right? But we have another problem, the chevron should now be flipping between the two failsafe areas. What we need to do now is just move the entire range over so it matches up with the GPS and Atti. areas. Well we will use another feature to accomplish this, the Sub Trim feature.
Sub trim is basically used to literally trim the off the bottom of the control range, or it can be used to add some to the bottom of the control range. You can think of the Sub Tim feature as a way to move the entire range of control inputs up or down. Imagine that, this is exactly what we want to do again! So, the second step in making the flight mode selection work is reducing the sub trim level of the GEAR switch.
So go in to the DX6i menu again and select SUB TRIM. We are interested in adjusting the sub trim for the GEAR switch. Again, the proper setting are determined by experimentation, but here you can easily see how we figure out what values to use. Keep your eyes on the DJI Assistant software while you decrease the sub trim level for the GEAR switch (we are reducing the value because we want the entire control range to move left). You should notice the chevron moving to the left! If you flip the switch you will notice that both ends of the control range are moving. Set the sub trim level to ↓ 35.
Now if you flip the GEAR switch, the chevron should switch between the GPS and Atti. positions. Congratulations, you've just manged to do what many, many pilots have great difficult accomplishing.
But we are not done quite yet because there is a third flight control mode we want the ability to activate, failsafe mode. Why would we want to manually trigger failsafe mode you ask? Well, as you will learn more about in the next step, we can program the flight controller to do something really cool when it enters failsafe mode. Since the Naza M Lite is equipped with a GPS module, when it enters failsafe mode it can automatically fly right back to where it lifted off and land at your feet. Failsafe mode is normally used if the flight controller loses contact with the radio transmitter. Failsafe modes allows the quadcopter to fly safely back to its starting position when it loses a radio signal, rather than just crashing which is what many other quadcopters would do.
Here is the situation discussed at the beginning on this step, how do we get our two-position switch to activate a third option. Well, we will use yet another feature of the DX6i called programmable mixing (usually just called mixing, or even just mix). Mixing basically allows us to change two controls manipulating only one switch or stick on the transmitter. Programmable mixing is used for all kinds of things. One common use is to increase a quadcopter's throttle when moving forward to compensate for a loss of downward thrust. You see, when a quadcopter is level, all its thrust is directed downward, holding the quadcopter up in the air. But, when you make the quadcopter move forward, some of the thrust is directed sideways, leaving less facing downward, so the quadcopter will lose altitude. You could use programmable mixing to say, "when I push forward on the elevator stick, automatically increase the throttle by 5%" So in this situation you would be controlling both the elevator and throttle with one stick movement. That's what programmable mixing does.
How does that help us make our switch select a third flight mode? Well, we are going to do something a little interesting with our programmable mixing. By the way, this is one of the most confusing concepts in all of quadcopter piloting, so just take your time and read though this paragraph a few times if necessary. We will be mixing the GEAR switch with itself. What this says to the radio transmitter is "when I flip the GEAR switch to the down position, increase the GEAR switch by 50%." You can see this is a lot like the previous scenario with elevator/throttle mixing. We are still using one control input to affect the output of another control input, but in this case both control inputs are the same (see why this is confusing). The most important part of this technique is that we will be able to use another switch, in our case the FLAP switch, to turn on and off this mix.
So, when the FLAP switch is in the 0 position (up), then the programmable mixing will be turned off and the GEAR switch will function exactly as it did before when we only configured the travel adjust and sub trim features. With the FLAP switch at 0 and the mix turned off, the GEAR switch will flip between GPS mode and Attitude mode just like normal. However, when the FLAP switch is in the 1 position, the mix will be enabled. With the mix enabled, when the GEAR switch is in the 1 position, Attitude mode is still selected because the mix does not affect the maximum value of the control. However, when the FLAP switch is in the 1 position and the mix is enabled, when we flip the GEAR switch to the 0 position, the programmable mix will increase the GEAR value by 50%, which will kick the value below the bottom of the range and trigger failsafe. So, in summary, the third step in making the flight the flight controller mode selection work is configuring a programmable mix that pushes the GEAR value to a failsafe position.
Let's get stared configuring our programmable mix. The DX6i can actually be programmed with two mixes, but we only need one for today, so from the main menu, select MIX 1. Initially you will only see one thing on the screen, an acronym reading "INH." Click and change this value to "ACT" and you will see all the mix settings appear. Configure the options according to the figure below. There are three important settings here. First, the first line of the settings lists the master swtich and the slave switch. The mix works by changing the value of the slave mix when the master mix changes. In this case, as discussed above, the slave and master are the same switch, so the gear switch will basically change its own value. Second, the RATE D option determines by how much to change the value when the switch is in the down position. This is another example of the value determined through experimentation, but a value of 50% will work fine here. Last we have the SW field. This setting determines the switch used to turn the mix on and off. You can use any of the switches on the DX6i, but I will be using the FLAP switch.
Let's return to the DJI Assistant software. We can now select three different flight modes using a combination of the GEAR switch and the FLAP switch. Our flight mode selection will work with the following patterns:
|0 (up)||0 (down)||GPS Attitude|
|1 (down)||0 (down)||Failsafe|
|0 (up)||1 (up)||Attitude|
|1 (down)||1 (up)||Attitude|
Congratulations, we have some work still to do before the quadcopter is finished, but making the NAZA M Lite flight modes work with the DX6i is something many quadcopter pilots have great difficulty accomplishing. After this long and confusing step, we can now more or less coast to the completion of this project.
Step 48: Set Failsafe Mode
After that last step you will be happy to know this step is quite a bit more straightforward. In this step we will set the action we wish the Naza M Lite to take when it enters failsafe mode.
What is Failsafe Mode?
With most flight controllers, if the radio transmitter and receiver loose their connection, the quadcopter will simply turn off and fall out of the sky. Needless to say, this is not an ideal situation because it could obviously result in significant damage to your quadcopter. Failsafe mode is an extremely useful feature of the Naza M Lite that leverages the GPS capabilities of the flight controller. Instead of just plummeting to the ground, failsafe mode will allow our Quanum Venture quadcopter to descend in a controlled and safe way.
The Naza M Lite can enter failsafe mode in two circumstances. First, of course, the Naza M Lite will enter failsafe mode is if the radio transmitter and receiver loose their connection. Second, we can manually set the Naza M Lite flight controller to failsafe mode using the transmitter; this is what we worked so hard in the previous step to configure. With the flight controller in GPS mode, we can flip the FLAP switch to put the flight controller into failsafe mode. We will discuss in a second why we want to be able to set the Naza M Lite to failsafe mode manually.
Failsafe Mode Behaviors
There are two different behaviors that we can configure the Naza M Lite to take when it enters failsafe mode under either of the circumstances described above. It all starts when the quadcopter lifts off. When the quadcopter first ascends from the ground, the Naza M Lite will talk to the GPS/compass module to save the launch position. The horizontal position of takeoff and the altitude of the takeoff position is saved; this position is called "home". The simpler behavior is "Landing." With the landing behavior, as you can probably guess from the name, the Naza M Lite will execute a controlled landing when the flight controller enters failsafe mode. The flight controller will initially hover the quadcopter for 10 seconds to allow some time for the connection between the radio transmitter and the radio receiver to be reestablished or for the pilot to manually exit failsafe mode. After the ten-second delay, the Naza M Lite will use data from the GPS module to gently (hopefully) land the quadcopter.
The second failsafe behavior is a bit more complex, but also really, really cool. Instead of simply descending straight down to the ground and landing, the Naza M Lite can autonomously fly the quadcopter back to the launch position and then gently land at your feet, this is the "Return to Home" (RTH) behavior. This is a fantastic capability because it not only helps to ensure your quadcopter is not destroyed in the event that radio communication is lost, but also it means your quadcopter will not get lost. Like with the Landing behavior, the RTH maneuver begins with a ten-second delay. Then, the quadcopter will ascend to an altitude of 20 meters if it is not already above that altitude when the Naza M Lite enters failsafe mode. This is done to minimize the chance of the quadcopter crashing into a tree or something on its way back, which could happen if the quadcopter simply flew straight back to the lift-off position at low altitude. Once the quadcopter is hovering directly over the home position, it slowly descends to the ground and lands the same way it does with the Landing behavior.
Configuring Failsafe Mode
Now that you understand failsafe mode, let's configure it. The process is simple. First, select the Advanced tab at the top of the screen. Then, select the F/S sub-tab. You will notice two radio buttons, one for each of the failsafe behaviors described above. Landing mode means the quadcopter will hover for 10 second and then land. Go-home and Landing mode means the quadcopter will hover for 10 seconds, ascend to an altitude of 20m, fly back to the home position, and then land. You can chose either option, but I generally select Go-home and Landing because it is a bit more useful and I don't want to go hunt down my quadcopter if I ever lose the radio signal (which I never have).
Also, the Go-home and Landing mode is really nice for flying FPV. When you are flying with FPV it can be easy to lose track of where exactly your quadcopter is located. Although you should not fly out of line-of-sight contact with your quadcopter, even when flying with FPV, the quadcopter is still a fairly small object flying around in the sky. If you are flying FPV and just want to bring your quadcopter back home without too much effort, you can flip the FLAP switch to force the Naza M Lite into failsafe mode. The quadcopter will then fly back and land at your feet. This is also a good way to impress onlookers.
Step 49: Attach Battery and Antenna to Fat Shark Goggles
We have the FPV transmission system in our Quanum Venture quadcopter all set up already. We've mounted the camera, connected it to the transmitter, and connected the FPV system to power. Now we need to do some simple setup for the receiving end of the FPV system, the Fat Shark Teleporter V3 goggles. We will need to connect the antenna and the battery to the goggles.
It should be very obvious where the antenna needs to be plugged in on the Teleporter V3 goggles. On the front-left side of the goggles there is a gold screw connector just like the one on the FPV transmitter inside the Quanum Venture frame. So, take the Fat Shark antenna and screw it in to the goggles.
The battery connects to the Fat Shark goggles with a barrel jack connector. The female connector on the goggles is located on right side, next to the elastic strap. Just so you are aware, the Teleporter V3 goggles do not have a power switch so as soon as you connect the battery, the goggles will be powered on. So, simply plug the barrel jack on the battery into the mating jack on the goggles.
You are probably now wondering what to do with the battery that is now hanging off the side of the goggles. Well, if you take a look at the battery, you will notice that it curves inward on the sides. Then, take a look at the elastic strap; there is a loop on the right side of the Teleporter V3 elastic strap. You can slip the battery into this loop, there the strap will slip into the curved sides of the battery to hold it in place.
Set the Goggles to Receive FPV Signal
This is a good time to test that your FPV goggles are set up correctly to receive the signal from the the FPV transmitter. This is not too difficult. The radio transmitter inside the quadcopter can transmit on seven different channels, each of which has a slightly different radio frequency. I just stuck with channel one, which is the channel you should be using as well unless you flipped the DIP switches on the transmitter board. Anyway, you just need to make certain the Fat Shark goggles are set to channel one as well.
So, plug the battery into both the Teleporter V3 goggles and the power distribution board inside the quadcopter so both systems are active. Then, put on your FPV goggles. If you are seeing just static, use the channel down button, located on the top of the goggles, until you can see the FPV image.
As an unrelated troubleshooting step, if you are seeing just a blue screen in your goggles, not static, your goggles may be set to receive an external signal. This is used if you are using an external FPV receiver instead of the one built into the goggles. There is a little switch on the bottom-left side of the goggles that switches between an external signal and the internal FPV receiver. Just flip that switch and you should be good to go.
Step 50: Attach the Propellers
The time has finally come to take the last step in making our Quanum Venture quadcopter a fully operational flying machine. The last components we need to install are the propellers. Just before we begin the process of mounting the propellers, I want to make a quick note about safety. Never, ever, ever work on your quadcopter while the propellers are in place and the battery is attached. While the motors are at speed the propellers are just like blades and can cause horrific injuries when they hit flesh. I am not going to post any images here because they can be very graphic but if you have a strong stomach you can find plenty with a simple image search. Always remove your battery and/or propellers before doing any work on your quadcopter.
Anyway, now that we are finished assembling the quadcopter, we can safety attach the propellers. The first thing to know is that we have two types of propellers: propellers that spin clockwise, and propellers that spin counterclockwise.
Why do we use propellers that spin in opposite directions? When assembling and programming multirotors, we set up the motors so that each motor spins in the opposite direction than its neighbors. We use this rotational configuration to neutralize, or cancel out, each motor’s tendency to make the multirotor rotate. If we were to have all the propellers spinning in the same directions, the quadcopter would just spin wildly out of control and we would be unable to fly.
Mounting the Propellers
Alright, let's mount the propellers. The first thing to do is take the nuts and the washers off each of the four propeller mounts on the motors.
Next, if you try to place one of the propellers directly on one of the motors, you will notice that the fit is not very snug. Included with the propellers are adapters for mating the large hole in the center of the propellers with the smaller screws on the motors. The next thing to do is attach the propeller adapters to the motors. You will need to figure out which adapters to use empirically,as they are not labeled. Once you've identified the correctly-sized adapters, place one onto each of the motor's propeller mounts.
Now you can go ahead and place a propeller onto each motor. It is important to match the propellers with the rotational directions of the motors. If you take a close look at the propellers, you will notice some writing near their centers. You will need to look for labels that say either "8x4.5L" or "8x4.5R." The "R" and "L" at the end of these labels denote the rotational direction of the propellers. The "R" propellers spin clockwise and the "L" propellers spin counterclockwise. Match up the propellers and motors according to the diagram above.
Finally, replace the washer onto each motor, followed by the nut. Tighten the nut very snug to ensure it does not come loose during flight.
Step 51: Register Your Quadcopter
In the United States, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is the agency responsible for overseeing the country’s civil aviation infrastructure. The FAA is primarily responsible for ensuring that the United States’ aviation systems are safe for the American people. Its mission statement reads, “Our continuing mission is to provide the safest, most efficient aerospace system in the world.”
The explosive growing in the popularity of multirotor aircraft in recent years brings along with it legal questions, and sometimes legal conflict concerning how multirotor aircraft can be used in a way that is safe for the American public. On December 14, 2015, the FAA took an important step towards its goal of making sure multirotor aircraft owners operate their aircraft in a safe and legal way. As of this date, all multirotor aircraft operating in the United States and weighing more than 250 grams (about 0.55 pounds) must be registered with the FAA before their first flight.
If you own more than one multirotor aircraft, a single registration, and a single registration payment, will cover all of your aircraft.
FAA UAS Registration Rules
- If you already own a multirotor aircraft, you have until February 19, 2016 to register. Registration is free for the first 30 days.
- If you purchase or build your multirotor after December 21, 2015, you must register before your first flight.
- You must be 13 years old to register. If you are under 13 years old, someone else must register the multirotor for you.
- Registration costs just $5 (but is free for the first 30 days).
- Registration is good for three years
How to Register your Quadcopter
Registering your multirotor is quick and easy (and unlike what you might expect, the FAA has done a great job with the website design). Registration is done on the FAA's website: https://registermyuas.faa.gov/.
First you need to create an account with an email address and password. After creating the account, you will receive an email to validate your registration.
The registration form itself is simple. You just need to provide your name, address, and a credit card.
After you register your multirotor, you will receive a unique registration number. This number must be placed somewhere on your multirotor that does not require any tools to view.
Step 52: Appendix A: Charge the Battery
Connect Battery to Charger
Battery technology is great, as it allows us to bring a portable power source anywhere we go, including high into the sky. The unfortunate downside to battery technology is that batteries go flat after being used for a while; you already know this. Never fear though, this appendix to the Quanum Venture quadcopter build Instructable will show you how to safely charge your batteries using the Accucel-6 charger.
The first step is to connect your battery to the charger. So, remove your battery from the quadcopter frame by undoing the Velcro strap and then lifting the battery off the Velcro strip. You should always remove your battery from your quadcopter before charging it; just in case something crazy happens, like the battery catches fire, you defiantly do not want your entire quadcopter to go with it. Take a look at your battery and you will notice that there are two sets of wires coming out one end: the thick red/black set that we use to connect the battery to the quadcopter, and a set of four thinner colored wires with a thin plug at the end. We will plug both sets of wires into the Accucel-6 charger.
First, included with the charger were several wire adapters with red and black plugs on one end, and a variety of connectors on the other end. Locate the adapter with an XT60 plug on the end, this is the plug that matches the yellow plug on the battery. Next, on the right side of the Accucel-6, you will notice a red port and a black port. Connect the red and black plugs on the battery adapter into the matching colored ports on the Accucel-6. Now plug the XT60 plugs on the battery and on the battery adapter together.
Now let’s plug in the set of colored wires from the battery.Take a look at the right side of the Accucel-6 again and you will notice a bank of white female connectors with pins in them. Notice that each connector has a different number of pins. Now shift your attention to the group of four colored wires from the battery, notice that the connector at the end has four male pins. You can probably guess what we’ll do next. Connect the white battery plug to the slot on the Accucel-6 that has four pins. Just FYI, this little plug is extremely important. This is the balance plug and it gives the battery charger information about the relative charging rates and total charge of the battery's three cells. It is of utmost importance that the three cells in the battery are charged at the same rate and to the same capacity. An unbalanced LiPo battery is very dangerous because it can start on fire as one or more of the cells becomes over discharged. The balance plug will ensure this doesn't happen.
With the battery connected to the Accucel-6 charger, we now need to set up the charger to use the correct settings for charging our battery. Before we begin this process, I want to make a very important safety note: it is absolutely imperative that you use the correct settings for charging your battery. Failure to charge the battery with the correct settings could result in damage to the battery, the charger, or even catastrophic failure of the battery which could result in a fire/explosion. Also, during charging, always put your battery in a LiPo bag, which is a fire-proof bag designed to contain any battery failure. You should also never leave a battery unattended while it is charging.
I certainly do not wish to scare you with this information, but lithium polymer batteries are capable of high discharge rates and are made with some pretty volatile ingredients, like lithium, and it is important to be safe. In reality, if you handle, charge, and discharge the batteries with some care, you will be just fine. LiPo batteries almost never fail the way you see in some videos on YouTube. So with the safety information out of the way, lets get started setting up the Accucel-6 to charge our battery. First, we will need to gather some information about the battery, which should be printed on the battery’s label, otherwise you can obtain information from the manufacturer’s documentation. The information we will need is: the number of cells in the battery, the voltage of the battery, and the maximum charge current of the battery. For the Turnigy 2200mAh 3S 20C Lipo Pack used in the Quanum Venture quadcopter tutorial, the information we will need is as follows:
Number of cells: 3
Maximum charge current: 2.2 Amps
The first two pieces of information here, the number of cells and the voltage of the battery are easy to find, they are written right on the battery label. The third bit of information, the maximum charge rate, requires a little bit of math to figure out though, which I will take a moment to explain.
First of all, calculating the maximum charging current requires two other pieces of information: the battery’s capacity, and the maximum charging rate of the battery. The battery’s capacity is written right on the battery label. The battery’s capacity is expressed in units of milliamp hours (mAh), which basically describes how much power a battery can supply for how long. The capacity of the battery used in the Quanum Venture quadcopter tutorial is 2200mAh. As for the maximum charge rate for the battery, the maximum safe charge rate for our LiPo battery is 1C. Here, the C stands for Coulombs, which is basically a unit of electrical charge. This is probably a slower rate that you could technically pump into the battery, but we want to make absolutely certain that the battery does not start on fire, so we will go with the safe rate of 1C.
From the battery’s capacity, and the maximum charge rate of 1C, we can calculate the maximum charging current of our battery. First of all though, charging current is expressed in units of Amps. To find the maximum charging current for our battery, we will multiply the battery’s capacity in amp-hours by the maximum charging rate in coulombs. First, move the decimal point in the 2200mAh capacity listed on the battery label three spots to the left to convert from milliamp hours to amp hours. We end up with 2.2Ah. So, multiplying this figure by the maximum charging capacity of 1C, we end up with a maximum charging current of 2.2A.
So now that we did all that work and all that math (it wasn't too bad actually), I am going to tell you that, unless you are in a big hurry, you should probably not charge the battery at the full 2.2A charging current. It will prolong the life of the battery if you charge at a lower rate. So in this tutorial we will use a charging current of 1A.
Now let’s finally get to programming the Accucel-6. First of all, plug in your 12V power adapter to the plug on the left side of the Accucel-6. As soon as you connect the power, the Accucel-6 will emit a loud beep. You should get used to these extremely loud beeps as the charger will be deeping a lot in the next few minutes. After the Turnigy splash screen goes away, you will be presented with a screen with “PROGRAM SELECT” in the first line and a battery type in the second line. If the battery type listed in the second line is anything but “LiPo BATT,” press the leftmost “Type” button to change the battery type. Once you have “LiPo BATT” in the second line, press the right-most “Enter” button.
On the next screen, the first line lists what action the Accucel-6 is taking. The device is capable of charging the battery, balancing the battery, fast-charging the battery, storing the battery, and discharging the battery. These functions are all useful and some are covered in other tutorials around the Internet, but for now, use the middle two arrow buttons to select “LiPo CHARGE” since we are interested in charging the battery right now.
The second line lists settings for the charging process, from left to right the settings are:
(battery cell count)
To change these settings, press the Enter button. The charging current setting should now be flashing. Use the arrow buttons to set the charging current to 1.0A. Now press the Enter button again to select the battery voltage/cell count setting. Use the arrow buttons again until “11.1V(3S)” is selected.
With the correct settings applied, we are finally ready to charge the battery.
Charge the Battery
To start the charging process, hold the Enter button for three seconds. The Accucel-6 will beep a few times and then it will check the battery. After a couple seconds, a you will be presented with a new screen. The first line lists the settings you entered on the right, and the settings detected by the Accucel-6 on the left. If these settings do not match, press the leftmost “Back” button to return to the previous screen and double-check your settings. Otherwise, if the settings on the top line to match, press the Enter button to start charging.
The Accucel-6 will display the status of the charging progress. It lists the battery type and cell count, the current charging current, the current battery voltage, the charging time, and the battery capacity. Now you just need to wait for the battery to finish charging. Remember never to leave the battery unattended while charging. If you have to leave before the charging process is complete, stop the process by pressing the left-most “Stop” button. Lithium polymer batteries do not have a “memory effect” so you can always finish charging the battery at a later time.
When the battery is done charging, the Accucel-6 will start beeping. First press the Stop button, and then disconnect the battery from the charger. Now you are ready to fly some more.
Step 53: Appendix B: Calibrating the Compass Module
How to Know When Compass Calibration is Needed
You may or many not find it necessary to calibrate your DJI compass module to achieve optimal flight performance. How do you know if calibration is needed? Well, a poorly calibrated compass will result in a distinctive (an amusingly named) flight pattern called the Toilet Bowl Effect (TBE). TBE behavior is when the quadcopter drifts around in a circle, tilted towards the center of the circle, while hovering.
You may not notice the quadcopter drifting around in a circle since the circle's radius might be too large to notice before you manually correct course. However, if you notice that, while hovering your quadcopter, it tends to consistently drift in the same direction, your first troubleshooting step should be calibrating the compass.
Compass Calibration Overview
The compass calibration procedure is not really a complicated one, it's just important to follow the procedure exactly or the calibration will fail. The only slight complication we will face is from the way we've set up the flight modes on the DX6i transmitter. Therefore, I think it will be useful to begin with an overview of the process before going through each of the steps.
For reasons that will be explained momentarily, we will need to be able to put the Naza M Lite into manual mode for the compass calibration. So the first thing we will do is modify one setting in the DX6i to let us select manual mode (remember that we originally configured the DX6i to only select Atti. mode and GPS Atti. mode). Next we will follow a specific procedure to put the Naza M Lite into compass calibration mode. Then we will perform the actual calibration by doing the "Compass Dance."
Adjust DX6i Settings to Select Manual Mode
If you followed the procedure in Step 47 to calibrate the DX6i flight mode switches, you will not be able to put the Naza M Lite into Manual mode. While we are flying this is a good thing; with a relatively large and heavy quadcopter like the Quanum Venture, putting the flight controller into manual mode would almost certainly result in a crash. However, as we will see shortly, we need the ability to select both GPS Atti. mode and Manual mode in order to put the Naza M Lite into compass calibration mode.
Here's what we will do; we will temporarily change the Travel Adjust settings on the DX6i transmitter to allow the GEAR switch to be used to select GPS Atti. mode and Manual mode. To do this we will follow a procedure similar to the one covered in Step 47. To begin, turn on your DX6i transmitter, connect the Quanum Venture battery, and plug the USB cable from your computer into the port on the LED indicator module. Then, open the DJI Assistant software.
In the DJI Assistant software, open Basic > RC. If you flip the GEAR switch back and forth, you should see the Control Mode Switch chevron switch between the GPS and Atti. positions. Set the GEAR switch in the upper position to select Atti. mode.
We want to move the chevron up to the Manual position. In the DX6i, open the main menu and select Travel Adjust. On the TRAVEL ADJ screen, the GEAR option should be set to 0%. Adjust that setting up to about 80%. While you increase this setting, you should see the GEAR chevron move upward, towards the Manual mode area.
When you are done, back out of the DX6i settings and go back to the home screen. Try flipping the GEAR switch back and forth; you should now be able to select either GPS or Manual mode. Now we will be able to put the Naza M Lite into compass calibration mode, so let's move on.
Enter Compass Calibration Mode
Placing the DJI Naza M Lite into compass calibration mode is easy but you do have to pay attention. So first of all, disconnect your Quanum Venture quadcopter from the computer if you still have it connected. Make sure your transmitter is on and the quadcopter battery is connected.
The LED DJI LED indicator should probably be flashing [long red, green] to denote that the Naza M Lite has not acquired any GPS satellites. This is to be expected if you are inside. To enter compass calibration mode you will need to flip the GEAR switch between GPS Atti. mode and Manual mode exactly 11 times. Each time you flip the switch down and then up counts as one flip. Note that the DJI Naza M Lite instructions say you need to flip the switch six to ten times to enter compass calibration but this does not work for anybody I've talked to. You need to flip the switch exactly 11 times fairly quickly.
You will know you have successfully entered compass calibration mode when the LED indicator lights solid yellow. You are now ready to do the "compass dance!"
Calibrate the Compass
The compass calibration process involves rotating your quadcopter in two different directions. People often refer to this as the "compass dance," or the "Naza dance," or "dancing the Naza."
Compass Horizontal Calibration
First we will calibrate the compass for horizontal (yaw) rotation. With the Naza M Lite in compass calibration mode, denoted by a solid yellow LED indicator, pick up your quadcopter and rotate it slowly about the yaw axis. Try to keep the quadcopter as level as possible and rotate the quadcopter at an even speed. When you complete a full 360° rotation, the LED indicator will turn green.
Compass Vertical Calibration
Next we will calibrate the compass with the quadcopter positioned vertically. Lift up the quadcopter to a vertical position. Then, slowly rotate the quadcopter through 360°. When you complete the rotation the Naza M Lite will automatically exit compass calibration mode and return to the mode selected by the GEAR switch. The LED indicator will return to its normal function.
Fix DX6i Travel Adjust Settings
Don't forget to revert the DX6i Travel Adjust setting back to their previous values. Follow the same procedure used above, making sure the GEAR switch is in the up (1) position, to reset the Travel Adjust for GEAR to 0%.
Flip the GEAR switch to verify you can again select GPS Atti. and Atti. mode.
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