Introduction: The 240 Class Laser Cut FPV Mini-Quadcopter!
Presenting the Ultra Durable 240 Race Spec Mini Quadcopter! It's the first frame in its class to have ESC shoulders which protect the ESCs in an event of a crash. It supports most of the action camera lineups like the Gopro hero4, RunCam hd2, Xiomi Yi etc on its head. With its mid-center of gravity it lets you roll and flip or for the matter of fact master any maneuver much faster when compared to any other competitor, thanks to its true wheel based geometry!
What makes this different than any other off the shelf frame you buy?
Okay let the expert explain, when you design your own race quad there is nothing like it. You have the powers to choose exactly where you want the mounting holes to be, little things like zip ties to hold your wires down or big things like the motor distances. Or maybe just an easy way to secure your mini-quad to your favorite backpack! implementing small features like this really goes a long way!
Thus, in this design I have incorporated most of these features making it extremely streamline and such a silky smooth build which snaps together like a jigsaw puzzle!
(Parts list and pictures are at the very end, be sure to check them out!)
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Step 1: Choosing the Right Electronics.
Choosing the right electronics is a key to success as in the world of drone racing and electronics there are many places where you can go completely wrong and your craft may not fly the way you expect it to.
One of the main places where people try to cut the price down while buying the Brushless Motors and ESC's (electronic speed controllers) which usually ends up in motor sync issues. Motor sync is extremely important due to the fact that these HIGH KV motors spin at such a fast rate and when either one goes out of synchronization the quad crashes just like synchronized dances where in if one dancer moves faster than the other the entire formation is ruined. Therefore Motor-ESC combination is extremely important. Take your time, be wise!
Choosing the best motors for your setup:
For Miniquads less 300 size motor to motor (in mm) a motor of greater 2000 kv should be used. Remember this that the smaller the quad the higher the KV. Higher the KV smaller the prop size. On average a 2300kv motor will take a prop between 4 inch to 6 inch and a 2700kv motor will run only a 3-5 inch prop, But remember when you run the quad on a higher voltage (4s Will come to batteries later) you should use a smaller prop size to reduce motor heating. If you run your motors hot for long periods of time your magnets in your motors will get demagnetized and will effectively reduce your thrust and performance.
Choosing the best ESC's for your setup:
Its pretty easy when it comes to ESC selection! Hehe not really, if you are a beginner and just getting into this world its pretty confusing the SimonK, the Blheli blah blah blah! Right now the ones to go with is the Blheli ESCs. They actually are better than the SimonK ESC's but a couple of years ago SimonK were the BEST you could ever have! Personally I would choose the FAVORITE LITTLE BEE ESCs because they just work!
Choosing the best flight controller for your setup:
It all boils down to the flight controller you are using because it is the one controlling the motors and processing every command more than a thousand times a second to give you the best flight performance. I am currently using the naze32 flight controller, it is a robust flight controller with everything integrated in a tiny package for an excellent price it does it's works really well with telemetry integrated for the FrSky Radio users.
Side Note: Telemetry is a one way communication between the aircraft and the pilot. Telemetry gives the pilot useful information such as the live Voltage, Compass heading, Altitude etc.
Choosing the right Video camera and video transmitter and receiver for FPV:
What is FPV? First-person view (FPV), also known as remote-person view (RPV), or simply video piloting, is a method used to control a radio-controlled vehicle from the driver or pilot's view point. Most commonly it is used to pilot a radio-controlled aircraft or other type of unmanned aerial vehicle or in this case the miniquad.
Its actually really easy to setup a FPV system its almost similar to setting up a playstation 1 to your TV system back in the day a pair of power wires and an analog video wire thats about it. But remember to buy 5.8ghz as you don't want it to interfere with your remote
Noways FPV goggles have really become cheaper and more affordable. You can get a really cheap one for as low as $29 and as high as $600 but all of them may not include the video transmitter and receiver. The new Hobbyking Quanum Cyclops or its competitor the Eachine EV800 is also a really good steal. Fatsharks can also be bought if you have that kind of budgetin that case see if it has a receiver built into it or else you will have to buy one separately. Or on the other hand you could also try using a NON-BLUESCREEN tft monitor if you want to maintain line of sight.
Now coming to FPV cameras: These are the guys who see the surroundings and send them through an analog signal to the transmitter on the aircraft. The transmitter on the aircraft then sends these signals through packets to its surroundings creating a bubble. If you are present with a receiver in this bubble you will be able to see an image on your goggles/monitor/tv. The vision you see depends mainly on the resolution of your camera and also the monitor. You will not notice any difference between a 600tvl or a 1000+tvl camera as the video transmitter and receiver become the limiting factors. Below 600tvl you may start noticing some difference. The hs1177 or the Runcam swift are the best bet for fpv cameras in the market today. The lens you choose also plays a major role as the wider the lens the more you can see! But choosing the widest lens may not always be the best option. You may choose a 2.1mm lens if you want extreme wideangle or you may choose a 2.8mm lens if you want a decent wide angle view.
Antenna: The Tbs triumph antennas are really good for the price its a must have. The AOMWAY 5.8G antennas are are also real good!
NOTE: DO NOT TURN ON A VIDEO TRANSMITTER WITHOUT AN ANTENNA! DON'T DO IT! JUST DON'T!
Choosing the right Radio Control.
for this build I an using a FrSky Taranis Plus with a XSR reciever. Or you could always go with the cheaper option of buying the FlySky FS-TH9X 2.4G 9CH Transmitter without a receiver and module, The FrSky DJT module and the FrSky D4R-II 2.4G receiver. Buying the Frsky Taranis is a very good investment if you really think you are going to continue this hobby as it is kind of future proof ;P.
(Parts List right below :D )
Enough talk, lets build.
Step 2: Laser Cut the Frame
Get the PDF LASER CUT at a local laser cutting shop. I used 2mm and 4mm Plywood for the frame. Thicker Ply will also work!
I have added a couple of extras to the frame like the fpv antenna mount and also a ziptie gopro mounting option on camera mount plate. These are not present on my frame in this Instructable but will be present in the PDF.
Step 3: Prepare the Frame
Check if the wires of the motor and its mounting holes align up correctly. If not you will have to flip the bottom plate to the other side.
I did not do this step correctly so my wires are popping out from the side of the motor arm and not feeding directly into the hole as planned.
Take your time.
Step 4: Gluing the Two Frame Plates
I used a wood glue available in my country but you can surely use any wood glue they should all be the same. Refrain from using epoxy as it will harden and block the mounting holes.
After 20 min of gluing and screwing. Take a couple of long screws or an Allen key and push out any excess glue trapped between any of those remaining holes. This is your last chance.
Use a damp Tissue paper to wipe out the remaining glue from the sides of the frame.
Step 5: Remove the Screws
Most glues usually take about 12-24 hours to fully cure.
In my case I waited for about 24 hrs before I removed the screws which depends upon your glue and it's instructions.
Step 6: Polish the Frame (OPTIONAL)
Go to your local hardware store and find out the things you need to polish at home, it may not be the same as what I did.
Alternatively you could also get it hydro dipped!
Step 7: Mount the Motors
A complete no-brainer? Nope you need to refrain from over tightening and also refrain from using long screws which may end up poking into the motor windings and ultimately shorting it.
Use M3 hex/allen nuts for securing the motors. The one it comes with is too small.
I am using DYS SE2205 2300kv Motors they are excellent! (Not for beginners)
Step 8: Press Fit the PDB
At this step you could either stick the pdb to the frame with epoxy or you could just use double sided tape to fasten it. Don't mount the flight controller just yet hold on that's not where it goes.
Step 9: Soldering the ESCs to the Motors
Cut the ESC and the motor wires to about the right size to actually fit neatly like in the picture. Don't forget to add your Heat shrinks before soldering. And also don't worry about the motor direction we will change that later in BlHeli Suite.
Optionally you could also remove the heatshrink from the speed controller and remove the existing wire and replace it with the motor wires but the problem with this method is that there is a risk of killing your esc due to over heating.
Soldering tip: Always Twist the wire strands after removing the insulation and then tin the wire with solder doing this will not let the wire fray. While soldering remember to always heat the wire with your soldering iron and then feed the solder to the wire. This way you will always have a shiny clean solder joint which will not fatigue.
Always remember to retin wires with your own solder because the solder they used will be different.
(I prefer 60/40 lead soldering wire)
Now solder the esc power wires to two of the pads on the PDB with correct length. Don't bend the wires cut them they will save weight, as every gram counts.
Step 10: The XT60's
I purposely made another step for these little guys as its really easy to screw them up (melt them).
Here are some tips for soldering XT60's:
Always solder XT60 connectors connected unless you want them in an amoeba shape!
Always Check your polarity! They come marked with positive and negative on the side. Black is Negative and Red is Positive.
Use HeatShrink to prevent shorts rather than electrical tape.
Use the right AWG (gauge) wire you don't want them heating up with the high current flow. 12-14AWG works really well.
Twist the wire strands after removing the insulation, then apply Heat to the wire and then feed the soldering wire.
Heatshrink the wire with 4-5 mm heatshrink.
Please watch FliteTests video on soldering battery connectors it should really help. Or else just go and buy the male xt60 pigtails which are readily available. Link's in the last step.
Step 11: Add in the Remaining ESC's.
Follow the same steps mentioned previously!
Image 2 may not matter to you if you have the PDB I recommended or a 5v regulator.
Step 12: Preparing the ESC Wires
Its pretty Easy, just Lift and Pull, Just lift and Pull... Now do this 6 more times! ;P
Step 13: Connect Your Naze32 to Your Computer
Connect and install the latest stable version of CleanFlight onto your Naze32 Board. At this point you can check if your board is working properly without it being soldered because if its not working properly you can get it replaced. Once the latest firmware is installed you can proceed with the next step.
Steps given in the 2nd picture.
Remember to use a data cable not a power cable since some Phones come only with power cables and not data cables and most importantly remember to touch a metal object to discharge any static from your body before touching the Board.
Step 14: Prepare and Solder Your Receiver
As a matter of fact S.BUS is faster than CPPM (read this article) therefore I got the CPPM wire on the FrSky XSR removed and proceeded to solder to the FC.
- Power wires: Red to positive; Black to Ground (aka GND, - )
- S.BUS white wire: to pin 4
- Smart port, Yellow wire: to pin 7 and 8
To jumper pin 7 and 8 together I used one of those black cable packers you get with new set of wires and bent 5mm of it to form a L shape. You should make a U shape, push it into the two sockets and then pass the yellow wire into the either of the two sockets.
I chose to pass all wires from underneath because they look tidier and save a lot of space.
Step 15: Let the Naze32 Recognize Your Battery and Beep When Low!
Solder a pair of black and red wires to your naze32 vbat + - sockets. Remember to check for polarity don't want to get it wrong or else the magic smoke will appear! We will later connect this wire directly to the power distribution board once we connect the ESCand BEC (battery Eliminator circuit).
Always Remember the soldering technique I highlighted in the previous steps; Heat the pin and then feed solder to it don't add solder to the tip of the soldering iron and then pass it onto the board.
Step 16: Cut the ESC Wires to Connect to the FC
Prepare the ESC signal wires for soldering to the flight controller. Remember to twist the wires before tinning, that way they will get into the hole easily and will not melt your wire end. .
Step 17: Connecting the Wires From the ESC and BEC to the FC
Match the wires coming from each of the arms to the correct sockets on the Naze32 board. Refer to the picture for a clear picture.
Motor 1 to 1 on the naze32 board.
Motor 2 to 2 on the naze32 board.
Motor 3 to 3 on the naze32 board.
Motor 4 to 4 on the naze32 board.
ESC wire colors:
White/orange = Signal Black/brown = Ground or -
The diagram may seem wrong but that's the way it is. Also remember to cross check the front and back of the bird before soldering. And also remember to add a dab hot glue to the wires after finishing. Add in your BEC wires to +- of the 6th or 7th pin. Please crosscheck for polarity.
Step 18: FPV, ANOTHER CHAPTER ALTOGETHER!
FPV is not cheap but at the same ti!me it is not so expensive. You could use FPV to control your aircraft remotely. But remember in many countries it is mandatory to have a spotter nearby and you may also be restricted to use a video transmitter of above a certain wattage. But remember in this case power is not directly proportional to the range which you might think you will get. A properly setup 25mw transmitter with a good antenna will give you as good or even better range than a 200mw variant.
FPV Transmitters 5.8ghz:
25mw is allowed in most countries and is license free.
200mw is also allowed in most countries but in some you may need license to operate it.
200-250mw+ you will need a license to operate in most countries.
CCD or CMOS Camera (dedicated FPV cameras):
It is very well known and proven that a CCD camera works best for FPV. But in the contrary a CMOS camera wont perform as well. A CCD camera can cope well with different lighting conditions in the sky and will help see the bright sky as well as the ground with no addition of darkness on the ground like the CMOS cameras do. To understand this better try holding up your phone camera up to the sky, you will see that the sky stays bright and the ground turns dark this is the same problem that some CMOS cameras suffer from. You may also notice jello in the video as CMOS scans through the sensor. To understand this effect better please refer to this video.
Using Recording Cameras with live video out:
Most recording cameras have CMOS sensors which use the same rolling eShutter principle as stated above. A recording camera may or may not be a very good option because of the slight latency for miniquad racing but if you have one and and want to use it it will surely work! (Check out the video flighttest uploaded will give you a better perspective.
What Frequency To Use?
Most of use 5.8ghz for FPV because it is usually a license free band and will not interfere with your 2.4ghz radio since 99% of us use this frequency for our radio.
But I am pretty sure that 5.8ghz for video and 2.4ghz for radio will really be good for miniquad flying since you wont really be able to go really far with it.
What is diversity?
Diversity is when you have two receivers connected to a processing board which selects the best video reception out of the two receivers, it helps remove distortion in the video. You may find the same diversity setup in your laptop or desktop computer which in this case is used to select the best WiFi signal. The best part of using diversity receivers is that you could use it with different sets of antennas to attain further distances.
What antennas to choose?
Using cloverleaf/circular polarized antennas are really the way to go if you are using a single receiver setup. But if you are using a diversity setup you may be more successful using a cloverleaf/circular polarized antenna and a patch antenna (aomways are good) in order to attain great video.
FPV Monitor or Goggles?
Both have their pluses and minuses. A lcd screen monitor may be a cheaper alternative and may also be a better solution to FPV depending on your country, flying style, equipment, Eye sight etc. It is also really good if you have motion sickness. Also a FPV monitor under bright sun light may not be visible.
On the other hand, using FPV goggles may be a better option if you would want to race and fly through tight spaces, loops or other obstacles and also it is really good for miniquad racing as most known racers are known to use them. The downside of using FPV goggles is that you may effectively strain your eyes and you may need to have a spotter nearby.
Step 19: Setting Up FPV
This is one of the easy parts where you can take a gasp of fresh air! It should not be as difficult as the others were.
Simply remember to plug in the wires correctly and be on the same frequency on both, the transmitter and the receiver.
Remember: Never turn on a video transmitter without an antenna!
Step 20: Bolt Up Your Tank!
Use the leftover screws that came with the motor. Remember not to over tighten any of the screws into the nylon standoffs. You could use locktite but I didn't, Ill leave it up to you. You are almost done. You are now only left with setting up your Naze32. You could use steel or aluminium standoffs as well but I find nylon more better at the time of a crash.
Screws Standoffs etc used:
10, 25mm nylon standoffs.
25mm m3 nylon screws.
5mm m3 screws (got many with my motor)
You wont see the FPV camera here because it came in later! :/
Step 21: Cheap and Easy Bullet Proof Antenna Mount
It's only a combination of 2mm heatshrink tubing and zipties! In your case the design varies slightly as I made a couple of improvements in the antenna mounting system.
Step 22: Setting Up the Flight Controller
Setting up the flight controller is a fairly easy task. In this part you just need to upload the basic settings I created on your copter through CleanFlight. And change the settings like minimum, maximum throttle which depends upon your radio, voltage scale (found under battery voltage in the configurations tab), Modes in the modes tab.
Here is a checklist of the things mentioned above which is applicable to all and don't forget to hit save at each tab after setting it up:
- Calibrate your Accelerometer
- Calibrate your Magnetometer (Present on the full boards not on the acro)
- Set your Minimum and maximum throttle
- Set your appropriate Voltage scale by using a multimeter remember to hit save every time you change a value for it to update. (found under battery voltage in the configurations tab)
- modes (Found in modes tab)
- Throttle Calibration (under motors tab. 1) remove all propellers 2: disconnect the battery battery 3: enable throttle and raise the maximum slider to 100% and then plug in your battery, the motors will start beeping after 3s decrease the master slider to the zero position, The motors should beep and initialize 4) Move the sliders slowly to see if all motors sync up properly 5) You are done!
- (PID's )Stock PIDs will work okay.. But you have to change, them look up a couple of videos.
Warning: Remove all propellers before doing throttle calibration it's extremely very important!
Ps: Use uploaded file "Taranis XSR Telemetry", if you are using telemetry with the FrSky Taranis.
Use uploaded File "PPM Single Wire Per Channel Non-Telemetry , If you are not using telemetry with the FrSky Taranis or you are using another radio like the FlySky FS-i6 .
Follow FliteTest's Amazing video if you are stuck somewhere!
Painless360 has an amazing playlist just for the naze32 which will help you a lot! Subscribe to his channel!
Note: None of the settings below matter if you're not using telemetry.
If you are using a naze32 full version and telemetry on your frsky taranisthen you need to type in (for firmware 1.13.0):
set telemetry_inversion = on (used for all copters using telemetry)
Remember to type in "Save" and hit enter in CLI after you finish.
And if your board is not arming then you need to remove some features as there is an overload protection built into version no : 1.13.0. (this is applicable to naze32 full boards not naze32 acro boards)
set mag_hardware = 1
set baro_hardware = 1
Remember to type in "Save" and hit enter in CLI after you finish.
You are almost done! All you need is a test flight to tune your PIDs! :D
Step 23: Setting Up Your ESCs Through Blheli Passthrough (Reversing ESCs, Enabling Damped Light Etc).
The Latest Firmware of CleanFlight has a feature called serial one wire pass-through which lets the operator rogram each ESCs individually as well as all simultaneously through the USB connected to the naze32 board.
For this setup you need to download the lastest firmware of BLHeliSuite from here. Once downloaded Plug in your USB cable and connect your battery ( I recommend using a 2s battery to avoid frying your motors when testing the motor direction). Remember to Disconnect from CleanFlight if you have connected it to it. And remember to choose the right COM port. If you get a message saying upgrade available, then upgrade them.
To check your motor directions click on the motors tab and check the check box (always remove your propellers while doing this). Slowly move the slider for each motor one at a time and note the motor direction on a piece of paper. Use the image to know which motor direction is right and which is wrong. Change the direction if necessary.
Follow the notes on the pictures and you should be good to go!
Here are my settings for all ESCs:
- Damped light
- Beacon Strength 0
- Enable PWM input : OFF
- Beacon Delay to infinite.
- PWM minimum/center/Maximum to the default settings set by the calibration done on CleanFlight previously (you may get the message that it's not in sync to master but you can ignore that).
- Motor timing set to medium-high
https://oscarliang.com/flash-esc-via-cleanflight-f... has a very good How-to on this step and Joshua Bardwell has an amazing video which explains each setting in BLHeliSuite one by one, be sure to check out his YouTube channel for more great videos.
Step 24: Taking Care of Your LiPo's Health (Lithium Polymer Batteries)
Take Care Of Your LiPo Batteries, They Are Sensitive!
Never over discharge Your LiPos! You should never bring your lithium polymer batteries below 3v per cell, doing so will only reduce the battery life, increase the resistance and make it puffy or worse it may even end up exploding. Lithium polymers usually expect a maximum safe discharge of about 3.3-3.4vper cell and a storage voltage of about 3.8-3.85v, if you want them to last for a long time you should put it into Storage Voltage/Storage Mode after every use (most new chargers have a storage mode function).
How to ensure that your batteries don't over discharge?
Okay its really easy, you could buy yourself a low voltage alarm off of any hobby shop (the programmable one with the little led works great and set the alarm to ring at around 3.5v per cell). That way you know when to land.
On the other hand you could program the naze32 to buzz an alarm through the buzzer you installed when the voltage of a cell goes below a certain point. It saves you the money and the weight of an additional LiPo low voltage buzzer.
A LiPo batteries discharge automatically if it's not kept in its storage mode. So keep you LiPos in storage mode if you are not using it, unless you want a completely flat battery after a month.
All of these also apply to lithium based batteries such as Li-ion (lithium-ion) whose max discharge voltage is about 2.5v and maximum charge voltage is the same as a LiPo battery - 4.20v.
Key Points To Remember!
- Never Over Charge Your LiPo Batteries.
- Never Over Discharge Your LiPo Batteries.
- Never Leave Your Charger Unattended While Charging Your Batteries.
- Always Keep Your LiPo Batteries Balanced.
- Always Keep Your LiPo Batteries In Storage Mode (3.8v per cell) While Storing Them For Long Periods Of Time (more than a 5-7 days).
- Always Charge Your Batteries At 1C Rating For Example A 2200mah Battery Should Be Charged At 2.2Amps And In The Same Way A 1300mah Battery Should Be Charged At 1.3A ( 1300 * 1c = 1300mah / 1000 = 1.3Amps (1000mah makes 1Amps) ).
Step 25: Part List and Plans!
Best and most trusted places to buy from who ship worldwide as well as have regional warehouses:
X1 Eachine EV800 5 Inches 800x480 FPV Gogglesor Quanum Cyclops FPV Goggleor Fatshark Fat Shark Dominator HD V2 FPV Goggles Video Glasses Headset (fatsharks don't come with receivers so buy this)
X1-? Turnigy Graphene 1300mAh 3S 65C (Beginner to intermediate)
X1-? Turnigy Graphene 1300mAh 4S 65C (For experts)
X1 Lantian Mini 5V 3-4S PDB Power Supply Distribution BoardXT60 Male Plug 12AWG 10cm With Wire
X1 AfroFlight Naze32 Rev6 Flight Controller (support the developers, Buy original)
X2 KINGKONG 5040 Propellers (Quantity depends on your flying style and flying experience)
X6 Gemfan 5045 Bullnose (Quantity depends on your flying style and flying experience)
X1 2mm & 4mm Plywood 1ftx2ft
Optional parts to cut down cost.
Step 26: Know Before You Fly, Fly Responsibly.
- Follow community-based safety guidelines, as developed by organizations such as the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA).
- Fly no higher than 400 feet and remain below any surrounding obstacles when possible.Keep your sUAS in eyesight at all times, and use an observer to assist if needed.
- Remain well clear of and do not interfere with manned aircraft operations, and you must see and avoid other aircraft and obstacles at all times.
- Do not intentionally fly over unprotected persons or moving vehicles, and remain at least 25 feet away from individuals and vulnerable property.
- Contact the airport and control tower before flying within five miles of an airport or heliport. (Read about best practices here)
- Do not fly in adverse weather conditions such as in high winds or reduced visibility.
- Do not fly under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Ensure the operating environment is safe and that the operator is competent and proficient in the operation of the sUAS.
- Do not fly near or over sensitive infrastructure or property such as power stations, water treatment facilities, correctional facilities, heavily traveled roadways, government facilities, etc.
- Check and follow all local laws and ordinances before flying over private property.
- Do not conduct surveillance or photograph persons in areas where there is an expectation of privacy without the individual’s permission
For more information Visit: http://knowbeforeyoufly.org/for-recreational-users/
Step 27: Pictures!
This Design is 100% Original and is not copied from any source.
This Design is for PERSONAL USE ONLY and you are most welcome to distribute this copy but please don't remove my name from the document.
If you found this instructable interesting please Share and if you have made one of these I would love to see a picture of it in the comments below! Additionally if you want me to revise the design with any additional feature(s) put it down in the comments below I'll surely release an updated version with them!
Fly Safe and Happy Flying! :D
Participated in the
Make It Fly Contest 2016