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a rookie who want to build it's first drone

Gustavo Z.
user 56452902
Mc Lean, VA
Post #: 1
What do you recommend for a rookie who want to build it's first drone?
I have experience in IT, electronics and basic knowledge of Arduinos, so I want to assemble one instead of buying it prebuilt
I was looking at the ArduCopter kit from 3D Robotics. Between a quad and an hexa, what are the differences? more payload? stability? easier to tune? better battery usage?
Sorry for the silly questions, I'm really a rookie in this field ;-)
Neil
NeilM1968
Washington, DC
Post #: 1
Gustavo, I had the non-flying quad last Sunday. Building it was really good fun, and I went through all the same questions you ask here. At the end of the day, my answer would be "it doesn't really matter". The transceiver, 'brain', ESCs, motors and sensors are what really costs money - the frame, and frame type, is the easy and cheap part, especially if you can print it. I went a little over the top on my frame, spending extra to make it from carbon, but you can do it from aluminium tube for next to nothing (shower rail from Home Depot is fine) - and it can easily be replaced. I used 3/4" square tube from www.dragonplate.com. Same applies to printing, especially if you can access a 3D printer at a hackerspace or a friend's place! Propellers are cheap, get lots of them, and a prop balancer. I found that I suddenly owned a lot more electronics tools as I went along, too... A good place for parts is The Hobby Hangar, in Chantilly (www.hhvastore.com for directions) - they are good, and come highly recommended by the most dedicated member! How else can you describe someone whose licence tags are 'FPV'? :-)

As far as the 'brain' is concerned, I would definitely advocate for the ArduCopter APM 2.5, which you can ONLY buy prebuilt. As Brandon showed us, the Mission Planner software does absolutely everything you need it to, and probably more. It's in continuous development, and it's free. Oh, and it works!

My APM2.5 is on its way, and I look forward to discussing things further once I get back from my extended break, in mid-November. I'd like to suggest that if we wanted to get together one evening ('we' being the whole group), the Nova-Labs space can be booked, as I am a member (www.nova-labs.org).

Have fun designing, plotting, learning and thinking - but don't over do it, otherwise you'll never get to the fun bit - building it!

Cheers, Neil.
Christopher V.
chrisvo
Group Organizer
Washington, DC
Post #: 1
There's always a tradeoff.

Hexacopters have more motors which means they can generate more lift (payload) and are usually robust against the failure of one motor. However, they are bigger, and more motors usually means more power consumption so you'll need more batteries.

ArduPilot is a nice controller. It's based on the ATmega 2560. I use one in my hexa. 3D Robotics also makes an excellent telemetry kit that works well with the ArduPilot Mission Planner software so you can see and log all sorts of stats wirelessly while the drone is in flight.

You'll find one of the more expensive things is purchasing a reliable radio control unit. I'm happy with the Spektrum DX7s and DX6i myself but others seem to like the Futaba controllers.

And leave room in your budget for crashing your drone, especially if you are new. I just crashed mine yesterday and have to replace about $100 worth of parts.

If you are looking to start out building a hexacopter cheaper (sub <$1000) then you can build from pieces at hobbyking.com. That site carries a lot of off-brand parts for cheap. Then toss a controller on board like the ArduPilot and you're ready to go! Another controller option if you are more interested in R/C and less interested in autonomous waypoint missions, etc is to use the MultiWii software on a much cheaper board like Crius SE. I am using HobbyKing MultiWii SE 2.0 in my second hexacopter, whole hexa including control board, Spektrum DSM2 compatible R/C receiver, and 5500 mAh battery cost me only $400.
Gustavo Z.
user 56452902
Mc Lean, VA
Post #: 3
Thanks a lot for all the tips! I definitively have a lot to research this weekend and I will pay a visit to hobby hangar too!
I decidd to start with a quad to make it simpler, then I can upgrade to an hexa if the parts survive the crashes ;-)
I'm not decided about the radio control, I found some have 6, 7 or even 8 channels... I wonder how many channels you normally need?
By the way, have you seen the quadcopter project in kickstarter?
http://www.kickstarte...­
Thanks again Neal and Christopher!
Neil
NeilM1968
Washington, DC
Post #: 2
The Kickstarter project looks cool - frame is 14" diagonal, which is pretty small. This means that stability might be an issue if you wanted to do photography. THe longer the arms, the more likely your controller is to be able to smooth things out. Of course, then the weight increases and other issues arise (length of flight being one). I like the idea of the slotted frame though, looks nice! You'd have to work really hard at breaking that baby... But if you did, then it'd be hard to fix.

Enjoy the Hobby Hangar - take a limited amount of cash and no credit cards on your first visit!!!
Christopher V.
chrisvo
Group Organizer
Washington, DC
Post #: 2
About the kickstarter project, anyone know how expensive the final product will be? Once you add telemetry and waypointing funcionality to any drone things get to be pretty expensive, and this project has potential in that area. Otherwise it's not a significant improvement against other R/C kits and not valuable to anyone wanting to do more than just fly a drone. (such as carry a reasonably high quality camera or other advanced sensor as payload, or do more autonomous stuff)
Christopher V.
chrisvo
Group Organizer
Washington, DC
Post #: 3
I found some have 6, 7 or even 8 channels... I wonder how many channels you normally need?

I found you should have maybe 6 channels minimum.

For flight alone, you usually need 4 channels minimum (throttle, rudder, elevator, aileron) but then you also might need some channels to control flight mode, or control other aspects of the craft.

For example on my 7ch Spektrum DX7s I use:
1 throttle (left stick up/down)
2 rudder (left stick left/right)
3 elevator (right stick up/down)
4 alieron (right stick left/right)
5 mode switch (3 position switch to select between 3 flight modes)
6 knob (static knob to adjust tilt of camera mount)
7 gear switch (off/on switch for "return to home" which i use sometimes to get the helicopter back if it goes too far away)
Gustavo Z.
user 56452902
Mc Lean, VA
Post #: 5
Thanks again for all the tips!
Today I visited Hobby Hangar for the first time! Cool place!
I almost bought a DX6i and a 6-channel receiver but I decided to do more research before making a decision on the radio.
Regarding the frame I'm thinking about starting a very basic one based on the "$10 quadcopter frame" from
http://oddcopter.com/...­
Later I can move to something more durable made from aluminum or carbon fiber
Gustavo Z.
user 56452902
Mc Lean, VA
Post #: 6
using the hurricane holiday to research about radios... I'm reading about the differences between mode-1 and mode-2 at http://www.rc-airplan...­
Which mode do you prefer for the quad/exacopters?
Neil
NeilM1968
Washington, DC
Post #: 3
Gustavo, MakerShed has a deal on their Elev-8 quad for $600, you build it.

http://www.makershed....­

Neil.
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