Friday, February 27, 2015

Built a smaller quadcopter

A new build from parts ordered from China. This time I'm using the excellent OpenPilot flight controller. Here's an early flight in the back yard.

Thanks Cat for filming.

It's basically this "kit":

I didn't use their supplied power distribution board as I didn't have any documentation and had one at hand.

I used a Fly Sky 6 channel remote transmitter and receiver (these are great by the way).
Also a compact 3s (cell) Lipo battery.

One frustration is that the motors could not be bolted in place with the supplied components and I had to hunt around to get 2.5mm x 6mm bolts and some nuts.

The OpenPilot CC3D software is amazing and I don't have it properly tuned just yet but it's great fun to fly around the back yard. The motors get hot and give off a satisfying burning smell after a bit of use.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Wyong field day 2015 - Damp but entertaining

The weather wasn't great for the big feature of the Wyong field day, the car boot sale. The ARNSW Home Brew group had a great display and spent time chatting with interested visitors. Here's John VK2ASU with Mal VK2BMS:

I showed the OpenRadio SDR on the home brew table:

While I didn't buy anything there were gifts of useful components from John and Stephen which are greatly appreciated! Some things I didn't buy:

It was great to retire to the classy bar:

For some tea, Jatz biscuits and cubes of cheese.

Built a larger quadcopter

The tiny drones are great for indoors, but to carry cameras I needed something larger. A collection of parts and a 450mm frame was ordered and finally it's flying.

I'm using a Fly Sky FS T6 transmitter and receiver and a KK2.1 flight controller.

Neither the remote or controller came with the interconnecting cable so I'm using single wire jumpers until proper cables arrive. The flight controller was recommended by Terry and is great because you can test everything and tune it by using its built-in LCD display and buttons.

While I can fly this thing the PI tuning isn't right and I'm getting oscillations while hovering. Lots to learn. Lots to learn.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Tiny Quadcopters - Hubsan X4 and friends

We are having too much fun at the office (during lunch breaks) flying tiny quadcopters. The best of them seems to be the Hubsan X4.

A close second is a clone sold as the "Top Selling X6".

Both sell for about $40. The Hubsan you can order from China, the "Top Selling" is available at Paddy's Market in Sydney. Don't be fooled by the price saying $49 reduced to $45, they'll take $40 in a heartbeat.

For a little bit more, $50, you can get models with a camera:

Some drones like the UFO drone have a remote with buttons for taking still or video.

Great to have "High Agily Control":

The cameras are not great but kind of fun. Here's me checking the gutters.

The video is motion jpeg and seems to drop a lot of frames:

The trick to getting decent video with these tiny MJPEG cameras is to use a fast microSD card. Here's a recording with a Class 10 card and it's much better.

The motors are interchangeable and the other "consumable", the propellors, are available at low cost.

So far, I've learned:

  • Fly calmly, avoid dramatic corrections, and you'll be fine.
  • Expert mode, by pressing the left controller (mode 2) is more responsive and not really any harder to control.
  • The motors do die - I had one that went stiff after a crash, but are pretty easily replaced.
  • There is a "ground effect" and a "ceiling suck effect". Take off to about a meter in height and then get stable. Avoid the ceiling.
  • It helps to calibrate the accelerometers - the instructions explain this in broken English but it's worth doing. I've heard that calibration in expert mode is better.
  • If the video drops frames get a faster memory card. Class 10 works for me.

Flying indoors:

In a larger room:

Great fun.