Monday, August 11, 2014

Some tweaking of the quad after some flights

I have updated my settings after a few flights.

Cut the extended legs a bit, as the stock dji extended legs are too tall and bouncy.  Even the RTH can't land the quad without it falling over.

I have also change my gains to make it less wobble.  Current gains are:

145% Pitch 145% Roll 140% Yaw 120% Vertical
140% Pitch 145% Roll

I have also mapped the IOC to X2 using the FMOD switch.

Naza Lite Walkera Devo RX1002 Walkera Devo 10
A AILE Aileron (reverse)
E ELEV Elevator
T THRO Throttle
R RUDD Rudder (reverse)
U AUX1 Flap/Mix (trim U 84.5% D 84.5% subtrim U 5.5%)
X1 AUX4 Aux4
X2 AUX2 Fmod (reverse trim U 90% D 90%)

Also changed the failsafe voltage to be higher on first level:

first level 10.6v 0.20v 10.40v
second level 10.20v 0.20v 10.00v

Some flights of it:

Friday, August 1, 2014

Done the finishing touches, quad is ready to fly

I have setup the Flight Controller FC, Radio Control RC, mount a Mobius action camera and legs.  Got all the functionality mapped on the FC.  It should switch to different flight modes, GPS, Altitude hold and manual.  I setup the failsafe switch so it would go back to its take off point when it looses radio signal or on flip of a failsafe switch.

Unfortunately I can't fly it over the weekend, there is bad storm.  Its very gusty and raining hard.

Here are some details of my initial setup:

Wiring between FC and RX

Naza Lite Walkera Devo RX1002

Naza Lite Assistant Settings and DEVO 10 settings to make them work

DEVO 10 is setup in airplane mode

Basic / GPS Mount
X -2cm
Y -4cm
Z 12cm
Also my GPS puck on the quad is rotated about 10 degrees towards the right.  This is to compensate for the magnetic declination.  See manual on Toilet Bowl Effect.

Basic / RC - I have used the default settings on DEVO 10 where all channels are normal.  I then setup the NAZA with the following:
A - Reverse
E - Normal
T - Normal
R - Reverse

The flight modes is controlled by the Mix switch (labeled as Flap on airplane mode).  For the U channel to set on the correct areas (GPS, Atti, and Manual)  I have set following on the DEVO 10
Trim / Flap U 84.5% D 84.5%
Sub Trim / Flap U 5.5%

I then used the Gear switch, to move U channel into the fail safe zone.  I used a program mix to achieve this.
Program Mix 1
master: Gear
slave: Flap
Pos 0(+) -50%

I have also the DEVO 10 failsafe to move the flaps should the radio loose signal

Failsafe flap U50%

I also set the "Fixed ID" binding, its needed so that when the radio signal is re-established you can take control again.  Otherwise you will need to power down the transmitter and receiver again to bind it.

For the gains I have used Aux4 and 5 knobs to adjust it.  Here are my initial parameters:

165 Pitch 165 Roll 150 Yaw 150 Vertical
Altitude 100 Pitch 100 Roll

Assign X1 and X2 to which one I wanted to adjust.  I then set the DEVO 10 trims and sub trim so the gain % difference is not big.

Aux4 Trim U40% D40% sub trim +7.0%
Aux5 Trim U40% D40% sub trim +12.0%

My initial failsafe voltage:

first level 10.5v 0.20v 10.30v
second level 10.20v 0.20v 10.00v

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Wiring in the brain of the quad

Today just wire in the Flight Controller (FC) and receiver.  Hooked it up on the computer and transmitter for the initial setup.  So far things are connected properly

Finally tidy up the wires, mount the top deck and the GPS.

Next will be setting up the FC and GPS properly.

More bits going into the quad, its taking shape

Today a few more parts arrived.  Soldering is finished, done the battery terminal and power management unit (PMU).  I have also used clear silicon to insulate the soldered joints.

Mounted the motors, arms and propellers.  Its now taking shape.

As a distraction, I have put in the trainers on the heli.  I have also stripped and replaced the battery terminal to be a XT60.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Some parts have arrived and got my hands started in building a quadcopter

Some parts turned up today to build my quadcopter, the F450 frame box was damaged.

All the parts seem to be in good physical order despite the damage on the box.  Below are the contents of a F450 frame kit, E300 propulsion system, Naza lite and legs.

Got my hands started after doing my usual stuff.  My kids kinda help me a bit.

Got the soldering iron out and tinned the lower deck, which also serves as the power distribution board.

After smelling some lead from the solder and mustering out my basic soldering skills, I got all 4 Electronic Speed Controllers (ESC) done.

I need to stop here, as it late and I also did not have all the parts yet.  Hopefully some are coming tomorrow.  Oh here is a photo of the cheap 10 channel transmitter that comes with a Heli... hehehe.

Figuring out what quad copter to build

There are a lot of quad copter to build, lots of different choices.  My initial object for the build are:
  • Medium range (500m to 1000m) Aerial Photo (AP)
  • Basic First Person View (FPV) flying
These are my nice to have next objectives:
  • Long range (1km to 2km) AP
  • Full experience FPV
  • Unmanned Autonomous Vehicle (UAV) aka Drone
My likely dream hard-to-get objectives:
  • Night flying
  • Commercial application of UAV
  • Drone to drone communication to choreograph manoeuvres of a fleet of drones
Ok lets get back to more basic attainable objectives.  I have short listed it into 2 platforms:
  • DJI based quadcopter
  • 3D Robotics based quadcopter
Both have their strength and weaknesses.  I like the 3DR platform, as it based on open source and open hardware.  There platform is also more aligned to my nice to have objects.  The DJI products however based on research is more polished and a popular choice.  Its kinda like the difference between an Android phone and iPhone.  I use both phones, and there is no clear winner.

Then there is a 3rd option is combine both, use a DJI frame, motors, propellers and 3DR Flight Controller (FC), GPS, compass.  This is the ideal combination for me, I have seen also a few people gone through this route.

I have finally decided to build a DJI based quadcopter, then eventually move to a 3DR FC.  Using a DJI based quadcopter seems to be a more safer choice as this will be my first real quad and flying rc at the same time.  Once I understand better on how things work, then I move to a more custom quad.

Since I will be moving to a 3DR FC, I only bought a DJI Naza lite FC to keep the cost down.  The frame would be a DJI F450 Flamewheel as it a pretty versatile platform.  I will couple it with a DJI E300 propulsion system.

useful links:

For the transmitter I wanted to have a Futaba one, as on my RC cars I used Futaba controllers.  The Futaba controllers cost a lot.  So looked around and found that the cheap ones are just as good like the FrSky Taranis 9XD.  Although I ended up getting a Walkera Devo 10; as it was cheaper, good enough and it can control a few Walkera helis that where pretty good.  So I ordered a Devo 10 that came with a Walker Master CP helicopter, this is how I sold it my wife:  "I need a transmitter, hey if I add $50 more I get to have a nice heli!"

Dreaming to Fly, make it real by building a quadcopter

Since I was a kid, I always wanted to fly a plane and helis.  Wasn't able to do it... yet.  The closest way for me to experience this is use a computer and flight simulator games.  Fast forward today while I was buying some parts for my RC cars which I play with my kids, I saw an AR Drone 2.0 on sale.  So I decided to buy it.  The rational behind it:  its not too expensive and if I don't get to have enough interest and time its a ready-to-fly (RTF) product.  The kids can use the AR Drone 2.0 without much fuss.

The AR Drone 2.0 was a pretty good starter quadcopter.  Here are some actual videos of it:

Now sold the AR Drone 2.0 and decided to move into more serious quads.  I wanted longer range, better stability against strong winds.   

Hopefully I can make a short series of post as I build a quadcopter.  This should be helpful for me as my notes on how I built it and if anybody is interested to do the same thing.