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:
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.
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!"
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.
Last week I tried to build OpenCV java module so I could use it for clj-drone so I could have more fun with AR Drone 2.0. I couldn't figure out why the java module is set unavailable after cmake. This happens on both Ubuntu 12.04 and OS X 10.9. I have seen some issues regarding properly setting the JAVA_HOME and the cmake JNI file being incorrect. I tried to look at this angle, seeing why the JNI interface would not work.
However it seems "ant" is a required component and not just a recommended install as indicated by the docs. So after a "brew install ant" and "apt-get install ant" cmake is able to properly set the Java OpenCV module. I never had ant for years in my system, right now only using mvn, sbt and lein.
OpenCV 2.4.5 built just fine on Ubuntu, OSX seems to be having some c++ compile issue...
I usually tinker around different languages or technology. I have been learning a bit of Clojure for the last couple of weeks. Tried it at the office, by making a simple REST client. Now just making a simple web app, just to get a feel of the language and ecosystem around it.
Clojure reminds me of Tcl, I know its LISP and it should remind more of emacs. It reminds me of Tcl as I done a lot of Tcl programming using aolserver and OpenACS before. Unlike the first few times I used Ruby or Scala, where the first wow factor is the language. Tcl and Clojure the wow factor is getting to do something really quick. They both have quirky syntax, but simple and uniform.
Here is why I am learning Clojure:
Learning a new languages makes me better at the languages I already know. Getting the nice feeling of being new, and learning a lot on the way... mistakes and aha moments.
Still on my journey to be a better Functional Oriented hipster. Not that I am leaving Object Oriented or even procedural away, just learning a another way of thinking and solving computing issues.
Getting my son to learn something. Clojure seems to have nice abstraction for sql, web and js. Start with 1 language will be less intimidating, instead of learning a lot in 1 bang.
As a newbie, I started with a framework first. I like get to know other people's opinion first before making my own. I picked Luminus as it seem to be using some of things that the clojure community is using. Here are some code snippets from bottom layer to top. Its simple and lacks any real world complications yet, learn the ropes on the basic things first.
It starts with a macro for defining an entity and I would guess the convention to tie with the backing rdbms tables. Then you define some functions using Korma's sql dsl. You deal with primarily 2 data structure "id" which is a string and "product" which is a map.
The above is defining the routes, which you tie to the application handler. Real nice bits are the ability to define a context. Which would mean enclosing routes will start with that path first. Easy way to extract the request body from a key ":body-params", and to respond with body by setting the key ":body".
Clojure is nice and simple (still on first impression). Gets you up and running quick. If its good for long big projects, I don't know yet. However I will be happy if I can meet 2 out of my 3 objectives in learning Clojure. Complete source code here for the curious.