Tuesday, July 29, 2014

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!"