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Old Feb 05, 2013, 09:00 PM
Just trying to get a nut.
scrtsqrl's Avatar
United States, VA, McLean
Joined Oct 2006
6,428 Posts
Build Log
Travel Quad- Building and Learning to Fly a Quadcopter

I've been flying FPV for almost 7 years now, mostly with my BWEZ*. I travel quite a bit, both for work and leisure. I've taken it flying all over Europe, Asia, and North America.

I take it along for two primary reasons:
1. To pass time
2. To capture video for memories

It's been an awesome system. But I wanted to improve on it. Here's what I wanted:
1. A more compact airframe for easier transport (must fit in carry-on luggage)
2. Be able to operate in tighter spaces
3. Capture aerial HD video "in place"
4. Maintain maximum commonality in support equipment
5. Easily repairable

My solution is to build a small quadcopter, I'll call...

Travel Quad




My goal in this thread is to:
1. Document its construction and modification
2. Document how I learn to fly quads FPV
3. Hopefully help and get some help from the community at larg
4. Share shenanigans along the way.
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Old Feb 05, 2013, 09:18 PM
Just trying to get a nut.
scrtsqrl's Avatar
United States, VA, McLean
Joined Oct 2006
6,428 Posts
The Quad...

All told, I spent about $200 to build it. It would've been 4 ESC's cheaper, had I not smoked two of the original ESC's by wiring it to the battery in reverse.

Here's the basic parts list:
  • 4 X 1200Kv Turnigy Motors
  • 4 X 5 Amp Turnigy ESC
  • 8 X 4.5 Props Orage Slowfly props (2 normal & 2 reverse)
  • 2200 mAH 3s LiPo
  • Hobby King KK2 Board
  • Hobby King Quad ESC Board
  • Hextronic 3 AMP BEC
  • 2.4 GHz VTx
  • CX-161 FPV Camera
  • DragonLink
  • Stock wood from Coop Byg
  • Foam Landing Gear
  • 808 #11 Key Chain HD Cam

The frame was built with simple poplar stock measuring about 2.5 cm wide X .3 cm thick woodstock, I had left over. I took two equally length pieces and stapled/super-glued them together in an X configuration. I added some additional wood sections where the two crossed to provide an even surface to mount the hardware.



The KK2 Board is attached to its original shipping foam box along with the ESC power distribution board using zip-ties. Take a close look. I basically used the zip-ties, not in a loop but in a "bolt and nut method". That assembly is subsequently attached to the quadj's frame using the same method. I think this provides the board some sort of vibration dampening as well as a level of crash protection.

The rest of the electronics are attached around the foam box.



Click here for more detailed pictures of the general arrangement.

For landing gear, I used foam "harvested" from old pool deck toys.
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Old Feb 05, 2013, 09:38 PM
Just trying to get a nut.
scrtsqrl's Avatar
United States, VA, McLean
Joined Oct 2006
6,428 Posts
The HK KK2 Board

I chose Hobby King's KK2 board because it was cheap ($30), did not require a laptop to program, displayed voltage battery voltage, had a built in voltage alarm and came well recommended.

I found the following videos to be useful:

Hobbyking KK2.0 Multi-rotor LCD Flight Control Board - Walkthrough (6 min 33 sec)

Basic Quadcopter Tutorial - Chapter 4 - KK2 Board, ESC Calibration, throttle range and props (15 min 12 sec)

Basic Quadcopter Tutorial - Chapter 5 - Maiden Flight (19 min 14 sec)


Hobbyking's KK2: QUICK START TUNING GUIDE (4 min 9 sec)


Flite Test - HK Quad Controller Setup - FLITE TIP (14 min 43 sec)




KK2 Voltage Alarm Setup (7 min 21 sec)




Some notes:

"P" gain fights changes attitude
"I" gain fights lateral translation

In general, I started off with the settings suggested above. I wound up significantly lowering the throttle stick scaling to minimize pilot induced oscillations.
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Old Feb 05, 2013, 09:53 PM
Just trying to get a nut.
scrtsqrl's Avatar
United States, VA, McLean
Joined Oct 2006
6,428 Posts
Early Disaster

As mentioned earlier, I managed to smoke two ESC's by plugging them into the power distribution board in reverse killing the Lipo in the process.

I bought another set of four, waiting almost a month for the gear to arrive.
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Old Feb 05, 2013, 10:04 PM
Just trying to get a nut.
scrtsqrl's Avatar
United States, VA, McLean
Joined Oct 2006
6,428 Posts
First Flight

The first flight ended in about 2 seconds, the time it took to flip over. The ESC's are designated 1 through four in a clockwise manner around the quad, looking down. I manged to label them in a counter-clockwise fashion, plugging them into the controller in that sequence. Ooops...LOLs...

Fortunately, no broken props.

I re plugged-in the ESCs to the KK2 properly. And commenced the first flight.

The objective: To check proper control response.

I powered up the throttle just enough to start the motors. Then I tapped the cyclic forward and noted that the quad lifted the aft arms...tapped the cyclic aft and noted the quad lifted the forward arms, likewise for going left and right. The idea is to confirm correct response BEFORE it gets airborne. All responses verified, correct, I lifted it off the ground for its first flight:

"Travel Quad" Initial Testing (1 min 12 sec)


The quad was quite twitchy and had a very sensitive throttle. As expected, I would have to tune the quad. I was happy to note that auto-leveling worked. It knew which way was up.
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Old Feb 05, 2013, 10:17 PM
Just trying to get a nut.
scrtsqrl's Avatar
United States, VA, McLean
Joined Oct 2006
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Second Fly-day - FPV Baby!

Confident the quad's self-leveling worked, my son and I took it to the flying field.

The flight objectives:
1. Test the functionality of the video system
2. See if it can be flown FPV
3. Gather trends for tuning

Here's some video from the flights:

My First FPV Quad Flight. (3 min 22 sec)



Observe the vertical pilot induced oscillations.
Again, note how well it holds attitude and remains upright.

On one landing, I dinged one of the bushes, landing "hard". Fortunately, I managed to close the throttle quickly. If I had been flying a helicopter, that would've been the end for that day. Instead, we simply dusted it off and we were again in the air, seconds later.

Here's what I found:
- I was happy to note that the video was not at all tarnished by the throttle.
- The VTx plug kept coming loose on landings
- The video gives enough cues that for sure I should be able to fly this quad
- It is useful to have a spotter. He was very helpful calling out trends, helping me correlate what I saw through the goggles and what the quad was doing more quickly.
- Thanks to FPV, all you need to know is how to fly "tail in"...More on that later.
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Old Feb 05, 2013, 10:25 PM
Just trying to get a nut.
scrtsqrl's Avatar
United States, VA, McLean
Joined Oct 2006
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Third Fly-day

Third Fly-day objectives:
- Test if it will lift the payload (#11 808 Keychain Camer with wide angle lens)
- Evaluate the quality of the image captured on HD
- Gain more experience flying the quad and gather more trends for further tuning

Here's some video:
2013 Feb 3 First Quad HD FPV (1 min 24 sec)


Notes:
- Whilst it can still be improved, I was surprised that the Jello effect wasn't that bad
- I managed to fly it around a tree
- Throttle was still too sensitive
- All the flights were conducted FPV, with a spotter.
- The HD camera is indeed mounted in such a way that it does not see any part of the quad.
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Old Feb 09, 2013, 10:15 PM
Just trying to get a nut.
scrtsqrl's Avatar
United States, VA, McLean
Joined Oct 2006
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Travel Quad - First Forward Flight (2 min 23 sec)


Fifth fly-day objectives:
- Transition to forward flight.
- Take-off and land FPV.
- Turn in forward flight.

Mixed bag today at the field.
On one hand, all of today's objectives were met. Flying a quad requires more use of the rudder. I was happy to observe that it stabilizes upright nicely when the cyclic is released. As well, the video was solid out to 1000 feet.

On the other, another motor failed another is squeeking. On fly-day 4, motor 1's bearings failed. So far of the 6 motors I started off with 3 have failed bearings damaging one ESC along the way. Fortunately, both times the quad fell from relatively low altitudes landing upright both times.

I have 2 more motors and another ESC in the mail. That said, I'm thinking of starting over with another power system.

Overall, I'm stoked with the KK2 board.

Here are a couple more videos documenting my progression:

First Road Trip:
More Airwork with the Travel Quad (3 min 28 sec)


More Tuning and Familiarization:
Amok at Robb Field (6 min 14 sec)

Sony Webbie + Travel Quad Test (0 min 56 sec)

Robb Field - Sony Webbie (1 min 12 sec)
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Old Mar 10, 2013, 12:18 AM
Quads, 4 times the fun.
Australia, NSW, Brookvale
Joined Apr 2011
729 Posts
A TravelQuad is a great idea. Have you found better motors yet? I'd like to copy your design once you're happy with it.
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Old Mar 10, 2013, 09:51 AM
Just trying to get a nut.
scrtsqrl's Avatar
United States, VA, McLean
Joined Oct 2006
6,428 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by rogueqd View Post
A TravelQuad is a great idea. Have you found better motors yet? I'd like to copy your design once you're happy with it.
Thanks.

San Clemente (4 min 30 sec)


I'm quite happy with these motors, actually. That said, I suggest getting a couple of spares. Once I finally got a good set of 4, my quad's been flying well and reliably.
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Old Mar 10, 2013, 12:21 PM
Just trying to get a nut.
scrtsqrl's Avatar
United States, VA, McLean
Joined Oct 2006
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I've taken it on a 737-800 recently. It fits perfectly under the seats or the overhead compartment.

I use a Sterlite Underbed Storage Box. When on travel it carries:
- The Travel Quad
- Turnigy 9X + Dragon Link Tx
- Groundstation
- 5 X 2200 mAH 3s Lipos
- Charger
- Spare parts and small tools

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Old Mar 10, 2013, 12:22 PM
Just trying to get a nut.
scrtsqrl's Avatar
United States, VA, McLean
Joined Oct 2006
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More San Clemente...in HD!

Here's some HD video from the #11 808 Keychain Camera...

2013 Mar 1 (4 min 55 sec)
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Old Mar 17, 2013, 02:13 AM
Just trying to get a nut.
scrtsqrl's Avatar
United States, VA, McLean
Joined Oct 2006
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Slow and stable

Youtube stabilization test (1 min 13 sec)


Here is a short video captured with my sony webbie. I've been practicing slow and stable flying required to capture videos of static objects like monuments and buildings.

Additionally, I wanted to see how Youtube's image stabilization worked.

Overall, I am pretty happy with the results.

I think I am ready to capture some tourist videos.
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Old Mar 17, 2013, 02:49 AM
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Lakewood, Colorado
Joined Aug 2002
28,636 Posts
Just keep in mind YT's stabilization can really crop the heck out of the vid.

BTW, what's your motor to motor distance? I'm curious as I've recently put
together a little light weight H-quad that's only 300mm from motor motor. Also intending
to be able to travel with it. With the antennas off or folded out of the way it's basically flat
so should pack up pretty compact.

Also, if you continue to go through those Turnigy motors you might want to take a look
at replacing with the "juz" motors, aka NTM 1200 short shaft version (or just cut the
shaft off the normal version available in HK USA wharehouse).
http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/s..._version_.html
http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/s...rch=ntm%201200
They're pretty well proven.
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Old Mar 17, 2013, 09:58 AM
Just trying to get a nut.
scrtsqrl's Avatar
United States, VA, McLean
Joined Oct 2006
6,428 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by Daemon View Post
Just keep in mind YT's stabilization can really crop the heck out of the vid.

BTW, what's your motor to motor distance? I'm curious as I've recently put
together a little light weight H-quad that's only 300mm from motor motor. Also intending
to be able to travel with it. With the antennas off or folded out of the way it's basically flat
so should pack up pretty compact.

Also, if you continue to go through those Turnigy motors you might want to take a look
at replacing with the "juz" motors, aka NTM 1200 short shaft version (or just cut the
shaft off the normal version available in HK USA wharehouse).
http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/s..._version_.html
http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/s...rch=ntm%201200
They're pretty well proven.
The Travel quad's L and W is around 11 inches and around 16 inhes across.

The current motors seem to be holding up. I'll keep the ones you recommend in mind though...thank you.

I'm really happy with the portability. It opens up a lot more flying sites. As well, the quad's dimunitive size isn't as threatening to others.

Does Vegas have stabilization?

Thanks!
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