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Old Apr 03, 2012, 12:45 PM
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Thinking of building my first quad

Hello forum!

I want to enter the world of RC multicopters, the whole thing is very interesting to me. After spending the last 3 days reading some of the build logs and multicopter 101s, I thought I'd start by building a cheap quad by myself (I'm thinking 200-350). The problem here is that I have no experience whatsoever with building an RC toy, let alone one that flies (a friend agreed to help me with an occasional problem). Gotta start somewhere I guess.

The wealth of information on this forum is more than enough to thoroughly confuse me . There are so many different combinations that I don't know what to choose. I wrote some things down and I'd like some advice before actually ordering anything.

Here goes:

Please tell me what you think of it, and definitely suggest improvements. As I said, I have no idea what I'm doing (for now). Along with these components, what else do I need to build a quad? Wires, pins, Tx/Rx, propellers (what am I looking for? 10x4.5?) and a LiPo?

Is MultiWii the way to go? Are there better and cheaper solutions out there? Thanks for any help in advance.
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Old Apr 03, 2012, 12:52 PM
You sabotaged my plane.
eliworm's Avatar
Arizona
Joined Jun 2002
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Hello,
I'm in the same boat as you. I still have alot to learn about Quads although I have two flying now. Check out http://www.blueskyrc.com/ for some reasonable frames. I have thier Quad and have been flying it for a few weeks without any issues.
Jim
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Old Apr 03, 2012, 01:09 PM
Quad lover.
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Arduino nano v3 is much easier to setup as you don't need to mess with FTDI.
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Old Apr 03, 2012, 02:00 PM
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Thanks for the replies.

Eliworm, you built the quad yourself? When can I start comparing two quads? When they both have the same frame width? How wide is your quad? What motors and props are you using?

Chaosdestro0, Arduino nano v3 eh? But as I see, it has different connectors and an extra 25 on the price tag. I might as well get an extra FTDI board for 12 and stick with pro mini. Does the nano have any advantages over the pro mini?

What about other boards? Like
MWC Standard Edition 4-axis FC Board QUADX w/ FTDI Basic Breakout
Flyduino MEGA Flight Controller CPU Board
Why would I pick the Flyduino FC over the Arduino pro mini, for example? What characteristic am I looking for?

What do you both think about my gear?
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Old Apr 03, 2012, 02:56 PM
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If you want an aii-in-one board (less soldering) I would recommend the naze32. If you want to go cheap, go with a KK board (although there is more setup for $20).

If you are stuck wanting multiwii, go with the free flight board. The original firmware is not multiwii, but very user friendly for a beginner, and you can flash it with multiwii later on. Plus they run about $30.

I have an X525 with a free flight board. Haven't yet had a problem with the motor mounts, but it's not a lot of trouble to droll holes in the arms if necessary.

Your gear looks like it will fly at least. Don't forget batteries and a charger.
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Old Apr 03, 2012, 03:09 PM
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Thanks for the reply machina. I'll take a look at the free flight board, thanks for the suggestion.

Do you think I could improve my gear? This is just a list of things I noticed other people use, I really can't tell if it's any good.

I can calculate the battery needed using the method n3m1s1s described in his multirotor 101 thread two weeks ago? And how do get the charger specs then?

You said you're flying a X525 frame, that's 600mm wide, right? Can I compare two quads if I know their motor width? What motors and propellers are you using?
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Old Apr 03, 2012, 03:39 PM
Live to ride... and fly!
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Joined Mar 2002
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Marvos, are you new to R/C or do you have experience flying planes and/ or helis? If you have no experience at all I would highly recommend you consider the Blade mQX, it's a fantastic little ready-to-fly quad that flies just like the bigger ones but is small enough to practice in the garage or indoors too. It's also quite durable, so you won't be stuck in the fly/ crash/ repair/ fly cycle you'll get into with a bigger quad. Once you master the mQX you'll be ready for bigger quads, but even when you start flying the bigger ones you'll find yourself continuing to fly the mQX because it's so much fun (and less stressful). Good luck!
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Old Apr 03, 2012, 03:50 PM
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Tres Wright, that is actually an excellent idea! And for 160 bucks, I think I'll go for it. I need something to learn on. Thanks for the info.

But while I fly this, what can I do to improve my skills in building RC toys (and ultimately quads)? How did you get started in this field?

What do you think of the gear I posted above?
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Old Apr 03, 2012, 04:02 PM
Quad lover.
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The nano v3 is perfectly suitable, all I did was use JST connectors that slot onto the pins which mean I don't have to mess around with any soldering or breakout boards. For speed controllers I did not need to do any modifications as they just slide onto the pins, I just have the arduino nano upside down though with the pins pointing upwards.
It's cheap on ebay, 10 usually and it works well.
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Old Apr 03, 2012, 04:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marvos View Post
Tres Wright, that is actually an excellent idea! And for 160 bucks, I think I'll go for it. I need something to learn on. Thanks for the info.

But while I fly this, what can I do to improve my skills in building RC toys (and ultimately quads)? How did you get started in this field?

What do you think of the gear I posted above?
Read this forum. Follow different threads, and if you find a FC you like, follow that thread as well. Plenty of information on quads in general is buried in the flight controller threads.
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Old Apr 03, 2012, 06:09 PM
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Chaosdestro0, how does the nano v3 perform against the pro mini? Does it provide the same processing power? Why was the pro mini originally chosen for MWC? Was the nano v3 released later? Can I use the same code as I would with the pro mini without any modifications at all?

Machina, thanks for the advice.

Just a few quick questions so I can begin writing down my gear (alternatively, is there a thread that answers all of these questions?):
  • motor thrust to copter weight ratio should be 3:1?
  • how many Kv should a motor have? Where can I find out more about this?
  • is there a thread on prop size? What it the ideal prop for a 800g craft? 10x4.5?

Thanks for all the advice so far!
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Old Apr 03, 2012, 06:29 PM
United States, CT, Norwalk
Joined Nov 2009
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my new frame...
how do you like?
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Old Apr 03, 2012, 07:34 PM
Live to ride... and fly!
Tres Wright's Avatar
Forney, TX
Joined Mar 2002
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marvos View Post
But while I fly this, what can I do to improve my skills in building RC toys (and ultimately quads)?
Well the first step is not to think of them as toys Whether you're looking at planes, ornithopters, helis or multis, these are real flying aircraft. They're small compared to full scale aircraft, but they are the real deal and it's very important to take them seriously and always be aware of safety issues. Especially with multis because those churning props can cause severe injury and/ or property damage.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Marvos View Post
How did you get started in this field?
I built my first R/C plane as a kid around 40 years ago, but couldn't afford radio gear so it never got off the ground. It was something I was always interested in for as long as I can remember though. I finally was in a financial position on my own to jump into the hobby with both feet a little over 2 decades ago and I've been involved ever since.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Marvos View Post
What do you think of the gear I posted above?
There are many different types of gear for multis and I'm not familiar enough with any of those components you listed to respond (except for the ESCs which are fine). I think a lot of people come on here asking that same question and they get frustrated that they don't get a bunch of responses, but what they don't realize is there are so many available components that it's extremely unlikely that anyone here knows and can comment on any particular combo.
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Old Apr 04, 2012, 05:06 PM
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Can any of you help me with the details of the build? I think I'm close to figuring out the motors and the props, I've chosen a frame and an FC (the naze32 machina recommended), I'll pick the LiPo according to the motors and props, the ESC to match the motors.

What else will I need? No build log shows the details. I'm talking about wires and such, which and how many will I need?

ESCs go straight onto the motors, the FC board and the battery? The receiver goes straight onto the FC board? How do I power the FC board from the battery? What if I want to fit LEDs? No fancy transmitter-activated, just a connector to connect/disconnect before flight. How do I supply them with the energy from the battery? Will they need a converter or can they take the full 11 volts just like that?
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Old Apr 04, 2012, 05:10 PM
Quad lover.
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Joined Dec 2011
853 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marvos View Post
Chaosdestro0, how does the nano v3 perform against the pro mini? Does it provide the same processing power? Why was the pro mini originally chosen for MWC? Was the nano v3 released later? Can I use the same code as I would with the pro mini without any modifications at all?

Machina, thanks for the advice.
?[/LIST]

Thanks for all the advice so far!
They both use the ATmega 328. I am using it and I did not need to do any changes at all. The reason why I prefer it is that you don't need an FTDI adapter so it's actually cheaper overall. It's 10 whereas the mini and ftdi come to 15.
Here are some tips that most people forget about
Connectors, you will need to get the right amount of bullet connectors and you will also need a way of distributing the power to the ESC
Heatshrink and lots of it!
Padding for the sensors.
Soldering equipment
Heat gun for heatshrink
How to protect electronics, tubberware is very good and cheap.

OK and regarding power this is the most complicated thing to understand.
The first thing to note is that the receiver & FC run off 5v and that the BEC supplies 5v. The BEC is on the speed controller, on the small three wires there are black, red and white wires. The white wire is a signal wire which controls how fast the motors go, this goes to the Flight controller. The red and black wires provide 5v. Now what you need to do is power the flight controller and receiver with this, so from one speed controller you power the flight controller and using the other speed controller you power the receiver.
As for LEDs, ( I have yet to use these). These usually run off the battery straight off. You will probably just want to split a speed controller wire ( battery voltage, from the battery to the speed controller) and then have a bullet connector to disconnect them or connect them.
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Last edited by chaosdestro0; Apr 04, 2012 at 05:18 PM.
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