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Old Jul 29, 2012, 03:03 PM
You Enjoy Myself
United States, NC, New Bern
Joined Jul 2012
77 Posts
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DJI F450 with NAZA-M. What are my options?

Hello all. This is my first post on this forum. I'm an RC novice and after reading up on multi rotors for the past week, I've decided to dive in and take a stab at the DJI F450.

I've been reading a lot and have found several threads that are helpful.
http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1536553
http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1097355

I realize people make "I'm a beginner!" posts all the time and some of them probably haven't researched or read as much as they could. But I have some more specific questions about my options at this point that may help others as well as myself.

I'm willing to spend $1-1.5k for a complete F450 RTF setup with camera gimbal and decent TX/RX.

1. I know NAZA- M was recently released. How is this different from NAZA? Same thing, different name? Software upgrade? Hardware upgrade?

2. What's a decent "almost pro" camera gimbal with landing gear for the F450 using a GoPro Hero2? Using the Sony Nex-5n? Not looking for top of the line pro gear, but I want a great product that provides very minimal shaking. Willing to spend around $500 here.

3. Like everybody else, I want to keep vibrations to a minimum. Besides the camera gimbal, naza and experience/knowledge of how to fly in any given situation, what else can I do to minimize vibration to get good AP results?

4. I'd be willing to get a simple but suitable TX and RX, but would it be worthwhile to get something like the Futaba 8FG Super if I plan on developing this hobby and get other MRs later down the road? Or should I wait to get better and more MRs before I go with a higher end TX?

Can't find this info anywhere - difference between Futaba 8FG and T8FG?

5. With an average setup, what's the average maximum distance one can fly the F450? Average maximum height?

6. Is the signal strength between the TX and RX the only factors involved with range and flying long distances? Battery type/strength also involved?

7. What about batteries? Obviously I want as long of flight time as I can get with a gimbal and camera on board. I've read about 3s and 4s LiPo's being used in different situations, but what about for me? With a F450, camera and gimbal, what's the best battery I can use for long flight time?

8. Is there one battery on board for all components/modules? If not, what other battery types do I need?

9. I'll be buying at least a few batteries. For the 3s or 4s LiPo batteries I assume I'll be using, what charger should I get?

10. Should I stick with stock DJI rotors and ESCs for now? Or upgrade to graupners(or similar) and learn to fly with some better gear?

11. I've read 8 inch props are easier to learn with, but 10 inch props can handle payloads better. Should I just stick with 8 inch props for now even with a gimbal/camera?

Is it easy to remove/add a gimbal? I realize I would need to configure the different setup(which is a big step in itself that I'm eager to start learning, but can't really without sitting down in front of the program with my quadcopter.)

12. Do you have any video tutorials you can recommend? For anything from flying a quadcopter, naza setup, TX setup, gimbal/camera info, etc.

I plan on getting an F450 ARF soon to tinker around with. I eventually want to build a quad rotor from the ground up and be able to configure, test, troubleshoot, fix, and add anything I want. That process will start as soon as I get my hands on one!

I haven't even flown a yet but I already feel the bug biting.


Thanks for any help,

Chris
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Old Jul 30, 2012, 04:14 PM
You Enjoy Myself
United States, NC, New Bern
Joined Jul 2012
77 Posts
Any helpers willing to help?
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Old Jul 30, 2012, 04:46 PM
I never finish anyth
United States, TX, Houston
Joined Jan 2012
2,585 Posts
12 questions that all are found by searching and reading, probably why you haven't got an answer. Especially in a one hour window....

I'll hit a few...

1. Naza-M because now there is a $170 GPS upgrade.

2. Almost pro camera gimbal is Askman's gimbal... search here. It's $700? but $250 is all servos. You will need a better gimbal controller because the Naza has a crappy gimbal output rates.

3. Anything that spins will cause vibrations. Balance, balance, balance and then balance some more. Ditch the DJI props for Graupners.

4. I'm biased here. I bought the 8FGS so I don't need to buy again. It's pricey and was way over my head till I read and played with it for 10 hours.

5. You can fly it as far as you can see it... getting it back is the harder part. Radio signal is the limit past line of sight.

6. Battery does not affect flying distance. It can add weight and reduce flight times.

7. I am going 4S on my F550 because I am adding weight.

8. One battery as long as you don't add FPV normally is fine.

9. Research Lipo Chargers... you'll need to know how they work versus "Just buy this one!"

10. Question doesn't make sense... DJI motors and ESCs will work fine, graupner propellers are better than DJI for AP... and don't break midair.

11. I am running 4S and 10ion Graupners... so are a lot of DJI guys with camera gear on board.

11.5 Removing the gimbal is a hardware only process unless you have GPS and it changes your center of gravity. It's too general of a question to go into more detail.

12. www.google.com

Doing quick maths

$480 Futaba 8FGS
$75 Graupners with a couple spares
$700 Askman Gimbal
$190 F450 ARF
$230 Naza no GPS
$100 in batteries
$70 Charger

$1845.... without camera and I am sure I am overlooking some small stuff like soldering iron if you don't own one or spares.

Time to look into what you want and what you can afford and adjust... A LOT if you still need a camera.
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Old Jul 30, 2012, 05:19 PM
You Enjoy Myself
United States, NC, New Bern
Joined Jul 2012
77 Posts
Thanks, MCrites. It was a 25 hour window.

Since posting, I did find a couple answers with more reading. But, although it may be a pain for forum regulars to keep regurgitating the same old advice, I think it's a good idea to have as many valuable questions/answers about a given topic in one thread. I know there are a few "mega" threads with lots of info, but I couldn't find most of my specific questions answered there.

Follow up questions, if you or anybody else would like to answer...

2. I need a better gimbal controller if going with naza? Is this controller its own separate module or is it part of the gimbal?

3. Thanks, I'll start off with Graupners.

4. Though it's a good chunk of change, I think it's one of those things I'm willing to spend more on now to buy a quality product that will last a long time and do what I need it to do.

7. So if I'm close to maxing out weight on my F450, then I should go with a 4s LiPo? If my weight is low or within reason then a 3s battery will do?

8. I will add FPV eventually and will worry about all of that info later.

10. Sorry, mixed it up there. I'll stick with the DJI motors and ESCs since upgrading those at this time doesn't sound like a big deal when just learning to fly. I'll get better props.

11.5. Yes, I was referring to configuring for the cog if the gimbal is removed or attached.

12. I found a bunch of helpful videos. Just wondering if anybody has some good ones I may have missed.

I have tools including a soldering set. I want to get an RTF now and start flying. Then tinker with that and an ARF once I get more comfortable with everything.

Who knows, I may just start from scratch myself. The Naza/GPS setup/configuration, TX/RX setup/configuration, camera gimbal setup/configuration are the things holding me back from just doing it all myself.

Well that, and I'm also looking for a full or partial barter for services/gear. I'm a web designer/developer working from home.

Thanks for your input!
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Old Jul 31, 2012, 08:32 AM
I never finish anyth
United States, TX, Houston
Joined Jan 2012
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It was 25 hours... my bad

2. Currently Naza does have Gimbal controls but the output is VERY slow. This means the gimbal, no matter how good, won't keep up with small movements. The WKM got an update in the output and they said the Naza would get one by the end of July but it has been pushed back. The stand along gimbal controller is mounted on the gimbal itself and tells the gimbal what the model is doing. Hoverfly has a 3 axis for $360(?) and I heard they are coming out with a 2 axis for $160ish.

7. If you are planning on a gimbal and FPV you really need to consider a F550. It's honestly not THAT much more expensive and gives you more lifting power and real estate on the top/bottom plate for mounting stuff. The F450 gets grouded REALLY fast and you will want your FPV vTx far away from your GPS. I have 3S and just ordered 4S for my graupners and for more power.

8. Bookmark FatShark Predators for your first FPV. It is a RTF system that isn't too bad. Once I got used to it I ditched the stock camera and I am using a GoPro for video out. I also want to up my 100mw vTx for my range, I will be buying the 600mw soonish. Also you will want some bluebeam antennas, they are WAY better.

12. With the amount of videos out there it's hard to suggest any because you have probably seen most... lots of work for people for little return. You can do things like go into the Naza thread and search that thread alone for "www.youtube.com" and it will return ALL youtube videos.... then browse.

Aside from the little micro quads there aren't many RTF's out there. All you need to do to make the Naza ARF kit a RTF kit is to buy your batteries and TX/RX (don't use the DJI props if you can avoid it... I had luck but others have not. I feel so much better with my graps).

I wouldn't advise a scratch build until you learn more. There are a lot of components that don't play well with each other or aren't very efficient. Leave out the gimbal until you learn the little things... like flying. You WILL crash, you will land hard, you will lose orientation and hug a tree. It's a lot cheaper if you only have to replace a prop or arm and not repair $100 in gimbal parts or replace a $150 servo that you stripped out. Setting up the TX/Naza is tricky until you learn the lingo and understand how things work but that is half of the fun! Until you are ready for the gimbal you can do like I did and just hard mount a GoPro Hero2 (way better than Hero1) on top of your F550.

Bottom line recommendations?

F550 = $318
Naza = $230 (Save the GPS for later when you learn to fly, it doesnt save money to buy combo)
Futaba 8FGS = $480 (He shows out of stock... email him first. He ordered some for me when I needed one)
Turnigy 5000mah 45C = $60/ea (I do my best to stay under 2000g in weight so I can use the UPS 3 day shipping for $44. I go as far as adding shrink wrap/battery straps/etc to fill up the box)
Lipo Charger = $54.70 (I bought from here because they do free shipping over $50 and I didn't have to use up valuable weight from HobbyKing. I am happy with it so far)
10x5 Graupners LEFT and RIGHT = $12ea, buy 5 of both = $120 (Z06Tony here on RCG runs that site, FAST shipping)

$1323+44 shipping from hobbyking (all others are free) = 1,367 in the air.

There are cheaper ways to get into the air but that is MY recommendation based on the path I have gone. After that I would say buy the FPV system I mentioned above and learn that. Next would be GPS and learn that. Finally add your gimbal.

BAM.... long winded post. Now all I have to do is link other people with similar questions to this thread and I am done! Good luck!

EDIT**
I am adding a word that I am likely to never say again on this forum so the thread is easy for me to find in a search. Salamander
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Last edited by MCrites; Aug 16, 2012 at 01:10 PM.
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Old Jul 31, 2012, 09:14 AM
Registered User
United States, AZ, Snowflake
Joined Dec 2011
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+1 on all of what Mcrites said. However, I'd look at adding GPS to the mix. For $170 it is cheap insurance. While I was learning to fly my Naza, I managed to loose it three different times. Luckily, each time I found it the following day. I live in a rural area and no one was hurt and no property damage. But I did loose a $60 battery each time. The Failsafe Return To Home feature of the Naza with GPS is golden. It won't help if you fly your battery out, but most beginners become disoriented and loose control - then bye bye quad. Also, unlike Atti Mode which will maintain altitude but allows the quad to drift with the wind, GPS mode will hold position, even in the wind. Outside of the price, the biggest drawback is the vulnerability of the GPS when mounted on the shaft - especially for a beginner that is going to crash many times. Some have managed to successfully mount it flat on one of the arms. Food for thought.
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Old Jul 31, 2012, 09:30 AM
I never finish anyth
United States, TX, Houston
Joined Jan 2012
2,585 Posts
I agree with kgreylgrey 100%. The reason I didn't include it in the recommendation is because WHEN you flip it you run the risk of damage. On top of that there is enough going on as a newbie (I am still one ) when setting up and flying that it's already information overload. Another reason I left it out because I don't like seeing the GPS used as a crutch or "Hey look it can land itself!" because WHEN things go wrong you don't have the skills to take over the model and save it/people/property. I feel the ATTI mode is enough of a crutch to get newbies in the air and comfortable on their way to learn Manual mode. I can just see someone flying at a local park (or in the case of many videos in their backward) with little understanding of how things work and what to do WHEN things go wrong and landing their model in traffic or on someones head. If something like that makes headlines, it's bad news for EVERYONE.

Less variables = Less to go wrong.

I do agree that the GPS is amazing and has the potential to act as insurance, it's one of the reasons I am adding it now that I have more invested. I still think it's best to start slow, learn your equipments limitations, learn YOUR skill limitations and fly within those. The way to learn those is not to see how far you can fly out over your neighborhood "knowing" it will return to you if things go wrong. How many times have we seen "MY GPS/NAZA IS BROKE AND IT MADE MY MODEL CRASH INTO A PILE OF PUPPIES!" only to find out they didn't wait for GPS lock or didn't have a Rx that supported failsafe or they took off in Manual mode.

The preflight checklist is already long enough for new fliers, why complicate it the GPS calibrations and memorization of colored blinking LEDS. I think the fear that if you mess up it will crash/get lost is a good thing, keeps your confidence about even with your skill.
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Old Jul 31, 2012, 03:39 PM
You Enjoy Myself
United States, NC, New Bern
Joined Jul 2012
77 Posts
With more reading and talking to a couple people, I've decided to build my own quad. I spent a good amount of time searching for the best price. Here's what I've found:

FROM GOTHELIRC.COM:
Frame/ARF - DJI F450 ARF with motors, props, ESCs - $190
Navigation - NAZA with GPS - $399
2 extra DJI motors - $45.90
2 extra DJI ESCs - $41.90
10 inch Graupner props (8) - $90
Landing gear - $35
Loctite - $3.99
- plus 5% discount with free shipping = $765.50

FROM VALUEHOBBY.COM:
Battery - GForce  30C  2800 mAh 3s  11.1 volt  LiPo x 3 = $60
Battery Charger - GT Power A606-D 50W-6A 6s LiPo - $40

FROM FLYING-HOBBY.com
Futaba 8FG Super 2.4Ghz 8 Channel TX with R6208SB RX - $445

All together, probably around $1310 plus shipping from the last two sites.

I wanted some kind of camera mount/gimbal but want to learn to fly well first. I'll eventually move up to the F550 or something similar and get good camera equipment at that time. Until then, a simple mount and gopro will suffice once I'm ready to attach them.

I will bookmark FatShark Predator. Thanks for the info. I'll cross the FPV bridge once I come to it.

Reading up on and watching videos of soldering. I can do this. I'm technically capable enough, just a little apprehensive diving into everything and doing things I've never done before(fly more than a mini rc, soldering).
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Old Jul 31, 2012, 03:43 PM
I never finish anyth
United States, TX, Houston
Joined Jan 2012
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I am not a F450 expert but people who run the Graups on the F550 are on 4S. Motors run nice a cool with plenty of power.
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Old Aug 04, 2012, 09:42 PM
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Salamander! That's where I live!
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Old Aug 04, 2012, 09:44 PM
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Lots of good books on soldering. Main things are to keep joint clean, have hot enough iron, use flux cored solder, make mechanically sound joints if possible before soldering, make joint hot and then apply solder: do not try to carry hot solder to the joint on the iron!
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Old Aug 05, 2012, 08:27 AM
You Enjoy Myself
United States, NC, New Bern
Joined Jul 2012
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Thanks, Alan. I've been reading up on soldering and watching some tutorials too. I also hung out with an old neighbor of mine last night who works in electronics(radio towers) and he gave me some tips as well. Shouldn't be a problem.
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Old Aug 05, 2012, 01:42 PM
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OK. Good luck. I should just mention that if you are soldering surface mount components (SMC) there is a whole new ball game and the tip of the iron must be *very* fine.
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Old Aug 05, 2012, 05:42 PM
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Why a futaba 8fgs
and not something else less expensive
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Old Aug 05, 2012, 07:08 PM
You Enjoy Myself
United States, NC, New Bern
Joined Jul 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alan2 View Post
OK. Good luck. I should just mention that if you are soldering surface mount components (SMC) there is a whole new ball game and the tip of the iron must be *very* fine.
Thanks, I'll look into some tips, but the one on the relatively cheap soldering iron I got looks fine enough. Like the ones I've seen in tutorials.

Are there certain sizes or gauges of tips you can recommend for the F450 build?


Quote:
Originally Posted by saskya View Post
Why a futaba 8fgs
and not something else less expensive
I'm looking for top quality, something that will last a long time and offer as many options as I may want or need in the future. Plus, I have a little extra cash. Not going top notch on everything, just the TX/RX and propellers for now. BTW, I went with the 14 channel tx.
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