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Mar 19, 2011, 09:48 AM
Grips's Avatar
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Build Log

DAC-1 Build Log: Heavy Lift Hexacopter for AP/FPV, *VIDEOS

Whats up,
I figured instead of raising Kapteinkuk's thread from the dead every time I wanted to discuss heavy lift hexa's, Iwould start my own build log thread. I have been flying 450 size heli's for about a year and was looking for something much more stable, less prone to vibrations, has GPS position hold, altitude hold and auto-leveling.

I have a very long background in photography and have run a side semi-professional business for the past 6 years with much success, shooting for Subaru, Canadian Cancer Foundation and private/commercial clients. I have wanted for some time to combine my interest in RC vehicles and photography/videography.

Having started flying 450 size heli's the cost is absolutely outrageous for the features that I want, requiring a 600 size heli, front mounted camera gimbal, and a helicommand for reliability. This past fall I got away from the heli's and started gaining interest in multi-rotor vehicles and then found the rcgroups forums.

I want to build a hexacopter that is capable of lifting a payload consisting of a DSLR and/or a HD video camera and underslung camera mount. I want to have GPS position hold, altitude hold, self-leveling, and heavy lift capabilities.

The cameras that I intend to utilize are a Nikon d300, Panasonic TM700, Canon S95 and a Go-pro.

Panasonic TM700 - 500g

Canon S95 - 200g

D300 - 840g + light wide angle lens

Go Pro Hero - 170g


I intend to use a new jacub's frame that he has mentioned will be designed for heavy lift hexa's, available sometime in the next few weeks.
Following on the heels of Kapteinkuk's thread

I intend to use NTM Series 35-36A 910Kv / 350W. The specs are as follows:

Model: NTM 35-36A 910
Kv: 910rpm/v
Turns: 10T
Max current: 38A
Rated Power: 350w
Shaft: 4mm
Weight: 117g
ESC: 30A
Cell count: 3S Lipoly
Suggested Prop: 10x4
Efficiency: 83%

Electronic Speed Controllers:
I intend to use RC Timer 30A speed controllers following some very brief discussion in KapteinKuks thread.


I intend to use some 12 x3.8 props, taking from Kaptienkuks experience with his heavy lift hexacopter. I am sure I can find these elsewhere or another similar prop.

Here is another link to props.

Flight Controller:
After reading quite a bit on the different flight controllers available, I intend to use the Ardupirate setup, utilizing the GPS and magnetometer. I am still on the fence as to whether I will add sonar in the future for a low altitude warning.

Underslung Mount:

This has been a large source of grief for me, browsing the internet nightly for a decent underslung mount that does not weigh too much. I have looked at the photoshipone mounts and they are spectacular but I am looking to keep costs down. They are very spiffy nonetheless.

I read the thread regarding CNC cutting a camera mount and was surprised that the thread turned into commercial venture. Despite this, I'd like to design an underslung mount and have cut it. The only problem is they do not have any CF sheets, only Acrylic.

X468 is hoping to have a larger underslung mount available in the near future. I think if I could source some decent grommets for TREX 500 tail booms I could manage to whip something up and have Ponoko cut it.
I think that the below design is very promising to ensure balance.

I have a pile of Zippy Flightmax 3s 2200mah 20C batteries but will likely go with something larger in 3S for longer flight times.

I am very much open to constructive criticism in terms of my setup, components and assembly. I intend to document the entire process, possibly with video.
Last edited by Grips; Aug 30, 2011 at 09:28 PM.
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Mar 19, 2011, 09:55 AM
Grips's Avatar
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Build Log

2011/03/19 - Ordered 6 of the above motors. I will likely be buying another two to ensure no QA issues which would lead to failure and/or vibration.
2011/03/20 - Ordered 7 of the above ESC's. Started to play with a few more gimbal/gear designs after the above. Also trying to find some grommets for TREX 500 Helicopters.
2011/03/21 - Been in contact with another forum member who has similar intentions to build a open source camera mount and skid system for his multicopter. Using HK500 booms, HK450 booms/HK600 skids. Looking at possibly using for cutting the parts for easy public access. Agreement on terms to be used for the build, i.e., lower skids and upper support booms.

Further discussions had regarding the skid width and what the goals of the camera mount/skids are for. It sounds like myself and the other individual both want to carry a DSLR. Will utilize CA as well as boom/nut configurations for assembly. HK has many M4/M5 nuts and lock-nut packages available. The Grommets can be sourced from ebay for quite minimal costs. Still some question as to what materials we will have available to cut the major component parts out of.

Late into the wee hours of the morning, still worked on some design ideas and bounced the idea off of Elvish.

2011/03/22 - Signed up for the DIY Drones forum. Still trying to find a reliable source for the grommets. Been working on the design in illustrator. Elvish sent me his design for the octocopter frame and it looks great! The back tray design is almost completed.

2011/03/24 - Been on the DIY Drones forums asking a few questions about which components to order. I am pretty sure I am going to order the kit instead of the pre-assembled. After watching the videos of the assembly it seems rather easy to do.

Today I also found a few more suppliers for CF arms and CF CNC cutters for the frames. As well I found some 180mm domes based upon Elvish's 180mm width.

I also ordered two HK450 booms along with six 4mm shaft adapters. I still need to find the appropriate props as well as figure out how I am going to power everything.

2011/03/29 -
I have been flat out with finishing some other things and this has been on the back burner. Today I ordered two trex 500 booms and 5 trex 450 booms for the gimbal/skid design. I am really not liking the idea of hanging a camera off of a single screw for the front mounted design, especially a nylon one.

I also realized I ordered the wrong accessory kit for these motors. The prop shaft for the one I have ordered is 6mm but the shafts on the motors are 4mm. I ordered the other accessory pack.

2011/03/30 - I received my six NTM motors today. The photo on the HK website is wrong and the bottom plate design is different, having four different mounting holes rather than three. I'll take some pics of them later.

I also found a local supplier for 1/2" and 5/8" I.D rubber grommets. I'm going to measure the material thickness now.
Last edited by Grips; Mar 30, 2011 at 02:40 PM.
Mar 19, 2011, 03:46 PM
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watching with much interest :-)
Mar 20, 2011, 10:56 AM
Grips's Avatar
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Outstanding Issues
Such a build requires many different broad areas of work. Since the design is not going to be for sale, sources for parts need to be found.

Horizon Parts Acquisition:
1. Select, Order, Acquire Motors
2. Select, Order, Acquire 30A ESC's
3. Select, Order, Acquire Main Chassis. Jacubs frame is at the top right now.
4. Select, Order, Acquire Arudipirate control unit
5. Select, Order,Figure out what sort of power source to use

Horizon Part Sourcing:
1. Locate Source for 12mm I.D. Grommets
2. Locate Source for 16mm I.D. Grommets
3. Locate Source for 12mm Aluminum Shafts
4. Locate Source for 16mm Aluminum Shafts
5. Locate Source for 12"x24" CF Sheets
6. Locate CNC Cutting service

Horizon Skid Design:
1. Name major components
2. Design main skids
3. Design camera gimbal
4. Incorporate gear/servo system for roll and tilt
5. Incorporate a pan axis
6. Create a sub carriage to isolate the main carriage vibrations from the skid assembly.
Last edited by Grips; Mar 22, 2011 at 05:12 PM.
Mar 20, 2011, 11:04 AM
Pants first, then shoes
Mar 20, 2011, 03:26 PM
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hexa's Avatar
nice build log. I think that camera mount is not good for dslrs. has a new version thats made for dlsr.
Mar 20, 2011, 06:07 PM
Grips's Avatar
Thread OP
I updated the build log.

Originally Posted by hexa
nice build log. I think that camera mount is not good for dslrs. has a new version thats made for dlsr.
It seems like different variations on the same idea. Certainly the camera tray of the above design is too small for a large DSLR (D300, D700, D3, 5dMKii or 7D). Basically, offset batteries to the back and have a roll and tilt mount on the front with some fancy dancy skid design. Grommets are pretty straight forward. Adding an additional support structure and having mediating grommets to minimize vibration is what I'd like to utilize. If I could I'd like to implement some sort of a pan design into the camera mount for a second operator and/or gyro.
Last edited by Grips; Mar 20, 2011 at 06:13 PM.
Mar 20, 2011, 07:16 PM
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hexa's Avatar
this is there dlsr version

Mar 20, 2011, 09:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Grips
Updated the build log.

Does anyone know online material cutters like or We are looking for someone to cut carbon fibre specifically, probably 1.5-2mm thick. Preferably 12x24 sheets to allow for larger parts on a single sheet. The only options we have right now are Delrin and Acrylic and too thin aluminum. The Hobbycity CF sheets are too small to cut large parts on (300mmx100mm)
You might try here?
Mar 20, 2011, 10:00 PM
Grips's Avatar
Thread OP
Originally Posted by Katabatic
Thanks for the link.

Updated the build log again for today.

I have attached where I we are at with the skid design, utilizing the main skid design from Elvish. I just added the top piece which will be a rear or front boom tray. By the look of the microcopter units, every designer is running into the same problem. Heavy loads need to go under the center of gravity under the electronics. Lighter cameras may go out in front like the XAPCAM design.

We settled on a 22cm diameter for the skid width and will use HK450 booms for the skids. Finding a decent supplier for grommets is harder than initially thought. I think we will possibly have to design a front mount design for lighter cameras, as well as a more under slung arrangement for heavier DSLR's.
Last edited by Grips; Mar 20, 2011 at 10:07 PM.
Mar 21, 2011, 08:39 AM
Grips's Avatar
Thread OP
Signed up for the DIY Drones forums today to get ready for the Ardupilot flight controller config/install.

I've been looking all over the place for a North American supplier of 16mm I.D and 12mm I.D. soft rubber grommets. Seems to be hard to come by. If someone knows a supplier which is cheap, let me know. I'm looking to purchase probably 30 of each at least. The supplier would need to be ongoing for future users wanting to purchase them for the skid/camera mount build.
Last edited by Grips; Aug 30, 2011 at 09:39 PM.
Mar 21, 2011, 01:39 PM
Registered User
What do you think about this?:

+ FY-20 stabilizer

I'm thinking about buying it for my new quad x720.
Mar 21, 2011, 04:32 PM
Registered User
As mentioned by Grips, I will be co-designing the camera mount with him.
We are still on the drawing board and we will start posting designs once we really have a better idea about what we need.

Grips already said it before and I would like to say it again. The design will be open source, and accessible to everybody.
Links will be posted as to where to buy parts. And how to make the parts that are not available or too expensive to make.
I also plan on designing a frame which will also be added to the open source project.

We are going to make two versions of these mounts, the low-cost (aluminium-g10), and a carbon version one.

We will not be selling the mounts, nor produce them. We will give all the plans, and the places to get the parts.

We would love to have all the input possible, on design, materials and where to find what. Your contribution will be greatly appreciated and a great time saver.
We are far from being pro’s, just two passionate hobbyist’s.

Subscribe and enjoy the ride

Mar 21, 2011, 08:14 PM
Grips's Avatar
Thread OP
I updated the build log.

Well said Elvish. It is open to ideas, we are just trying to come up with something together to use for our hobby. Looking for 12 and 16mm ID rubber grommets.

Right now we are primarily looking to bang out the design and find suppliers for the misc parts needed.

Elvish has a great job done on a octocopter chassis to use. I'm working tonight on the link between the skids and the bottom plate (chassis). Seems to me that Elvish's skills in illustrator out perform me lol but I get the job done.
Last edited by Grips; Mar 21, 2011 at 08:56 PM.
Mar 21, 2011, 08:23 PM
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Oh, wow...I didn't know this was an open source design you were working on!

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