CURRENT PROJECT: Surveillance Drone Sixcopter Build (closed for now) - RC Groups
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Oct 03, 2012, 09:55 PM
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Build Log

CURRENT PROJECT: Surveillance Drone Sixcopter Build (closed for now)


This copter build & blog was created for a request on how to build a reliable and affordable surveillance copter with normal off the shelf equipment for use by small budget PD's and FD's. The copter is designed for really one major function, a high hovering platform for the systematic observation of a particular designated area of interest by visual, electronic, photographic, or other means. The platform may also be used as a communications relay system for short range point to point communications in perching mode. (We will get to the perching mode info later in build.)

I have decided to name this copter : "Tarantula"

We begin by listing the equipment which will comprise the copter's hardware portion of the build.


Standard Motor:

IPower 2212Q
Brand: Iflight
Type: IPower 2212Q - 22*12mm
KV- 850
Battery: 2-3s
135W, 400mm long wires with soldered 3.5mm male bullet connectors,
Shaft: short shaft, 3.17 x 41mm
Weight: 65g x 6 = 390gr
Max Current: 12.2A
Good quality motor - perfect for 10x4.5
With a 3s battery we are looking at 460 x 6 = 2760gr of thrust a max (6540rpm) which is equivalent to 6 lbs of thrust. If we go to a 4s battery we can boost our thrust to 8.5 lbs. On this build we will concentrate on the 3S battery for power knowing we have the 4s available for extra power if needed.

Standard Motor Props:

Gemfan: carbon reinforced propellers 10 x 4.5 ABS
or optional props:
APC11038SF APC PROP 11X3.8 slow flyer


Hobby-Lobby 35A Product#: ERCE035RD (6) Compact (28x38x8mm) and light (35g) this "Rapid Drive" ESC is designed for use on multi rotor aircraft only. Suitable for use with 2-4 Lipo cells, eRC's "Rapid Drive" speed controllers have a blazing fast response rate to the motor. 210gr total medium weight SixCopter with 16mm aluminum arms. 680mm motor to motor which includes motor mounts. 720gr Gimbal 2 axis LL4 roll and pitch control using 2 EMAX ES08MD servos. 95gr power convert cable T plug male to JST male x 6

Landing legs of my own design

Flight Control Unit:

UPDATE: Well its been 2 years in the making and the reason this build was halted was due to this FC coming out even though it was delayed a year. The new XAircraft SuperX Flight Control system will be used for this copter.

Optional FC System:

Future FC to be tested and may be used later on this copter is the PIXHAWK FC system. This will be experimented with later after flight testing completed. This FC offers a few more additions not available on the SuperX at this point but superX is coming out in the future with GCS. Both can be combined using the pixhawk as an extra IMU for other chores such as Sonar, and range finders along with real-time tracking and command updates to flight paths.

Onboard Video System:

Standard System: GoPro2 with GoPro Micro Video/Contol Board for realtime viewing. So you will have realtime view and use SD to record flight. Adapter from 99gr

Upgrade system: FPV fever HP520 CCD 10x optical zoom from 88.5gr piggybacked with Contour 1080p Video Camera with SD to record flight. 125gr eBay or Amazon

Both on board Video systems will have an OSD system which comes along with the SuperX FC system as an option.

Quick Calculations of average flight times. Mins are averaged down to whole min.

Standard 2212Q Motor:

5400mah battery at 2086gr on 10x4.5 = 67% throttle with 10 mins of flight time.
11000mah battery at 2256gr on 10x4.5 = 73% thottle with 19 mins of flight time.
5400mah battery at 2086gr on 11x3.8 = 57% throttle with 11 mins of flight time.
11000mah battery at 2256gr on 11x3.8 = 62% thottle with 21 mins of flight time.
Last edited by batfire; Jun 05, 2016 at 01:24 AM.
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Oct 12, 2012, 10:31 PM
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The Build is Now ON


Finally the build is on after completion of a very busy travel schedule. I was able to complete the arms with motor mounts and 2212Q motors installed. I also started on the center section of Hexacopter installing the esc's. The upper center plate shown below with copper foil installed to cut down on the EMF produced by the esc's and current that runs through the wiring.

I mounted the distribution panel but have decided to use a 6 to 1 connector to deans for power cable. I may set up the distribution panel for secondary power to different electronics I may carry on board. I ordered a few things from such as the power cable and extra copper foil.
I will be using the Devo 10 Radio system on this copter with the long range Rx1002 receiver. For the Surveillance side of the copter I will carry slide in and out video units and I will carry a special microphone system onboard for directed listening.
I put a few pictures of the build below starting with the inside view of the bottom hub plate showing the distribution panel and esc wiring which will use JST female connectors to the power cable.

The next picture shows the bottom of the center hub where the escs are mounted followed by the underside of the top hub plate with the copper foil installed. If I had thought of it earlier I would have copper foiled the bottom of the bottom plate before installing the escs. I may go back and do this before continuing assembly.

The last picture shows the aluminum arms with the motor mounts and motors mounted. Since all this assembly is common sense building I didn’t include any actual construction sequences. I think everyone can figure it out.
Last edited by batfire; Oct 14, 2012 at 02:33 PM.
Oct 15, 2012, 08:59 PM
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The parts arrived from CNCHelicopter today and started work once more on the Hexacopter. I soldered all jst’s to the esc’s. I then started laying out and installing electronics on top hub. I used old spare parts and build a mount for the battery and 2 axis mount under bottom hub and will install camera mount when it arrives. I am not sure it will all fit inside the bottom dome, we shall see. On the upper hub I installed another layer of copper foil. I will start installing the arms tomorrow. Just a couple of pics below.
Last edited by batfire; Nov 21, 2012 at 09:51 PM.
Oct 16, 2012, 08:57 PM
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Parts arrived from Quad frames today which included the extra dome for bottom of main hub, 2 axis camera mount with servos and shock mounts. I changed out wire from USB input device to the FC unit since I found a bad wire yesterday. I repaired the wire but since I had a spare wire I replaced it.

I completed power cable wiring and ran cables below to battery area. Test fitted the arms and motors on board and checked the wiring to make sure I had correct length. I will have to wait until Rx1002 replacement comes in so I can bind the Rx and then start setting esc high and low throttle settings. I can then check motor direction is correct and start closing up the hub compartment. If I get time I will build the new 2 axis camera mount and install the new servos that came in today. The mounting of the electronics for the V1 control system went very well. I installed shock mounts on FC and will install the other set on the camera mount. I also built a tower for the gps head which mounts on one of the motor arms. While I was at it I powered up electronics and did a GPS pacc check on head and inside I was getting 6 sats with 200 pacc so I would say it is working fine. Just a few pictures below showing progress.
Last edited by batfire; Nov 02, 2012 at 11:13 PM.
Nov 06, 2012, 06:42 PM
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I was able today to get a little work done on Hexacopter but another big storm moving in so had to stop work and get ready for the snow and 60mph winds, again

Here is the progress today. I finally got all wiring completed, esc's programmed and motor direction set for each. I have now closed up the hub section and you can see by pictures the esc's plugs coming up on top hub for install to output side of FC. The bottom of hub shows battery side wiring from esc's ready to plug into 6-1 power plug to deans.

I provided a picture of the 2 axis camera mount installed but picture did not come out as well as I would like. I had to remove while reassembling the hub frame but once I reinstall I will try to get some good shots of the mounts shock system. I am finding it harder now to do what I wanted with dome on top and bottom but will continue to try to resolve the space issue allowing bottom dome to be installed.
Last edited by batfire; Nov 12, 2012 at 07:35 PM.
Nov 12, 2012, 07:32 PM
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I finally gave up on locating ready-made landing legs for a fair price and built my own from spare parts. I will have to get some rubber boot connectors to install compression struts on these legs to complete build.

I installed all the basic FC electronics and will start a new user profile for the FC and PID setting as I get time. I will then install all connectors after completing twist and EMI/RFI prevention work.

It is finally coming together and I hope to be testing Hex before spring depending on weather. This flight control is rock solid with over 50+hours of testing on quads letís see how well it is going to do on Hexacopters. It should be an interesting testing period.

Below are some pictures.
Last edited by batfire; Jan 05, 2013 at 09:46 PM.
Dec 03, 2012, 06:41 PM
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Slow going but consistently so! I had a few setbacks in this build mostly finding after a complete system is tested and installed that there are wiring issues or I was not happy with the way I constructed it. I have now completed the building stage for testing the unit. The final assembly will be concluded after the test flights. I will be testing the Hexacopter with the XAircraft FC-1212-S series full flight control system including compass and gps along with XA firmware FC1212-S V1.33 AHRS-S V1.23 and GPS-S V 1.01.

I will initially be testing with XA firmware but after initial test flights completed will swap with another S-series controller system acquired recently which I have striped clean and loaded my own firmware. This is also the reason things have been a little slow. I have had to rework the firmware for a Hexacopter since I originally wrote the firmware for a quadcopter. This took a little time and then a lot of simulator work to verify set up correct, I hope? This is the reason for using the XA firmware first to make sure the copter flies as it should. Once working correctly then will install the one with my firmware. I want to test both and see whose firmware is better suited overall. This firmware will be used on my own designed and constructed flight control system later. (More on that at a later date)

Ok just a few pictures below and yes I moved the gps to center of copter for testing.
Jan 02, 2013, 07:57 PM
What a great build ... hopely weather will be better soon

I may copy your idea to isolate esc's ...
Apr 11, 2014, 07:19 PM
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Hi Everyone,

This build is back on and the new superX Pro with OSD is finally (after a 2 year wait) available from Xaircraft. See pictures on first post which was updated. The V1 XAircraft FC has been removed which is in the original pictures taken of build.

I am looking forward to completing this build as soon as the XXX830 build is completed an test flown.

For now I will be working on advancing the X830 quadcopter since the Super X quad controller from CncHelicopter for that project WAS in stock and shipped. More on that build on the TA:EX-830 blog.

Stay Tuned. For now please follow the XXX-830 project elsewhere in the blogs. Thanks


Last edited by batfire; Jun 12, 2014 at 06:32 PM.
Jun 26, 2014, 07:43 PM
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Well we are back to building this copter now that the XXX-830 has made its maiden flight passing with flying colors. Its time to get serious on the SixCopter completion.

I thought long and hard about making a few changes to the "Tarantula" build and decided to replace the fix landing gear with a retractable unit. This was a big decision since the whole concern was to keep weight to a minimum. I have included a picture of the new gear below.

I will have more info on other changes later. The SuperX Pro is installed on-board now.

More to follow


Jun 05, 2016, 01:20 AM
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Hi All, I have put this project away due to the XXX-830 phase 3 work which I was heavily involved with, now completed. I will return to this project sometime in the future with new inactivation to the design and controller system. For now this project is boxed up and put away. A new project will be posted as the parts arrive and the unit is put into operation this next week.

Stay tuned



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