Parrot Mini Drone Conversion to Graupner 2.4 Ghz - RC Groups

Parrot Mini Drone Conversion to Graupner 2.4 Ghz

RCGroups user Oneblueyedog has created a great conversion thread on the Parrot Mini Drone. Check it out!

Parrot Mini Drone Conversion to Graupner 2.4 Ghz

The Story and Conversion

Being a long time nitro pilot, my niece gave my brother and I a Parrot Mini Drone for Christmas. I had never controlled a drone before. It was the Swat mini drone with cool lighting. I enjoyed it with my sons and wife flying it in the house for the last two months. I even bought the bluetooth controller and brought it to the office. Our head IT guy mastered it quicker than I did at the first charge. Our President eclipsed both of us and was skillfully flying it over an empty cube farm and spot landing it on the conference room table.

Then I got a report from my brother that he had a fly away in his backyard. It just drifted up and away out of sight.

So my Parrot Drone became a house cat. I have a small house. It's too small to enjoy a drone.

I have to give credit to Parrot in that it's a great unit to build confidence. It's very rugged and absorbs free falls to the hardwood floors after hitting walls. It charges quickly with a cell phone wall wart. The props are flexible and never broke. I thought I'd give it a try outdoors on a calm day. What are the chances that I'd have the same outcome as my brother?

When I did, it had intentions of "Papillon" to break free from its controlled life. It indeed started to climb straight up until I raised the controller over my head while mashing the landing button on it. Control was not precise outdoors. I got it back down and went inside the house.

I purchased a Graupner MZ 24 radio for my birthday in January. I had been flying a JR X347 since new (still do). Back in the day, I worked in a hobby shop in San Antionio, TX, Dick's Hobby Shop. Graupner back then was an elite hobby manufacturer of the industry so I always had respect and a desire to get one of their radios. Finally did this year, after 40 + years.

I decided to use the MZ24 for the Parrot. After looking online at Graupner USA I saw they offered a receiver in board form. It is the receiver for the Alpha 110. It's touted to be the same platform as the GR18. I decided, what the heck, and called Graupner and they said they were having success with converting other manufacturer's drones to HOTT with it. I bought one and some Lipoly packs with wall charger.

Last edited by Oneblueyedog; Feb 21, 2017 at 11:42 PM..
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Feb 22, 2017, 01:17 PM
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After some trial and error, I came up with a successful solution to convert this mini quad. Remove battery. Take all of the electrical components and covers off first. Be especially careful removing the motor wires off of the Parrot board. I found that a micro screwdriver under the wire end, carefully prying up and sliding the connect or back gives some success. The connectors at the nose of the board gave the most trouble. The female housing came loose from the board. These are held on with microns of surface solder and break away easily. The copper terminals never broke away but might if you are brutal.

On the Alpha controller board you'll see 4 soldering pads that correspond to the motors. M1, M2, M3, M4.

I created ends to mate with the existing connectors. I used telephone signal wire (TSW), stripped of insulation and flattened on the ends after cutting to the correct length.

I found that in order to correspond with the motors on the Parrot, the board must face up. This means you have to drill through the board. I used a micro pin vise and a corresponding drill bit the same diameter as the solid TSW. I got the micro drill at Harbor Freight.

On the smooth side of the board there are indentations that correspond to the +/- pads on the top for the M's. Carefully make sure that they correspond to the solder pads. Drill the holes completely vertical to the other side. In my case I had one indentation missing. On that one, I drilled from the top solder pad side, down through to the bottom.

Afterwards you can feed wires through the holes and solder them to the top solder pads. Leave enough wire to cut down later.

For the battery bay, I created a suspension web out of surgical suture I had in the garage. The Parrot frame has pads along the rails. I drilled a centered hole on each and criss crossed the suture like shoe laces, or kayak. It holds the battery above the components with plenty of room.
Last edited by Oneblueyedog; Feb 27, 2017 at 07:01 PM.
Feb 23, 2017, 12:53 PM
Registered User
Researching connectors, this is the type the Parrot board uses.
Feb 24, 2017, 10:20 AM
Registered User
The next step was to affix the Graupner board to the hull. I used some servo grommets, cut one set to clear the LEDs and looped suture across the bottom and through the supplied holes at the top and front. These tie points nestle the board forward so the antenna won't collide with the frame. I trimmed the frame in the front and back to clear the connectors on the board. Some of the solder points of the LED's were high and interfered with the frame, so I carefully trimmed them off with wire nippers. The only touch points are the rubber grommets.

After studying the connectors, I found that flattening the end of the copper wires with flat jawed needle nose pliers let the wire go back into the slot of the motor connector and semi locked it in after rotating the connector flush with the wire. I used hot glue to insulate the wire and hold the connector to the wire pairs. It's pretty rugged since this copter has taken 60 foot drops to asphalt when I flew it out of range on a test flight.

Flight reports and video to come.
Feb 26, 2017, 11:47 AM
Registered User
Nice, how about a flight video!

I have been meaning to tear into mine since the first flight with my cell phone. I absolutely despise RC by way of cell phone, worst idea ever. The controller made this quad better, yet it still is a touch behind with its response to inputs. I keep buying these smaller quads looking for a Hubsan x4 killer, I collect them all in hopes.
Feb 28, 2017, 05:38 PM
Registered User
I flew a set of batteries (4) last night. I'm not that good of a quad pilot but it performed the same as before, even with the 600mAh battery. After a minute, the receiver voltage alert voice starts going off. I can fly it to almost 3.3 volts (around 3 minutes) and then it will go to fail safe (fall out of flight) as programmed. It trimmed to hover and slightly drifted. I assumed it may have been a breeze. It may also be that the motors are a month old and the props are scarred. Control was smooth and fairly easy. It's much different from fixed wing flight, so I'm flying reactively.

I did some full throttle and full forward stick passes. It looked as if the angle of the quad was 45. It seemed fast to me but there was no way to tell how fast. But I'll guess +20mph. Full throttle will get you a receiver voltage alert though. Voltage telemetry is great since I've always estimated using nitro aircraft.

One irritating aspect though is that the 600mAh battery has the wrong connector and in the dark I got mixed up with polarity. One prop started and I felt the board get hot so I instantly yanked it off. Thought all was lost but tried a correct battery pack and it flew fine. A hack could have cost the project.

I cannot find a connector (Tamiya/Molex?) off the shelf anywhere in the DFW or Houston area.
Guess I'll have to mail order some.

I did flick the switch to Rate mode (SW2) on the ground and the quads props spun faster at idle with the aft props lifting the body off the ground. I switched it back to Attitude. There must be a need for adjustment.

The ranch flight did not happen on account of the + lead breaking off the board. I ended up flying a V03 Seeker my brother owns. The flights of the mini helped fly the Seeker smoothly.
Apr 10, 2017, 09:45 AM
Registered User
I've been flying this conversion at least weekly. I finally got my brother to take some video. It's pretty tame flying at his house.

Parrot mini drone Graupner receiver +transmitter MZ 24 (2 min 0 sec)
Apr 17, 2017, 04:07 PM
Registered User
Here is a video using LOS and the camera. It recorded to an Android tablet.

House flying Parrot Graupner with Camera to Android (2 min 59 sec)

I used the VR box and my Android LG V10 outside. Got a decent run in the cul de sac and landed it back at my feet. The next flight I got greedy and went above treetop level, got disoriented and carried by the wind. I gave it full forward stick but it started to spin too. Watched it tumble and crash in the grass somewhere. I almost lost it but found it across the street a couple of feet from my neighbors back yard fence. Homed in on it with the vid feed clarity. It was a lucky day.
Apr 18, 2017, 07:27 PM
Registered User
Nice conversion! Does the auto-hover still work?
Apr 21, 2017, 12:33 AM
Registered User
The auto hover is gone unfortunately. It was a great Parrot feature.
Apr 21, 2017, 12:44 AM
Registered User
I had a crash and one of the switches on the video transmitter broke loose. I soldered it back on. It was really vulnerable on top so I decided to use the nose of the Parrot to house the camera. It's working well enough to test in the cul de sac but the antenna idea I'm using needs some tuning. Vid is rough for fpv and recording. To fit the camera was tedious but fun.

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