So I have really been wanting to take on this project but didn’t really know where to start so I started with a list of things I wanted this project copter to do or be able to do with future expansion. The thought of all of the programming involved to get all these parts to talk is dizzying but I really want a Quadcopter and I want one that’s done right with all the bells and whistles just the way I want it.
I have been bookmarking sites for quite some time now and for a while I was stuck on one component and that was the frame. The thing that makes my project different from most others is the desire to use the bigger 540 Can size RC Motors. These are the standard 1/10 Car and Truck electric motors while most other Quads and standard Heli’s use the much smaller 380 size motors. For all I know there called something different now but back when I was heavy into RC cars and trucks everything was brushed motors and brushless where literally just coming onto the scene, this was back in 2002-2003? somewhere around there maybe a little earlier.
I know much more than the average RC fan should know about brushed motors including how to proximate your RPM and torque based on the turns of wire on your armature and then factor in tire size and ring and pinion gear ratios for top speed vs. low end torque. However when it comes to brushless all I know is none of the old school rules apply, but I also know you can get a stock brushless car that hits 60MPH which is something you could only accomplish with an over-sized nitro (.18 instead of .15) in a stadium truck prior to brushless motors.
Well recently I figured out what I would like to attempt a frame out of, I always knew I would use a plastic base, maybe ABS or something and then I will make a mold from modeling clay which I will heat form Acrylic or Polycarbonate to using an oven and heat gun but I couldn’t figure out what to make the 4 shafts out of that would hold the motors or the landing gear. Well the landing gear is still up in the air but not as big of a deal but I have found what to make the 4 main shafts from and its relatively affordable less that fact you need to purchase 10′ of the material.
It’s called Fibragate Dynaform and looks like its tough enough to handle the lift of the motors yet flexible enough that it won’t crack on a rough landing. I was looking at the 1.5″ wide which at 10′ will run me about $50 less tax and shipping. Some things I am still unsure of is which motors to get, what blades do I get? I know I need 2 different types and even more importantly because its the hardest to change is how long do I cut the shafts that will hold the motors? I would assume the longer they are the better stability will be to an extent but I am sure the shorter they are has some advantages as well. I figured I could use several completed projects as my guideline and scale up the designs proportionally and see what users say on how they fly.
Anyway that’s enough rambling here is my long list of must haves and would likes.
Arduino Mega Controlled (its the only language I know well enough to take this on)
Gyroscope, Accelerometer and Magnometer (3 Axis Each to detect exact orientation of the craft)
GPS with Compass (For unmanned flights or setting way points and taking video / photos)
Voltage and Current Sensors (Detection of batteries to know when to come home or emergency land)
Altimeter (So I know when I’m above the trees and telephone lines)
Barometric Pressure Sensor (Additional Altitude sensing)
Infrared Proximity Sensor and / or Ultrasonic Range Finder (Obstacle Avoidance)
FPV Camera with On Screen Display of above (This is for ground control and onboard data collection)
Micro SD Card Reader (Data Logging and Diagnostics)
XBee or other RF (Something to send signals back to ground control)
Ground Control Software (I have found a few open source that look like they will work good)
So as you can see the list of electronics is pretty exhaustive and thinking about connecting it all together is a nightmare. Recently I have been looking into pricing these parts and unless I want to buy surface mount and make my own custom boards it looks like Sparkfun is the only resource for everything on breakout boards but it doesn’t come cheap. Just the first item on my list after the Arduino itself is over $100 which got me looking back into the Ardupilot. As much as I want to build my own setup from scratch I think I am going to be stuck with getting one of these at $200 + the $65 MinimOSD which adds FPV / OSD and GPS.
As you can see at $200 I will save over $100 easily on electronics so unless I can find a cheaper route I will have to investigate this further and see if it will truly work for my needs. In the meantime here are some links I have collected along my journey, chances are if your reading this you have already seen some if not all of these but if you just stumbled on this page and are interested in building a Quad yourself then these links may be of interest to you as well.
Other Quads based on the Arduino
AeroQuad Home Page
Flight Dynamics Wiki
DIY Drones, Some GREAT Videos on this site
A LARGE Quad I found surfing for images on Google
Cheap FPV Camera
FPV Servo Controlled Pan Tilt Device