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Thread: Skinny's multicopter RC buy, build (and crash) log

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    Skinny's multicopter RC buy, build (and crash) log

    THought it might interest some of your wanting to get in to multirotors to share my experience so far.

    My first (2) QCs where mQX blades:


    Can be found everywhere for ~120-150 euro RTF (so with radio transmitter ready to fly, usually with spare props). I have to say, its a fantastic little quad. Its fast and nimble enough to be and remain a challenge, it will do 3D (flips, rolls,..) yet stable enough to be manageable for newbies (like me). Its a bit big for indoors, and it doesnt like too much wind, but fly it outside when its calm and its brilliant. Its pretty crash proof too (I tested that very thoroughly) but you will need spares. Spare props, and after some time spare motors. They do burn out. Every part can easily be found online, and none are really expensive, but it adds up. PRo tip: buy another mQX without remote for spares. Much cheaper. Also buy at least 3 spare batteries, they last ~8-10 minutes. Final tip, balance your props! Its really easy, just add some tape to the light side (you can turn it in their bearings to find out) or sand down the other side. Makes a massive difference.

    Next up is a ladybird clone I bought for my brother:


    http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    Rather than giving it to my brother, of course Im flying it myself now

    Iits incredibly small, easy to fly indoors, cheap as chips. Even has funky LEDs that help with orientation. But I have mixed feelings about it. On one hand, its extremely stable. Stunningly stable in fact (6 axis gyro). But it has 2 flight modes, "beginner and expert". In beginner mode, the sensitivity is turned way, WAY down. Its actually useful for a complete newbie and when flying indoors, you cant use more stick then anyway, but outside its just not enough. So you put it in expert mode, you have plenty of authority then, but if you apply too much stick, it goes in to automatically programmed flips. Push the stick 2/3 forward and it will do a forward roll. Push it too much to left and it does a left roll. Same with every axis (except yaw). Those automatic aerobatics are kinda fun and makes you look like a pro if you want it to flip, but its very annoying if you applied that much stick because you needed to manouvre and not flip it. It cant be turned off. Moreover, when you put the sticks back close to neutral, the gyro stabilization kicks in very aggressively and it starts hovering or even overcompensating for the direction you were moving in. Its like pushing a ball uphill, stop pushing and it quickly rolls in the other direction. Push to hard and, well, it flips.

    In short: its okay to learn and certainly quite fun; for the price you cant fault it, but you will quickly want something better.

    Next up is the real walkera ladybird;



    Looks exactly like the above, I suspect it will fly much the same (still havent received it ), but doesnt have the problem of auto flipping and can be used with a proper remote so you can set exponential rates, mixers and everything. I ordered the FPV version which has a built in camera that transmits video in real time to a display on the RC transmitter (or video goggles, or tv). I am not expecting miracles, expected range is ~20-30m without too much obstructing. But using clover leaf antenna's this can be boosted substantially



    Ive seen reports of 100-200m video range with a set of such antenna's (can be bought online or DIY). THe nice thing about the ladybird FPV is thats a ready to fly package, and rather affordable entry in to FPV. But I already know I will want more. Much more . So on hind sight I made a mistake ordering the combination with the devo F4 transmitters. Its only 4 channel. If you intend to take this further, I suggest you bite the bullet and order the combo with the Devo F7. Its considerably more expensive but the 7ch transmitter can be used for future more advanced quads too. You will need the extra channels for things like turning on or off gyro stabilization, attitude hold, return to launch (autopilot) etc. So Ive ordered a 9 channel transmitter receiver for my next quad:



    The ifly 4.
    I intended to build my own from components; I read a TON on the subject my head is still spinning figuring out how to match motors, props, ESCs, flight controllers.. And then finding the right components. So I stumbled upon this ebay listing:
    http://www.benl.ebay.be/itm/13073602...84.m1439.l2649

    $190 is a stupid low price for the listed specs. Its bare bones, so you still need battery and stuff, you need to assemble it and there is no FPV kit, but I couldnt resist the offer. THe flight controller may have to be replaced, what I read about it is pretty damn hard to setup, but at least it does have a ton of features, including the ability to connect a GPS and have it fly itself, or return to home when you lose connection (or video link) or when you flip a switch. I only just ordered this, and its coming from China so I expect it will take the better part of a month to get here.

    For my FPV gear I won this ebay bidding:

    http://www.benl.ebay.be/itm/39060362...84.m1439.l2649

    The camera is probably going to have to be replaced (or at least mount a wide angle lens), but it was a good deal on a very common 200mW 5.8 GHz video system.

    Im currently building my own video goggles, or more like a video hood, because the traditional ones (fatshark) are just too expensive to my taste. I will post some on that later. Still looking for a cheaper alternative for a gopro too to capture onboard footage.

    Im also contemplating building a decent ground station with a high gain directional antenna that automatically points towards the quad. I know it sounds silly, but with such a setup you can get several kilometer video range. And who wouldnt want that?

    More to come later, particularly the crashes once I received my toys
    All pics are just from the internet.
    Last edited by Skinny; 04-06-2013 at 11:52.

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    Whats the egg whisk looking thing in a plastic jam jar two photos above this post?

    Looking forward to seeing some videos
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bone Head View Post
    Whats the egg whisk looking thing in a plastic jam jar two photos above this post?
    Thats the cloverleaf (or circular polarized) antenna for much improved video reception I mentioned above. More info and how to build your own here:
    http://rcexplorer.se/diy/2011/08/the...f-fpv-antenna/

    Looking forward to seeing some videos
    My current quads are unable to carry a decent camera. They can carry a keychain fob camera, but the result is unsurprisingly not very impressive, particularly because the keychain cam I bought is a lowend one (there are decent ones, the famous 808 #16 which does HD with acceptable quality).

    I also dont have a camera atm thats worth its salt. Im looking for one thats in the same league as a Gopro 3 but wont bankrupt me each time I crash the quad.
    Until I find one, you might as well watch any of the trillion other clips on youtube. Here is nice review of the ladybird:




    Once I get my ladybird FPV I will try to record some FPV footage though.

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    It says in that vid that the battery lasts 7 minutes, what happens then does it just start to lose power and land or does it give some warning. I guess if you have a long range quad it must have much more endurance?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bone Head View Post
    It says in that vid that the battery lasts 7 minutes, what happens then does it just start to lose power and land or does it give some warning.
    Depends on the quad. Low end ones (like the mqx and the tiny quad I have) will lose power slowly, so you can notice you have to keep increasing throttle and that gives you time to land safely. Others have a beeper that goes off to warn you; and if you have FPV or telemetry (like the ladybird FPV) you can simply monitor battery voltage on your screen. High end ones with the right equipment will fly back to the launch spot and even land themselves if needed.

    I guess if you have a long range quad it must have much more endurance?
    You wont get much more than 10-15 minutes tops on most quads, even high end ones. To get more would require more batteries which are too heavy, causing the motors to work much harder, which eliminates much of the added battery capacity. But they arent slow, in just a few minutes you can get pretty damn far. Here is an excellent demo:



    If you want to fly FPV longer (and potentially further) you better stick to a regular rc plane, which can have much much longer endurance than multicopters.

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    must see; its not a quad, but FPV P51 mustang..


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    Love the first video, proper spying!
    The other one is rather funny Remember to use more elastic bands when pulling negative G

    Tilt rotor thats the way to go!
    Last edited by Bone Head; 04-06-2013 at 14:50.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bone Head View Post
    Love the first video, proper spying!
    The other one is rather funny Remember to use more elastic bands when pulling negative G

    Tilt rotor thats the way to go!

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    LOL thats wicked! Looks like a Shorts 360
    Im loving all the rockets at the end!
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    I'm guessing the guy flying the p51 didn't like his under carriage? That was some landing!!!
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    Ive been looking at the Ifly 4 I have a go pro camera, would work nicely Im wishing I hadnt sold all my radio gear now
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    Quote Originally Posted by Skinny View Post
    Depends on the quad. Low end ones (like the mqx and the tiny quad I have) will lose power slowly, so you can notice you have to keep increasing throttle and that gives you time to land safely. Others have a beeper that goes off to warn you; and if you have FPV or telemetry (like the ladybird FPV) you can simply monitor battery voltage on your screen. High end ones with the right equipment will fly back to the launch spot and even land themselves if needed.



    You wont get much more than 10-15 minutes tops on most quads, even high end ones. To get more would require more batteries which are too heavy, causing the motors to work much harder, which eliminates much of the added battery capacity. But they arent slow, in just a few minutes you can get pretty damn far. Here is an excellent demo:



    If you want to fly FPV longer (and potentially further) you better stick to a regular rc plane, which can have much much longer endurance than multicopters.
    Cool video, in one of your posts you said with extra transmitters you could send video back at 100m 200m, well that video was over a mile i would have thought, how he do it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bone Head View Post
    Ive been looking at the Ifly 4 I have a go pro camera, would work nicely
    Gopro is perfect to put on such machines. Just beware of the ifly 4 when bought RTF (ready to fly) or as kit with Ideafly components (Ideafly is the manufacturer of the frame), there are many people who have issues with the ideafly flight controller, resulting more often than not in unavoidable crashes. I love the frame, but I deliberately bought a kit with non ideafly components, and I will be putting on a different flight controller thats arduino based running opensource software (http://www.multiwii.com/software). Or you can put a KK board on it which costs next to nothing and is quite excellent if you dont need/want GPS:

    http://fpvcentral.net/2012/07/kk-2-0...roller-review/

    Im wishing I hadnt sold all my radio gear now
    If it was as old as mine was (20+ year old 35 Mhz robbe mars), then its no big loss. You probably would have wanted a new 2.4 GHz one anyway. Prices have come down quite a bit. I bought this one just yesterday:
    http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/s...Firmware_.html

    Check the price...
    It doesnt look or feel that cheap at all. Aside from a crappy LCD and non existant manual, it feels incredibly well built and it gets universal rave reviews.
    Last edited by Skinny; 06-06-2013 at 14:52.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Daytrader View Post
    Cool video, in one of your posts you said with extra transmitters you could send video back at 100m 200m, well that video was over a mile i would have thought, how he do it.
    The ladybird Im waiting for is tiny, has a tiny battery and a tiny 25mW videotransmitter and a crappy linear polarized antenna string. Not sure what the guy in the above video used, but typically at least 200mW tranmitter, cloverleaf tx antenna on the drone and a directional rx patch antenna on the receiver (which means you lose signal if you fly outside its ~30 degree cone). With such a setup you can easily get several kilometer range if you have line of sight and nothing blocking it.

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    BTW, if anyone is looking for a quad thats (considerably) bigger than a ladybird and more capable/stable than an mQX, yet more affordable, smaller and a lot easier to setup than the ifly, you might want to check out the Hoten-x:

    http://www.helipal.com/product_info....FRLJtAodjlEAew

    You can also buy it as RTF kit with 7ch remote and even with included FPV kits. Or you can add the FPV later from Walkera. I havent flown it myself, but Ive yet to read something bad about it. Just dont expect gimbal stabilized gopro quality footage and dont expect it to lift 500g worth of kit. Nor can you expand it with GPS / return to home features and the like.

    IF you want all the bells and whistles (gps etc), gopro carrying capability, ready to fly out of the box, superb stabilization, and you dont mind paying a ~600-700 euro, this is probably the one to get:
    http://www.dji-innovations.com/product/phantom/

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    PIzza Delivery by multicopter:


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    Cl!!!
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    I received my FPV gear a few days ago. Today I tested it out, by mounting it on one of my brothers RC cars, turned it into a mars rover
    I made only a very short video with my phone:



    The FPV gear worked well, better than expected. Line of sight I tested 500m and it was perfect, as long as not even a bird flies inbetween. Through a single brick wall I got ~50m.

    The contraption my nephew is wearing is my DIY version of virtual cinema glasses. Im too cheap to buy a proper set of fatsharks (~$300-400). I build it using a $20 3.5" rearview camera monitor from ebay, a $2 fresnel lens, a salvaged safety helmet, some styrofoam and duct tape. It works quite well, its even relatively comfortable (used a huge battery to balance it), even though you look like a complete dork wearing it.

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    What language were ya'll speaking?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wardy View Post
    What language were ya'll speaking?
    I am guessing flemish?

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