Tuesday, November 3, 2015

A Touch of Blue

I really like the look of colored Quadcopter frames.  I've done some digging, and I just plain can't find a good resource that says how to do it.  So...  I decided to try coming up with my own methods. 

My first swing was to use nail polish.  The blue I chose was to dark, and dark nail polish on a grey/black frame edge.. well that's no good. 

White paint to the rescue!
And then some blue..

And that doesn't look to shabby.  At least for a first try.  I'm working on a tutorial now.   

Monday, November 2, 2015

A FPV Maltese, at Night.

The Maltese has spent most of it's life without FPV gear on it.  I bought it, mostly, to have a super duarable airframe that I could beat the snot out of.  It's served the goal admirably.

Being the cheapest, strongest, thing in my toolbox also means it's a guinea pig.  ...  This time, it got a whole bunch of stuff strapped to it.  

SwitchElectrician bought some RC headlights to put on a quad.  The awesome bit is that they're designed to take a standard servo signal.  The not so awesome bit is that they're 2s only.  Hanging off the nose (does a symetrical Quad HAVE a nose?) is a 2s lipo pack.  They don't show up very well, but there's also a pair of headlights either side of the FPV camera.

It almost looks like it's got a nose.  And a fat lip.  That FPV camera is the one I built a few posts back.  

It's only impressive in that it's a huge mess of wires.  But it's MY mess of wires....  

HobbyKing has been stocking these ~9" long LED bars.  I strapped one to the back of the electronics tower on this little bird.  All that green, the green that's lighting up the no parking sign 40' away... yeah, that's that light.  

There's really a remarkable amount of lighting on the Maltese.  This is just before it's second takeoff, and it's sitting on the apron of my driveway.

This really gives you a sense of scale.  And the amount of light the thing is throwing off.  I wasn't flying FPV yet, but the headlight really seems like it will do some good.  

So after a few tries in the street, we moved down to a small park that follows the local creek.

Yes, it's really that bright.  

Kryptonite... Maybe?

Well lit quads, with clear props, look so good flying overhead.  Even when there's nothing for those lights to hit, the illumination of the airframe is really awesome to see.

The antenna or something in my rig, really limited the transmission range.  I'm going to try swapping for a real RP-SMA plug and a circular polarized antenna.  We found that I only had 30-40' of good reception range with the home made transmitter setup.

The evaluation of that rig will be a post later.  

Thursday, October 22, 2015

A Hex Upon the neighbors... lawn...

This is really just a photo dump.  SwitchElectrician came out with his camera, and we did some photographing of my brightly lit hexacopter. 

About the build:

The Hex is a Hobbyking Turnigy PCB airframe: http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/store/__24380__Turnigy_Integrated_PCB_Micro_Hex_KIT_.html

The motors are Emax PM 1806 plastic bodied motors. 

The ESC's are Flycolor 10amp.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Building a 150 class quad. DIATONE Blade 150

EDIT:  Happy Back to the Future Day.  After today, all of BttF happens in the past. 

Well, there goes another handfull of cash.  In the mail today, I got a package from BangGood.  In that package was the following:

1. 1 - Diatone Blade 150: http://www.diatone.hk/goods.php?id=80
2. 4 - EMAX BLHeli 6 amp ESCs
3. 4 - Eachine 1306 BG1306 3100KV motors.

In addition, on my bench, I have a Naze32, a camera, a 5.8ghz transmitter, a couple 3s 1000mah lipo packs, and a soldering iron.

Annoyingly, the 6amp ESCs weren't what I thought they were.  They were being sold on the same page with five other ESCs.  Every one of those ESCs, excepting the 6amp one, were 2-3s rated.  We'll get back to that though...

Here's what I got in the mail:

At first I thought they didn't ship the airframe.  I only found it when counting props and ESCs.  The anti-static bag it ships in, is tiny.

The airframe kit is quite complete.  And it even comes with spare parts.  You get almost twice as many screws as you really need, twice as many nuts.  An extra plastic board standoff, and an extra main frame spacer.

I swear, that's my usual red work rag.  There's a few more pictures like that.  It seems my cellphone got it's white balance way off.

One reason I bought this airframe, was that I was expecting it to have an integrated 5v regulator.  Imagine my surprise when I found this PDB.

Well, I might as well use it.

DIATONE recommends that the PDB is screwed directly to the lower frame.  That setup seemed like it would leave the airframe wanting for space.  After some digging through parts boxes, I found some standoffs.  The PDB on my Blade 150 is under the bottom plate.

Oh yeah, we're building this now.  

The Naze32 looks pretty comfy up there.  It doesn't maintain that orientation... but I think that setup might be superior to what the quad ended up with in the end.  

The lower arms mount on top of the lower plate.  They have two post holes, and the bottom plate has slots for the inner bolts.  This lets you set the arms at two lengths, with about 5mm between them.  This example is being built with the shorter arm layout.

And now we can make this convertable, a coupe.

It really set in how small this thing was.  The red work rag doesn't really show scale.  So here's a 18650 battery, and a 5x4.5 prop for scale.

The motors went on quickly.  The 1306's look right on those tiny arms.

A quad this small, makes mounting all the components quite a challenge.  I like to hard wire everything I can, so first there needs to be some testing.  Alligator clips are essential in this stage.

It was also time to see if a hunch of mine was correct.  ESCs are typically voltage limited not by their beefy driver side electronics, but instead by the accessories.  The input filter caps, and the BEC are the big reasons for 1-2s, or 2-4s, or 1-12s, rated ESCs.

These little 1-2s 6amp ESCs have a different BEC regulator than the bigger ESCs have.  The LDO type vreg would fry trying to handle 3s and the electrical load from say, a servo, or a Naze32.

That PDB with the 5volt regulator on it is just about to become essential for this build.  By not plugging in the positive wires on the ESCs, I can remove almost all of the load from the regulators on the ESCs, hopefully allowing them to survive higher input voltages.

... They can.  So they got installed.

Those are some itty bitty pads to solder to.

The PDB needed to be tinned too.

I made a mistake.  I should have soldered on the center taps first.  But as you can see here, the positive leads for the ESCs were soldered first.

With the negative legs soldered on, it starts to look pretty busy.  

Finally, the 12v and 5v takeoff leads were soldered on, and some wire management was begun.

That board got flipped over and screwed in place.  Later on in the build, the bottom of the quad ended up looking pretty manageable.

Now it's time to go after the flight control systems.

At some point, I'll start caring, and start cleaning up my rosin.  Today, is not that day.  I've soldered the +5 and gnd from the PDB to the bottom of the Naze32.  That way it won't need the BEC power from the ESCs.

The +5v wire from the ESCs were cut off, and not soldered to the Naze32.  I need to figure out a way to make that cabling look cleaner.

And lets not forget the CPPM lead.

Honestly, form this point on, it was a matter of just squeezing things in.  For example, the reciever got zip tied to the top deck.

A little more stuffing later, and the Blade 150 had a transmitter and camera on board.

153 grams, isn't anything to scoff at.  And 235 grams with a battery!

I've been talking about how small the quad is.  Here it is sitting next to a QAV250.

The QAV seems like a monster in comparison.  

Sadly there won't be any flying tonight.  The props I have hit the airframe.  That really means I need to build a prop trimming rig.  That shouldn't be a huge project, but it's not one to do tonight.

I did clip two props, to see what it would look like with props on it.

I also need to wire up the harness from the camera to the VTX.  There may also be some landing gear being built and an LED or two getting put aboard.

The ESCs seem to hold up just fine under 3s use.  The motors get a little warm, but being so tiny, they don't exactly hold on to heat very long.  The ~3.5x4.5 props seem to be the proper size.  I'be got some other ESCs that are rated for 3s use, that I think will hold up just fine for 4s.  That'll be a fun experiment.  Though I might replace the smoothing caps on those before I trust those to fly with.

First flights should be this weekend.