Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Building a quadcopter: finding out what's missing.

A couple weeks ago, a youtube video surfaced of people racing quadcopters through the woods. Well, here's the video.

Kinda exciting isn't it? But what does a setup like that cost? How much effort would it take to do.  My buddy SwitchElectrician said he wanted to do it.  I...  well couldn't resist. 

I did some digging, and found a quad frame that looked good to me.  He and I both bought this:

 It's a good looking platform to me.  A solid X shape with a pod suspended on anti vibration balls.  The controller boards don't like vibration, so isolation is a good thing.  Amusingly, it's on the expensive end of quadcopter frames, at an astounding $20. 

Orders were placed.  Items were shipped.  SwitchElectrican and I both got our quad "kits" within a week.

Look, it's a flat pack Quadcopter.

The kit looks pretty complete.  Lets dig in.

SwitchElectrican had contacted me, and told me that his was missing some parts.  I was hoping mine wasn't going to be missing those bits.  So I start digging, and the disappointment sets in. 

You'll notice that the only paper in there is the little business card, with the picture of the quad on it.  There are no instructions, and that kinda matters on this thing, as we'll get to later.  And no damper balls. 

So I started with the bad, lets cover the good.  The aluminum standoffs are all perfect.  The screws and standoffs have good threads on them.  The screws are of high quality.  The milling of the FRP is almost flawless.  Suffice it to say, I'd buy this kit again, and again, and recommend it to others.

The bottom plate is some very thin fiberglass.  It's downright floppy.  But as you can see, it's got nice sharp edges everywhere, and no fuzzy bits like you'd get from a dull cutter.  I couldn't resist starting the assembly.  With eight standoffs, this should end up being a very rigid pod.
 After assembling the pod, I found that the top plate goes on the pod just one way.  This is where a manual would have been handy.  I think it would also help to dictate which side your camera should be mounted on.  

I couldn't help but throw a motor on, and a speed control, just to see what it looked like.  For now the build is stalled until I get the damper balls in. 
Next update should be the completed build, and the first hover. 

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