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  1. #1
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    Ground Experiecned, Air Noob - First Quadcopter for GoPro 2 Footage

    Howdy everyone,
    As the title says, I've had my fair share of experience on the ground but never really messed with Air R/C...Looking to build a quadcopter for my new GoPro 2. Been doing a lot of research but there is just so much information out there that it's tough to separate between new/old information and what would be right for my needs. I'm trying to this as cheaply as possible while getting the best quality video - building & reusing parts will be my weapon.

    Basically from what I've gleaned from the internet is that vibration is the enemy (obv) and symmetry & balance are key ingredients. As a result, whatever chassis I plan on getting will be hand balanced on all axis, as well as the propellers. Also, instinct tells me I need something light to be stable but would heavier crafts be more resistant to wind/such? and what size should I look for?

    I've been looking at this one because A) Carbon Fiber is beautiful and B) It's sold for decent prices - its about 20" across. My only trepidation is that it may be too small to create a stable ride? What dimensions should I be looking at?
    http://www.ebay.com/itm/KK-X450-Carb...06%26rk%3D1%26

    Second is the controller - somewhat confused as to what this does. In the ground world, signal goes to receiver from transmitter to esc to motor. What's the difference here? I've seen controller boards from the Wii motion be used - any insight on that?

    Third is stabilization of craft and camera - I'm guessing this is what the controller is for? gyro stabilization or? Also looking at mounts that are supposed to stabilize image - found some that looked very promising for around $15, but can't for the life of my find the link. It's bookmarked somewhere...I was thinking of some kind of a vibration absorbing foam to be the basis of the mount if I end up building one. Thoughts?

    And last but not least is of course, motors + esc +rx/tx + batt, but that I get off of good research no doubt so I'll save that for later. Thanks in advance for your responses!

  2. #2
    Senior Pilot Sicarius's Avatar
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    Hi and welcome here!
    First off: The Aeroquad is not the most basic controller you can have for a quad, there are controllers out there that use direct gyro data to keep it stable, this goes a long way beyond that!
    The funny thing is, when i started RC, this was about the first thing i came in contact with, and i was amazed you could just hook up an ESC and a servo to the Rx and have it work! (now i drive a Tamiya TT-01 for fun and to get that knowledge going)
    Anyways, AQ can be used for a lot of other things, you can add GPS hold, altitude hold by barometer or ultrasonic sensor, you can expand to hexa or octocopter with no upgrade to the controller, there's functionality for FPV, camera gimbals, OSD, you name it.. and the community is great!
    About the frame, i wouldn't start off with the one you mentioned.. Saw a lot of starters break it the first flight.. It's best to make a bit of a rugged mutt until you can keep it in the air for a few battery packs, then completely rebuild the frame with all the fetures you want!
    The motor to motor distance that you can best begin with is between 50 and 65cm, so that'd be 20-26" if i'm correct, the bigger the more stable obviously. as goes the same for the weight.
    For motors, props and weight, i'd say stay between 700 and 1400 kv, with props that are between 8 and 12 inch, but the Wiki will be able to tell you more about that.
    A weight i mostly see here is between 800 and 1100 grams for the finished frame including controllers and motors, but without battery.

    About the Wii motion: I've seen nothing but complaints about that, it's simply not accurate enough to provide reliability, and can easily mean the difference between stable flight and unintentional inverted lawnmowing.. or worse!

    Stabilization is automatic after tuning of the PID values, so no worries there
    Stabilization of camera is done by plugging servo's in the board and hooking them to a gimbal (auto stabilization) which is explained in the Wiki

    Rest of things, like Tx/Rx etc. is also in the wiki.. But you'll have to look at your budget, cause there's an infinite amount of combo's out there!

  3. #3
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    Sicarius has a lot of knowledge to share, but the most basic thing why quads need a FC: It's not humanly possible to keep a quad level by directly controlling all 4 motors. You have to be a superhuman with super reflexes to correct the quad tipping over.

    A most basic FC measures it's angular rate with gyro's and tries to keep the angular rate at 0 by giving each motor it's own commands.
    To get a move in a direction you generally also need more motors. For example when you move the aileron right, the FC knows to spin the motors on the left faster and on the right slower, and it rolls right.

    AeroQuad can do way more, but if you want simple try a KK 1.x. If you can get a 2.x go for it, but half the world is refreshing the page on that.

    Four weels on solid ground or a v shaped hull in the water is a whole other thing than whatever shape in the nothingness that is air.
    Last edited by Mavvie; 06-29-2012 at 12:22 PM. Reason: Clarification

  4. #4
    Senior Pilot Sicarius's Avatar
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    Forgot to explain what Mavvie said!

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    "Hand Balancing" the frame isn't going to do a whole lot. The motors on the other hand will.
    The cheap sometimes winds up being expensive. By that I mean that if you try and go bottom of the barrel on anything and everything you WILL spend more money, time, and frustration trying to get it to work and then being unsatisfied with the result or worse, trashing already expensive components (Like for example, your GoPro).
    Start small and simple, get a proven FC and transmitter. ESC's and motors can be had cheaply. The frame should be your last concern, you can get something in the air for a few dollars in parts from a local building supply place. You WILL crash it, so plan for it. Protect the flight controller, and fly close to the ground (but out of ground effect). Don't put the camera on, just get a feel for what can be done and how to fly. When I say get a proven FC, I mean buy something from a group that supports and knows what they are doing. AQ is an excellent example, but there are others. The $20 clone from China seems great until you realize that no one who speaks English knows anything about it, it's proprietary software, and they used knock off chips which don't meet spec. Wii Motion was good for a time when one could not get the sensors used by themselves, or more importantly in the case of these sensors, on a board that one could interface to easily without resorting to reflowing solder on a hotplate or reflow oven. Those days are behind us now, and high quality pre-mounted sensors are the norm.

  6. #6
    Senior Pilot xtrmtrk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by koko76 View Post
    "Hand Balancing" the frame isn't going to do a whole lot
    You're right, trying to get a perfectly hand balanced frame won't help a lot, but while a seriously unbalanced frame may get off the ground, it will be unstable and hard to fly. I know immediately when I don't have my GoPro on and I forget to move the battery forward. A rough hand balancing makes things a lot easier. Probably easier on your motors too.
    2013 Carnage (so far!): 26 propellers, 1 frame, 5 arms, 1 motor mount, 2 motors, 2 ESCs, 1 GPS

  7. #7
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    Wow, thanks for the lengthy responses guys! I was under the impression that aeroquad was just the forum name that developed an open source code, guess I was a bit off there. Guess I will be needing a FC after all…Would you guys recommend a starter use something like AQ for their first quad? Wouldn’t an excess of features either confuse or become a crutch, like lane assist in a Lexus?
    And guess wii motion is out of the question then. My buddy has a transmitter and reciever, when I get it from him I'll check reviews and post here for approval.

    I've been looking through the wiki (tutorial seems to be offline) and the kits - I see the mini kit, the 1.9 and 2.1. Basically those come unassembled, but ready for easy assembly? Load up the code, plug all the rest in? If I wanted a basic FC that has support for future additions, what am I looking at for an AQ? Is the mini kit for mini quads or entry level?

  8. #8
    Senior Pilot xtrmtrk's Avatar
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    It all depends on what you want.

    If you think you'll want altitude hold, it will be easiest to go with the 2.1. It has all kinds of room for future expansion. Putting altitude hold on the other FCs requires a bit of work. Also, if someday you think you'll want GPS capabilities, the 2.1 is kind of your only choice right now.

    I've built and used the 2.1, the 1.9 and the Mini 1.0. I know I'm going to take some heat for saying this, but the 1.9 was the most trouble free build for me. I simply soldered it up, stuck it on an Arduino UNO, loaded the software with the default settings, put it on a FlameWheel 450 frame and it flew great in Attitude Mode on the first take-off. No muss, no fuss.

    The mini is pretty simple as well, but I continue to have "throttle sticking" issues with it that I can't resolve. If it wasn't for that I'd recommend it because it's the cheapest option.
    Last edited by xtrmtrk; 06-29-2012 at 07:36 PM.
    2013 Carnage (so far!): 26 propellers, 1 frame, 5 arms, 1 motor mount, 2 motors, 2 ESCs, 1 GPS

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by chromecarz00 View Post
    Would you guys recommend a starter use something like AQ for their first quad? Wouldn’t an excess of features either confuse or become a crutch, like lane assist in a Lexus?
    I would point you towards the mini. There are a lot of FC's on the market, and many are packed with fancy features some of which work and some of which might work. Someday. When the software is ready. I've tried a couple, and AQ has worked the best for me personally. It all comes down to basic stabilization for me, if that doesn't work the rest is meaningless.
    There is going to be some soldering whichever AQ kit you choose. It's not that bad, but if it's your first time soldering drop a few bucks on a learning kit from sparkfun, that will teach you the basics. The one downside to the mini as far as I'm concerned is that you need an adapter cable and board to upload software or change parameters. With the Uno/Mega etc based boards you can just hook up any standard USB cable. Not a dealbreaker by any stretch but it's one more thing to keep track of.

  10. #10
    Senior Pilot xtrmtrk's Avatar
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    We should also point out that if you're looking for a plug-and-play, off-the-shelf solution that doesn't involve soldering and some familiarity with hooking up USB devices, AeroQuad probably isn't the direction you want to go. There are good solutions that fit those requirements, but this ain't one of them.
    2013 Carnage (so far!): 26 propellers, 1 frame, 5 arms, 1 motor mount, 2 motors, 2 ESCs, 1 GPS


 
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