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Power Distribution

This page is a chapter in 'Hardware Assembly'

Power distribution grid

This part of your multicopter includes the wiring which provides power to the motors. It is simple to construct such a power line using 18 and 16 gage wires, the 3mm bullet connectors, a connector compatible with the one on the battery, and an optional simple switch. The main branch which connects to the battery should be a little thicker, thus 16 gage, while the other (and optionally the one for the Arduino if using main battery to power it) branches to the ESCs can be thinner using the 18 gage wire. The main branch should have a 4mm bullet connector with protector (identical to the one on the battery). Solder all the 3mm bullet connectors to the motors, ESCs, and the power line wires. The motors and the battery side of the ESCs should have the bullet (male) connector. The motor side of the ESCs and the power line wires should have the female connector. The switch should be somewhere along the main branch so as to control all power at once. Once again, this soldering task can be done using the 30 watt iron and thicker solder.

Here’s an example of a simple power line, although this particular one has JST connectors at the ends of the 4 branches (for quadrocopters) instead of the female bullet connectors. This particular power line is for a light quad, using 20 gage wires, and will not take too much current on the individual branches.

Please note that the use of a switch is only common on smaller copters. On larger copters, the power requirements (>10 amps per motor) are less favorable to using a switch and thus switches should not be used in those cases.

An important thing to remember when making the power line is to consider the frame and its dimensions in order to make the power line fit into the frame without any problems, such as interfering with other components.

Powering Arduino-based boards

AeroQuad Shield v1.x and v2.x

Using the main battery for providing power to the Arduino is recommended (2S-4S). Connect the LiPo to the Arduino's power-jack like shown in the picture below.

Although, there is an optional wiring plan that uses a separate battery, such as a small capacity 7.4v Lipo, to do so. This will ensure a clean power source for the Arduino and also reduce the heat generated by its onboard voltage regulator. A good such battery is the Rhino 610mAh or 460mAh 7.4v Lipo from HobbyKing, each costing around $4.

It is also highly recommended to solder a female JST connector directly into the Arduino power-in jack (or rather in the back of it). The positive wire (+) is soldered on the end of the barrel to the center, while the negative wire (-) is soldered to the strip on the side of the barrel. This will eliminate the need for using a 2.1mm center positive plug and will allow for a direct connection to a battery such as this:

The image above shows how a JST connector wire was soldered to the Arduino’s power-in plug (respecting the polarity) and hot-glued for protection from shorts. That connector is directly compatible with the connector of the batteries displayed above.

AeroQuad Mini Shield v1.x

To power your AeroQuad Mini Shield v1.x just connect your battery directly to the "VIN" (+, red wire) and "GND" (-, black/brown wire) pads located near the motors pins like shown in the picture below. Note that the maximum input voltage is 12V, so don't use a LiPo with more than 3 cells. If you plant to use a LiPo with 4 or more cells you'll need to use an external voltage regulator.

Powering STM32-based boards (AeroQuad32)

For information on this topic please visit our dedicated page.


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