State of the hobby

It is end June 2016. A round up of what is the current status of multicoptors to us.

We’ve always love folding quads. Just look at our fleet. 30 builts later, we’ve partnered up and now flying Phantoms and Inspires do make us ponder and wonder.

The neatness of these ready to flys. Less hassle of packing things. We primarily fly for aerial videos and photos. Seldom fpv racing/ mini quads. We have a few (See our fleet) but its just for speed and fun mostly. It also means less things to be messing around with. Gains, programming knobs, it’s great knowledge but the hassle with so many China based made with crude documentations, don’t get us wrong, even leaders like DJI has manuals that seems written by school students but they’re getting there…slowly but surely.  

 

 

Being able to push out products in a lot shorter time frame and putting in technologies that they heard feedback from is critical. We all don’t need that new iPad or iPhone, that new Android tablet or new graphic card or cpu,it however makes your competitors play catch up.

Gimbal
Even powering up our good old Phantom 2 with a Hero 4, on a H43D seems a hassle now. You power up the Phantom 2, the Hero 4, connect your antennas to the Black pearl monitor, turn it on….

With the Inspire 1 or Phantom 4. Power up, connect iPad/ your phone, wait for GPS, fly, enjoy the scenery.

Auto Modes/ follow me, circle/ polar
It’s ridiculously easy with the DJI Go app for the POI or follow me.

We love to DIY. The smell of solder get us going and the ability to mix and match motors and ESC and learning the different Flight Controllers can be both fun and frustrating at the same time. If you’re the casual flyer, do not hope to purchase one but hope to have an aerial shot of your holiday or a one off shot of your loved ones having fun flying a kite or spending a day skating, consider renting as even buying one has some maintenance to be done. The least is the firmware updates for your drone and at times, all the bits that come with it, the batteries, gimbal, camera etc etc may all require update(s).

Another important point is, on tiny Singapore and with strict DJI No Fly zone implementation, we weren’t able to take on some past assignment with the church sitting on the edge but inside the no fly zone. On Google Map, go to 1.373587, 103.898441. From the church, you have to fly past 5 blocks of more than 12 storeys high buildings, cross a river and then a forested area of about 500 meters even then, you’re only at the edge of the airport. We needed the church tower video-ed and it’s no more than 20 meters tall…the solution? A DIY hexacopter.

There’s even guys who are certified circumventing this by disconnecting their GPS from their Inspire 1 and fly it in ATTI mode. Go google…

We hope one day, DJI will release what is in the DJI Go app to any Naza DIY-ers that they can build and making the geo-fencing a little more flexible.

Till the day comes and for all commerical jobs we received, seems like mostly, Inspire 1 and Phantoms prevail…for now.

Build: ImmersionRC Xugong 10

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This is it! The ImmersionRC Xugong 10 was just about everything we were looking for.

When we got it, we built it immediately within a few hours. You know the stars align when all your parts from different sellers arrived on the same day! The Xugong was from ReadyMadeRC (links below).

Parts list:

– Emax 2213
– 20A ESC SimonK from MyRCMart
– DJI Naza M V2
– Frsky
– Boscam 400mW Video transmitter

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The Xugong only IRC T-NUT. More info below from the documentation.

xgtnut

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Soldering time.

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Bottom you go for the time being.

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Size compare test. On the left is the Aliencopter 430mm from Hobbyking

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Open your wings…arms, 10 inch propellers.

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Almost done. Load up the SJ4000, GPS, video transmitter and lipo

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Yes, the 10 inch props will be in the camera view when mount this way. The slight downward tilt will help.

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Short clip of first flight

Likes:

– It’s size! Just LOOK AT IT! It’s about 26mm (with a little Turnigy 3S 2650 sticking out, measurement include the sticking out of the lipo and rubber band mounted SJ4000 but do not include the VTX antenna we have sticking way back) x 23.5mm x 12.5 high (include the prop nut of the Emax 2213) when folded.
– Innovative folding mechanism with spares (plastic thingy and springs)! In case you damage it or wear it out. We could also say they foresee it wearing out fast? Time will tell.
– Well though out location for your electronics. A dangling bracket for your video transmitter (VTX) that won’t cause interference since it’s all the way outside.
– Cute rubber “landing gear”.
– Already drilled holes for your GPS folding or non folding (that came with your Naza) antenna.

Dislikes:

– Material. FR4? It’s fiber glass that’s reinforced. Read: Harder fiber glass? Give us carbon fiber!
– Unable to load out 4S 5000mah into the lipo compartment. Battery compartment is about 29 x 52 x 114mm deep (We’re a little more conservative), see below for official battery compartment measurements. Yep CM! We’re METRIC! The documentation does inform that “Zippy Compact 4000, 25C PREFERRED”

battlipo

However the Zippy is listed a: 43 x 20 x 148mm (too high and too long anyway)

 

zippy

 

– No space without some serious modification to mount a front mounted gimbal. It does provide you with a servo based front gimbal. If you already own a brushless one like us (We have 2 Tarot T2-D gimbals), you need to do some mods.

And so…

In our quest to finding the ideal small, foldable, runs 10 inch props, 4S 5000 or more. Can lift a gimbal. This has got to be the closest yet! We see us travelling with this a lot more, even overseas!

To Do:

– Mod the tarot gimbal to front mount.
– Add tilt to receiver
– Mod height of battery compartment or
– Move everything into the battery compartment and just hang the lipo underneath, if so,
– Mod new landing gear. Some retractable?! Just so it looks cool
– Add more LEDs! lol
– Get the Version 2 Pro! As of writing, out “soon”. Video of V2 below. As of writing, it’s been 2 months of “coming soon”.

4 Jan 2015

Swop to 2217 800kv motors

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The base touches the arms’s base.DSC08928

Nothing a dremel can’t fix, drilled the provided standoff.DSC08929

Links

Our Xugong8 Build
Xugong Pro V2 build
Discussion – http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2068755
We bought at – http://www.readymaderc.com/store/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=76_310

Hello Arduino, again

We got back into Adruino after reading up more and seeing that a lot of improvement from the now junk we had back in 2011. We tried out the Multiwii Pro with MTK GPS from Hobbyking.

Here’s a as-of-24-July-2014 Guide that worked for us. All version number/ information are as of writing.

It is still tedious but the information seems a little more tidy and conscience now.

Relax, Watch

Watch this in full:

then

If you have an hour….

Downloads

Go to http://arduino.cc/en/Main/Software

Download and install the Windows driver, version 1.0.5r2 (direct link)

Download and install the MultiWII software, version 2.3 (it is 2.3pre8 as of writing in July 2014, DO NOT use 2.2) (direct link)

Download and install Drivers http://www.ftdichip.com/Drivers/CDM/CDM20814_WHQL_Certified.zip http://www.silabs.com/products/mcu/pages/usbtouartbridgevcpdrivers.aspx oh we can remember clearly even the driver step was a chore in the past! Anyway, not the point for now. Just download and install that.

Begin

Connect the board.

Start Adruino

Tools > Board > Adruino Mega 2560 or Mega ADK

Then Tools > Serial Port

Choose Open, open the MultiWII 2.3 downloaded above > MultiWII folder and select the multiwii.ino file. All the other files will be open on it’s own. Then on the right drop down list, choose config.h

Frustration Starts…

After going through almost every step, we found our motors to spin at different speeds. Like this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gnHce81oxoQ

So, clear EEPROM using Adruino > File > Example > EEPROM > clear_eeprom

Then Load the ones we had. The settings are below.

Define IMU

C:\Program Files (x86)\Arduino\hardware\tools\avr\bin\avr-g++ -c -g -Os -Wall -fno-exceptions -ffunction-sections -fdata-sections -mmcu=atmega2560 -DF_CPU=16000000L -MMD -DUSB_VID=null -DUSB_PID=null -DARDUINO=105 -IC:\Program Files (x86)\Arduino\hardware\arduino\cores\arduino -IC:\Program Files (x86)\Arduino\hardware\arduino\variants\mega C:\Users\ETEGRA~1\AppData\Local\Temp\build9069521682101027775.tmp\IMU.cpp -o C:\Users\ETEGRA~1\AppData\Local\Temp\build9069521682101027775.tmp\IMU.cpp.o
IMU.cpp: In function ‘void getEstimatedAttitude()’:
IMU.cpp:189: error: ‘GYRO_SCALE’ was not declared in this scope

Solution > Go back to config.h and select the FFIMUV2.

Define GPS Config – Enable GPS – http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/store/uploads/201779733X365809X32.pdf

  /**************************************************************************************/
/***********************                  GPS                **************************/
/**************************************************************************************/

/* GPS using a SERIAL port
if enabled, define here the Arduino Serial port number and the UART speed
note: only the RX PIN is used in case of NMEA mode, the GPS is not configured by multiwii
in NMEA mode the GPS must be configured to output GGA and RMC NMEA sentences (which is generally the default conf for most GPS devices)
at least 5Hz update rate. uncomment the first line to select the GPS serial port of the arduino */

#define GPS_SERIAL 2         // should be 2 for flyduino v2. It’s the serial port number on arduino MEGA
#define GPS_PROMINI_SERIAL   // Will Autosense if GPS is connected when ardu boots.

// avoid using 115200 baud because with 16MHz arduino the 115200 baudrate have more than 2% speed error (57600 have 0.8% error)
#define GPS_BAUD   57600

/* GPS protocol
NMEA  – Standard NMEA protocol GGA, GSA and RMC  sentences are needed
UBLOX – U-Blox binary protocol, use the ublox config file (u-blox-config.ublox.txt) from the source tree
MTK_BINARY16 and MTK_BINARY19 – MTK3329 chipset based GPS with DIYDrones binary firmware (v1.6 or v1.9)
With UBLOX and MTK_BINARY you don’t have to use GPS_FILTERING in multiwii code !!! */

#define NMEA

 

Enable PPM – We are using the 9XR with FrSky modules.

    /****************************    PPM Sum Reciver    ***********************************/
/* The following lines apply only for specific receiver with only one PPM sum signal, on digital PIN 2
Select the right line depending on your radio brand. Feel free to modify the order in your PPM order is different */
//#define SERIAL_SUM_PPM         PITCH,YAW,THROTTLE,ROLL,AUX1,AUX2,AUX3,AUX4,8,9,10,11 //For Graupner/Spektrum
#define SERIAL_SUM_PPM         ROLL,PITCH,THROTTLE,YAW,AUX1,AUX2,AUX3,AUX4,8,9,10,11 //For Robe/Hitec/Futaba
//#define SERIAL_SUM_PPM         ROLL,PITCH,YAW,THROTTLE,AUX1,AUX2,AUX3,AUX4,8,9,10,11 //For Multiplex
//#define SERIAL_SUM_PPM         PITCH,ROLL,THROTTLE,YAW,AUX1,AUX2,AUX3,AUX4,8,9,10,11 //For some Hitec/Sanwa/Others

// Uncommenting following line allow to connect PPM_SUM receiver to standard THROTTLE PIN on MEGA boards (eg. A8 in CRIUS AIO)
#define PPM_ON_THROTTLE

Then connect receiver to Channel 1 of the MultiWII pro. Test direction and see if they are reverse.

Immediately Calibrate ESC after this
http://www.multiwii.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=3852

1. Undefine that comment like you did.
2. Unpower everything and remove props.
3. plug in battery while transmitter is full throttle with transmitter on
4. quickly after hearing a beep, reduce throttle to zero
5. listen for the beeps to notify you of a successful calibration, if not start over.
6. do not unplug battery
7. plug in USB
8 put the // in front of #define ESC_CALIB_CANNOT_FLY
9 upload sketch
10 unpower everything

We are used to not have the motors spin immediately after arming and so
http://www.multiwii.com/wiki/index.php?title=Config.h#Motor_and_servo_special_configuration

/* motors will not spin when the throttle command is in low position
   this is an alternative method to stop immediately the motors */
#define MOTOR_STOP

/* some radios have not a neutral point centered on 1500. can be changed here */
#define MIDRC 1500

Arming Switch

We chose to use a switch on the 9XR, specifically the AIL as arming.

Just go into the WinGUI 2.3 pre 8 > RC Control Settings > Set AUX2 High to Arm

Modes

http://www.multiwii.com/wiki/?title=Flightmodes

Now we see why the Naza is so popular. MultiWII does gives you options and it’s hell a lot of options with different combinations for all your switches on your transmitter. If you want, you can certainly combine a lot to the MultiWII modes but we simply needed something vis-a-vis the Naza.

One 3 Position for:

1. GPS – Gyro, Acc, Mag On
2. Altitude Hold/ Horizon – Gyro, Acc, Baro On
3. Manual – Gyro On Only.

2 Position switch for:
a. Off
b. GPS Hold – Gyro, Acc, Mag On

2 Position switch for:
a. Off
b. GPS Return to Home – Gyro, Acc, Mag On

 

Same same but different?

The Naza M Lite and Naza M V2 GPS/ Compass unit uses the same GPS chip.

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Note 1575R-A is ANTENNA GPS PATCH 1575MHZ. It cracks often from crashes so we ordered a few pieces together from Digikey. It’s hell cheaper than getting the whole unit that’s about USD$160.00 on ebay.

Part number: GP.1575.25.2.A.02

Direct link: http://www.digikey.sg/product-detail/en/GP.1575.25.2.A.02/931-1016-ND/2332643