LKTR120 Micro FPV Quad "Lucy"Rebuilt with bigger motors and ESC's, a new flight controller, and a better VTX. Built upside down to use larger rotors.
12-24-2016: Giving up on the Emax Skyline 32 Mini flight controller, which I probably blew up. When it gets here I'll install a new Emax F3 Femto. I'll keep the DasMikro radio and Eachine TX02 camera / vtx with the current mount. The home-made PDB won't be needed, the Femto has one built-in. It also has it's own power converters, providing both 5 volts and 3 volts, up to 3 amps. It takes 2S to 6S, I think my ESC's can take 2 or 3S. It also supports a buzzer, so I ordered some of those. May test the ESC's / motors while I'm waiting on Banggood. Opened the mil ammo can battery box, got a whif of something wrong. Found an old 4S battery left over from "Christine" and "Gidget" all puffed up and ready to explode. Was at full charge. Discharging to zero then shorting before discarding. Here are some pics after stripping her down.
12-23-2016: I've been fiddling with "Lucy" all month. Thought it was Cleanflight / endpoints / looptime problems. Thought it was bad joints on those coated motor wires. Turns out I had bypassed the Pololou regulator, and fed 2S raw battery to all the 5 volt parts, including the flight controller. It lights up and Cleanflight seems to work, but I think it's damaged. I've ordered a tiny F3 controller with built-in power management, buzzer and other goodies. Best of all the USB port sticks out the side for easier access. Kinda interesting the Eachine TX02 wasn't damaged by the extra voltage. Maybe I'll try flashing the FC with an older version cleanflight and try again. The new FC won't be here for weeks.
11-23-2016: Installed the DasMicro radio (pic 2 below) and Eachine TX02 today. The 1 amp 5 volt Pololu converter is mounted forward of the flight controller. The new radio is tucked under the camera deck, made from Pepsi can aluminum mounted on two nylon spacers. Hoping that the aluminum acts as a heat shield. Mounting the camera on the nose looked better but left only a 1mm gap for the rotors. Total AUW weight now 95.2 grams. Still doesn't work, same problem. Have now replaced every component but the frame, which I see has a nasty crack by a motor (5th pic below). Maybe she's haunted.
11-23-2016: More time spent trying to figure out what's going on. Used the BLHeli software to check the ESC's and calibrate them. All spin fine fine from software. Changed loop time to a more conservative 2500, PWM 400. Now three motors wind down, number 4 keeps going. Also noticed my frame is cracked close to motor 1. Think I'll stick a DasMikro DSM2 to PPM radio on her. Weighs a quarter of a gram, runs on 3.7 to 5 volts. I forgot ordering the first three, and sent for five more. My shipment of 200mw cameras got routed from Santa Clarita (nearby) north hundreds of miles to Sacramento. I'll stick one on "Lucy" if they ever arrive.
11-22-2016: I've been testing "Lucy" indoors without the video deck. She still stalls and falls. Hooked up to Cleanflight configurator, see that two motors are not getting throttle. Beginning to suspect the Orange radio, left over from the original build. Just got some DasMikro DSM2 to PPM radios in from Banggood. They're much smaller and lighter than the Orange RX's. Have to rework the power system for them. The Eachine TX02's I ordered are late.
11-7-2016: Flew outdoors yesterday. First flight OK, followed by brownouts / resets with any throttle. Think it might be the radio, or the video system. The video deck weighs 17 grams, replacing the whole deck with an Eachine TX-02 (200mw) all in one stuck on top. Saves 13 grams. Also suspect the radio, which I kept from the original (fainting) build. Looking at the Lemon RX. Every crash results in a broken rotor right at the screw hole. At least I found a place where I can fly without inciting a riot.
Youtube video of yesterday's flight.
8-28-2016: First real flight after rebuild. Flew several batteries LOS (line of sight), as the city is so anti-FPV. Ran batteries down to about 30 percent in 2.5 minutes. Flying in Horizon mode with very tame pids. All went well until I got more aggressive, causing the battery to shift, pushing the video antenna into the rotor's disk. Down she went. Didn't see any damage in the field, but a rotor was damaged and fell apart when I got her home. Removed the strap that let the battery slip, and reinstalled the rubber hair bands. After replacing the broken rotor she flew fine again at home.
7-16-2016: The 4000kv motors arrived Friday, so I spent the evening installing them and fiddling with Lucy's PIDs. Finally got her flying again. The lower speed motors rebooted the flight controller also with bad PID settings. Below are the Cleanflight settings I'm at tonight. Zoom your browser in if you can't see it clearly.
Youtube video of tonight's testing.
7-8-2016: Think I found it. The 7000kv motors require a ten amp ESC, and I'm using Tarot 6 amps. So tonight I ordered a set of Eachine 1144's at 4000kv, which should pull around 3 amps each. It was easier to replace the motors than the ESC's. At the same time I ordered some "high speed" 10 amp ESC's for the 7000kv's for use later. They should be in next week and I'll test again.
7-6-2016: So here's where she's at today. Wired up and tested the video deck, and attached it with the long plastic screws and nuts left over from my Picnic Quads build "Violet". The video looks great, but she fell out of the air / reset again. You can see it in the video below. The battery is a 30C, maybe that's not enough juice. Notice it browned out the video system, which connects directly to the battery. I was starting to think it was the 1 amp regulator that powers the receiver and flight controller. Maybe I need a hotter battery.
7-2-2016: Completed assembly of the flight deck last night, test flew this morning. Terrible. Lifts and flips. Pids must be crazy high. The Scisky came with Cleanflight, not Baseflight as advertised, which is great. The original radio still works. Changed the regulator to a 1 amp version. The lower video deck isn't ready yet. Each will be completely independent of each other, with only a power line connection. After changing most all of my 2S batteries to XT30 connectors, I realized I don't have a way to charge them yet.
6-30-2016: After mounting the radio I wondered if it really provides 5 volts on it's output for the flight controller. Turns out it doesn't. Connecting it to the bench power supply, I see it puts out whatever comes in. So I mounted the 5 volt regulator from Lucy Version 1 to provide power for the upper deck. I'm sure the VTX provides 4 or 5 volts for the camera on the lower deck. This time I got a little smarter and mounted the regulator on some pins directly on the radio. The radio itself is mounted on the front because I have to leave access behind for the USB connector. I also removed the extra wires from the connectors and trimmed the JST stuff off. All will be soldered directly in place. The larger ESC's block the standoff holes, so I don't know yet how I'm gonna mount the video deck. You can still see orange paint on the used parts.
6-26-2016: Time to mount the ESC's under the main deck. This time I left more slack in the wires for adjustments, made a little PDB from Printed circuit board material, and left the ESC's exposed for better cooling, instead of wrapping in shrink. They're stuck to the frame with 3M mounting tape. The ESC's are too wide, and cover up the stand-off holes, making it harder to mount the video deck below. I also switched to XT30 connectors. The current limitations of JST connectors might be part of my problems, these take 30 amps instead of 5. The white wires will be replaced with finer wires from the FC harness. These pics show the long wires that came with the ESC's, covering the PDB in the center. After the last pic was taken I plugged a 2s battery in, and the ESC's made the motors beep as hoped. No explosions. I'm going to use the radio to power the flight controller, and the VTX to power the camera. There should only be one JST power connector between the two decks. The upper deck should be flyable by itself.
6-25-2016: Started reassembling Lucy with new partz. Motors first, had to drill out the holes to 2mm, and elongate them with a fine round file. Put some shrink wrap on first to secure the wires. This time the ESC's go under the top deck, instead of on the arms. Next the Skyline32 was mounted on top, for easy access to the USB port, lights, and better cooling. Then I mounted the original camera on the lower deck, which is dedicated to video, with the new 200mw 32 channel VTX next to it. Luckily it just fits between the frame rails. I did remove the SMA connector, using the dremmel to cut the legs off first. I didn't like the trace ripping risks with the overheat / force meathod. The bottom of the "video deck" stays empty to mount the battery. This time I sent the video antenna out the side, for equal signal strength when coming or going. The 3" rotors won't let it stand up, and will be visible in the video feed. Once all the components are in place I'll start connecting them.
6-12-2016: Ordered parts to rebuild Lucy from the ground up. Got the BE1104 7000k motors, Tarot TC300G5 6 amp 2-3s esc's, and an Emax Skyline32 flight controller. Re-working the aircraft is more difficult, in part because I painted all that crap on her, as just rebuilding. Cost for new parts is around a hundred bucks. Changes: 1. The motor wires will remain long, either looping around the ESC's or leading under the aircraft if I can fit them underneath. 2. The heavy orange paint comes off, and no liquid tape will be used either. 3. The larger / faster motors will carry the camera / vtx better. 4. These motors have rotor retainer screws so no spinning rotors or shaft pulling. 5. This flight controller has no pins to remove, using micro connectors / pigtails instead. No soldering on the board at all. 6. I may use taller stand-offs to increase cooling. PM: Spent an hour soaking the bare frame in paint thinner, then used a toothbrush to remove all the paint. Q-tips and micro-files got it out of the nooks and crannies. Just checked my 3020 rotors, and the will clear if I build the quad upside down.
6-11-2016: Took Lucy to the field, knew in a few minutes that she still has problems. Still leaning to port. Video too poor to share. Guess I have to work backwards from the motors looking for an identifiable flaw. May complete Marcie repairs first.
6-9-2016: Think I'm making some progress on Lucy. Balanced the rotors and re-mounted the flight controller to lower vibrations. Re-flashed Baseflight with full chip erase, because when I used DUMP in CLI it scrolled over and over. Think that did it. Reset the PIDS to what you see below, set looptime to 1630. Now she flies around the room as easily as "Tina". Learned that most of these confusing settings have NO EFFECT unless using GPS. Measured current draw with the video deck back on: .16a disarmed, .48a armed with motors idling, and 3.03a at full throttle. Some people love playing with settings, I just want it to fly right. In this case I have to take the video deck off and disconnect two micro connectors, which aren't designed for much work. The next one would have a micro-USB connector for easier adjustments. I see Hobby King is selling a great little flight controller that would fit for only seven bucks, with Cleanflight installed and the USB connector. Finally, a YouTube viewer suggested that "potting" the board in liquid tape might uproot the components as it expands and contracts, so I won't be using that anymore.
Here is my CLI dump. This probably won't work on your aircraft, as the components are different. It may not even work for me, I don't know yet.
Afro32 CLI version 2.3 Aug 27 2015 / 12:37:56Current Config: Copy everything below here... aux 0 4 aux 1 8 aux 2 32 aux 3 0 aux 4 0 aux 5 0 aux 6 0 aux 7 0 aux 8 0 aux 9 0 aux 10 0 aux 11 0 aux 12 0 aux 13 0 aux 14 0 aux 15 0 aux 16 0 aux 17 0 aux 18 0 aux 19 0 aux 20 0 aux 21 0 aux 22 0 aux 23 0 mixer QUADX servo 1 1020 1500 2000 30 servo 2 1020 1500 2000 30 servo 3 1020 1500 2000 100 servo 4 1020 1500 2000 100 servo 5 1020 1500 2000 100 servo 6 1020 1500 2000 100 servo 7 1020 1500 2000 100 servo 8 1020 1500 2000 100 feature -PPM feature -VBAT feature -INFLIGHT_ACC_CAL feature -SERIALRX feature -MOTOR_STOP feature -SERVO_TILT feature -SOFTSERIAL feature -LED_RING feature -GPS feature -FAILSAFE feature -SONAR feature -TELEMETRY feature -POWERMETER feature -VARIO feature -3D feature -FW_FAILSAFE_RTH feature -SYNCPWM feature -FASTPWM feature -SERVO_MIXER feature PPM feature VBAT map AETR1234 set looptime = 1600 set emf_avoidance = 0 set midrc = 1500 set minthrottle = 1200 set maxthrottle = 2000 set mincommand = 1000 set mincheck = 1100 set maxcheck = 1900 set deadband3d_low = 1406 set deadband3d_high = 1514 set neutral3d = 1460 set deadband3d_throttle = 50 set motor_pwm_rate = 400 set servo_pwm_rate = 50 set pwm_filter = 0 set retarded_arm = 0 set disarm_kill_switch = 1 set fw_althold_dir = 1 set reboot_character = 82 set serial_baudrate = 115200 set softserial_baudrate = 9600 set softserial_1_inverted = 0 set softserial_2_inverted = 0 set gps_type = 0 set gps_baudrate = 0 set gps_ubx_sbas = 0 set gps_autobaud = 0 set serialrx_type = 0 set spektrum_sat_bind = 0 set spektrum_sat_on_flexport = 0 set telemetry_provider = 0 set telemetry_port = 0 set telemetry_switch = 0 set vbatscale = 110 set currentscale = 400 set currentoffset = 0 set multiwiicurrentoutput = 0 set vbatmaxcellvoltage = 43 set vbatmincellvoltage = 33 set vbatwarningcellvoltage = 35 set power_adc_channel = 0 set align_gyro = 0 set align_acc = 0 set align_mag = 0 set align_board_roll = 0 set align_board_pitch = 0 set align_board_yaw = 0 set yaw_control_direction = 1 set acc_hardware = 0 set mag_hardware = 0 set max_angle_inclination = 500 set moron_threshold = 32 set gyro_lpf = 42 set gyro_cmpf_factor = 600 set gyro_cmpfm_factor = 250 set pid_controller = 0 set deadband = 0 set yawdeadband = 0 set alt_hold_throttle_neutral = 40 set alt_hold_fast_change = 1 set throttle_correction_value = 0 set throttle_correction_angle = 800 set rc_rate = 90 set rc_expo = 65 set thr_mid = 50 set thr_expo = 0 set roll_rate = 0 set pitch_rate = 0 set yaw_rate = 100 set tpa_rate = 0 set tpa_breakpoint = 1500 set failsafe_delay = 10 set failsafe_off_delay = 200 set failsafe_throttle = 1400 set failsafe_detect_threshold = 985 set auto_disarm_board = 5 set rssi_aux_channel = 0 set rssi_adc_channel = 0 set rssi_adc_max = 4095 set rssi_adc_offset = 0 set yaw_direction = 1 set tri_unarmed_servo = 1 set gimbal_flags = 1 set acc_lpf_factor = 4 set accxy_deadband = 40 set accz_deadband = 40 set acc_unarmedcal = 1 set small_angle = 35 set acc_trim_pitch = 0 set acc_trim_roll = 0 set baro_tab_size = 21 set baro_noise_lpf = 0.600 set baro_cf_vel = 0.985 set baro_cf_alt = 0.965 set accz_lpf_cutoff = 5.000 set mag_declination = 0 set gps_pos_p = 11 set gps_pos_i = 0 set gps_pos_d = 0 set gps_posr_p = 20 set gps_posr_i = 8 set gps_posr_d = 45 set gps_nav_p = 14 set gps_nav_i = 20 set gps_nav_d = 80 set gps_wp_radius = 200 set nav_controls_heading = 1 set nav_speed_min = 100 set nav_speed_max = 300 set nav_slew_rate = 30 set p_pitch = 40 set i_pitch = 30 set d_pitch = 23 set p_roll = 20 set i_roll = 30 set d_roll = 23 set p_yaw = 85 set i_yaw = 45 set d_yaw = 0 set p_alt = 50 set i_alt = 0 set d_alt = 0 set p_level = 90 set i_level = 10 set d_level = 100 set p_vel = 120 set i_vel = 45 set d_vel = 1 set fw_gps_maxcorr = 20 set fw_gps_rudder = 15 set fw_gps_maxclimb = 15 set fw_gps_maxdive = 15 set fw_climb_throttle = 1900 set fw_cruise_throttle = 1500 set fw_idle_throttle = 1300 set fw_scaler_throttle = 8 set fw_roll_comp = 1.000 set fw_rth_alt = 0
5-28-2016: Wrong again. Still heels over to port. Tried trimming, just gets worse as she flies. Maybe as the board heats up the problem gets worse. Rebuilding with another flight controller with a radio. Might lose the OSD using a Spektrum-like receiver.While I'm at it I'm going to replace the DP03 motors and maybe the ESC's as well.
5-23-2016: Think reinstalling the last stable version of Baseflight (8-23-15?) fixed her. A little drift but flyable in my room.Looking forward to more test crashing this weekend.
5-21-2016: At the field this morning she ran off hard left. Gave up after two or three hard crashes. Flying in room again, testing new pids. Adjusted throttle in transmitter with baseflight. Now 1k to 2K, with 800 when tx off. Flies OK without the video deck, horrible in horizon mode. Electrical problem? Disconnected vid deck, no change. Research suggested insulating the FC from frame vibrations might help, didn't. Downgraded Baseflight firmware back to 8-27-15, as it was before upgrade. Will test again tomorrow. If this doesn't work I may rebuild the whole thing, with 1104 motors and programmable ESC's. More to go wrong, right?
Youtube video of today's flight.
5-20-2016: Wondering if I broke the Afro Mini flight controller. Looked for PIDS online, finally found some that fly. Have to reset the aircraft after each crash, or she flies crazy.
5-3-2016: Tried using Cleanflight / Luxfloat, which works great with "Patty", but not with "Lucy". Reinstalled Baseflight ver DEV 1-6-16. Fixed another bad connection. All of my problems were due to bad connections. Found the PIDS below at http://www.miracle-mart.com/store/images/oversky/OSKQU08d.jpg, and they seem to fly OK. Much touchier than what I had before, hit the cieling first launch. Going to leave it like this for outdoor testing.
5-1-2016: Turns out Lucy is still on Baseflight, which came with the Afro Mini flight controller. Re-calibrated the gyros, tested the motors, some are stuttering. Still flipping intermittently, flying rough. Decided to LC test (induction) the motors, which is easier now that they have connectors. Broke out the cheap Ebay LC / Cap tester and went through the motors, all looked OK as you can see. Started tapping the wires while testing, found the intermittent ones. Removed, repaired, retested. First battery no flip, still hard to fly. First battery flew down to 4%, so failsafe didn't work. Wondered if the paint or even the liquid tape could be causing problems, started removing it from the PC boards, starting with the chips which might be overheating.Put a little foam over the barometer so the altimeter will be more accurate.
4-26-2016: I really hate re-doing things I thought were done. Spent a lot of time considering options, setting up a test jig, and soldering pigtails on the ESC's (on the wrong end it turned out). The plan is to solder the flight controller lines back on, and use a micro connector on the motor side. This makes testing and replacement easier, improved insulation on the bare copper wires, and more strain relief to absorb vibration. Next step is to rewire and test each of the motors with a known-good esc, then test all the ESC's.
4-20-2016: Super-gluing the shafts and rotors to the bells isn't helping. Don't have faith in the motor wires anymore. Removed motors and ESCs for inspection, and to extend the motor wires with a pigtail micro connector. This eliminates vibration problems for a better connection, and allows for LC testing of the motors. While the motors are off I'll re-test the shaft by trying to pull the bell off while the lock clip is still on. I removed all the paint from the arms, top and bottom. Colored tape would probably work better. The ESC's have been cleaned up and will be tested before installation. They look OK. The flight controller looks fried, but that's just liquid tape for insulation. It comes off when necessary. One connector hooks the OSD to the flight controler serial port, and the other runs the video and audio from the camera to the video deck. The serial port connector also hooks to the computer for Cleanflight configuration, there is no USB port on the Afro Mini. That little connector at the bottom in the last pic is for the FC boot loader, underneath the FC. The boot loader resets the flight controller if something goes wrong during a firmware update. I'm also considering 1104 motors, would have to drill new holes. Here are some pics.
4-13-2016: Some pictures as she currently looks. The paint has faded to a hunter orange, which is still easier to find than black carbon fiber.
3-27-2016: Flew five batteries at Apollo field. Several crashes into long weeds, motor shaft repair survived. Orange paint helped find in weeds, but feels heavier. Needed FPV twice after orientation lost and she got out of sight.
3-24-2016: Pics after some cleanup.
This shows the rotor super-glued to the motor bell to eliminate the slipping shaft problem.
3-21-2016: While the paint didn't weigh her down, she's still flipping. Really think the Afro Mini may be broken. Will do more testing without the video deck. Found a specialty video filter that weighs only .8 grams. If it's a weight problem I'll try that instead of the 9 gram video battery.
PM: It's not the flight controller. The shaft on motor 1 is spinning in the motor, so the rotor is freewheeling. Trying superglue to lock the rotor to the top of the motor, and lock all the rotors to the top of the shafts. Not sure yet if this will work. I think 1104's will fit this frame, but not sure if these are any better.
3-19-2016: After walking right by "Marcie" in some grass during an hour-long search I decided to enhance all my girl's visibility. Ugly? You bet! But the objective is not to lose another quadcopter. At first I hoped to do this without removing anything or taping, but it required several coats, so I ended up removing the rotors and taping up the motors and lenses, after cleaning up a lot of overspray. The paint thinner didn't damage anything, and I hope the paint isn't conductive. I really should have done one first to see if it's fatal, but painted all three at the same time.
3-12-2016: Doing little test hops indoors, I found "Lucy" flopping over again, barely controlable. Wondered if the settings had changed by themselves, so hooked to configurator. All looked well. Adjusted the failsafe setting lower but even in failsafe it shouldn't flip over. Calibrated sticks on TX. Very careful examination with a loupe showed a single strand of wire reaching across the ESC connection on motor #2. After fixing that and testing OK, I used hot glue to secure the wiring and liquid tape to coat the boards to prevent shorts. Testing again after re-assembly went OK. I'm still worried about the solid motor wires on the DP03's. All the vibration is certain to break them again. Up next: dayglow orange paint on all quads so I can find them easier. Cool is for better pilots.
Youtube video of today's flight.
2-13-2016: Flew four batteries without problems. Looking for better places to fly, and testing the new ground station.
Youtube video of today's flight.
2-8-2016: Found problem. Thinking it was related to the ESC's or PIDS I hooked "Lucy" up to Baseflight again, and found that motor 3 was spinning backwards. Instead of just flipping over as larger quads do, she was dancing around the bad motor. So a few minutes with a soldering iron to reverse the wires on motor 3, and she flies again. Was much simpler than I thought.
2-8-2016: Not sure what's going on yet. Check both aft motors, magnets in place, oiled, connections OK. And they all spin up. But not enough to fly. Just spins around the left rear motor. If it were just one motor it would flip right away. Transmitter gains? PIDS on the flight controller? Can they change by themselves? Could all four ESC's be damaged on the same flight? From what I've seen ESC's just pop when there's a problem.
2-6-2016: Tried flying today, but motor #3 wouldn't turn. After fixing the bad solder joints she still won't lift. Opened motor to see if batteries out of place, nope. Oiled bearings and shaft, no change.
1-15-2016: Tried using an LC filter to eliminate the video battery. It weighs more than the battery, so there is no point, and it didn't work anyway. I bought several of these filters for four bucks each. The plan was to retrofit them on "Lucy" and "Marcie", and add to "Sally". The first test was on "Patty", which would have been easiest because she's all 3.7 volts. Sadly the filter is for 2s to 6s. Next I added it to "Lucy", with a 3.3 volt regulator to protect the camera. Also failed. As soon as motors spin up the familiar noise appears in the signal. So it didn't work. Opening up "Marcie" for a 3S test is too much work, so again, filtration fails. What was interesting is that these filters have an Alpha and Omega AO4407A mosfet. I'm really surprised that this didn't work.
11-22-2015: Expected the wind to be high today, but was able to sneak in a flight this morning. Would have flown more, but a rotor caught a loose wire and she crashed. Afterward a motor wouldn't run, so I broke something. But I got one great flight in, out some distance and up almost 80 feet according to the barometer. Felt like good control, flying Lucy entirely FPV for the first time. Think I should have used Horizon mode. When I look to see where I am the sticks center and I slow down. When I saw the low battery alert I brought her right down and hand-caught to avoid any impacts. Reminds me of "Christine", always flown out of sight on FPV. Was told today that all FPV flights will be banned in January. The club is worried about the city taking the field away. It seems a jet pilot flew too high yesterday, and some officials came over to complain. Since the field is likely to be under water most of the winter it might be wise to find another place to fly anyway.
Youtube video of today's flight.
PM edit: Found point of failure after the crash: motor to esc solder joint. Resoldered and tested OK. Another LKTR-120 owner advised me to use the 1104's on Lucy, said the DP03's are too weak. He says the existing holes line up with the larger motors, which is good. I tried stripping the ones I destroyed, and all I could do is get the bell off. Nothing else seems replacable. I completely destroyed one trying to get the bearings and the windings off. So I'll have to buy more to upgrade, and be more carefull with the screw lengths.
11-14-2015: Flew Lucy at the field today. There's a link to the video below. First landing I caught her by hand, second I set her down in the dirt. Almost immediately on next take off she darted East and flipped. Broke a prop, that's all. At home I found a motor not turning right. Removing the bell I found one of the magnets was out of place. More alarming, it turns out they're not glued in place. Little deviders keep them separated, but they're just stuck to the bell by magnatism. I put it back in place and tested the motor again OK. So after each crash I have to check that the motor turns freely. Max altitude was about 35 feet, and about 50 feet distance.
Youtube video of first outdoor flights.
11-8-2015: Think I've stumbled on a solution. Needed more thrust, so I cut down those 75mm rotors used on Patty, and that seems to do it. They're already the right shaft diameter. Modified the Dremmel circle cutter a little using a drill bit to mount the rotor on, through some plastic scrap. I'm going to have to tune it because the PIDS are way too high now, hard to even hover. And I bet she goes through batteries a lot faster. But she flies with all the junk aboard, almost hit the cieling.
PM edit: Tonight I learned that PIDS make all the difference. I found a recently updated set of PIDS online, and after entering them with the stick menus in the OSD, I can hover. I also learned that if the shafts have been pushed down through the motors the rotors will fall off in flight.
11-3-2015: The correct rotors arrived today, and I bought more 2S batteries. Drilled out the new rotors, plugged everything in, and she wobbled. Then one motor quit, and she just flips over. Turned out to be a bad solder job on a motor wire, and the PIDS were set too high. Dropped yaw, pitch and roll one digit each. Still lots of testing to do.
10-30-2015: Discovered last night that the Micro MinimOSD has a stick menu system that can program the flight controller !! Tonight I fired it up and recorded what it looks like. Now I won't have to remove the video deck to access the serial port, just to reconfigure the flight controller. Can even do it in the field, just like "Marcie", with her Eagle Tree Vector flight controller.
Youtube video as I flip through the stick menus.
10-28-2015: Took the video deck off to access the serial port with Baseflight. Adjusted the throttle numbers so she arms OK and gets full throttle. Hovers OK without the video deck, but won't hover with it on, as you can see in the video. I'm sure it's the rotors. They may be balanced, but they're too "shallow", probably made for higher speed brushed motors. She flew better with unbalanced cut down 75mm rotors. I've got to figure out how to cut them down properly. Everything else looks good. I've got to buy more 2S batteries, have only one.
10-27-2015: Once the 1.45mm drill bits arrived I opened up the 56mm rotors, and installed them on Lucy. There isn't enough thrust with these to lift off. Have to figure out why. She's all ready to go once the configuration is done. The props didn't fall off, instead they broke. At least they're balanced. Cutting down props turned out to be more difficult than the Youtube videos suggest.
10-19-2015: The Dremmel circle cutter arrived today, so I cut some 3020 props down to fit Lucy. At first try they spun off, so I added a drop of super glue to hold them on. She couldn't fly three feet. I checked that they're balanced, as close as I can with a paper clip. I have some 56mm props for her, but they need to be drilled out to 1.45mm. The bits are on order, could take another month to arrive. She weighs 94.1 grams fully loaded. Here's a link to the video, at least the OSD works right. I'm not going to embed videos any more, they slow down page loading.
Youtube video of Lucy almost flying.
10-8-2015 PM: Fixed OSD by uploading the right font. Still had the font from other flight controller (arducopter?) showing arrows instead of correct icons. Uploading the correct font takes a long time, had to be patient. Also worked on the flight controller with Baseflight, changing the motor settings to make it arm correctly. Think it's the transmitter, which is set to go below zero at the bottom. Needs work. Made gear out of zip ties, better than landing on battery. Added some 3M Dual Lock to frame to hold batteries, still using women's hair bands as backup. Think she'll fly once I get rotors that will stay on the motors.
10-7-2015 PM: Completed the major assembly tonight and tried a test hop seen below. Was very nervous plugging in the OSD and video, but nothing smoked.She won't fly because the props have to be drilled out to 1.48mm exactly. I tried reaming them out with the dremmel, but they're too loose and fall off with torque. The Devo-10 / Deviation is running a copy of Patty's ini file, and the Afro Mini flight controller is running Baseflight bone stock. No tuning yet at all. The OSD is also showing weird characters, so I may have to mess with the font. I'm showing voltage, baro altitude, a timer, and the flight mode. I haven't hooked up the data logger yet. Think the drive battery is way too large also.
10-7-2015 AM: The micro-JST pigtails arrived from an Ebay seller. Couldn't find these at any of the usual vendors, which is strange considering how much interest there is in micro stuff. Soldered two on the replacement Afro Amaze flight controller to the primary and secondary serial ports, and a mating pigtail to the FTDI. The secondary port will go to the Open Blackbox, which I think will hang under the frame under the radio, with the SD card sticking out the back. Because the camera is on the frame, a pigtail must be routed to the OSD on the top deck. Don't think I'll get GPS on this frame, but hope to see baro altitude, mode, motor info, and power info. Also soldered a tiny connector line from the bootloader pads to a momentary SPST switch. So when needed I can plug in a switch and re-flash the flight controller. This usually isn't necessary, but if something goes wrong with a flash this is the only way to recover. Not knowing where the pads were on Patty, I ended up buying another flight controller, over $40 bucks. After Oversky.com sent me the pad locations I reflashed the "dead" controller without problems. Next I'll add pigtails to the OSD and Blackbox, install the FC on the frame (again) and wire the ESC's and power. Correctly this time. Config and test flights will be without the top deck. At least that's the plan.
9-27-2015: Tonight I wired the video deck. It's transmitting OSD just fine. Need some pigtails for video / audio / power for the camera, and serial data for the OSD. I want the top plate completely removable for easier work on the lower deck.Once complete the boards get a coat of liquid tape, except the leds on the OSD. Also fixed the backwards motor.
9-26-2015: Eager to do even more damage, I've started working on the FPV system, to be mostly contained on the top plate. I mounted the camera where it goes on the bottom plate, which fits just perfectly. I'll need serial connections to the flight controller to use the OSD. I've got to order some micro-pigtails, so I can disconnect the top plate when needed. I picked the Orange RX for it's PPM output, so it won't tie up my serial port like Patty, and I can add the OSD. To make a secure deck to attach the video battery to I re-cut the mid-deck to fit the top deck. It's super-glued to the frame, and the standoff screws will go through it also. On the top is a little 3M Dual Lock to hold the video battery, and underneath I've stuck the step-up regulator and Micro MinimOSD, but none of the wiring is started yet. I'm using nylon ties to hold the video transmitter because it gets too hot for foam tape. This will expose the whole RF shield to cooling. I'm also adding a removable switch the the bootloader pins under the flight controller, after the firmware fiasco with Patty. You can see where I opened the hole in the top plate for the antenna, which gets cut way down to save weight.
9-25-2015: Yup, I blew up the Afro Mini flight controller too. It works when cold, but gets really hot and disconnects. So I've ordered another one from GETFPV.COM. Stay tuned to see how many of these I have to blow up before she flies. Meanwhile I tested the motors and ESCs as a unit with a servo tester, to determine if anything still works right. To my amazement all four motors spin, three of them in the right direction. I'm starting to wonder how these little ESCs make beeping noises. How to test these ESCs? I used the $4.50 Hobby King servo tester (PRODUCT ID: HKSESC_TST) with the power input connected to my bench power supply. A 1S battery would have worked as well. Then I connected one ESC at a time to the output line, there are three. I start with the knob turned all the way down. Beyond the knob, there's a switch for midway and min-to-max cycling modes. There are some cooler motor testers out there that count pulses and such, but this works fine for basic testing. To correct the spin on motor1 I have to swap two of the tiny motor wires soldered to the ESC. I can also start working on the FPV system on the top plate, maybe including a micro-minim OSD with a step-up regulator.
9-24-2015: Oh nuts! Can't assume anything, MUST watch the diagram more carefully. In my long experience with electronics the square pads are always ground. Not anymore I guess. Connected power and everything else backwards to the motor pins on the Afro Mini, which blew out the radio. The flight controller still seems alive, but the radio is definitely dead. After rewiring everything I bound the backup radio to the Devo-10 with Deviation. Then I connected an FTDI with some jumpers and installed Baseflight configurator in Chrome. Plan was to configure and test with Baseflight before switching to Cleanflight, which I'm using on Patty. But there seems to be a problem with the serial connection, so I may have damaged the flight controller also. In Baseflight I noticed that it numbers the motors "wrong", and I'll have to change all those connections again. This is why I used the pins. At least Baseflight looks a lot like Cleanflight, so less learning curve. I may have to order another Afro Mini, and more radios.
9-23-2015: Tonight I mounted the 3 amp ESCs and wired them all up. I'm pretty sure none of it will work. Since I decided to mount the ESCs on the arms, I discarded the mid-deck and mounted the radio and fc on the lower deck. The wiring with the pins sticking out the top looks terrible. If I can get her flying, I'll remove the pins and solder everything. Next the radio gets bound, and we'll see if the motors spin. If by chance the motors all spin in the right direction, we'll take a test hop or two. By now someone has come up with a Deviation file for this little monster. Patty was all plug and play, this is the first micro I've sourced and built the hard way. I hope Marcie is easier to work with.You can see where I trimmed the top plate to make room for the pins.The bind plug goes in the side, the FTDI goes in the top, and a serial port is available through the top. I'm less crazy about Lucy every day. The advantages are a 2S battery, perhaps an OSD, and a better radio over Patty.
9-18-2015: I put off working on these things unless I'm in the mood. After a nap and a cup of coffee I was ready to go. First I mapped out all the voltages so I don't smoke my new parts, then decided to use pins instead of soldering directly to the pads. I'm afraid there will be a lot of "adjustments" needed, and I've learned how fragile these little boards are. The flight controller and radio go on a removable mid-deck. The boot loader pins are accessible through holes under the deck. The mid-deck can be easily removed from the aircraft for testing and configuration, as these pics show. How I'm going to run the radio while it's connected to the FTDI isn't clear yet. I also added pins for the serial port, so I can add the Micro MinimOSD and / or the blackbox recorder. The GPS is just too much, I just hate to waste it. The upper deck will be a self-contained FPV system, just like Patty. The radio got pins for the bind plug, which is also the PPM output. The top plate will have to be trimmed to clear the motor pins. The extra red wire runs from the voltage monitor pad underneath to one of the motor hot pads.
9-14-2015: More parts arrived today from Hobby King. After removing the case and pins, the radio fits very well on the mid-deck, next to the Afro Mini Naze32. The ESC's I ordered arrived also, but they're just a little too large to fit on the bottom deck. I may have to use the 3 amp units after all, or stick them on the arms. Turns out the Afro Mini has a barometer, and lotsa features I didn't know it had. The mid-deck just slips over the stand offs with a nylon tie or two to lock it down. I'll have to set up a micro connector for the motor and power wires. The 3.3 volt FPV system will stand alone, with a separate 1S battery like Patty. I'm using the same radio and FPV system with Marcie also. Using the MicroMinim OSD would require connections to the flight controller.
9-5-2015: This isn't going to be a fast build. I've decided the little 3 amp ESC's won't do. After spending $14 bucks each on them. After trying to mount them on the arms, I've also decided to mount the larger ones on the lower deck, like everyone else does. So instead I'm ordering some TR6A Turnigy units from Hobby King. Five will set me back $41. I'm very nervous about the conductive carbon frame, and decided to copy another builder who used an insulating sheet under them. Most attach the flight controller and video stuff to the underside of the top plate, which means either lots of connectors or soldering every time you want to rework it. I want to remove the top plate and work without disconnecting anything. So I also made a mid-deck that will sit atop the ESC's. I realize now that this frame won't hold any GPS unit, and the Afro Mini flight controller doesn't have a lot of ports for connecting things either. I might add the Micro MinimOSD to report power and baro altitude if possible. As for the radio, the Walkera RX1002 is too large, even with the connectors removed. Even after I bought some PWM to PPM converter boards ($5 bucks each, a real steal). So I'm ordering an OrangeTx R615X 6 channel with CPPM for $12 from Hobby King. Since Lucy isn't going any real distance, I'll stick with the same video/audio transmitter used on Patty, for about $10 each at BANGGOOD. I bought two again in case one is bad. I've also ordering some power filters to clean up the signal on all these units. I've also got to find some 3mm antenna tube for landing gear, another great idea I'm copying. I tried testing the motors, but either I'm doing something wrong or broke something. I'm using a bench power supply and a Hobby King CCPM Servo Consistency Master, as I have with other motors. No go, and no magic smoke either. The pics below show the new plastic decks, made with scrap from a peanut butter filled pretzel container. I can't seem to resist these. You'll see I left the lower deck stick out too far, in case I need more room. The mid-deck will just sit atop the ESC's, protecting everything, and the upper deck is just for appearances. Some foam between the mid and upper decks will keep things secure.
8-29-2015: Assembled frame just to see, got some hair bands from Sally's Beauty Supply for battery retainers. Amazing how they stretch. Also shown: her cigar box filling with parts.
8-28-2015: Did some design work and started ordering parts. Want to use a Walkera radio receiver (I have three), so removed all the pins and case. Fits sideways in the back of the lower plate. Has twin wire antennas to stick out either side. Using the Walkera means I can fly it with my Devo 10 transmitter, and I know this radio will fly half a mile. Used with "Christine" very effectively. It's an old PWM receiver, and I'll have to use a PWM to PPM converter, which I bought from READYTOFLYQUADS.COM for five bucks each. Most people set the ESC's on the lower plate, but I'm going to put them on the arms 1. For better ventilation and 2. Because I need the room for the radio and controller. I'm using 3 amp ESC's which fit on the arms just fine. I ordered the AfroMini Naze32 because 1.It fits OK on the frame, 2. It runs Cleanflight which I'm using on "Patty" already. I bought from GETFPV.COM ($25) because I've bought there before without problems. The AfroMini has a serial port, so I might be able to add the MicroMinim OSD. The big change here is the 2s battery, and larger motors, except the video transmitter at 3.3 volts.
7-31-2015: Starting to work on the next quadcopter. Patty is going in the right direction, but the flight controller won't output serial data, and the I2C port won't import the GPS data. There isn't enough real estate on the frame to mount the added goodies. The 3 volt system doesn't interface well with the 5 volt accessories. And the 1S battery doesn't have much punch. So I'm looking for a tiny quad just large enough to carry a gps, osd, and fpv gear, all on the same voltage. The larger full naze32 flight controller should work better than the micro-x version with input / output. And there's room for the new DragonLink micro UHF radio, complete with locater beacon when it's available. The frame I'm looking at is all carbon (like Patty), but double-decked and longer, like a tiny TBS Discovery "Christine". She'll have a 200 mw 5.8 Ghz video transmitter at first.Her mission will be longer range FPV missions. Would like to use the tracker on the groundstation, perhaps using the ardutracker. Both the tracking systems I have are proprietary, and there are no lightweight encoders for them. Happily I'm learning more about the arduino-based stuff than I ever wanted to. OVERSKY has most of what I need, including the frame, motors, and escs. I already ordered a full-sized naze32 clone, tiny video transmitters, step-down regulators, leds and other stuff from BANGGOOD.