Looking forward to getting involved here guys!
I hope to be joining the Ardupilot family very soon as after much research into wanting to build a fully autonomous/ small footprint heli this platform seems to have the best performance and be the most versatile. Opensource, can you ask for more?! Not to mention the knowledgeable community that supports such.
The project I have been working on is at a point where the focus will be in implementing the electronic side of things so I thought I would post it up and get some advice along the way!
Motor: Scorpion HKII 2221-2010
Servos: Cyclic - MKS DS95 / Rudder - MKS DS95i
Head: Tarot DFC housing/integrated control links, 450 Rave Grips, Outrage G5 swash, xtreme titanium turnbuckles to servo horns.
Tail: Helihaven 40 degree/108mm custom raised tail w/ cncheli quad blade assembly
Blades: MSComposit 395/5/3mm tail-Radix 59mm YB-59
ESC: CC ICE50
BATT: GensAce 6s 2200mAH
FBL: Skookum 720
SAT: 2 x DSMX SPM9645
Skids: HK CF skids for 600 - Modified for use w/shocks for dampening
Boom: CF 12/388mm - Made for gazauer 480
This started out as a blade 400 frame. The modified pieces double up the frame in key areas. These areas are the engine mount, cyclic servos, battery tray and anti rotation guide. The rear opening in the inner side frames were widened and squared to allow for my current FBL contller to clear since it is wider than the stock frame. Will also be using a modified KDE 450 battery tray which is just about perfect size for the GensAce 6s 2200 batteries(109mm)
Also modified an extra set of HK CF skids for use as upper frame supports for the battery and provide additional connectivity from the upper to lower frame since there only were 3 mount points on each side to connect the main upper and lower frames. The shocks used will provide dampening for the extra weight and sensitive electronics.
Used a feathering shaft I had lying around that fit the width for a cross brace. This will also provide a stop so the battery doesnt hit the motor during flight. Its final purpose is to act as a pivot point for the camera/gimbal support rods.
The custom raised tail is 108mm tall to be exactly even with the middle of the head grips and has a 40 degree to allow a little more blade room. I believe this will make for a truly stable video platform. The tail rotor is a CNC heli 4 blade, and will be running 59mm CYB's.
Most of the heli's electronics will be braided with MDPC-x sleeving as room provides. I know I will not be able to do everything since there will simply not be enough space for it. A couple examples - the sat wires were run down one of the boom supports and then the whole thing was braided to keep a clean look. Servos are all braided and doubled up with adhesive lined heat shrink. The adhesive lined stuff really helps reduce the chance of pulling the braid out. Also using a hot knife to cut the braid helps greatly as it keeps the ends from fraying on you.
Went a bit overboard and got some proline dual stage scale shocks (90mm). Nicely made! They take oil, well but these are plenty stiff without it for this application (I hope not too stiff) but very smooth. Can always try different springs to make them softer as well. The video results will dictate that.
The 2 x trex 250 carbon fiber booms were cut down to 175mm and used some 550 skid caps on the ends to cleanup. 2 x xtreme trex 250 boom clamp mounts will be used as the mounting points for the shock brackets I fabbed up from scraps of my upper frame mods and also for mounting the gimbal. These clamps are pinned too so should stay put. The bottom of the shock will be mounted to the most forward mounting point on the heli frame which happens to be 4 layers thick on my frame so will be a perfect spot.
Trex 250 metal boom servo mounts are going to be connected to the battery frame at the spot where the feathering shaft was used as a cross brace. This not only keeps the mounts on each side pivoting as one unit but it also completes the square in the supports for a much more rigid setup.
Here is the end result -
I will explain the camera frame that was made out of two 450 tail fins, b400 floor frame, hk skid mounts and a couple other things in depth when I get the other camera out to take some macros.
The bus connector for the go pro is in route. I plan on running the gopro off the 5 volt "power supply" lines which then allows me to run it off the AV battery and not run an internal gopro one reducing the weight a bit. The audio/video will also be output through the bus cable making everything run through one nice braided cable out the back and not having to mess with any cables sticking out the sides.
The gopro also has a Snake River Prototyping Blur fix meant for underwater installed. However this allows you to use almost any 55mm filter. It will definitely be beneficial having the option of running high quality multicoated filters with the intense light environments we are dealing with.
Decided im not going to start out with a 2 axis gimble and just get everything functioning and operating as is with the camera being static for now. Once I get that situated then will move onto that.
Now that the heli is almost done for the most part I need to get to the FPV equipment. Here are my plans..
Camera: GoPro w/ SRP Blur Fix (55mm filter adapter) + bus power from fpv batt
VTX: ImmersionRC 600mw 5.8
Autopilot: Ardupilot Mega 2.5 with GPS and most sensors
UHF: Will remain on 2.4ghz for now but most likely go with dragon link when I start venturing out further
BATT: GensAce 3s 450-1300mAH?
To start out with the gopro camera will be fpv only. Once I am comfortable with the fly-ability and solidness of everything I will then implement a seawolf pixim setup for fpv and the gopro for hd recordings and then eventually 2 axis gimbal.
Still in the middle of planning the groundstation...
Hope you guys like the progress so far and will be placing my ardupilot order soon!
That is a beautiful set-up and nice photography work.
With the APM2 you won't need the Skookum FBL controller although I guess having the Skookum (without the APM2) is a good way to verify that your heli is flying well.
Thank you very much Randy. I am aware I will no longer need the Skookum. Went with it at first because it was PnP but wanted a much more robust customizable solution. I think the ardupilot will fit perfectly for what I was wanting to accomplish. Like you were saying, it will be nice to use as a "control" for the heli's characteristics.
Wow, that is some fantastic work and photography! Really interesting stuff. How do the landing gear pivot to allow the shocks to work?
I'm not a fan of the tail though. I think it would have been better to use something off-the-shelf, would have been lighter and stiffer. But I certainly can't blame you for wanting to tinker.
Awesome rig and photos. Did you go with the FBL Rave grips or the regular ones. I can't find the FBL ones in stock anywhere and was about to buy the regular ones instead. Are you also using the Tarot DFC arms with the Rave grips?
Also, could you provide some info on the skids? I really like what you did there, but I'm wondering how you fabricated the pivot point on them. What shocks did you go with?
Thanks, bud. Keep up the great work.