Building a Drone from scratch

I am a beginner an my goal is to 3d print a drone  body and fly by FPV for photos. As this is my first build I as well am trying not to break the bank. But was wondering what experienced pilots might think between the 3DR PIXHAWK or the NAZA M. Or should I be considering something completely different? I think I want GPS and barometer for hands free hovering, GPS auto return to home, definitely FPV view,and I would like a flight information to be viewable in the googles, not sure what else a beginner would need. Any advice is appreciated. 

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  • I suggest you use ecalc (https://www.ecalc.ch/) to evaluate battery options. For small quadcopters you are going to need a battery that delivers high current with minimal voltage drop. Lithium polymer batteries provide the best option for small quadcopters. For larger quadcopters, a lithium ion battery may be a better choice with higher energy density, longer lifetime, and safer operation. I recommend batteries from Novoxy Power (http://www.novoxypower.com/) or CMEC (https://uavfpvbattery.com/).

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  • Yes you can use any mAh size as long your voltage is on the correct level as long you know its weight limitation.  You can use bigger and heavy battery but you'll have to be creative enough to shed some weight of the multirotor frame.

    Joel McCoy said:

    I have been thoroughly studying the diagrams you sent and then researching parts. Pleased to say I am almost ready to order my parts list. With only 1 more area I need to get familiar with, battery size. So am I correct in saying I can have what ever mAh size as long as my voltage is the correct level for my electronics and the weight does not exceed the drone capability? I am trying to maximize my flight time without jeopardizing my circuitry.

    Building a Drone from scratch
    I am a beginner an my goal is to 3d print a drone  body and fly by FPV for photos. As this is my first build I as well am trying not to break the ban…
  • I have been thoroughly studying the diagrams you sent and then researching parts. Pleased to say I am almost ready to order my parts list. With only 1 more area I need to get familiar with, battery size. So am I correct in saying I can have what ever mAh size as long as my voltage is the correct level for my electronics and the weight does not exceed the drone capability? I am trying to maximize my flight time without jeopardizing my circuitry.

    David L. said:

    I have both 3DR APM/Arducopter and NAZA M on 450 and 350 size quadcopter.  Based on my experience if you wanted something easy and less time to setup without too much programming to make it fly the NAZA M is the best.  But if you wanted extended feature/function and programmable hardware that could program to do waypoints, trigger camera for 2d/3d mapping work and also have extra time + know how to program it the 3DR Pixhawk is your thing.  I have Arducopter for 2D/3D mapping and UAV use and NAZA-M for manual aerial photography use.  Here are my setup for both my quads:  https://www.supermotoxl.com/fpvuav-models-builds-and-flight-reviews...  and https://www.supermotoxl.com/fpvuav-models-builds-and-flight-reviews...

    Building a Drone from scratch
    I am a beginner an my goal is to 3d print a drone  body and fly by FPV for photos. As this is my first build I as well am trying not to break the ban…
  • Thanks for all the useful info. Now I am looking at transmitters. I am thinking something like FrSky ACCST Taranis Q X7 Transmitter 2.4G 16CH . But I dont know what ACCST means. Also Can I program this for the drones I have now and the one I am building? Or is there a better choice for multiple drones?

    FrSky ACCST Taranis Q X7 Transmitter 2.4G 16CH Mode 2 White Black International Version for RC Dron…
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  • In general, 3d printing a drone body is a poor idea unsless you are not poor. You can get good results from SLS 3d printing nylon with glass or carbon fiber fill, or from high end FDM printers with special materials. Otherwise you are better off purchasing an F450, F550 or other frame. Use any of the current generation PX4 flight controllers. I prefer the Pixracer R14 for small multicopters with M8N GPS.
  • Joel,

    Depending on where you are, I have a 450 size quad with Naza, GPS, OSD, camera and video transmitter for sale cheap over on the UK Drone Junk Yard facebook group, complete with 2x 4S batteries and some spares. Just needs a transmitter binding to it to fly, and screen/goggles for the video feed.

    Alan.

  • No worries, glad to help. ;)

    As per-question and previously mentioned NAZA-M makes it easier for user to build and setup without major programming work.  Eg:  You can  buy NAZA additional hardware to have those head's up display (On Screen Display = OSD) by plugin between the flight controller board and the camera.  So you can say NAZA already comes with it easily 'plug n play'.  However APM/Pixhawk (Arducopter) despite you can buy add-on you'll still need to reprogram (flash firmware and configure) to get those head up display which mean you'll have to invest time and sweat to figure it out.  So to sum up; if you pay more for easy stuff = NAZA. If you pay less you'll need to spend more time with more flexible feature = APM/Pixhawk.   As for the my DJI videos the top and lower differences, the one with OSD (HUD) is used to navigate the flight while the bottom with gimbal + GoPro are for HD aerial Photography since i couldn't get the GoPro video to output its signal to feed to my OSD (HUD)...last time it was a crude setup, lol.  But if i were you based on my experience i'll just get the NAZA flight controller for aerial photography because out of box is already stable to fly and hover.  APM/Pixhawk (Ardupilot) is build for serious open source developer to design drone for multiple capability at expense of the time and workmanship.

  • David, this is great info, I really appreciate you sharing your set up so I can further under stand what I need to get mine fling. I hope this next question does not sound too rookie like, looking at your aerial photos some have heads up displays showing things like altitude and battery and others are clear of any writing. Is this the different videos from your FPV and your camera on the bottom? The heads up display is something I really would like. Does the NAZA and and APM come witht his feature already or is it a add on? Again sorry for the really beginner questions but I have only owned the off the shelf basic drone. And this is my first build.

    Thanks

    Joel

  • I have both 3DR APM/Arducopter and NAZA M on 450 and 350 size quadcopter.  Based on my experience if you wanted something easy and less time to setup without too much programming to make it fly the NAZA M is the best.  But if you wanted extended feature/function and programmable hardware that could program to do waypoints, trigger camera for 2d/3d mapping work and also have extra time + know how to program it the 3DR Pixhawk is your thing.  I have Arducopter for 2D/3D mapping and UAV use and NAZA-M for manual aerial photography use.  Here are my setup for both my quads:  https://www.supermotoxl.com/fpvuav-models-builds-and-flight-reviews...  and https://www.supermotoxl.com/fpvuav-models-builds-and-flight-reviews...

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