I bought a "3DR ArduCopter Hexa-C Almost Ready-to-Fly" in February.

I still have not been able to do anything with it, because I have not been able to find relevant documentation.  I would happily pay money if there was anyone providing paid support, someone who knows how to make it fly, or can walk me through it?

I took my hexa to the Hacker Dojo in Mountain View in March, and the hackers there spent around 7 hours with it.  They did the necessary soldering to connect the battery, figured out how to charge the battery.  But they could not make it fly.

Some current questions:

1. How do you attach the propellers?  There is no diagram showing what metal parts go under/above/around the blades, so i don't know if we're doing it right.  For example, there are blue anodized X-shaped bits of metal that came with the 3DR unit, but i don't know where they are supposed to go. The assembly instructions PDF says:

    "To attach the propellers use the collets included. Cut the plastic ring included with the propellers that fits snug around the threaded collet and insert it into the slot in the back of the propeller."

That's great, but what is a collet?  The propellers don't have any plastic rings, so what gets cut? The propellers also have no slots, so what is it talking about?

2. As some point I'm sure we had 6 of everything, but today i can only find 5 of the blue anodized bits that hold the propellers on.  Where can i buy some more?  The 3DR page for "Aducopter Replacement Parts" (http://store.diydrones.com/category_s/45.htm) doesn't have those bits on it.  The parts also do not appears on the "3DR ArduCopter Quad-C Hardware" list in the "assembly instructions" (http://stuff.storediydrones.com/ArduCopter3DRAssemblyInstructions)

Thanks for any help at all.  I don't want this to be a $1380 paperweight.

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  • An update: I was able to visit 3DR today and the support was _awesome_.  My hexacopter actually flew a little!

    There is even actual documentation coming.  Still has some big gaps but it is coming along.

    Without the docs, the system is still really far from turnkey or RTF.  But eventually.

    Some points that were completely unexpected:

    1. There are two KINDS of propeller (CW and CCW), and you use both of them.  You don't just flip a CW prop over to make a CCW prop.

    2. "The printing on the prop should face up."

    3. Those "collet" bits of metal actually grip the shaft using friction caused by screwing their collar part down tight.  I found this baffling, but apparently it works.  Without knowing that, it wasn't clear why they don't just fly off (or whether you have to push down really hard on them in hopes that they'll stay on).

    4. All the mysterious switches with cryptic names on the RC controller should be pushed "away" from you.

    5. That dark unlabeled slider thing hiding on the RC controller is actually the "on switch".

    6. If your battery is rated "4.0", then you set your battery charger to "4.0" for how fast it charges.  The units are different but somehow it works out (?).

    7. It takes around an hour to fully charge a battery.

    8. Tons and tons of the steps in the wiki don't apply to the "RTF" model.  All that stress and frustration about how/whether to calibrate the ESCs .. apparently it comes pre-calibrated!

    9. Even with the most stable "flight mode", the device will still drift unpredictably, several feet in any direction (due to ground effect, wind, gps drift, calibration, etc. who knows?).  You only want to engage the "autonomy" when it's way up in the air, because it might drift 10 or more feet off from where it's supposed to be, which (when it's close to ground or other objects) means it will crash.  Hence a significant degree of piloting skill (like muscle memory) is required to fly this "automatic" device, which means a lot of time and patience for practice.

    Hopefully all this will end up in the docs, when there are docs.

  • Ben,

    Good to see you continuing your impressive renaissance journey my friend.

    I have the Hexa-C ARTF and it is flying admirably after much good assistance from the helpful community here. There is joy in the journey. :-)   You are (unbeknownst to most on here) a jedi when it comes to opensource ebbs and flows.

    I'll PM you with comlinks.  :-)

    Peace,

    richard

  • Ben,

    I just sent you a PM.

  • in my opinion go to your local hobby store and find some better collets. i used e-flite ones.

  • T3
    First read the wiki a few times. It's a pretty good manual with lots of good info.
    http://code.google.com/p/arducopter/wiki/ArduCopter2

    Try contacting 3DR support for the collets or just buy an extra motor. Trust me you will need it. I've crashed so much and bought lots of motors, that now I have a bunch of extra collets. LOL

    Good luck and fly safe.
    Richard
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