I've been watching this site for several months and have decided to jump in.  I'm building a Quad for fun and for AP.  I want to use the more popular and tested parts since I'm interested in a Quad that works in its initial config.  Once I get some experience flying it, I then want to get a camera mount for a small camera and be able to do some AP.  At this point I'm not interested in FPV, but I am interested in remote telemetry.  Here's the parts list I've come up with so far:

 

This is what I want to buy first to get started without any payload:

Arduino MEGA 2560

ArduPilot Mega IMI Shileld/OilPan Rev-H

MediaTek MT3329 GPS

ArduCopter 3DR frame

4xAC2836-358 motors

4xjDrones 30A ESCs

12" composite propellers

Zippy Flightmax 2200mAh 3S1P 30C battery

Turnigy 9X Rx/Tx

iMax B6-AC battery charger

 

After getting some flight experience I then plan to add these parts:

Xbee Telemetry Kit

MHC5883L Magnetomer

MB1200 XL-MaxSonar-EZ0 Sonar Sensor

Zippy Flightmax 2650mAh 3S1P 30C larger capacity battery

 

After getting more experience with the added features I then plan to add AP capability with a camera mount and camera (GoPro HD Hero or smaller Canon or Sony point n shoot)

 

Any comments are welcome, especially if you have any experience with any of these parts or similar configs!  I'm hoping to start ordering parts in the next month.

 

 

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I'm going along the same lines, trying to build my first quad to learn how to fly first (but also using FMS.. excellent..), although wanting something that can evolve into AP/AV, and possibly also making use of GPS functionalities.

While there are many FC cards available here and there, I tend to think that I should go for APM, since it seems to integrate all these future possibilities straight out of the box

Unfortunately I haven't got enough technical background to choose my own individual parts, and that's why I'm really interested in your experience. Any feed back would be much appreciated.

did you get to anything easily flyable ? are you happy with your choices ? any idea on overall part price ?

tx

I've been flying for a couple months now and have been really happy with the hardware I have.  I ended up choosing the GoPro Hero2 as my camera.  I've decided that FPV could be very useful, especially if you want to fly more than a couple hundred feet away.  GoPro is about to release a bacpac module for the Hero2 that will stream live video over wifi, so I plan on starting with that for FPV.  I'm also plan to get a 2-axis stabilized camera mount, and I've heard the 3DR is working on one designed for the GoPro and the 3DR frame. 

 

If you know how to solder then the kits are the way to go.  The only unresolved issue I've had so far is the sonar sensor, too much interference, so I've fallen back on using the onboard barometer.  If you haven't purchased hardware yet, wait for the APM 2, there are enough improvements to make it worth the wait.  I plan on eventually upgrading.

 

The cost is definately up there, since I started from scratch and needed a radio, battery charger, and everything for the quad, I've spent over $1000.  There are cheaper ways to go if all you care about is stabilized flight, no autopilot.  It's definately an exciting hobby, I've had a couple crashes and gotten it stuck in a tree for a week, but luckily all I've had to replace are propellers and a motor.  Good luck!

Thanks Garrick, good info for the GoPro backpack, I'm looking forward the release of that.

Moving forward to my first copter, I decided it was best to dive into that world sooner than later, so I've pre-ordered the 3DR Hexa kit! Not really sure where I'm heading since my experience is close to zero, but at least I'll have my hands on it instead of only reading about it (which I will still do of course). 

Not sure neither that the Hexa was a good idea for the first, but at least that's what I was aiming to so why not go straight to the point.

Few other questions if I may, related to your experience choosing individual parts... I need to buy a lipo battery for the beast (and charger), how do you choose the capacity/voltage of the battery ? is there a formula ? maybe it's simpler than that but it's all mystery to me...

Also, do you have some links to the stabilized camera mount you are talking about ? is is automatically being stabilized by the APM through the use of gyros ? that's what I would be ultimately looking for. I'm also wondering about the size of the copter feet... are they high enough to fit a camera under the machine ? maybe that will need to be replaced?

Thanks for your time and any feedback, will be much appreciated

Cheers

ps: Unfortunaltely the 3DR hexa kit is not provided with the APM2 but only the APM1. I might think of replacing this with APM2 when I'll have more experience...

The battey size is a trade off, and with a hexa or octa you may want to consider 2 batteries.  Before I bought any parts, I figured out the weight of all the parts, including camera, and compared that to the thrust from the 4 motors.  I designed my quad to be able to hover at 50% throttle.   I wanted as long of flight times as possible, so the heaviest battery I could handle with my design restrictions was a single 3 cell 5000mAh.  I get about 15 minutes of hover time with my configuration.  You also need to pay attention to the C rating of the battery, and make sure it is high enough (may only need to be half as high if you go with 2 batteries) to handle the current needs of all your motors at full throttle.  A 30C or 40C  is good enough for a single battery setup in a quad, you will need higher C rating if you have more than 4 motors. In terms of a formula, as long as the C rating is high enough, the mAh just determines your flight time, lots of people fly quads with 2200mAh batteries, but then have pretty short flight times.

 

The stabilized camera mount I'm waiting for is not released yet.  I've been told on the forums that it will be released in the next month, but that is just speculation.  So I don't have any info other than it's designed to with with the 3DR quad frame (I'd assume it will also work with the 3DR hexa frame) and a gopro camera.  I also don't know for sure if it's 1 axis or 2 axis stabilized, but I'm hoping it's 2 axis.  If longer than standard feet are needed because of the mount, I would assume 3DR will either include them with the mount, or start selling longer feet once the mount is released.

 

As far as the kits without APM2s, you can get a kit that does not include the electronics and order your APM2 separately.

 

 

Thanks Garrick for all the precious info.

I've already preordered my kit with full electronics, so I guess APM2 will be for later :-\

i think the gopro 2 axis mount u are talking is avilable in the jdrones site

There is one availble there that is made to mate to the original ArduCopter frame.  I'm holding our for one designed to mate to the 3DR quad frame.  I asked jDrones if their mount would attach to the 3DR quad frame and they said some modifications to the mount may be necessary.

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