Ellison Chan's Posts (19)

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3D Printing My Own Personal Robot Servant


Well, as you can see, I've started with the arm.  This puppy has reduction gears, driven by a stepper motor.  I'm planning to power the forearm with metal gear servos. Of course with slight modifications to the segment ratios, this is also going to be the legs of my robot.

I need more steppers and drivers, which are on order.  This prototype is a result of several months of work, and almost 3 kg of plastic was used, in trial and error, before this stage has been reached.

Right now, all points of rotation are fitted with plastic printed bearings, but I've got some steel 26x17x5mm bearings coming from China.  Not sure if they will be needed, since everything runs rather smoothly with the plastic bearings.  Just some grease would make things run like silk.

Maybe it will help me clean up my room.

By request of Dany here's a video of it being run off my TOM's motor controller.  Excuse the scruffy attire and lack of grooming. ;-)

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Yet Another Fully 3D Printed Multicopter.


Still in the works, but can't resist putting some pictures up.

Key features are:

  1. Fully 3D printed arms.  Using a truss design, it's very stiff vertically, and resistant to twisting.
  2. Arms are printed in sections, so can be extended to allow for almost any sized prop.
  3. Arms are wide, so easy to strap things on them, like I have done with the two ESCs.
  4. Motors mounts are through hole printed, so as to allow tandem motors.

See more pictures in the 3D Printing Drone Parts Group,here.

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UAV Inspired by Maple Seed.

Those of us in the North Country, are very familiar with the shape and mess that we have to clean up every year.  Yes the venerable maple seed.  Lockheed has found a way to turn this into a military drone.  Way to go, Lockheed!

This design seems familiar, very much like Jack Crossfire's Marcy mono-wing.


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Cheap DJI 550 Clone Hexa Frame from HK.


Looks like a clone/unbranded DJI 550 frame from HK is avilable for $17.99.  Seems like a good price.  I just ordered one.  Hope the quality is good.  Will update everyone, when I get it.

BIG NOTE: It looks like this frame does not have the PDB(Power Distribution Board) built in.  I actually like this better, since that means, holes can be drilled without worrying about a short.


UPDATE:  June `14th, 2012

The frame has arrive here's some quick pictures:







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Good Hobby CNC Machine


I'm thinking seriously about getting a CNC.  Been browsing on Ebay.  Mostly these China made 3020 cnc machines are popping up, and they all seem to  be relatively well priced.  Just thought I'd get some opinions from members on any actual experience on these.  Also any recommendations on getting a hobby CNC machine in general would be greatly appreciated.  I'm planning on using the machine to make hub plates, motor mounts, etc.  I'd probably be milling aluminium and/or carbon fibre.



  1. cadcamcadcam.com (servo motors and controller)
  2. 3-axis Stepper Motor System based on DQ542MA, on Ebay
  3. 6-axis Stepper Motor System based on DQ542MA, on Ebay
  4. DC1 Servo Motor Controller, from Makerbot
  5. Servo Motor Encoder

05/26/2012:  After some discussion.  This blog is starting to look into building a CNC machine of our own.  Keep following to stay informed.  We're in the brainstorming stage at this point any input from users is welcomed.

05/27/2012: DIYDrones CNC Project group is created.  Let's move our activity to that group.

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Iran Cracks RQ-170 Stealth Drone Code.

Yee haw!  Save your money boys and girls.  Looks like Iran may be going into the flight controller business soon.  Once commercialized, the RQ-170 based flight controller should outperform DJI, and Arducopter.  Maybe even give Mikrokopter a run for its money.

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HobbyKing Beer Lift 2012

Looks like the folks at HobbyKing has fully embraced the Multicopter revolution.  To that end, they've created a contest for 2012, the goal of which is to lift our favourite beverages, BEER!  They don't say whether the beer cans need to be full or empty.  I think the goal is to lift as much weight as possible.  So there may be the obvious incentive of lifting many empty beer cans, versus smaller number sadly full cans.

Link to contest is here.

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Ok, so the heading is a little misleading.  By UAV, Lockheed probably means Umanned Aquatic Vehicle.  They're planning to offer this UAV for sale in late 2012.  But, seriously, maybe we all need to get out of the air and into the water.  Is there such a thing as FSA (Federal Submarine Authority) or does Transport Canada have regulations for submarine vehicles?

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Canada is at the Vanguard of UAV Regulations


Figure 12-2 Work Plan

Well folks after some browsing I've discovered that Canada is the current leader in terms of regulations of commercial use UAVs in North America.  Whereas the US President has just recently signed a bill to get the FAA to create detailed regulations for commercial use of UAVs, Canada has been working on them since 2008.

Here's a Work Plan extracted from the final report of the UAV Working Group, from the Transport Canada website:

12.2 Work Plan for Complete and Safe Integration into Canadian Airspace: 2012

The Working Group proposes the following Work Plan to achieve complete and safe integration of UAVs into Canadian airspace by the year 2012. The Working Group believes there is an immediate need for the creation of a UAV SFOC Review Working Group. All other Working Groups that are referenced in this Work Plan would be part of a longer-term process to achieve routine operations of UAVs in Canadian airspace.



  1. Submit Unmanned Air Vehicle Working Group Final Report to Transport Canada Senior management; and
  2. Approval and creation of a UAV SFOC Review Working Group.


  1. Implement registration of UAVs;
  2. Revise Staff Instructions in accordance with UAV SFOC Review Working Group recommendations and implement additional recommendations (advisory material etc.);
  3. Have procedures/exemption(s) in place for UAVs operating inside buildings and underground;
  4. Continue the development of Industry Groups to represent the Canadian UAV Industry to Transport Canada;
  5. Initiate collaborative effort toward Design Standards; and
  6. Allocation of dedicated Transport Canada resources.


  1. Develop or adopt Airworthiness Design Standards for UAVs with a MTOW not exceeding 150 Kg;
  2. Creation of a Working Group to deal with UAS-specific components; and
  3. Create Notices of Proposed Amendments (NPAs) for presentation at CARAC Technical Committee Meetings:
    1. January 1st – December 30th:
      1. General Operating and Flight Rules;
      2. Pilot/Maintainer Qualifications and Training; and
      3. Maintenance and Flight Authorities.


  1. Create NPAs for presentation at CARAC Technical Committee Meetings:
    1. Completed by December 30th:
      1. Airworthiness Certification;
      2. Operating Certificates (new Working Group); and
      3. New operating rules (e.g., IFR approaches etc.).
  2. Development of Advisory material / Exemptions - after approval of NPAs


  1. Completion – safe airspace integration.

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Experiment with Momentum Cancelling Code

Experimental Momentum Cancelling Turned On

In the above flight, Arducopter 2.3 is being used with stock PID, basically no tuning at all.  The INSTANT_PWM, is enabled.  The propellers are not balanced, and nicked up, from rough flying.  The framed use is my 3D Printed FireFly Mark One.  As you can see, I'm purposely flying it really hard.  Wish I could have recorded the stick movements.  Basically, I am pushing the stick in one direction, and then pushing it back to neutral, and then past it.  The feeling is that the quad is anticipating the direction change, and slowing down ahead of my movement, which is the type of behaviour that I'm expecting from the code.

Stock Arducopter 2.3 with No Momentum Cancelling

The above flight, is using the same code at the first, except the experimental Momentum Cancelling code is turned off.  Same as the first flight, stock PIDs, INSTANT_PWM is turned on, as well.  Again absolutely no tuning.  What I notice is that with no Momentum Cancelling, it's much harder to change directions.  The feeling of the quad responding ahead of the direction change is just not there, so I'm just not able to flick it around like with the experimental code.

Description of Momentum Cancelling

As you roll or pitch a quad, it will start moving in the direction of the stick input.  It will continue in the direction of roll or pitch until you use input the roll or pitch in the opposite direction to counteract that motion.  If the quad was a car, the equivalence would be applying the brakes to stop it.  That's manual Momentum Cancellation.

The code that I've added does this automatically, when the joystick goes back to the neutral centre position.  It's really that simple a concept.  It's not rocket science.  This very experimental code currently applies 2.5 degrees of pitch or roll, whenever the stick goes back to centre.  This is in fact, quite small.  Much more work needs to be done before it can be release to the general public.

The Ultimate Goal

I have a goal for the end game of this code.  Ultimately, if I'm successful, my quad will fly like a hummingbird or a bee instead of a regular bird, or airplane.  Many things need to be added to enable this to happen.

Details on building the Firefly Mark One Quad are available in my previous blog.

Of course the feel of a quad is a very subjective concept.  Would love to hear what people think of the comparison videos.

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Swarm of Quads!

Latest Progress from the Folks at the GRASP Lab

Would love to see what flight control algorithm they're using on these things.

Great picture of the infrared lamps, at the end of the video:


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Firefly Mark One Flies in TREX Configuration.  It's like a Space Odyssey!

As you can see above the 3D printed frame project has advanced one more step.  I have fitted the 3D printed hub with 4 cut down TREX 450 (12mm) tail booms.  It's being flow in Stability Mode.  Just a note on cutting the aluminium tail booms, the easiest way I found was using a plumbers copper pipe cutter.

PID Settings:

For those who are curious, I am flying Arducopter v2.22b4, the latest version served up by Mission Planner.  I dialed back the default P values for yaw, roll, pitch and throttle to 80%.  The default values are too aggressive for such a small frame.  I think I could dial it back even further to 75% or 70% still be responsive.  I initially used 50% of default, and it was stable, but response was to slow.



Frame with the APM mounted, and RC receiver tucked under.  Very compact.

All connected up with cool 3 bladed props 8x4",  Unfortunately on it's first lift off took a dump and lost one of the blades on a prop, and I had no spares.  Now I have to run with the 9" 2 blade props. ;-(


Next Step

The next step is to fly with the integrate micro 10g motors, using the integrated arms:


Unfortunately, I was testing one of the motors, while holding it in my hands and it slipped out, and ripped itself apart.  Lesson learned, "Don't underestimate the torque of these little 10g motors".  Now I have to wait for another round of HK delivery.  Anyone know how to rewind these little motors?


Recommended Parts List

4 x Common Trex 450 tail booms (12mm)   $4.95 for 5 booms on ebay
2 x Bags of M3x20mm hex bolts $1.99 each
1 x Bag of M3 nuts $1.76

Power Distribution Board
Although I build my power bus by soldering a bunch of wires together you can order one from DiYDrones for $8. Quad Power Distribution Board

Support for APM1, APM2, and KKMulticopter

The Firefly frame has a mounting plate that will fit APM1,APM2, and even KKmulticopter controller boards.  The KKmulticopter is a good controller for those on a budget for as low as $19 on ebay.

Fully Interchangeable and Replacable Parts

Check out my shop on Shapeways for Firefly frame parts, and look out for the fully integrated frame to be put on sale, as soon as I validate that it's a good flyer, which of course, I have no doubt.

Notice that the integrated arms will have interchangeable motor mounts to custom fit various motor mount sizes.


Firefly Mark One with TREX 405 Tail Boom(12 mm) Motor Mounts:
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For those who haven't seen my previous blog here's some background on what this project involves.

The goal of this project is to prove that it is possible to print a miniQuad on a 3D printer at a reasonable price.  This frame was designed using the excellent 3D modelling program Blender 3D.  It would then be manufactured using a 3D printing service Shapeways.com.  By using this printing service it becomes available for the public to order their own copies of this frame.

I am now one step closer to that goal.  Over the holidays, I received the printed frame from Shapeways, and assembled it.  Unfortunately, I need a few more parts, like additional motors, propellers, and batteries, before first flight.

My assessment so far is that, the strength and weight of the frame is more than adequate for flight.  The plastic used has a small amount of flex, which should help to survive hard landings, but is stiff enough to keep the shape of the quad.

I have decided to dub this frame Firefly Mark One!

The following is major components for this project:

1 x Firefly Mark One Frame from Shapeways.com

4 x 18-11 2000kv Micro Brushless Outrunner (10g)

4 x HobbyKing Red Brick 10A ESC

2 x GWS HD8040 3 Blade Prop Counter Rotate (2pc)

2 x GWS HD8040 3 Blade Prop (2pc pack)

1 x Turnigy nano-tech 950mah 2S 25~50C Lipo Pack

For those who always ask, "How much does it cost and where can I get one?":

I've placed all the parts of the Firefly Mark One frame in my shop on http://Shapeways.com/shops/rcshop, for public viewing.  You can look at each model in 3D, spinning it around for better viewing. 

The Firefly Mark One will come in at a cost of under $100, the long arm version of the frame (25.7 cm motor-motor), including the hub, 4 arms, battery holder, and APM mounting plate. Electronics, and mounting hardware not included, of course, since I can't print nuts and bolts.

Flight videos and tuning parameters coming, as soon as I get my parts from HobbyKing.

Would love to get any feedback from the community, before making it publicly available for ordering.

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