Luke Olson's Posts (3)

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DIY Power Distribution


There are various power distribution boards out there but none really were able to accomplish what I wanted for a previous hexacopter build (six battery inputs, six ESC outputs, and a small power lead for the receiver). I'm in the process of building a new small quadcopter so I figured I document the power distribution this time around. This example is less complex than the first one I made for the hexacopter but it illustrates the same process.

The basic idea is to use copper washers to conduct the power and insulate them with rubber washers. This technique can be used with multiple inputs, multiple outputs, wired leads or only the connectors, made with readily available parts at the hardware store for a few dollars, and is scalable from very small to very large multirotors (or any other project that needs high current power distribution).

This pack of copper washers came from Harbor Freight and has enough washers for dozens of multirotors. If I remember correctly it was something like $6. Individual copper washers can be purchased from hardware stores or automotive stores (used for oil drain plug gaskets).

3689492486?profile=originalEverything soldered together and ready to be assembled with the rubber washers. I used a 50 watt soldering iron on this one but had to use a 200 watt soldering gun on a larger version for a hexacopter.

3689492447?profile=originalThese rubber washers might be a little big but I wanted to be sure no metal was exposed on the outside. They came from Home Depot and were less than a dollar. The rubber washers come in many sizes to suit whatever size copper washers are used.

3689492398?profile=originalThis is another view from the side to show how they sit together. One is positive and one is negative.

3689492509?profile=originalTo hold everything together I used some small zip ties to make a power distribution sandwich. Rubber, copper, rubber, cooper, rubber. The layer closest to the camera is positive indicated by the red wire. Once in the frame it can be held down with another zip tie or just by the wires themselves.

Hopefully this will help someone out who either doesn't want to wait for a power distribution board to be shipped or who needs something in a configuration that isn't otherwise available. To be on the safe side check it for continuity with a multimeter before plugging in a battery!

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GoPro releases Protune firmware update


If you have a GoPro HD HERO2 camera there's a free firmware update that doubles the video bit rate, has a neutral white balance, and disables internal noise reduction, contrast adjustments, and sharpening. This dramatically improves the quality of the video and opens new doors for post processing of the video.

You can get the update from the GoPro website under support. It suggest updating through their CineForm video editing suite (also a free download).

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Hexacopter Frame In Progress

I've been throwing around a few ideas for a hexacopter frame and have settled on a aluminum arm and fiberglass plate sandwich type frame (is there a more technical term for it?). The goal is to carry a digital SLR for aerial photography, though I'll work out the camera bits after I get past the basics of just getting it flying. From prop tip to prop tip it will be about 42 inches. The two plates in the middle are about 11.5 inches diameter and will be cut from 1/8th inch thick G10 fiberglass. The aluminum arms are 1 inch with a roughly 1/20th inch thick wall. The props will be 12 inches by 3.8 pitch.






The blue boxes under the arms are the batteries, the red boxes on the fiberglass plate are the speed controllers, the three boxes in the middle are the APM, GPS, and receiver. Bolts will hold the plates and arms together and other items will be double sided tape and probably Velcro for the batteries.


The machine to cut the fiberglass should be functional in a week or two at which point I'll be finalizing the design and cutting out the parts. If anyone is interested I'll document that process (tool selection, creating the code, etc.). Until next time everybody have a good one!

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