An APM2 for the South Carolina Arducopter

On second thought, maybe ordering the APM2 assembled would have been a good idea.

Nah, why let someone else have all the fun? The board is wonderfully small and has convinced me that SMD components require learning new tricks if I plan to roll my own in the future. Over 35 years of through-hole work only qualifies me to solder in the header pins.. barely. You see a very vintage grounded Ungar iron and the ESD packing on my bench acting as my base ground ("Where's my anti-static mat?")

 I could not locate an order of assembly for the 'kit' version of the on-board GPS (the APM1 has one) so...

Here is what I did:

  • Drop the single pins into the main board first (short pins through the mainboard)
  • Then use the GPS module to hold them somewhat down and in place (plastic 'block' between main and GPS).
  • Solder the pins on the bare (back) side of the mainboard first.
  • Then solder the 4 pins in the purple section of the GPS board from the top. These are the Vcc and Gnd connections to the GPS module. I left the two pins at the GPS 'chip' end unsoldered. They look that way in the 3DR pictures.

The GPS header connector was not marked with Vcc or Gnd. This implies the power and return (earth, ground) are delivered through the single pins. If I missed the markings, at least the board is mechanically intact if/when an uncontrolled impact should occur. Besides, the pictures of the pre-assembled APM2 seem to show those pins soldered from the top.

Why did I go with the kit? I wanted the 90 degree connectors for the inputs/outputs rather then the stock units. I think cable management will be neater this way. When I get APM2 in the Quad stack up, this will be confirmed or recanted.

My plan is to do bench testing of the APM2, Mission Planner, etc before even thinking about trying to get off the ground.

Last week I purchased a Hitec X1 AC Plus Multicharger and an Eflite 3S 3200mAh LiPo from my local hobby shop (previously mentioned in the first blog post). More to do is matching up connectors from the battery to the PBD on the quad. Also to make up are the stack up plates for the APM2 and RC Rcv section. Writing the Gcode for these can be time consuming but it will allow me to create spares if they are broken while learning to fly. I think I will buy interconnect cables from 3DR. We've got to keep folks employed afterall.

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Comment by Rob_Lefebvre on June 14, 2012 at 7:36pm

Somebody recently told me about the idea of using right-angle pins on the APM2, and I agree, it makes a lot of sense.  


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Comment by Dany Thivierge on June 14, 2012 at 8:52pm

that`s how they are sold here! I solder all of them myself for my dear Canadian friends! All right angles inputs/outputs. I agree it`s the way to go.
So R.D. you have a CNC machine? want to share your specs? we are building one here so always glad to get more inputs... jump in the other thread and give us your impressions on where we are at.
http://diydrones.com/group/diydrones-cnc-project/forum

Comment by Greg Fletcher on June 14, 2012 at 9:30pm

Wow, your eyes are as bad as mine. I had 20-13 vision till i was ~ 48 and now I solder like that. I even have the same mag and vice & 1.25 - 3.5 glasses. I must have a newer Weller, WES51. Solder on dude.

Comment by R. D. Starwalt on June 16, 2012 at 1:00pm

Dany, my CNC machine is from a set of plans/drawings from a fellow now out of that business. I would classify it as fair/poor first machine for hobby use. It is somewhat wretched but it was a good learning experience.

The main purpose was to prototype circuit boards but all I have made so far have been parts for my quadrotor!

I am a group member of the DIYD project (uploaded the BOM with DigiKey prices earlier this week).

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