Multicopter Build



Hi all.  Been lurking around here and the RCGroups site for a long time and finally got around to actually starting a multi-copter build.  I built my first Sig Cadet way back in the day, but got caught up doing other things for about 20 years.  Back to RC now and loving it.  And thanks to all in and around these projects that are making the community tick.  Open Source only works if you have kick ass people like Chris and a big team of supporters.  Nice job!

The MCopter is built on an RC Carbon frame from RC Hobby Helicopter (Thanks John!) and will be running 4 Hacker 20-22L's with 10 x 3.8 props.  Once I get the four motor version running we may bump it to eight in coax config to have more margin.  I have ArduPiratesNG on the APM right now so I can test the two axis camera mount with the GoPro Hero.  Once we get closer to the first test flight I'll decide which code base we fly.


Here's a few pics from Flickr


UPDATE: 2/16/10

Finally got the first version built and went for a maiden.  I am flying the latest ArduPirates code, but I did not do any PID tuning as I was tired of waiting and wanted to see how close it was stock settings.  This version is still a bit under-powered so I am going to switch from 10x3.8 to 10x4.7 SF props to see if it will help a bit.  I just want to get a feel for the thing before I strap four more motors on.  I'll spend much more time PID tuning before the next flight.


I added a few more pics to the Flickr set and am still waiting for the youtube video to show up...






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  • @KP - a really nice frame overall so just a few minor changes.  the biggest one is i would prefer to see the arms be tubular.  tubes give you the about best performance per cube/weight for the type of forces on the arms - stress, strain, torque. also, with eight medium sized motors this thing can draw ~160 amps WOT and that's enough to start welding things together.  to protect from meltdown i wanted to put my power bus between the bottom and top plates of the center section but not sure i can get that done in time/budget so i may just do it around the IMU.  i am not interested in strapping the ESC's to the arms as i want to get things nice and clean in a spot to start covering them form the elements (and crashes).  in short, just make sure you carefully plan for placement of things like your power bus and leave room for expansion etc.  for this frame there are about 22 screws to remove to get the top plate off, so even if i do find room in there for my power bus it will not be very easy to maintain.
  • So what I found weird with the GoPro was that in my loft it didn't seem to like the low light so much but when I took it out and flew it at dusk it seemed to do ok. It seemed darker at dusk though than it did in my living room, but it might have also had something to do the way it was balancing you can change to balance on center of view or it can compensate for overall light hitting the sensor, I think I had it in center view when I had it out at dusk, I'll test this weekend and post some vids.

    Coby- What about the frame did you not like? I have a few different designs that are pretty similar to what droidworks has out and was just curious what you had to say before I go cut up my CF sheets and be all Ugh!! That dosen't work like I expected. 

  • Cheers Coby!


  • @davey have not pushed the gopro too hard yet, but i would say for a single very small sensor at that price not to expect much for low light.  i'll put that on the test plan as it's a very valid question.  my biggest complaint about the gopro is usability of the menus.  keep the manual handy for sure.  if they could squeeze a few more lines out of that lcd they might be able to print full words instead of cryptic abbreviations.  but for the price/size/weight it's pretty capable.  my long term plan is to swap it out for something in the 4/3's sensor category but need more time to find the right rig.  I was thinking Panasonic's DMC-GF2 but do not know if it can do simultaneous video out and record - anyone happen to know?  I have not really dug that deep yet.


    @taylor this mount does not allow use of the case anyway but i do have plans for a bit of cnc work with the gopro case to help keep it water resistant with external connectors.  need to weatherproof the copter before it's a real concern for the payload.  also in the works.



  • there is a thread on rcgroups about changing the lense on the go pro - you do have to disassemble the unit as the lense is glued in, but it is possible to get away from the fisheye issue.
  • yes, the gopro can record in HD and puts out AV at the same time

    it has fish-eye optics

    there are a lot of people saying it's a good camera but I don't know how it acts in low light situations

  • It's just too bad that you can't use the waterproof housing while having the AV out. You could drill your own hole, but then it might be a challenge to keep watertight.
  • Guys, Can you get AV out of the camera and record in HD at the same time?


    Whats the low light performance like?



  • @davey - yeah it's a lot loose change:)
  • cool jason.  thanks for the photo.  i found a mini rca with four connectors at mouser that look like they will work too.  once i get around to building the camera harness i'll post with details.
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