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Author Topic: Parts and Tools needed for Project - Quadcopter  (Read 6729 times)
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Hi,

I'm new to Arduino development.  I'm a programmer by trade, so that part is absolutely fine for me - the hardware side of things is a little overwhelming at the moment.

Firstly, I'd like to say that I don't normally post on forums, as I'm normally able to just find the answer by looking.  This involves me spending (potentially good amounts of) money though, so I want to be sure.

I am looking to build a quadcopter, that is a helicopter with 4 independent rotors.  I am able to build a frame and program the thing, but what is alluding me is what components I will need.

I have read lots of forum threads and tutorials, but none give concrete answers.  The standard Arduino board only allows 2 motors as it has limited I/O (please correct me if I'm repeating wrong info here).  So, how would I go about controlling 4 motors easily?  I would also like some spare I/Os for other things like LEDs, sonar, etc.

I've seen the Motor shields, but do they provide enough I/Os for me to do it?  Can I daisy-chain them?  What about the Arduino Mega?

Also, can someone recommend motors for this sort of thing?  They obviously need to be strong enough to lift the weight of this thing.  I'd like substantially more power than I need too, if possible (would be nice to carry light objects).

Lastly, what about tools?  Would I require a soldering kit (iron, solder reel, sponge, etc)?

Apologies if these things seem obvious, and thanks in advance.

Mike
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http://www.mikrokopter.de/
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I'm not sure that's really answering any of my questions.  If I want a pre-built solution or a kit I would just go to my nearest model shop.  I'm doing this as a learning exercise.
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I'm not sure that's really answering any of my questions.  If I want a pre-built solution or a kit I would just go to my nearest model shop.  I'm doing this as a learning exercise.
In order to start an RC build of this magnitue, you need to know what components are in an existing model, swapping motors, rotor angles etc is the easy thing.
Yes, you're likel to nede a soldering iron, solder etc, RC model toolkit like this one http://www.xheli.com/18p37-toolbox.html
« Last Edit: July 18, 2012, 09:29:08 am by abrookfield » Logged


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You can buy all the stuff separately there, not only kits. The stuff used in the kits is working and therefore a good starting point. You don't have experience in this field but don't wanna use the tools and building blocks others used? If you go and look there you'll find out that they are using a Mega2560 as a controller.
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You will not use an Arduino motor shield for this; those shields are intended for brushed DC motors and quadcopter motors (and most RC motors) are three phase brushless. To power them you use what is referred to as a brushless "ESC"; it requires just one PWM signal line to control it -- same as a servo.

There are a couple sites that help you calculate the motors and ESCs needed; http://www.ecalc.ch/xcoptercalc_e.htm is one of them.

Be prepared for a lot of research. I would suggest looking at the KKmulticontroller board which is inexpensive and also has a large number of even less expensive Chinese clones.
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Take a look at http://diydrones.com/ too.
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I have personally used the Qik2s9v1 motor controller. http://www.pololu.com/catalog/product/1110
It's for controlling standard brushed DC motors. I've never built a quadcopter but a controller like this might be good for you for several reasons. It's about the size of a quarter and weighs much less. It can only control up to two motors but it can be daisy chained to a second controller for 4 motor control. This controller is also controlled by serial which means you can control up to all 4 motors with only one pin. This leaves you more pins for an imu or other sensor devices to control the copter. An arduino mega would give you many more pins but its also more weight for you to lift.

For tools I would definitely recommend getting a multimeter and breadboard followed by a soldering iron. Build your circuits first on a breadboard to make sure they work the way you want before soldering a more permanent setup. Good luck with your project, it sounds like a fun one!
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The standard Arduino board only allows 2 motors as it has limited I/O (please correct me if I'm repeating wrong info here).  So, how would I go about controlling 4 motors easily?

Also, can someone recommend motors for this sort of thing?  They obviously need to be strong enough to lift the weight of this thing.  I'd like substantially more power than I need too, if possible (would be nice to carry light objects).

Lastly, what about tools?  Would I require a soldering kit (iron, solder reel, sponge, etc)?

Apologies if these things seem obvious, and thanks in advance.

Hey Mike!
I have a few thoughts on your "learning experience" - I think it is awesome that you are going out and building your own quad, as it is a very rewarding, albeit frustrating process. You will learn more than you had ever wanted. With that said, it seems that you may be lacking a significant amount of important information for your project to be successful, or I am just misunderstanding your post. Most quads run brushless motors with low kV, which require their own ESCs (speed controls). These run from a pwm signal, and the basic arduino has six pwm pins, so your limit for motors is six, or 4 motors and 2 servos for camera stabilization. So while the basic arduino has limited i/o, there is certainly enough for the task at hand with some left over for you to play around with.

Here is a website with a project similar to what you are trying to accomplish, and the documentation is quite good: http://www.scoutuav.com/2011/12/13/low-cost-arduino-based-auto-stabilizing-system/

There are many setups online for motors/hardware for your quad - you must first set a realistic target weight and then choose your power accordingly. Common setups have 18-30amp escs, 3-4s lipo batteries, 10-12" propellers, 700-1500kV brushless outrunner motors, and 6-9 channel radio setups. Even if you buy the stuff from hobbyking or another Chinese retailer, it will cost you a good chunk of money. Add to that a good soldering iron (those 10 gauge wires on the batteries can be a pain in the butt to solder) and

*I know this is probably not an answer you were looking for, but I would seriously recommend getting an arducopter board/platform and getting something in the air at first, before getting frustrated with doing everything by yourself. It will be QUITE the learning experience, even without looking at any code. After you have something in the air, you can mess with code and whatnot.*

I hope this reply was helpful in the least bit, and I can elaborate once you throw more details of your plans - there is no "setup/motor" for a quad, but there re some very good ones out there. I am sure others can chime in as well.

*edit - looks like while I was typing 5 people beat me to the punch. Awesome bunch here on these forums!
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Thanks guys.  Some really useful links and info here.  Will take a look at everything and weigh up my options smiley
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Got all the parts I needed from Hobbyking for < $90.  But it took them 6 months to ship it!
There's plenty of work to do even buying a kit...
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How's your project progressing?  I've been flying!
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Hi guys,

Looking to start the build on this soon.  Is this the kind of thing I should be looking at:
1* frame (http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/store/__24227__Hobbyking_X666_Glass_Fiber_Quadcopter_Frame_666mm.html)
4* 1000kv brushless motor (http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/store/__23770__2728_Brushless_Outrunner_Motor_1000kv.html)
4* 30A brushless ESC (http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/store/__13429__HobbyKing_30A_BlueSeries_Brushless_Speed_Controller.html)
2* 2200mAh Lipo battery (http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/store/__8932__Turnigy_2200mAh_3S_20C_Lipo_Pack.html)
2* 4pc 12" propellor (1 spare) (http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/store/__22457__Slow_Fly_Electric_Prop_12x4_5R_SF_4_pc_Green_Right_Hand_Rotation_.html)

Or am I way off the mark here?  I also need the Arduino Mega, of course.

By my calculations this comes to:
$129.69 for everything above and $60 for the Arduino Mega, so roughly $200 including P&P.  Does this sound about right?

Thanks,
Mike
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Two of the propellers should be right hand and two should be left hand. If you don't the whole copter will be spinning.
« Last Edit: August 16, 2012, 11:10:37 am by Chagrin » Logged

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Hi guys,

Looking to start the build on this soon.  Is this the kind of thing I should be looking at:
1* frame (http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/store/__24227__Hobbyking_X666_Glass_Fiber_Quadcopter_Frame_666mm.html)
4* 1000kv brushless motor (http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/store/__23770__2728_Brushless_Outrunner_Motor_1000kv.html)
4* 30A brushless ESC (http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/store/__13429__HobbyKing_30A_BlueSeries_Brushless_Speed_Controller.html)
2* 2200mAh Lipo battery (http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/store/__8932__Turnigy_2200mAh_3S_20C_Lipo_Pack.html)
2* 4pc 12" propellor (1 spare) (http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/store/__22457__Slow_Fly_Electric_Prop_12x4_5R_SF_4_pc_Green_Right_Hand_Rotation_.html)

Or am I way off the mark here?  I also need the Arduino Mega, of course.

By my calculations this comes to:
$129.69 for everything above and $60 for the Arduino Mega, so roughly $200 including P&P.  Does this sound about right?

Thanks,
Mike

Sorry, but, otherwise of this ESCs, can you use a motor shield with 4 outputs like this (http://www.ebay.com/itm/290700252856?ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1423.l2649)?

It is possible?

thanks!
Jo
« Last Edit: October 11, 2012, 10:01:49 am by jojorge01 » Logged

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