FPV drone building experience07 Nov 2015
This summer I saw some videos with FPV races that were so awesome that I decided that I want build my own drone for racing.
The least straightforward part was to actually select parts to build from. If you have no experience in hobby electronics you will be amazed by amount of what’s available on the market. There are all sorts of different frames, motors, distribution boards etc. And if you start choosing something while you’re still not sure about essential list of parts you’ll encounter a whole lot of additional options: what about led lights? If so, what kind of lights, whaterproof or not? What about onboard HD camera? And so on. All this questions take time to check compatability, voltage, connectors and other options available.
After a while I understood that the best way might be to go with bare minimum required to make drone that flies and iterate on it. There is awesome series of tutorial videos on the topic that cover all building process with just a few parts that you might want to do differently and it was vital for the success of my build.
Now, here is the list of the details that I used. I’ve split them in a sections with bare minimum on top and additional options below.
- H250 ZMR250 250mm Carbon Fiber
- Distribution board Any board will do, this was not the best one. Actually, there are options that allow make everything without soldering at all, because they already have XT60 male plug soldered in and bullet plugs for ESCs.
- XT60 Male Plug 12AWG In case you bought a distribution board that requires soldering
- Tie Down Strap for 11.1 3S 2200 Battery
- FlySky FS-i6 2.4G 6CH AFHDS RC Transmitter With FS-iA6 Receiver
- 120pcs M3 Nylon Hex Spacers Screw Nut Assortment Stand off Accessories Kit Set you need just a few of those, entire set is overkill.
- AfroFlight Naze32 Acro AbuseMark FunFly Controller - Soldered version
- DYS BE1806-13 Brushless Motor for Multirotor (2300KV) 24g
- Afro ESC 12Amp Ultra Lite Multi-rotor Motor Speed Controller (SimonK Firmware) Version 3
- HK-171 Thread Locker & Sealant Medium Strength
- Polyester Velcro Peel-n-stick adhesive side V-STRONG
FPV gear. If you want to start from bare minimum this is totally not required.
- Skyzone Plug & Play FPV 500-Set With TS58500 TX, RC832 RX, Sony 700CCD and C/P Antennas
- Quanum DIY FPV Goggle Set with Monitor
- Turnigy 2200mAh 3S 25c I bought this one, but it’s rather heavy and maybe an overkill for the start
- HobbyKing® B3AC Compact Charger
- Gemfan 5x3 5030 Propeller 250 Frame Probably you might want to buy lots of these
- HobbyKing™ Universal Propeller Balancer, For T Style and Std Propellers
- FlySky Data Cable USB Download Line For FS-i6 FS-T6 Transmitter Firmware Update The cable should enable you to use the transmitter for firmware update and for using it with simulators.
A few notes about how I chose parts.
The ideal way was to go throught every part that might be necessary and look for best options, but after a week of long evening spent by googling stuff and reading forums I decided that this strategy wil not lead me anywhere. So, checked several tutorials and selected the most popular cheap frame and combination of ESCs and motors that sort of made sense. I didn’t do any calculations about the load these motors can lift, so it was a total guess.
FPV gear was chosen because it was a) cheap and b) literally plug n play. Maybe Quanum DIY FPV goggleset will not give the best video ever but it does the job and you can really forget about FPV parts or order them later if you’re just making your first training flights.
Velcro tape is super useful to attach anything to anything. Accumulators, cameras - everything that should be detachable will benefit from it, because it is really sticky and connects parts well.
Propeller. There are different modifications of propellers but 5x3 should be the mildest option.
Accumulators. If you’re without FPV gear two accumulators should be more than enough for you and their capacity can be smaller and hence save space. And one charger is enough! If you’ll take the same transmitter like I did you can try to adopt one more accumulator to be inside of it, you can check tutorials on the net.
The assembling process was more or less straightforward and you can follow video tutorial I mentioned earlier. For me the main difference with tutorial was usage of power distribution board and actual setup of the controller. None of them are really hard especially if you’re comfortable with soldering.
For flight controller I used Cleanflight firmware and it’s easy enough to setup.
Radio reciever requires input voltage of 5V and I didn’t have a 2 cell accumulator. The solution was to actually plug naze32 board and use it as power source.
The other issue was with receiver was that when I started plugging wires between receiver and controller I couldn’t make it right before I stopped makeing the assumptions that channels on the receiver match channels on controller. In my cases channels like 5-6 were mixed.
It was really fun and I’m eager to start studying how to fly drone better and there is also a lot of autopilot staff that I want to adress.