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Building Custom Quadcopter

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by mrbones121, Dec 2, 2014.

  1. mrbones121

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    After getting a DJI Phantom 2 setup wth a FPV setup and gimbal at my work, I am now hooked on AUVs and I am looking to build my own now.

    I am thinking about basing it around a DJI NAZA Lite and an E300 propulsion system and then buying the frame off of Ebay and I have no idea what type of controller to buy (a DT7 seemed to expensive for what you get). I don't want to spend an excessive amount on this AUV but I would like something that is reliable and that I have the option to modify and add onto in the future.

    What type of controller should I buy? What do you think of this current setup? The E300 seems kinda pricey, is their a better buy out their? Are $30 Ebay frames reliable? Does the NAZA Lite preform well?

    Thanks for the help!
     
  2. LandYachtMedia

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    I don't know how much help you will get here since this forum is pretty much exclusively dedicated to the Phantom platform.
     
  3. The Editor

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    OK - if you are serious about building your own multi from scratch then I would suggest you start by looking at some of the calculations needed to get yourself a viable aircraft.

    Personally, I always start off with the AUW (after deciding whether I'm buliding a Quad or Hex etc and size). I include in that EVERYTHING but the kitchen sink. That means, frame, hardware (nuts and bolts), props, esc, cables, connectors, motors, FC, RX, GCU, Gimbal, Lipo's Telemetry modules etc, etc, etc. From your AUW you would need to divide that by the number of rotors which will give you grams of thrust per axis to get airborne. This WILL ONLY give you figures to get you airborne. You want to be hovering at around mid stick so you need to double these figures and give yourself some overhead (say 10-15%). This will give you an idea of what motors you should be looking at to give you the required thrust, length of flight wanted (depending on your choice of props and cells per pack).
    Prop size and pitch are a HUGE governing factor in your design and not only have an influence on thrust/efficiency but also will affect how hard your motors work and therefore the temperature your motors will get to under hovering, flying and full throttle climb-out.
    You also need to consider very carefully the maximum current that your propulsion system will draw. This will determine not only the Lipo pack(s) size you will use but also the guage of the interconnecting cables, power distribution system and of course your esc choice...... and all these decision go back to affecting the weight of course !
    There are a plethora of variables to take into account when you are designing and building your own craft.
    Once you have a basic knowledge of the things I mention above (and their interaction) I would strongly suggest you head over to eCalc http://www.ecalc.ch/xcoptercalc.php?ecalc&lang=en and play around with some parameters to work out whether your decisions are viable.

    Unfortunately it is not as straightforward as simply selecting a propulsion system (like the E300) and thinking that it will suffice.
    When you work out your AUW (including what camera/gimbal combination) you want to carry it may just not be up to the task.
    Alternatively if you design something that is way too overpowered you are missing the 'sweet spot' of efficiency again and you may well find the multi is very difficult to control.

    Start with the basics..... What do you want to build...Quad, Hex, Octo etc, Frame size, what do you want to lift, AUW, target flight time and so on....
     
  4. CityZen

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    I've looked at this a little, though haven't bought anything yet. It seems that DJI parts perform pretty well, but are pretty expensive. They are also "closed", in that you can't reprogram them yourself. I was looking at APM as an alternative FC platform, but there are many choices (enough to be confusing). What I like about APM is its support for sonar and optical flow stabilization devices.

    Regarding remote controllers/TX's, surprisingly, you can get Phantom parts really cheaply for this (on Ebay). I've seen DJ6's for under $30, and receivers cost about the same. As long as the FC understands SBus/DBus, these will work. You can't beat that for a 7-channel TX.

    As for the question of brand name parts vs. cheap parts, there are various schools of thought. One is that the brand name parts will result in less aggravation and an easier build. The other is that the cheap parts are usually good enough, and if you can put up with a little extra aggravation, will save you a bunch of money. Depends upon your budget and your tolerance for learning experiences, I guess.
     
  5. EMCSQUAR

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    Just a suggestion, using the equipment you're intending using - try an F450 frame. E300 will lift it easily (including gimbal,IOSD and 2.4 Ground Station) flys a lot easier than a Phantom and is great platform for photography and videos. You can build one for a little more than half the price of a P2. Seen kits that include E300 propulsion included for under $300
     
  6. syotr

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    I have built a couple of quads using the DJI E300 kit. If you are planning to use that system, make sure you get the new 2312/960 motors and Mark II ESC's. These have much greater thrust than the older 2212 motors.
    Since you are familiar with the DJI remote, that would be a reasonable choice at a good price. Make sure you get the 2.4 gHz model that was used for the Phantom 1.1.1 and Phantom 2 (non vision.) You can also use the receiver from those two Phantom models.
    The NAZA Lite performs very much like the NAZA in the Phantom you have flown. It just lacks some upgrade capabilities. https://www.dji.com/info/spotlight/what ... 1naza-m-v2
     
  7. CityZen

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    Essentially, the Naza Lite doesn't support any CAN bus options. Note that folks have still added an OSD by tapping into the GPS connection. You can find a special OSD for the Naza Lite by searching Ebay.
    (But also note that the DJI GPS module cost over $100, whereas generic ones cost under $20.)
     
  8. SanCap

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    Be very careful, after you build one you will want to build more :)

    [​IMG]
     
  9. mrbones121

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    Will a DJ6 controller and receiver interface into the Naza lite without any problems? If so that is a pretty good buy for a controller.
     
  10. mrbones121

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    After reading the multiple posts on this forum, I think I am going to go with a

    F450 frame which can be found for around $30 on Ebay
    A DJ6 controller and receiver
    A E300 propulsion system

    So I am basically building a DJI f450 because it is pretty bullet proof and requires no weight calculations.

    In response to how EMCSQUAR said that kits for these can be found on Ebay for around $350, I am worried about fake parts. It seems as if their are fake DJI NAZA-m Lites for sale on Ebay that ship from china, but the price seems to good to be true and I would rather pay for quality parts that won't crash my copter. A link to a F450 kit can be found below.

    Does anybody have experience buying these "fake" parts off of Ebay?



    http://www.ebay.com/itm/DJI-Flame-Wheel ... 540a11d9a6
     
  11. mrbones121

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    jimandsue60 I notieced that you have non DJI gimabls on your quadracopters. Where did you buy them from and how have they preformed for you? How did you interface them into your NAZA Lite and did you have any trouble doing it?

    Thanks!
     
  12. SanCap

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    The lower left 450 has a Tarot 2 axis gimbal on it, the upper center 550 Quad has a FeiYu 3 axis gimbal on it. They both perform very well. The 450 has a Naza M (not light), The 550 Quad has Naza M V2. I use a Hitec Aurora 9 transmitter for all my copters so I have to have Hitec receivers, They are simply plugged into the Naza flight controllers with servo leads. I will have to get back to you where I bought them but they are easily searchable on Google.
     
  13. mrbones121

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    So is it possible to hook up a third party gimbal to a NAZA M lite without too much trouble?
     
  14. SanCap

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    Yes you would hook the gimbal cable to the F1 or F2 port on the Naza depending if you wanted to control pitch or roll.
     
  15. CityZen

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    Of course; they are all DJI parts.
     
  16. syotr

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    Yes
     
  17. PhantomFanatic

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    Hi,

    I don't know enough (yet) to answer your questions. But, I wanted to chime in as I hope to do the same, down the road. I, honestly feel that the design isn't that complicated and parts are available everywhere.

    Sometime before Christmas, I plan on finally hooking up, and learning, my 3D printer. I think that will be a great tool for this hobby. Now, I feel more justified in having purchased it! If I knew it would be unboxed for almost a year, I could have bought the newer version. In case you might be wondering why, I need to build a desk for ham radio, soldering/repair area and a special section for the printer. Many things have to happen before I start wiring and building the desk. (But, who cares?!)

    Sorry, I got way off topic. But, please let us know what you come up with. I want greater lift capacity, to employ a camera with zoom lens. I suspect the next Hero camera will have interchangeable lens. Off topic again!
     
  18. The Editor

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    Be careful with this one as the answer is.... Yes AND No !!!

    I'll explain:

    There are a plethora of 2 axis and 3 axis third party gimbals available for multi rotor builders. Some of them are good some not so good and some are criminally bad!

    Almost all of them come out of China so instructions supplied can be difficult to follow sometimes as they are mostly written in 'Chinglish'

    All of the third party gimbals have GCU's, accelerometers, gyros etc on board which means they are plug and play... usually the only connection to the Naza is for tilt and (maybe) depending on the make of gimbal, roll. This is fine for the most part but not as accurate as the Zenmuse camp since these additionally take commands from the Naza to more accurately stabilize the gimbal.

    The exception would be something based around the newer versions of the Alexmos board which allows an interface into your Naza/FC and takes feedback from the internal accelerometers etc to act more like the Zenmuse gimbals. Although the Alexmos boards perform very well (I have one sitting here on my desk as I write this) they are way less forgiving in set-up and a decent knowledge of PID's would be an advantage if you are going to go that route (although the results will be better than a standard plug-n-play gimbal)

    In summary then:-

    All third party gimbals will work stand alone (although they will need their own power source/feed)
    Pretty much all third party gimbals will connect to a Naza to at least give you tilt control
    All third party gimbals will NOT be as good/accurate at stabilisation as the Zenmuse family because these take additional data from the Naza itself to very finely adjust tilt/roll/yaw via a closed feedback loop.
    The exception would be the Alexmos based gimbals but they are not for the feint hearted ! :shock:
     
  19. discv

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    From my recent experiences of a similar build- a word of warning.

    The DJ6 Tx (e.g. from a phantom set up) is different to the DJ6 in the DT7 combo. They appear identical, except the latter has an external USB port and the (claimed) range is greater.

    The DR16 Rx included in the DT7 combo may still not be available separately, and I had issues with binding a dual antenna phantom Rx to a stand alone Naza.

    To summarize- my solution was to get the DT7 combo.
     
  20. discv

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    One more quick thought- your link shows an old Naza Lite. I suggest you do not cut corners and restrict future expansion possibilities- get the Naza v2 set up.